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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MLB moves off-day from middle of league championship series

AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK For all the talk about tightening the postseason, Major League Baseball made only one slight change this year and held off on major revisions.

The awkward off-day between Games 4 and 5 of the league championship series, among those Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia griped about last October, will be eliminated. Instead, there will be yet another off-day between the division series and the start of the LCS, the commissioner's office said Wednesday.

The overall length of the postseason will not be shortened and the first round will remain best-of-five at least through 2011.

Barring rainouts, this year's switch will make it more difficult for a team to get through the best-of-seven LCS with only three starting pitchers, as the New York Yankees did last year en route to the World Series title.

"At our executive board meeting in Scottsdale, a number of players, both players who participated in the postseason and those who didn't, said it's no longer like baseball. There's just too many off-days," new union head Michael Weiner said.

The change was the first made at the recommendation of the special committee for on-field matters appointed in December by commissioner Bud Selig and was subject to negotiation with the union.

The off-day was among four baseball added because Fox wanted the World Series to open on a Wednesday rather than a Saturday, usually the lowest-rated night of the week. Other off-days were inserted in 2007 between the regular season and the postseason openers, between Games 4 and 5 of the division series and between the LCS and World Series.

Extra time off between LCS Games 4 and 5 was strange because the series continued in the same location. Selig, in a statement, called the change "the first step in a process that will ultimately result in an improved postseason format."

Weiner said more changes are possible in future years.

"The goal for 2011 would be to try to compress the number of days in which the postseason is played," he said.

Scioscia and others criticized all the off-days during a postseason that saw his team play eight games in 20 days a huge difference from a regular-season format that has teams play 162 games over 183 days. Selig then selected Scioscia for his panel.

Players also are concerned about an allowance in the postseason format that lets one best-of-five series in the first round be played over eight days rather than seven. That could be addressed for 2011.

Weiner said that if players decide to propose switching the first-round format to best-of-seven rather than best-of-five, that would await negotiations for the collective bargaining agreement that starts with the 2012 season.

This year's division series starts Oct. 6, and the NL team with the best record will likely be the one that decides whether it wants the eight-day division series. The ALCS starts Oct. 15, with the NLCS beginning the following day. The World Series opens on Wednesday, Oct. 27, and Game 7 would be scheduled for Nov. 3 the second straight year it could extend past Halloween.