The new system adds a one-game playoff between each league's two Wild Card winners. The winner of that game then moves on to the Division Series, which retains its best-of-five format.
Because of scheduling concerns, the LDS format will also be tweaked, but just for the 2012 season. This fall, the team with the better record will start the LDS with two road games before coming home for the final three (or as many as are necessary). This is a change from the traditional 2-2-1 format.
"We all see the benefit of how the Wild Card played out," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "There were a lot of people against it at the time, and it proved to make some very meaningful games for some teams who otherwise wouldn't have had anything going on. I think they're making some good decisions. The decisions they've made in the past have proven to be right. It will be fun to watch how it all plays out."
Had this format been in place a year ago, the Cardinals' run to the World Series would have taken a different course. The club would have wrapped up a playoff spot before the final day of the season; however, the Cardinals also would have needed to beat Atlanta in a one-game playoff in order to even earn the chance to face the Phillies in the NLDS.