Selig Wants It to Be Harder For Wild-Card Teams to Win

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 14, 2006

DETROIT, Oct. 13 -- Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig said Friday that he is considering tweaking the postseason formula to make it more difficult for wild-card teams to advance to the World Series.

"We're going to really review that during the course of the offseason," Selig said. "I think we certainly ought to think about making it more difficult."

Selig declined to offer many specifics, though he did indicate that division champions might be offered even more home games. He said, however, that expanding the first round from best-of-five to best-of-seven is unlikely.

There has been at least one wild-card winner as a participant each of the last four World Series, including the series champions from 2002 to '04 -- Anaheim, Florida and Boston. This season, the Detroit Tigers -- who lost out to the Minnesota Twins for the American League Central division title on the last day -- are on the brink of advancing to the World Series, leading Oakland three games to none.

Selig said that, while expanding the playoff field beyond eight teams has been "oft-discussed," he doesn't foresee it happening because it likely would require the regular season to be reduced from 162 to 154 games.

Another topic on Selig's agenda: trying to get a World Series game to be played during the day, "if possible, and I'm not sure it's possible."

"The problem is ratings," Selig said. Despite cries that games end too late for children -- and many adults -- to stay up and watch, especially during the week, Selig said television ratings are consistently higher for night games.

Selig offered nothing in the way of specific updates on negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement; the current deal between the clubs and the players' association expires Dec. 19. But he did say the sides continued to meet regularly, and that "No news is good news."

Harden Too 'Amped Up'

Oakland Athletics right-hander Rich Harden, tapped to start Game 3 of the American League Championship Series despite not having pitched in a major league game since Oct. 1, said the layoff didn't affect his pitches, but it might have affected his mentality.

"I knew, coming into the start that was going to be the main thing: Was I going to be amped up?" Harden said. "And I was."

Thus, Harden considered Detroit's two-run first -- in which the first three men he faced reached base -- the key to the outing, in which he lasted 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs. Athletics Manager Ken Macha agreed, saying Harden pitched well, "except for a little rust there the first two innings."

Weather Cold but 'Fine'

The weather -- 42 degrees at game time -- turned out to be mostly a non-factor for the players.

"I think it might have been a little hard on the position guys," Detroit reliever Todd Jones said. "For pitchers, it was fine."

The dire predictions for rain, perhaps snow and strong winds were largely unrealized. That was, Selig said, the main reason the game was moved from an 8:19 p.m. start to 4:30 p.m. after Game 2 of the National League Championship Series was moved to Friday.

MLB officials didn't want to run the games at the same time, and the Tigers agreed to move their game because of the forecasts.

"Basing your life on the accuracy of [weather] predictions is dangerous, to say the least," Selig said.

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