Joe Girardi was nearly a half-hour late for his private pregame session with the beat writers today, and no, it wasn't because he was working up the courage to tell Alex Rodriguez he was dropping him to sixth in the lineup.
The reason, the Yankees manager said, was because of baseball's postseason schedule this year, which was compressed to make room for the last-minute addition of the wild-card play-in game. It's a blatant money grub by MLB that caused there to be no day off between the end of one ALDS and the start of the ALCS.
Girardi said he was still doing his pregame preparations for the Game 1 against the Tigers tonight, work he normally would have done on the off day between the series.
"It's really strange," Girardi said of the quick turnaround. "And then getting up this morning and going through a ton of things in my head and trying to do as much work as I could. I'm still not quite done and usually at this point I'm done, but I'm not done yet."
Girardi agreed that the schedule essentially amounted to a penalty for finishing with the best record in the American League, a "perk" the Yankees earned on the last day of the regular season.
Asked if having the top seed in the playoffs felt like a handicap, Girardi said, "This year, it does. This year it is, in a sense. We all knew there were flaws in the system this year, because TV was all set up and then they added the team. But it's just, you know, you always have a day off between a series. It something they've always done and I wish they would have found a way to adjust it. But we do have home-field advantage and that's the good part. We're built for this park."
And asked if he thought the rushed format would work against his team in the ALCS, Girardi said, "Well, only time will tell. You got to go out and win games anyway, no matter what, but it always helps being able to rest your bullpen."
The Tigers needed to go five games to win their ALDS as well, but because of the schedule -- their series with the Oakland Athletics began and ended a day earlier than Yankees-Orioles -- Jim Leyland brings his pitching staff to the ALCS fully rested, although his ace, Justin Verlander, will not be ready to go until Game 3 in Detroit on Tuesday.