Red Sox welcome additional Wild Card teams

Red Sox welcome additional Wild Card teams

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The new postseason format -- in which both leagues will have two Wild Card teams -- will take effect in 2012, it was announced Friday.

It was hard to find any dissenting voices in the Red Sox's clubhouse.

"I think it's great," said right-hander Daniel Bard. "It gets the fans more involved, more teams involved all the way through September. Anytime you have guys playing for something all the way down to the wire, that's a good thing. The more games that really mean something, the more fun they are to watch and play in."

But nobody felt the need to commiserate about that. Instead, the new format is one that will have teams take the division races more seriously.

Beginning this October, the two Wild Card teams will face off in a one-game playoff to determine who gets to advance to a best-of-five Division Series.

If that system had been in place the past two seasons, the Red Sox would have grabbed the second American League Wild Card berth both years.

However, there are two ways to look at that. The Red Sox won the World Series as the Wild Card in 2004 and got to Game 7 of the AL Championship Series as the Wild Card in both '03 and '08. If it had to play a one-game playoff in those years, Boston might have never advanced that far.

Back in 2010, the Yankees and the Rays played a late-season series with the division at stake, but both teams knew they were going to make it to the postseason, so they prioritized getting ready for that over winning the AL East.

"If it gives every game of the regular season more value, I think it's a good thing," said manager Bobby Valentine. "I really did dislike that stuff a couple of years ago."

Under the new system, second baseman Dustin Pedroia thinks that the sheer drama that took place across baseball in the final night of the 2011 regular season could become more commonplace. After all, there will be two one-game playoffs every year.

"I'm all for it," Pedrdoia said. "Another two teams in the playoffs, I think it's great. It's great for the fans, it's good for the players. I think it's going to be exciting. It's fun. Last year, the last day of the season was tough on us and tough on the Braves, but I think the excitement it brought to fans, not just to two cities, but to four cities, it's fun."

Going forward, exactly one-third of MLB's 30 teams will have at least one postseason game.

"I think the more, the merrier," Valentine said. "I think for the fans, the players, there will be extra energy at the end of the season. I think it will be good. I have no idea how the American League will shake out and where that extra team will come from."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.