VIERA, Fla. - Davey Johnson doesn't mind the notion of Major League Baseball adding a playoff team in each league. But he'd prefer the Nationals not try to sneak in as a wild card team.
"Now you're talking about a third way to make the playoffs," he said. "I never look at (that option). I always address it as winning the division. I think everybody does that manages. ... Only when that is out of reach do you look at other options."
Should baseball follow through with its plans to expand the playoffs by a team in each league, creating a one-game playoff between wild cards to see who would advance to the league division series, closer Drew Storen said it will be easier for teams from the competitive National League East to find their way into the postseason when one team otherwise might have been squeezed out.
"Obviously, we're excited about it because we want to be in there," Storen said. "It helps. It's going to help our playoff chances, and our goal is to play in the playoffs. I think it's going to be good for the game because of the excitement that playoff baseball brings to people who aren't even your casual baseball fans."
It's possible, under the structure expected to be approved and announced soon, that there could be a single-game playoff to decide a divisional champion, or a playoff of teams tied for the wild card, before the extra one-game round that will be fit between the end of the regular season and the division series. Those pre-playoff playoffs could require cross-country travel and ruin pitching rotations, giving a decided advantage to the division winners.
"The chances of that happening? If it does happen, that would be a little crazy. If that happens, it will be cool because it will be so unique and so weird," Storen said. "It helps when you're playing in a really hard division like we have."
Veteran infielder Mark DeRosa doesn't have a problem with the division winners getting a distinct upper hand.
"You don't want a third-place team crawling in there with two horses on the mound and a short series and them taking you down," he said. "In that regard, I think it could be scary. But I love the fact that it makes the season that much more enjoyable for a lot more towns. ... You can finish third and still get in and I think that offers a lot of possibilities for it to be more exciting."
Last year, when races went down to the 162nd game of the season, created an atmosphere more conducive to better performances, DeRosa said.
"It brings people to the stadium - no one likes playing in an empty park," he said. "You can poll all these guys in there. You bring your A-game when there's 40,000 people in there. I'm sure you tell yourself you're bringing your A-game when there's not, but you have a tendency to lose sight. I think it makes for a very exciting season and there will be a lot more intense baseball down the stretch."