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Baseball players suggest expanding playoffs

They would like to see the first round increased from a best-of-five series to a best-of-seven format.

December 03, 2009|By Bill Shaikin

Amid promises from Commissioner Bud Selig to condense baseball's lengthy postseason, the players offer this suggestion: extend the first round from best of five to best of seven.

"There's a lot of sentiment for a seven-game division series," Michael Weiner, executive director of the players union, said during a conference call Wednesday.

Weiner said such a change would most likely be subject to collective bargaining, meaning it would probably not be implemented until 2012. He said Selig could propose other changes -- reducing the number of off days, for instance -- that could be approved without major negotiations.

Selig has yet to announce how he would shorten the postseason, or to make a proposal to the union. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia has called the postseason schedule "ridiculous," and Weiner said the players readily agree.

The Angels played nine postseason games in 21 days. In the 23 days between the end of the regular season and the start of the World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies had 14 days off.

In the conference call, held after players formally approved Weiner to succeed Donald Fehr as union leader, Weiner touched on several other issues:

* The owners would like to control spending on amateur players by subjecting international players to the draft -- currently limited to players from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico -- and by "slotting," or assigning the bonus amount for each spot in the draft.

Weiner said the players would oppose slotting -- "what we would call a salary cap for entry-level players" -- but would support an international draft.

* He said he expected players would remain opposed to requiring teams to maintain a minimum payroll. The union cannot philosophically support a minimum payroll without also supporting a maximum payroll -- in other words, a salary cap.

In addition, Weiner said, teams should have the flexibility to spend less in some years to develop winners in future years.

* By spring, Weiner hopes to decide on whether to file grievances on behalf of players concerned that the depressed free-agent market last winter might have been the result of collusion between owners.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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