Figuring out who plays when and where, that’s the tricky part. With 10 teams in the playoffs this year _ two more wild cards than last season _ tiebreakers and cross-country travel schedules also are factors.
“Pretty remarkable,” Oakland designated hitter Jonny Gomes said. “I guess not only as a player, I’m also a huge fan of the game. If you look into it, baseball’s in a really good place. This isn’t going to happen in football. This isn’t going to happen in hockey and the NBA. There’s teams that are resting guys the last couple weeks of the season. Not here.”
The lone team that knows anything for sure is San Francisco. The NL West champions will open the first round on Saturday at their beautiful waterfront ballpark.
Their opponent? Well, no telling.
“That’s why it’s good to clinch it and have some serenity here,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
“We know pretty much what’s ahead of us, the day we’re going to play, where we’re going to play. That is a little sense of comfort,” he said. “It’s nice to know what’s ahead of us. A lot of these teams don’t.”
Chaos, complicated, confusing. And pretty cool.
“It is crazy and it’s good for baseball,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I think the second wild card, they made it for them to kind of create some stuff there at the end with the fans, and it sure has done that.”
Washington manager Davey Johnson, who started his playing career in the 1960s when only two teams made the postseason and they met in the World Series, isn’t keen on this new playoff format.
His Nationals could finish with the best record in the majors but, because of a one-year tweak in the postseason schedule, play Game 1 on the road on Sunday.
“I just really figured out what the whole thing was the last couple days,” he said. “It seems like the team with the best record should be able to open at home.”
Up the Beltway in Baltimore, the Orioles begin this week tied with Yankees for the AL East lead. The O’s could wind up in a one-game tiebreaker for the division crown, or in the wild-card matchup, or with the best record in the league.
“It throws a twist into things having two wild cards this year. I liked the idea because I felt it gave another team that had a good season a chance to get to the postseason,” Orioles outfielder Chris Davis said.
“Now that we’re in the top seed,” he said, “I think it’s a terrible idea.”