For months there's been discussion about baseball adding a second Wild Card in each league. The question was: "When?"
According to a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, "when" is now "2012," as MLB will reportedly expand the playoffs from eight to 10 teams beginning this very year.
"Sources: Additional wild cards a "go" for this season. Playoffs to expand from eight to 10 teams. Announcement tomorrow," Rosenthal tweeted on Wednesday.
He then added, "Told agreement on expanded playoffs isn't final but will happen. Same thing as announcement. Not certain for tomorrow but possible."
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com adds that a deal is "extremely likely" and that there is "momentum" to make the wild card addition occur in 2012, but nothing is finalized.
So the announcement might not come on Thursday, but it sure seems as if baseball's decided to proceed with an additional team in the playoffs.
As we previously noted, this is good news for the Giants. They're in a competitive division, and 86 wins would've nearly gotten them into the playoffs in 2011. (Although, somewhat ironically, only having one wild card in 2010 kept the hated Padres out.)
That doesn't even take into account the miracle run by the Cardinals -- if that doesn't happen in 2011, the Giants would've been that theoretical second team in. (Yes, this largely hypothetical.)
Under the new format, the two wild card teams will play a one-game playoff and then turn around to play the team with the best regular-season record.
Again, this benefits the Giants. While having to use Tim Lincecum (the ace) in the one-game playoff wouldn't be good news, the Giants more than anyone else can rebound from that, thanks to the presence of several talented pitchers, capable of holding down almost any roster in a playoff game.