Bud Selig expects expanded playoffs to begin this season

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We’re just a little over two months away from the start of the 2012 season, but we still have no confirmation on when the expanded playoff format will take effect. Commissioner Bud Selig aims to change that real soon.

According to Jim Owczarski of CSNChicago.com, Selig was in attendance at SoxFest on Friday night to present an award to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and said that he still expects a second wild-card team to be added to each league this season.

“While I agree with Yogi Berra that it ain’t over til it’s over, I really believe we’ll have the wild card for 2012, this year,” Selig said. “Clubs really want it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card, this year.

“We’re working on dates right now. That will all take place. It looks to me like we’ll have it because I’ve told everybody that we have it. It’ll be exciting – (a) one-game playoff and start the playoffs out on a very exciting manner.”

The new 10-team playoff format would begin with a one-game playoff between the two wild-card teams in each league. MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement specifies that expanded playoffs will begin by 2013, but Selig has been vocal about his desire for the changes to begin as soon as possible.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that there are still some schedule quirks to work out, such as leaving room for potential tie-breaker scenarios, but the plan calls for union and management officials to resume discussions on the logistics early next week.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.

Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. lays out to make a great catch in deep right-center field

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Cubs center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. robbed Giants first baseman Brandon Belt of at least a double in the top of the first inning of Monday’s game at Wrigley Field. Almora completely left his feet to catch the ball before landing just shy of the warning track.

The Giants took the early lead two batters prior to Belt’s at-bat as Joe Panik hit a solo home run to center field.