CINCINNATI -- From the department of "just in case," Brewers director of team travel Dan Larrea has been a lot busier than expected lately. Larrea is responsible for getting the Brewers where they need to be in the event they pull off a miraculous return to the postseason. It remains a mathematical long shot, with the team 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals as of Thursday morning with seven games to play, but Larrea's job is to be ready if that gap disappears. Larrea showed a reporter a spreadsheet built at the start of September, with a myriad of scenarios for postseason travel, including the event that three teams tie for the second National League Wild Card spot. If you read the tiebreaker rules on MLB.com, you'll appreciate the complexity of the task.
Here's one wild scenario: If the Brewers, Cardinals and Dodgers all own the same record after Wednesday, then the Cardinals would travel to Los Angeles for one game on Oct. 4, the winner would host the Brewers to decide the second Wild Card on Oct. 5, the winner of that game would play the Braves in Atlanta on Oct. 6, and the winner of that game would advance to the NL Division Series beginning Oct. 7.
"I have a charter standing by, because there is a chance that we could take a flight for four straight nights," Larrea said. "That's like the NBA, with a lot bigger traveling party."He also has blocks of hotel rooms reserved in all of the Brewers' potential destinations. It helps, Larrea said, that the Brewers have been through this sort of uncertainty in two of the past four years, having won the Wild Card in 2008 and the NL Central in '11. Larrea began thinking about the potential of the postseason around the end of the Brewers' 13-game run against the Cubs and Pirates in late August, during which they went 11-2 and jumped into the Wild Card discussion. On Wednesday, he had a conference call with United Airlines, the Brewers' official carrier, to discuss the various scenarios. Similar preparations are quietly underway at Miller Park, where a lottery for single-game postseason tickets opened at Brewers.com on Monday. All of this seemed impossible in the third week of August, when the Brewers fell 12 games under .500 and 12 1/2 games behind the second Wild Card at their low point. "The plans had been shelved at that point, but I had to re-open the cabinet, if you will," Larrea said. "But it's good. You want to have those challenges."