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MLB said that with schedules already drawn for this season, the postseason had to be compressed to fit in the extra games. Hence, fewer off-days for travel.

“I don’t think it really changes the way you look at this season. You really have to fight to win your division,” New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It is kind of strange to start on the road. That doesn’t quite seem right, but it’s a one-year thing. I understand why they’re doing it.”

If the World Series goes to Game 7 this year _ as it did last season, when the wild-card St. Louis Cardinals won the championship _ it would be played Nov. 1.

“I like the extra playoff spot. I like the one-game playoff because it really gives the advantages to the division winner,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said this week.

As in, it’ll be real dicey for the wild-card contenders to immediately jump into a winner-take-all game, then quickly turn around to start the division series.

Starting this year, too, there’s no restriction on teams from the same division meeting in that best-of-five division series.

Baseball players’ union head Michael Weiner said there had been internal discussions way back about possibly having six playoff teams from each league. He said that once bargaining began with owners on a new labor deal, it was clear MLB only wanted five.

“The players were in favor of expanding the playoffs,” Weiner said.

In particular, he said, the players wanted to put more emphasis on winning a division, especially when MLB goes to a pair of 15-team leagues next year with three divisions each. The Astros are switching from the NL to the AL to make that possible.

A portion of the money generated by the one-game playoffs will go in the players’ pool that is split among the postseason participants.

In 1999, Valentine and the New York Mets won a one-game tiebreaker for the NL wild-card spot.

“I didn’t think that entering the playoffs in ‘99 when I had to play a one-game playoff against Cincinnati that the next round was cheapened,” he said. “It seems to be similar to that. I don’t know if it’s the same thing, but it seems.”


AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen and AP freelance writers Mark Didtler, Carl Kotalo, Maureen Mullen and Jeff Berlinicke contributed to this report.