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MLB expands 2012 Playoffs

For the first time since 1994, the MLB Playoffs will expand to 10 teams for the 2012 season.  The two wild cards teams for each League will play an elimination game before the Division Series.

The change, which was endorsed by the Commissioner’s 14-member Special Committee for On-Field Matters, marks the first amendment to the Postseason since MLB adopted the six-division, eight-team Postseason structure in January of 1994. The first Postseason to be played under that format occurred in 1995.

Commissioner Selig said: “I greatly appreciate the MLBPA’s cooperation in putting the new Postseason format in place this year. The enthusiasm for the 10-team structure among our Clubs, fans and partners has been overwhelming. This change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional markets to experience playoff baseball each year, all while maintaining the most exclusive Postseason in professional sports.”

For the 2012 Postseason only, the five-game Division Series will begin with two home games for lower seeds, followed by up to three home games for higher seeds. This one-year change will eliminate a travel day prior to a decisive Game Five of the Division Series and was necessary because the 2012 regular season schedule was announced before the agreement on the new Postseason was reached. Next year, the Division Series will return to the 2-2-1 format used in previous years. Details on the scheduling of the new elimination games between each League’s Wild Cards will be announced in the near future.

Prior to 1994, the only changes to the Postseason system in Baseball history were in 1903 and from 1919-1921, when the sport had a nine-game World Series, and in 1969, with the advent of League Championship Series play before the World Series. (Prior to the inaugural World Series in 1903, Baseball experimented with Postseason competition as compact as a best-of-five system in 1884 and as elongated as a best-of-15 series in 1887.)