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Major League Baseball, players agree expanded playoffs

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New York (AFP)

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association gave the green-light to an expanded postseason on Thursday, boosting the number of teams taking part in the playoffs from 10 to 16.

In a statement that came as the coronavirus-delayed 2020 season got under way with games in Washington and Los Angeles, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the changes would widen the appeal of the postseason.

"This season will be a sprint to a new format that will allow more fans to experience playoff baseball," Manfred said in a statement.

"We look forward to a memorable Postseason concluding a year like no other."

Under the changes, all second-place teams in each of the National League and American League's divisions will qualify automatically for the playoffs.

The final four places in the postseason will be completed by the teams with the best records.

Baseball's season was due to get under way in March but was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday marked the start of an abbreviated 60-game season, replacing the traditional 162-game marathon.

Major League Baseball said the opening round of the playoffs would take place between September 29 and October 2, with four three-game series played at the higher seed's home stadium.

The remaining rounds would be played over their usual length -- with a five-game Division Series, and seven games used for the AL and NL Championship Series and World Series.

"The opportunity to add playoff games in this already-abbreviated season makes sense for fans, the league and players," MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said.

"We hope it will result in highly competitive pennant races as well as exciting additional playoff games to the benefit of the industry and all involved heading into next year."

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