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The 2012 MLB playoffs will feature 10 teams -- or won't

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As you probably heard, the MLB playoffs were set to expand to 10 teams in the upcoming season. Each league would have two wild cards play each other in a single game. They'd both officially be playoff teams -- cha-ching go the extra merchandise sales -- but it would be sort of akin to requiring a Game 163 to make the big boy playoffs with their multi-game series.

(Baseball for NFL fans, I like to think of it. Yeah, I'm cynical, so what?)

That plan seems to be on hold for now.

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote yesterday:

Wednesday was supposed to be the day the commissioner's office finished a proposed schedule for the 2012 postseason and shipped it to the players' association for consideration. But sources told ESPN.com that deadline wasn't going to be met -- not because talks have broken down, but because fitting two extra wild-card pieces into the postseason puzzle has proved to be more involved than the commissioner has been willing to acknowledge.

The commish and the players union must agree by March 1 in order for the playoff expansion to happen.

Stark lays out plenty of details that have to be figured out. A key problem is the schedule. With the end of the season and the start of the World Series already locked in, there's not a lot of wriggle room. The last day of the regular season is Oct. 3 and the start of the divisional series is currently Oct. 6. In between, the wild card round must be held, and it may be necessary to play make-up games or even a 163rd game to decide who makes the playoffs or who wins the division. (Stark reported because there's such a huge gap between winning the division and being a wild card team, ties in the standings will now be settled on the field and not by formula even if both teams are already in the playoffs.)

Game times must be set and travel days may be re-arranged to make it all work, but nothing has been settled yet, Stark reports.

However, Starks wrote:

Despite the numerous complications, all parties describe the two sides as making a serious effort to make these changes work for this year. But the various hang-ups have turned out to be so difficult to resolve that one source said this week: "I really don't know if this is going to get done.

So I guess we should all keep an eye on this going forward.