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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : DODGERS

Does Wild Card Get a Better Deal?

September 25, 1996|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Strange as it seems, it it may be more advantageous to win the wild card berth than the National League West. The winner of the NL West must open the playoffs with two games in St. Louis before returning home for the final three games of the best-of-five series. The wild-card champion opens with the first two games at home before traveling to Atlanta for the potential final three games.

Wouldn't it be much easier playing the first two games at home, and if you must beat Atlanta anyway, aren't the Braves more vulnerable in a best-of-five series than the best-of-seven series in the second round of the playoffs?

"Sure, it makes sense," Dodger first baseman Eric Karros said. "Look at last year. Colorado could very easily have beaten Atlanta in that short series. Anything can happen in a short series. But then again, in a short series, it till means you would have to face [Greg] Maddux or [John] Smoltz twice.

"I also think the home-field advantage can be overrated. Sorry, it's not that overwhelming to play on the road. Really, I don't care where we go, except for one place. I do not want to go to Montreal. I don't want any part of Montreal and that six-hour flight.

"But whatever gives you the psychological advantage, hey, that's what you want. I really don't know which would be better as long as you get to the World Series."

*

If the Dodgers already had a playoff spot clinched, but not the division title, would they still start ace Ramon Martinez on Sunday?

"I can't answer that right now," Manager Bill Russell said, "I really can't."

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