(Reuters) - Major League Baseball’s wild card playoff system will remain a one game, play-in to the postseason, according to commissioner Bud Selig.
Selig, in an online Town Hall meeting on Tuesday with fans ahead of the All-Star Game in Minneapolis, shot down speculation that wild card showdowns might be turned into best-of-three series, saying MLB did not want postseason to reach November.
“The playoffs take a long time. I am bound and determined to make sure that baseball is done by October 31,” he said.
“I‘m glad where we are and will stay where we are.”
Under the current playoff format, the three divisional winners in the American and National Leagues automatically earn spots in the postseason.
The two teams with the next best records in each league play a one-game “tiebreaker”, with the winners advancing to the postseason proper.
Before the current system was introduced in 2012, only one team from each league gained a wild card spot and that team went straight into a best-of-five divisional series.
That system was introduced in 1995, when the divisions were expanded from two to three in each league and the wild card was introduced.
However, it had an unintended consequence in that teams sometimes did not stress about winning their respective divisions if they had a safe hold on a wild card since they were already assured of going straight into an extended series.
With the current system, winning a division title has added value as no team wants to face a one-off wild card encounter to keep their season alive.
Selig also said MLB was examining ways to reduce the time of games, even as the introduction of instant replay challenges has worked in the other direction.
“We really are working on time of the game,” the commissioner said. “We’re right at three hours now and we will reduce it...It does drive me crazy (batters) stepping out of the batter’s box (for no discernible reason).”
Selig said he was also concerned at the increased number of serious injuries suffered by pitchers, and was awaiting a report by a committee studying the causes.
“We’ve had a lot of Tommy John problems,” he said, referring to the elbow surgery named after former major league pitcher Tommy John, who was the first athlete to have the then-groundbreaking surgery in 1974.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Larry Fine