Once upon a time (1993), there were only four playoff teams in baseball. That's because there were only four divisions: The AL East, AL West, NL East and NL West.
Nearly 20 years, six divisions and two wildcards later, there are eight playoff teams - and now, MLB wants to add two more.
The proposed deal (which is expected to be approved by Thursday) would establish a new one-game, wild-card round in each league between the teams with the best records who are not division winners. The winner of that game will then have to turn around and play the team with the best regular-season record in the League Division Series.
Commissioner Bud Selig says there is widespread support for the new system.
"Clubs really want it," Selig said on January 27. " I don't think I've ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card this year."
After the resounding success of the current wildcard format, it seems fans also support the idea of two more playoff teams. The new rule would also revive incentive to win your division.
"The new rule will put a greater premium on the regular season. Now it will be a bigger advantage to win the division as opposed because it means avoiding the winner-take-all play-in game," CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman writes.
True. On the other hand, it also waters down the significance of the regular season since now one out of every three teams will make the playoffs. Under the new format, a third-place team could win the World Series.
Opponents would argue the new one-game wild-card round is a pretty abrupt winner-take-all format for a sport that hinges on a 162-game season. Also, had the rule been in effect in 2011, the surreal drama that unfolded on the final day of last season would never have been.
While purists may not be thrilled with the expanded playoffs, the new rule would put baseball closer to other major sports in terms of percentage of teams earning postseason spots. In the NFL, 12 of 32 teams make the playoffs. In both the NBA and NHL, 16 of 30 teams advance to the postseason.