CL to follow PL playoff model

The Central League will introduce a three-team, two-stage playoff system next year that has gained support among Pacific League backers, the Nippon Professional Baseball executive committee decided Monday.

The decision came after months of disagreement between the two leagues over whether to give the league championship to the first-place finisher in the regular season or the playoff winner and over subsequent changes to the regular-season schedule.

The PL has given league titles to playoff winners since its introduction of the system in 2004. The Seibu Lions and the Chiba Lotte Marines, the second-place finishers in the 2004 and 2005 regular seasons, respectively, beat the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, who topped the regular-season standings both years, in the second stage of the playoffs and went on to beat the CL champion in the Japan Series.

But beginning next year, first-place finishers will be named CL and PL champions, no matter which team wins the playoffs to advance to the Japan Series.