Still, and with Wild Card, Division Series and League Championship Series assignments already made and distributed amongst the MLB umpiring ranks, some have started to speculate, just days in advance of the league's customary press release. Says Russ:
I am very interested how the Playoff Umpire crews will work with 10 teams now instead of 8.Will they use LCS crews for the play in game? will they have the same LDS crew that will do the 1 vs 4 series? Will they have even more Umpires in the Playoffs? I doubt the last suggestion is true but it will be interesting to see for sure. I also suspect we will see the CC work Game 3 behind the Plate in the LDS again. The higher seed now hosts games 3-5 and are on the road games 1-2. Like Bart Scott says, Can't Wait!!!Russ has also found the crews working MLB's high profile pennant chase games during this final series: Last year, crew chiefs primarily handled "big games," with John Hirschbeck, Joe West, Dale Scott and Kerwin Danley working the plate for the final day's big games (including Red Sox-Orioles [Hirschbeck] and Yankees-Rays [West]).
This season, the Sox-Yankees series will feature CB Bucknor behind the plate, Ted Barrett will take Orioles-Rays, Gary Cederstrom has Rangers-A's after tweaking the rotation to give the crew chief the plate, Alfonso Marquez will have the Reds-Cardinals and Greg Gibson will take Phillies-Nationals. The Reds and Nats are still competing for the NL's #1 seed, while the Cardinals could clinch the Wild Card Tuesday or Wednesday. Accordingly, the Dodgers-Giants finale, a possibly meaningful game, has Larry Vanover. The Dodgers could also be eliminated Tuesday, a Paul Emmel game. Chad Fairchild goes Tuesday in St. Louis.
It is an intriguing argument [or coincidence] as West, Scott and Danley each worked the 2011 postseason. The question then becomes, will LCS work the Wild Card play-in, similar to past tie-breaker contests?
In 2009, umpires Randy Marsh, Scott, Jerry Layne, Gary Cederstrom, Fieldin Culbreth and Bruce Dreckman worked the Tigers-Twins tiebreaker. Each went on to work a 2009 LCS. The exact same pattern of assignment occurred in 2008 (MIN-CWS), though in 2007, Tim Tschida, Culbreth and Jim Wolf worked both the SD-COL Wild Card tiebreaker and a subsequent Division Series.
Present agreement and stipulation with the umpires' union states that umpires shall not work back-to-back Special Event series; because the Wild Card play-in game is officially part of the postseason, it qualifies as a Special Event, though it is unclear whether it will be treated like the All-Star Game, which is specifically exempted from the above selection restriction.