Hurdle fan of Wild Card, but wants division title

Hurdle fan of Wild Card, but wants division title

Hurdle fan of Wild Card, but wants division title

PITTSBURGH -- Clint Hurdle thinks Major League Baseball's Wild Card concept is grand -- just not for his team, not now.

With the Pirates tied for the National League Central lead entering Monday's beginning of the 13-game run to the wire, Hurdle does not want his players to take their eyes and minds off priority No. 1 -- raising that division flag.

As a concept, however, the manager endorsed the twin Wild Card setup -- mindful that baseball's other five divisions do not have gripping races, with second-place teams an average of 8 1/2 games behind the leaders.

"I'm for what's good for the game, and what's good for cities and their fans," Hurdle said. "The added value [Wild Cards] bring for certain fan bases to stay engaged longer ... I think it's good for the game."

Having the Wild Card precede the Pirates' NL Central carrot does create quite a dilemma for a team that hasn't uncorked anything for 21 years: the Bucs will clinch a Wild Card spot long before the division is settled, possibly by the end of this week.

How much celebrating do you do?

"I haven't given it any thought," Hurdle conceded. "Those aren't things you orchestrate. It'll happen when and how it's meant to happen, then we'll continue to take care of games in front of us."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.