We're starting one of those great days when all four Division Series matchups will be staged consecutively, starting shortly after 1 p.m. with the Nats-Cardinals game -- the first postseason contest in DC since 1933 -- and likely not wrapping up until around 1 a.m. with the final pitch of Tigers-A's. And here's a quick note: I hear you. Loud and clear.
I've received numerous emails and Twitter replies about the 2-3 format for the NLDS/ALDS and it really does stink. I agree.
It's hardly fair for a team with a better record to have to open with two games on the road. It was patently unfair for the A's to play Friday night in Detroit and then turn around to play Saturday at noon -- which is really 9 a.m. to their bodies. In less than 24 hours, they were in an 0-2 hole.
So what in the name of Bud Selig is going on?
The second wild-card was added late in the spring, long after the schedule had been drawn and the dates set out for the postseason. You don't want the World Series going into November if you can avoid it (Game Seven is Nov. 1 this year) so you have to limit travel days in the early rounds. You have to have them after Games 2 and 5 of the LCS, so the only real option is keep things tight in the division series.
You added an extra wild-card game and had the fear of tiebreakers and rain really messing with the schedule. So the decision was made to drop the 2-2-1 format for the division series and go back to 2-3, which is how it was in the early years when the wild-card took over in 1995.
Teams howled back then it was unfair and I would think the Yankees, A's, Nationals and Reds all agree (Cincinnati broke through with a 2-0 run in San Francisco). I remember covering the 99-win Indians of 1996 and they were furious they had to open in Baltimore. They lost both games there, won Game Three at home but lost Game Four in 12 innings. That was a better team than the '97 Tribe that went to the World Series but it was the Yankees and Orioles who played in the '96 ALCS.
Still, a Wall Street Journal blog this week showed a negligible impact on the result of the series based on 2-3 or 2-2-1. And, the best team still has Game Five at home anyway.
Here's the good part: It's a one-year thing. Next year's schedule is built to accommodate the days better. Selig & Co. have already said the division series goes back to 2-2-1 next year. As it should. And nothing has changed for the LCS or World Series. That's 2-3-2 as they've long been.
(AP Photo: Bryce Harper (34) and the Nationals are introduced Wednesday afternoon prior to their first home playoff game against the Cardinals)