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Extra wildcard spot a great idea Marlins say, but would '97, '03 World Series teams have won it all with an extra game?

JUPITER -- Major League Baseball is expected to announce today it will expand its playoff system to five teams, pitting two wild card teams in a one-game playoff before continuing the current division and league championship series format.

As far as the Marlins are concerned, an extra spot to make the post-season is a great idea.

"If that's what we need then I like it," ace Josh Johnson said Thursday morning before the team's workout. "Once we get to the playoffs then it's a totally different ballgame. It's win that one game and go from there."

Said second baseman Omar Infante: "I think it's very interesting. To have another team be able to qualify for the playoffs is very good. Hopefully it happens so it gives another good team a shot to win it all."

The Marlins of course won both of their World Series titles as wild card teams in 1997 and 2003. But what if they would have had to play an extra game just to advance? Would the Marlins have gone on to win those titles?

Herald Sports writer Clark Spencer researched the 2003 season and discovered the Marlins would have had to face Houston in a one-game playoff that season. The Astros would have been in line to send ace Roy Oswalt to the mound, who finished that season having won his last four decisions and posting a 2.00 ERA. The Marlins finished 1-5 versus the Astros that season. 

"Would have been a hell of a matchup between him and Josh Beckett," Marlins color analyst Tommy Hutton said of the one-game playoff that never took place. 

In 1997, both the Mets and Dodgers finished tied behind the Marlins for the runner-up to the wild card spot with 88-74 records. The best pitchers on those staffs were the Dodgers' Hideo Nomo and the Mets' Rick Reed.

Since the wild card was instituted in 1994 when MLB expanded to three divisions per league, five teams have gone on to win it all. The other teams besides the Marlins were the 2002 Anaheim Angels, 2004 Boston Red Sox and last year's St. Louis Cardinals.

The one-game wild-card games in each league are likely to be scheduled for Friday, Oct. 5 or Saturday, Oct. 6, allowing the best-of-five Division Series to begin on Monday, Oct. 8 as MLB tries to squeeze those games into the 20-day window to determine pennant winners. The World Series is expected to begin Wednesday, Oct. 24.


Johnson, who will start against the Cardinals Monday in the spring training opener here at Roger Dean Stadium, participated in his first Pro-Am Wednesday at the PGA National Resort.

Because of rain in the area, though, Johnson said he was only able to get nine holes in. His team consisted of former major leaguer Rusty Staub and former Dolphins kicker Jay Feely.

"It was an awesome experience," Johnson said. "I played okay. First hole, it was just a bad drive. Other than that the only bad hole was -- nine [which] wasn't that bad. I had a couple guys putting for birdie on that one so I just picked up my ball. I tried to chip in for par a few times, but that was about it."

Johnson's caddy flew in from Las Vegas to participate in the event, which is part of the Honda Classic. Johnson said he usually plays a round of golf once or twice a week in the off-season when he's back home in Vegas.

"Hopefully, I'll get to do it a lot more," Johnson said of participating in pro-ams. "It's always fun to get out there and hit with the PGA guys and see how they're hitting balls, how they're playing holes and how they select their shot for each hole."