Baseball union chief Tony Clark likes what he sees from new playoff format

Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Assn. takes part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Assn. takes part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Jackie Robinson Museum in June.
(Julia Nikhinson / Associated Press)

This World Series might be galling to Dodgers fans. The National League is represented by the Philadelphia Phillies, a team that won 24 fewer games than the Dodgers. The Phillies are a third-place team that grabbed something that did not exist last year: the 12th and final spot in the postseason.

“I don’t look it as a third-place team being in,” union chief Tony Clark said Friday. “I look at it as two of the teams playing the best baseball that made the playoffs are playing in the World Series.”

If the Phillies win the World Series, their 87 regular-season victories would not represent the low for a full-season champion. The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals won 83 games, and then won the World Series.


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As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, the union and the owners agreed to expand the postseason field from 10 teams to 12. The union resisted the owners’ demand for 14 teams.

The owners resisted the union’s demand for reseeding after the wild-card round and a seven-game division series, a format that would have meant the Dodgers would have played the Phillies instead of the San Diego Padres.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he still believed in the merit of a 14-team field. Clark said the union would consider any proposals but suggested more teams might jeopardize what he called “the sanctity of making the playoffs” and “the integrity of the regular season.”

Said Clark: “Right now, 12 is about as far as we are looking to go.”

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What would Clark say to Dodgers fans frustrated by the new postseason format?

“I think any baseball fan knows that the ball bounces funny ways sometimes, whether it’s a short series or a long series,” he said. “Obviously, the baseball that was played this year in L.A. was unbelievable. The ball bounced funny ways for them this postseason.”