Newsday’s Neil Best isn’t waiting for the TV Guide with Captain Red Ass on the cover.
It is possible that on Saturday, Oct. 7, the Mets and Yankees could play at the same time depending on what goes on elsewhere, but everyone involved is certain to try to avoid that.
More likely, the Mets will be in the same boat as most teams: slotted in after the Yankees assume their customary place in prime time.
By the weekend, the scheduling variables are too numerous to mention here, so let’s focus on Games 1 and 2:
One bit of good news is that because the Mets have the first two games at home, they will not play in the very late slot on a weeknight, as they famously did in Arizona in 1999.
If the Yankees hold on to home field, they, too, will avoid a late start early in the series, unlike when they visited Anaheim last October.
Assuming Fox and ESPN put the Yankees in prime time Oct. 3 and 4 (a good bet) and the Mets face the wild-card winner, the Mets likely would play at 4 p.m. Oct. 4 and at 8 on Oct. 5.
If the Phillies grab the wild card and the Mets face a division winner, they probably would play at 4 p.m. Oct. 3 and at 8 on Oct. 5.
One potential wrinkle: If the Mets meet the Dodgers, the networks might deem a New York-L.A. match worth bumping the Yankees out of prime time on Oct. 3 and/or 4.
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman proposes that each league add a 2nd wild card team.
Under this plan, the wild card winners would play a best-of-three series on three consecutive days beginning the first day after the regular season ends. The winner of those series would then immediately face the team with the best record in their league, regardless if they are in the same division, in a best-of-five Division Series.
1. Winning a division should really mean something. Doing it this way, a division winner automatically gets three days off as the two wild cards play, allowing for rest and to set up your rotation however you want.
This would stop teams from coasting in September when they know they have a wild card sealed and don’t want to over-exert to try to win the division. Who would simply accept a wild card again?
You would have to play a highly risky best-of-three, and – even if your team wins that – it is going to be left exhausted and potentially having to go with a third or fourth starter to open the Division Series.
Therefore, wild cards would receive hardship and division winners would receive a rightful award for success over 162 games.
2. Having the best record in the league should really mean something. Right now, the Yanks know they are going to win the AL East. So Joe Torre can be cautious with Mariano Rivera and judicious about playing time for veterans.
But the Yanks went into last night with just a one-game lead on Detroit for the AL’s best record. What would Torre be doing if the compensation for the AL’s best record were to get the winner of the best-of-three wild card round?
Just imagine the benefits derived from having three days off, the home-field advantage and facing a wild-card team wearied by travel and extra games. Would Torre really be using Nick Green this cavalierly if those were the rewards?
I suspect Jerry Reinsdorf, whose White Sox trail the Twins by 3 games in the AL Wild Card chase, could see the logic in Sherman’s proposal, for this year at least.