MLB unveils an efficient postseason schedule and a format for settling ties for wild-card spots.
By Jon Paul MorosiFoxSports
At last, the long-secret Major League Baseball postseason schedule has been revealed.
Considering the ad hoc way it was developed — a second wild-card team in each league was added shortly before the regular season began — the sport’s October calendar looks quite reasonable.
Among the highlights:
• Game 1 of the World Series is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 24, on FOX, meaning the if-necessary Game 7 would be played Thursday, Nov. 1. MLB commissioner Bud Selig isn’t a fan of November baseball, but it was unavoidable once the extra wild cards were added.
• The regular season ends Wednesday, Oct. 3. The following day has been left open for possible tiebreaker games, with the new wild-card round slated for Friday, Oct. 5.
• In a significant change from previous postseasons, ties for division titles will be decided with one-game playoffs even if both teams have qualified for the playoffs. That is because division champions get automatic berths in the division series, whereas wild-card teams must play an additional game to reach the division series. The distinction is important enough that those will be decided with a 163rd game rather than by head-to-head record.
• In another departure from the previous structure, teams from the same division can play one another in the division series.
• Division series will begin Oct. 6 and Oct. 7, concluding on or before Oct. 12. As was previously announced, the best-of-five division series will begin with two games at the lower seed, followed by three at the higher seed. (The 2-2-1 format will resume next season; this year’s schedule was adjusted to eliminate the travel day before Game 5 and condense the round.)
• Game 1 of the American League Championship Series is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 13, followed by Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday, Oct. 14, on FOX.
Interestingly, the postseason announcement came on a day when three teams — Baltimore, Detroit and Oakland — woke up in a tie for the AL wild card. If the regular season ended that way, head-to-head records among the three would determine seeding in a three-day playoff.
The progression would be as follows: Oct. 4: Club A hosts Club B; Oct. 5: A-B loser plays at Club C; Oct. 6: winners play for the wild card; Oct. 7: wild-card winner begins division series, at home, against the league’s top overall seed.
For any tie between two teams, head-to-head record is the first means of determining which team would host the game. Since I know you’re curious, here is the scorecard for a number of season series that could result in ties (entering Friday):