- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Baseball’s playoffs could be expanding in two years.

The new head of the players’ union says his members are open to adding more wild-card teams for 2012 and possibly extending the division series to a best-of-seven.

Union head Michael Weiner says it’s also possible players would agree to cutting the regular season from 162 games, but that’s more problematic because it would cost teams revenue.

“There is sentiment among a substantial segment of the players to consider expanding the playoffs,” Weiner said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of his first World Series since replacing Donald Fehr as union head.

Eight of 30 baseball teams make the playoffs under the format that began in 1995, a year later than intended because of a strike that wiped out the postseason in ‘94.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig appears to be increasingly in favor of proposing more playoff teams during collective bargaining with the union next year, which will determine the postseason format for 2012 and beyond.

“We have less teams than any other sport,” he said last month. “We certainly haven’t abused anything.”

In the NFL, 12 of 32 teams make the playoffs. In the NBA and NHL, 16 of 30 teams advance to the postseason.

The first round series have been best-of-five since they began. It’s possible they could follow the path of the league championship series, which began as best-of-five in 1969, then expanded to best-of-seven in 1985.

“There are some players who have expressed an interest in that, as well,” Weiner said. “Obviously, you’ve got to look at everything together. But I think we can have a very healthy discussion with the commissioner’s office when bargaining begins about these issues.”

Weiner said the union likely would generate a consensus on its playoff stance during its annual executive board meeting in December. Bargaining is likely to start in the first half of the year on the labor contract to replace the one expiring on Dec. 11, 2011.

Only minor tinkering with the playoffs is possible for next October.

“We’ve been talking about a revised schedule in 2011 that would be a compressed schedule for postseason play,” he said. “The structure for playoffs in 2011 will be the same as it’s been throughout this contract.”

The regular season expanded from 154 games to 162 in the American League in 1961 and the National League a year later, when each of those circuits went from eight to 10 teams.

“Certainly some of the players have said either we should shorten the regular season because the regular season’s too long, or we should shorten the regular season to accommodate expanded postseason,” Weiner said, adding that would have “revenue implications for the industry.”

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