As first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, major-league baseball and the players' union have apparently reached an agreement that would usher in an additional wild-card in each league in time for the 2012 season. There would be five playoff teams in each league.
According to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was arrived at late last year the second wild-card concept was to be initiated in 2013, but both the union and the Commissioner agreed that a 2012 expansion of the playoffs could exceptionally be arrived at outside of the CBA. Both sides wanted it to happen.
The reason 2013 was the original target date was that is when the Astros will switch leagues balancing the AL and the NL at 15 teams. The players themselves had pushed for balanced leagues because they felt it was not fair that four of 14 AL teams made it to the playoffs while only four of 16 teams in the National League could dance in October.
The new concept is a solid one, as suggested in The Star more than a year ago. The idea is to have the better wild-card host a one-game playoff against the second wild-card, giving the division winners more if an advantage in lining up their starting rotations.
In addition to an extra playoff team, the new format will lift the ban against the team with the best record playing the wildcard, a provision that has often hurt the better team. Now, there is even a possibility of three teams from the same division making it to the playoffs. Such a scenario is most likely in the AL East, in which the Jays are a card-carrying member.
"It does not change anything because all it does it make it that much more important to win the division," Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said. "With who we compete against in this division, it's still going to require having a great team because of past win totals of AL east winners."
A caveat for Jays' fans is that even with a second wild-card, the Jays would have made the post-season just one time since the World Series years, in 1998 under one-year manager Tim Johnson.