This is a BP Premium article. To read it, sign up for Premium today!
October 2, 2012 5:00 am
Ever wondered what would happen if five teams tied for a division title? Don't expect any answers: the scary thing is, no one knows.
With three days remaining in the regular season, there were still three divisions—AL East, AL Central, and AL East—where we could conceivably have seen a two-way tie for first place. With two days remaining, we're down to one potential two-way tie (AL East), not counting the NL wild card. A two-way tie would mean baseball this Thursday, the day after each team plays its 162nd game and the day before the wild-card playoffs. Baseball on Thursday is better than no baseball, and a two-way tie is better than no tie at all. But breaking a two-way tie is distressingly simple: all it takes is a one-game playoff. True fans of Team Entropy crave more chaos. We want more teams to tie.
Add another team or two to the mix, and the playoff picture becomes much more complex: it takes nearly 2000 words to summarize all the scenarios for three-team and four-team ties on MLB.com’s profoundly puzzling “How to determine playoff tiebreakers” page. There are A, B, C, and D designations, 36 uses of the word “tentatively,” and three sentences that contain the phrase, “highest winning percentage in the last half plus one intraleague game, provided that such additional game was not between any of the tied Clubs.” You can’t read the whole page without ending up in the fetal position in front of your computer, feeling your hold on sanity slipping.