When Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred used his power to impose a 60-game regular-season last month, certain components of framework previously discussed by team owners and the MLBPA were taken off the table.
Among the intriguing ideas scrapped included an expanded postseason format for the 2020 season. Such eliminated the possibility of 16 teams qualifying for the playoffs this year, which would have put the league in position to sell additional TV rights.
However, MLB and the Players Association revisited those negotiations and have come to terms for an expanded postseason this year. Now 16 teams will make the playoffs, beginning with eight best-of-three Wild Card Series.
The higher seeds in the Wild Card Series will host all three games, which will be scheduled from Sept. 29-Oct. 2. That will then be followed by the Division Series, Championship Series and World Series, which all maintained their customary length.
“We are excited to announce the expansion of the 2020 Postseason. This season will be a sprint to a new format that will allow more fans to experience playoff baseball,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said. “We look forward to a memorable Postseason concluding a year like no other and appreciate the continued partnership and enthusiasm of ESPN and TBS.”
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark added: “The opportunity to add playoff games in this already-abbreviated season makes sense for fans, the league and Players. We hope it will result in highly competitive pennant races as well as exciting additional playoff games to the benefit of the industry and all involved heading into next year.”
Division winners in each league will be seeded Nos. 1-3, second-place teams 4-6 and teams with the next two best records 7-8. The first-round matchups will be No. 1 versus No. 8, 2-7, 3-6 and 4-5.
“I just don’t know how the format is going to play out. I’ve got to look into that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said shortly after the agreement was announced. “The timing, it is what it is.
“I think that getting us on the field was most important. This was one of the last things they wanted to finish off. I’ll look more at it down the road.”
ESPN was given the broadcast rights to seven of the eight Wild Card Series, and TBS has the rights to the other. ESPN and TBS were to have split the two wild-card games in the original format.
Stan Kasten not expecting fans at Dodger Stadium this season
While MLB has left it up to local governments to determine whether fans can attend games this season, Los Angeles Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten isn’t expecting to see sold-out crowds at Dodger Stadium anytime soon.
He suggested fans attending games this year — even in a reduced capacity — isn’t anywhere close to becoming a reality.
Moreover, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has maintained his stance that sporting and other events within the state were unlikely to have fans this year, unless a COVID-19 vaccine is in place.
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