The addition of a new 10th club to the country’s top baseball league in 2015 is expected to bring major changes in the league structure and scheduling, officials said Thursday.
According to league officials, the current team representatives would prefer to run a single, 10-team league, rather than have two divisions or conferences with five teams each.
In the divided setting, each division will end up with an odd number of clubs, which will lead to scheduling conflicts for intra-division matches.
The total number of games per club will also be affected. In 2013, with the addition of the expansion NC Dinos, teams will each play 128 games, down from 133 in 2012.
Then with another team in 2015, clubs will each play anywhere between 126 and 144 games, one KBO official said.
“If teams play each other 14 to 16 times a season, then our numbers will be 126, 135 or 144 games per season,” the official explained. “We will have to take into account our climate and offseason international events such as the Asia Series (a tournament for league champions in Asia).”
The playoff structure also faces modifications. Currently, the top four among nine teams play in the postseason.
The regular-season champion advances straight to the championship Korean Series, while the No. 2-ranked team gets a bye to the second round. The third- and fourth-seeded teams clash in the first round, with the winner moving on to the second round.
KBO officials say team executives are mostly opposed to expanding the playoffs. At most, they may add one extra spot and allow half of the league to compete in the playoffs.
According to a second KBO official, team officials may tweak the current four-team playoff structure and not give any byes to the top-ranked clubs.
“One possible change is to pit the No. 1 seed against the No. 4 seed on one side, and have the second seed play the third seed on the other side,” the official said.
The KBO will also need to settle on how to help KT field a team.
Presently, KBO teams carry 26 players and each club can sign up to two foreign-born players.
Yang Hae-young, KBO’s secretary-general, said KT will likely receive much of the same benefits given to the Dinos when they first entered the league. (Yonhap News)