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Baseball playoffs could impact Cal-USC site

7/28/2011

The Cal Bears will play their home games at AT&T Park in San Francisco this season as Memorial Stadium undergoes a $321 million facelift. But there’s one problem looming.

AT&T Park is the home of the defending World Champions, the San Francisco Giants, who are comfortably ensconced in first place in the National League West. National League Playoffs begin on Sat., Oct. 1. Cal is scheduled to play its Homecoming against USC on Thursday night, Oct. 13, which would fall during the National League Championship Series.

“If the Giants go deep into the playoffs,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford told me Thursday on the ESPNU College Football Podcast, “there could be a couple of games there that could overlap. That would be an interesting problem to have at that point.

Actually, the USC game is the only one at issue, thanks to the stylings of Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder. Utah is scheduled to play at Cal on Saturday, Oct. 22. That’s the day of Game 3 of the World Series. Since the National League, fueled by Fielder’s three-run homer, won the All-Star Game, 5-1, Game 3 will be played in the park of the American League champion.

“We are currently working with all of the alternative facilities (Candlestick Park and Oakland Coliseum) to secure a backup in case of a conflict,” Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour said in an email reply.

The Bears will open the season against Fresno State at Candlestick Park, but the home of the 49ers will be a neutral site.

The site of the NLCS games won’t be known until the two teams are determined, because home-field advantage is based on regular-season records. So Cal must prepare a contingency. It would make Tedford’s life easier if the Giants failed to hold their three-game lead over Arizona, right? Tedford all but blanched.

“No, no, no,” he said. “I am actually a Giant fan, so no, I do not root against them. I’m happy when they’re successful because that puts everybody in a good mood in the Bay Area.”