PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Pirates will wrap the season up this afternoon, and some of the players won't linger.
Some of them have booked flights home for as early as 5:30 p.m., just about five hours after today's season finale against the Atlanta Braves begins.
There will be a fleet of town cars and other vehicles heading from PNC Park to the airport after the game.
You can't blame the players for being anxious to get home after a six-month season. Perhaps the way this season ended added to the urgency to get out of town.
The playoffs start this weekend with the play-in games for the wild card entrants in both leagues.
This is the first year for the dual wild card plan, and it's been nothing less than a huge success.
Fans have bought into the idea of the second wild card, even though the postseason could be over in one game.
This is a fundamental rule of sports: Create some urgency, and it will seem important. Fans were scoreboard watching to see if their favorite team could be the fifth-best in the league.
Baseball borrowed a page from other sports in expanding playoffs. MLB also found out what the other sports already knew. It sells.
The Pittsburgh Penguins players are becoming painfully aware that the season won't start on time.
Wonder if they're catching on to the idea that they could be idle for a while?
The owners have shown they're willing to shut down the game. The NHL is the only league to surrender an entire season to a labor dispute.
They might not be willing to go that far this time, but the cancellation of games bothers them far less than it will the players.
Just a reminder
Check the "Mainly Mehno" blog at altoonamirror.com this afternoon for the winner of the annual "How Many Games Will the Pirates Win" contest.
The number will be either 79 or 80, and there are multiple contenders for both of those.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org