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.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.