MLB gamers approve strategy for 16-group playoffs in shortened 2020 time, for each report

MLB players approve plan for 16-team playoffs in shortened 2020 season, per report

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Major League Baseball and the Players Association are having last-minute discussions about expanding the playoffs to 16 teams for the 2020 season, Jon Heyman reports. Included in those discussions is the idea that division winners will be able to choose their opponents during a televised selection show, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney

The 2020 regular season begins Thursday night, and as Heyman reports, both sides would need to strike a deal before first pitch, which means there’s little time to come to an agreement. ESPN’s Marly Rivera reports that the union has approved the plan for expanded playoffs (only for the 2020 postseason), and the agreement is awaiting ratification by MLB owners.

The current playoff structure, which has been in place since 2012, features 10 playoff teams — six division champions and two wild card entrants per league. A 16-team field would presumably add three more wild card teams per league and swell the playoffs to four full rounds. Presently, the postseason consists of two wild card games, the LDS round, the LCS round, and the World Series. 

Negotiations between players and owners have been the story for much of the shutdown. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut down spring training in March and pushed back Opening Day roughly four full months. Players had been angling for a longer regular season, but thanks to the pandemic and the glacial pace of negotiations on the league’s side the 2020 season will span just 60 regular season games. Commissioner Rob Manfred, per the terms of a March 26 agreement on player salary, had the power to implement a regular season structure. Expansion of the playoffs, however, requires union approval, and the players aren’t going to do that without significant give-backs from ownership. Perhaps those give-backs would take the form of a larger share of postseason revenues for players.

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Another concern is whether an autumn surge of the virus could interrupt the postseason. Since much of MLB’s national television revenues are tied to the playoffs, that’s a serious concern. Expanding the postseason deeper into the fall would necessarily increase the risk of a second shutdown before a champion was crowned. It’s possible the relative low rate of positive cases during reopened spring training has emboldened MLB and the players on this front. 

Whatever the case, there’s very little time to hammer out what would no doubt be a complicated and layered agreement. Both sides, though, appear to be giving it a go. 

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Seth Grace

About the author: Seth Grace

Seth is an all-around geek who loves learning new stuff every day. With a background in Journalism and a passion for web-based technologies and Gadgets, she focuses on writing about on Hot Topics, Web Trends, Smartphones, and Tablets.

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