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September 10, 2003
by Christian Ruzich
With three weeks left in the season, it's the most wide-open playoff race in years. Half of the franchises in Major League Baseball are within three games of a playoff spot, and fans in places as unlikely as Kansas City, Miami, and the north side of Chicago are starting sentences with "If the postseason started today." Of course, having so many teams in contention leads to lots of questions. What if the Yankees and Red Sox end up tied for the AL East lead? What if they have the same record as the Mariners? What if the Cubs, Cardinals and Astros end up tied for the NL Central lead? What if five teams tie for the Wild Card? Inquiring minds want to know. Many of these questions can be answered by reading through the playoff tie-breaker scenarios that Major League Baseball used to have on its Web site, but those rules have a couple of serious flaws: 1. Understanding them is about as easy as filling out a 1040 long form. 2. Major League Baseball has changed them, but hasn't told anyone yet. Using the most current information from MLB, here are the possibilities. Additional reporting was conducted to fill in some of the gaps MLB left out.
June 16, 2003
by Christian Ruzich
Oakland Athletics outfielder Adam Piatt knows the stretch of I-80 between Oakland and Sacramento all too well. He's driven the stretch of road a dozen times in the past three years, going back and forth on the Sacramento Shuttle between the A's and the Triple-A River Cats. Driving the 90 miles between Network Associates Coliseum and Raley Field means a lot more than wear on your car; it means the difference between being in the majors and being one of thousands who are trying to get there.
"I didn't quite understand the process when I got to the majors," says Piatt. "I figured they had brought me up to play. Then I got optioned down, and it was hard for me. But by about the fifth or sixth time I got sent down, I learned that it wasn't personal, that it's just how the system works."
The rules that govern baseball on the field are complex. But there is another rulebook, one that governs the movement of players and roster management. A large part of this book details the world of options and waivers, and we're here to try and make these often-confusing subjects as simple as we can.