ANYONE NEED TICKETS? Postseason baseball -- at least the National League Division Series -- has gone from tough ticket to tough sell.
There are thousands of seats available for the NLDS games at Turner Field, the result of several factors. If the Braves have home-field advantage for the Division Series, their first two games will be weekday afternoon games, conflicting with school and work schedules.
The home-field advantage is by no means a lock. It is unknown if the Braves will be playing at home during the week, or whether they will be playing the St. Louis Cardinals or the San Francisco Giants.
"I'd like for them to be full, because they will be everywhere else," Braves second baseman Keith Lockhart said. "Anybody who plays this game wants it to be sold out."
Regardless, a repeat of last year's Division Series against the Houston Astros, when Turner Field had 10,000 empty seats, seems likely. Braves publicist Jim Schultz said there was more interest for the final regular-season series against the Rockies than for the Division Series.
"I didn't really notice it, because the people who were here were loud and into the game," Lockhart said. "I wouldn't care if there were 20,000 people here as long as they're into the game and loud."
The Braves entered Friday's game a game back of the Giants for the NL's best record, tied with the Cardinals. If that condition holds through the weekend, they'll open the postseason in St. Louis. If they finish tied with the Giants or if all three teams finish with the same records, Atlanta will open at home by virtue of their combined record against the Giants and Cardinals.
IN THE AIR: The wild card setup has the Braves scrambling for home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs, a situation they have not been in since the format was employed in 1995. But it's not the strangest final-weekend setup they've endured.
"One year we were on the plane to the west coast and we didn't know where we were going," left-hander Tom Glavine said.
That was in 1996, when they took off from New York and did not know if they were flying to San Diego or Los Angeles.
"It seems like every year it's been weird," Glavine said. "This year it's different. If we get home-field, we'll control a lot more."
The umpire rotations for the Division Series were announced Friday, and they'll be sporting new uniforms.
For Atlanta's first two games, they'll have a crew led by 24-year veteran Jerry Crawford. Rich Rieker will call balls and strikes for Game 1, while Terry Craft will be at first base, Crawford at second, Brian Gorman at third, Rocky Roe on the left-field line and Mike DiMuro on the right-field line.
Blind hitting instructor Mark Wetzel visited Braves hitting coach Merv Rettenmund before Friday's game.
Wetzel, who is legally blind but able to watch games on TV with the aid of magnification, was introduced to Rettenmund by San Diego pitching coach Danny Warthen when Rettenmund was with the Padres. He was the subject of a CNN feature story, which was taped Friday.
"If he can stand up close, he can tell what a guy's doing," Rettenmund said. "I think he wants to work in professional baseball. ... Teams I guess are a little wary because of his vision."
Wetzel has worked with a number of minor-league and amateur players, including current Brave Steve Sisco.
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