PHILADELPHIA -- The new playoff format that goes into effect this season is sure to be a hit among fans, who get to see one more team in the postseason mix and plenty more fighting for the additional Wild Card spot.
Just don't count Davey Johnson among those who like the new format.
The skipper of the first-place Nats is not a proponent of the new system, which requires teams to win their division if they want to have a guaranteed spot in the Division Series. The two Wild Card teams from each league will meet in a one-game playoff to determine who faces the team with the best record in each league in the Division Series.
"Everybody was all ranting and raving about how wonderful another Wild Card is," Johnson said. "The way I looked at it, it was the worst thing that could happen. The only Wild Card didn't make any difference back then because you were right in the playoffs. Now you have [the one-game] playoff. It really eliminated, to me, the choices on what you had. You need to win the pennant."
The Nationals own not only the best record in the National League, but the best mark in baseball. If the season were to have ended before Saturday's game, they'd open the first round -- on the road as the top seed (this year only, due to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement) -- against either the Cardinals or Braves.
The Giants and Reds would play in the other Division Series.
With a 6 1/2-game lead on the second-place Braves, the Nationals have a great chance of avoiding the Wild Card predicament, which would also mean avoiding burning the team's No. 1 starter in the one-game playoff. But that doesn't mean the thought hasn't occurred to Johnson.
"It's all about matchups, but you want to play good enough during the year so you're in the first round of the playoffs, period," Johnson said. "Not a [one-game] playoff. I did the math when it first came out, and I said I really don't like that added Wild Card. ... The Wild Card was like winning the pennant. Now, there's a playoff. That ain't nothing. One game? Flip a coin. Burn your ace. That's just the worst possible scenario. Maybe it's good for fans in other towns, but as far as managers, we cringe at the thought of another Wild Card."