Division Series format change OK'd by owners
Travel day eliminated, lower seeds get first two games this year
NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball owners approved a one-year shift of the format for the best-of-five game Division Series at their joint meeting on Thursday morning.For this season only, the Division Series will begin with two home games for lower-seeded teams, followed by up to three home games for higher-seeded teams. The change, which will eliminate a travel day prior to a Game 5, was necessary because the 2012 regular-season schedule had no wiggle room to accommodate the one-game Wild Card playoff games that will be added this year. The regular-season schedule was announced last year before an agreement on the expanded postseason format was reached between the owners and Players Association that will add one Wild Card team in each league. There will still be a scheduled travel day between Games 2 and 3 in the Division Series. The higher seeds, the teams with the better records, previously hosted the first two games, and after the travel day, the lower seeds were home the next two games. If a fifth game was necessary, it would be played in the ballpark of the higher seed after another travel day. Commissioner Bud Selig said on Thursday that various Division Series formats are being studied for 2013 and beyond. "Next year we'll have another schedule so we'll work on it a little differently," Selig said. Selig added that he wasn't certain whether the format would simply revert to the one used in the past. "We don't know that," he said. "We're still studying it." Any schedule change has to have approval of the players union. This year, the season is scheduled to end on Wednesday, Oct. 3, and the one-game Wild Card playoffs are slated for Friday, Oct. 5. That leaves Thursday, Oct. 4, for any tiebreaker games. Barring weather disruptions, the Division Series, fielding four teams from each league, will begin the following Saturday and Sunday. Work continues on 2013 schedule
NEW YORK -- With the Astros moving from the National League Central to the American League West next season, Major League Baseball is reviewing how Interleague play will change going forward. With 15 teams in each league, one Interleague game would have to be played virtually every day of the regular season. The schedule makers, headed by Katy Feeney, MLB's senior vice president of scheduling and club relations, are currently reviewing a number of options. A full slate of Interleague games is on tap this weekend. "I haven't even seen a  schedule yet," Selig said. "We've been involved in a lot of things the last few weeks. That's something I have to get together with Ms. Feeney about shortly." In one scenario, natural rivals such as the Yankees and Mets, Angels and Dodgers, Cubs and White Sox, Giants and A's, Royals and Cardinals, and Orioles and Nationals might not play each other the customary six times a year. That would happen only every three seasons as the Interleague schedule rotates. In between, the schedule would call for three or four games between those teams. Under any new format, the Astros and Rangers will face each other 18 times a year because they will play in the same division. "That's one of the things we're working on right now," Selig said. "I know a lot of stuff has been reported. I love Interleague play. You know that. I think it's been great. It's very beneficial for the sport. Our fans like it and it's good. This weekend will be terrific. But we'll see how it works out; 15-15 is going to be interesting. I was the last one in on 15-15, but I like it now and I'm glad we're doing it."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.