The Definitive Plan for Breaking A 3-Way Tie For A Wild Card Spot

St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (26) forces out Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Ben Zobrist (18) as he attemped to steal at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Three weeks ago, Al Yellon wrote on this very site about the impending "pile-up" in the American League wild card race. On the morning of August 5, there were five teams within 1.5 games of the two wild-card spots. The standings looked liked this:

Athletics

58-49

--

Angels

58-50

--

Tigers

57-50

½

Rays

56-51

1½

Orioles

56-51

1½

Three weeks later, those same five teams are still competing for the wild card, although their fortunes have changed. As of this morning, the American League wild-card standings look like this:

Rays

70-57

--

Athletics

69-57

--

Orioles

69-57

--

Tigers

68-58

1

Angels

66-61

3½

The picture is much the same in the National League with five teams separated by 3½ games. The Giants currently lead the National League West by two games over the Dodgers, but sit a game-and-a-half ahead of the Cardinals for the second wild card. As of this morning, the National League wild card standings look like this:

Braves

72-55

--

Cardinals

69-57

--

Dodgers

69-58

½

Pirates

68-58

1

As Al Yellon explained on August 5, MLB created a very tight postseason schedule when it added the second wild card after the regular-season schedule had already been drawn up. The regular season ends on Wednesday, October 3. The NL and AL wild card games are scheduled for Friday, October 5, with the Division Series starting on Saturday, October 6. By adding the wild card play-in game to the schedule as an afterthought, MLB left very little time for what now looks like a very real possibility: a two, three, or even four-team tie for one or both wild-card spots.

MLB has been aware of the scheduling problems created by a tie for the wild-card spots, and has done nothing to address them. ESPN's Jayston Stark wrote this in early March:

There's now too strong a likelihood that there could be at least one tiebreaker on that Thursday to settle a division or wild-card race. Under this system, remember, virtually every tie would have to be settled on the field, because the difference between finishing first and being a wild card is too significant to be left to any sort of mathematical formula.


If there is, in fact, a tiebreaker Thursday, it would create a serious mess. Potentially, it could force a team to play its regular-season finale Wednesday in one city, a Thursday tiebreaker in another city and the Friday wild-card showdown in a third city.

And that's just if there's one tiebreaker to be played. What if there are two or three?

MLB hasn't done anything to figure this out, so we've stepped into the breach. Let's face it. There simply isn't enough time in the current schedule for multiple tiebreaker games before the Division Series start on October 6. So, in fairness to none of the potential teams tied for a wild-card spot, we propose the following:

American League Tiebreakers

If the Rays win the first wild card and the A's, Tigers and and Orioles tie for the second wild card:

  • The tie between the A's and Tigers goes to the A's, as a result of the Oakland Raiders' victory over the Detroit Lions in a pre-season football game.
  • The A's will compete in a best-of-three Rock-Paper-Scissors competition with the Orioles. Each team is represented by its oldest ball-dude.

If the Rays win the first wild card, and the A's, White Sox and Orioles tie for the second wild card:

  • The winner will be decided by a Top Chef competition with Alice Waters representing Oakland, Art Smith representing Chicago and Duff Goldman representing Baltimore. ESPN's Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus' Keith Goldstein will be the judges.
If the Orioles win the first wild card, and the A's, Tigers, and Rays tie for the second wild card:
  • The winner will be decided by a mascot wrestling competition among Stomper, Paws, and Raymond. WWE rules will apply.
If the Orioles win the first wild card, and the A's, White Sox and Rays tie for the second wild card:
  • The winner will be decided by a carnival-like dunk tank involving each team's general manager. Each team's bullpen catcher will try to dunk the other teams' GMs into the tank. The team whose GM is last to fall into the tank wins the second wild card.
If the A's win the first wild card, they get a new stadium in San Jose and skip the 2012 postseason, which most likely resolves any tie for the first and second wild cards.

Any two- or three-team tie involving the Angels will be decided by a Mad Tea Party marathon at Disneyland. The last team still riding the Mad Tea Party wins the wild card spot.

National League Tiebreakers

If the Braves win the first wild card, and the Cardinals, Dodgers and Pirates tie for the second wild card:
  • The winner will be decided by a home-run derby held at Coors Field in Denver.
If the Braves win the first wild card, and the Cardinals, Giants and Pirates tie for the second wild card:
  • The winner will be decided by a round-robin tug-of-war tournament.
If the Giants win the first wild card, and the Braves, Cardinals and Pirates tie for the second wild card:
  • The winner will be decided by a single-elimination H-O-R-S-E tournament of each team's best shooter against Magic Johnson.
If the Dodgers win the first wild card, and the Braves, Cardinals and Pirates tie for the second wild card:
  • The winner will be decided by a kayak race in McCovey Cove.
If the Cardinals win the first wild card, and the Braves, Pirates and Giants or Dodgers tie for the second wild card:
  • The winner will decided by double elimination tournament on MLB '12 The Show. Each team will be represented by its oldest batboy.
If the Pirates win the first wild card, there will be so much rejoicing about "competitive balance," MLB will simply elimininate the second wild card, just this once.

We're pretty happy with our wild-card tiebreaking plan. But if you have a better idea, leave it in the comments.
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.