Baseball

New union leader favors expanded postseason

Get ready for more postseason baseball games and fewer off days.

Players would like to see the first round of playoffs expand to best-of-seven when their next labor contract starts in 2012, Michael Weiner said Wednesday in his first news conference since replacing Donald Fehr as the union head.

“There is a lot of sentiment for a seven-game division series,” Weiner said. “I think a properly constructed postseason schedule could accommodate three seven-game series but still have it extend over a shorter period of time than what happened this year.”

The first round has been best-of-five since it began in 1995.

Weiner hopes the length of the postseason can be shortened next year and was happy to hear commissioner Bud Selig say he will try to cut off days. Four extra days off were added in 2007 at the request of baseball’s television broadcasters. As a result, the Angels and Yankees played just eight games in the first 20 days of the playoffs.

“Everybody’s in agreement that the postseason schedule needs some adjustment,” Weiner said. “I’m a hockey fan as well as a baseball fan, and the pace of play this postseason was more of the way you expect a hockey season to go than a baseball season to go.”

The 47-year-old Harvard Law School graduate was hired by the union as a staff lawyer in 1988 and was promoted to general counsel in 2004. He succeeds the 61-year-old Fehr, who had been in charge since December 1983 and in June announced his intention.

During bargaining in 2002 and 2006, Weiner was among the union’s chief negotiators. He praised management for “a recognition that the union is a fixture in the game” but admitted some baseball owners may push for a tough changes to replace the contract that expires in December 2011.

“If there are owners who misjudge or underestimate the resolve of the players this time, I think they’ll be met with the same surprise that owners of the past have met with when they misjudged the resolve of the players,” Weiner said.

Short hops

The Atlanta Braves and closer Billy Wagner agreed to a $7 million, one-year contract for next season. Wagner, who spent much of 2009 injured on the New York Mets’ roster, was traded to the Boston Red Sox in August. Wagner is sixth in career saves with 385. … Oakland and right-handed reliever Joey Devine agreed on a one-year deal for $557,500. … A source said the San Diego Padres have signed Dick Enberg to a multiyear deal to do TV play-by-play.

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