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Unfit to Be Tied?
2005-09-29 22:36
by Mike Carminati

How could the baseball gods have done this to us? The Indians and White Sox lock up for a three game series with three games separating them starting tomorrow.

That's a classic setup, right? It's a long shot, but we all imagine the Indians sweeping the series and setting up one-game playoff to decide the division champ Bucky Dent style.

Well, we'd be wrong.

The tiebreaker rules that have been imposed since the advent of the not-so wild card establish that the Sox are the champs.

If the Indians were to sweep and thereby tie the White Sox in the standings, both teams would make the playoffs since the second place team in the East could not have a record as good as the Central co-champs.

Both the Indians and Chisox would be 96-76. The best the second-place team in the East could do would be 95-77 (both the Red Sox and Yankees would be tied with this record if Boston wins two of three in their series).

Given that both teams would make the playoffs, baseball simply uses their head-to-head record which the Sox lead 11-5 and would still win, 11-8, after the sweep. The Sox would then win the division. Who cares if we cut short an historic pennant race?

So what about the other playoff scenarios? If the Yankees win the final series with the Red Sox (either 2-1 or 3-0), then it's simple. They win the division. The Sox have a shot at the wild card if they have a better record than the Indians. If Boston and Cleveland tie, then it's a one-game playoff.

OK, let's say the Red Sox sweep the series, that too is easy. The Red Sox win the division, and the Yankees fight it out for the wild card with the Indians.

The one scenario that gets a bit wacky is if Boston takes two of three from the Yankees. In this case, the two teams would be tied for the division lead. This would lead to a one-game playoff. The loser of the playoff would make the playoffs if they had a better record (including the playoff) than the Indians.

It gets a bit sticky if the Indians take two from Chicago, resulting in a three-way tie. The Yanks-Sox playoff would still happen with the winner taking the division title and the loser out of the playoffs. The Indians would get in automatically even though they would be tied with the two other teams prior to the playoff.

The NL is a bit simpler with the Phils needing a sweep of the Nats to guarantee a wild card spot. If the Astros win two or more games in their final series, they take the wild card. Two Phillies wins coupled with one Astro win or one Phils win and all losses for the Astros result in a one-game playoff.

2005-09-30 00:35:49
1.   Ken Arneson
I'm pretty sure they changed that three-way tie rule a couple years ago. If two teams in one division tie with a third wild card team, they'd first play a tiebreaker division game, and then the loser would play the wild card game.

2005-09-30 06:00:35
2.   rbilotta
I'm disappointed in the tiebreaker rules. The way it worked out this year it gives the Indians, who cannot win their division this year, an unfair advantage over the Yankees and Red Sox. The White Sox have little incentive to win anymore, while the Indians have all the incentive in the world. Moreover both of the Indians playoff competitors have to play each other. The tiebreaker that prevented the Indians from winning the division, ironically aids them in winning the Wild Card.
2005-09-30 06:26:34
3.   Jen
Wait, if NY and Boston are tied, and they have better records than Cleveland, wouldn't the division go to the team with the better head-to-head record?
2005-09-30 09:52:10
4.   alasky

You have the playoff rules wrong...they were changed as Ken said. If the Yanks, Red Sox, and Indians all tie, then the loser of the Yanks v. Red Sox playoff would play the Indians in order to determine the wildcard

2005-09-30 14:05:46
5.   Bob Timmermann
That would happen if the White Sox win 2 of 3 in Chicago and Boston wins 2 of 3 against the Yankees.

Cleveland stays home.

Chicago plays Boston in the first round and the Yankees play the Angels. If the Angels were to sweep the Rangers this weekend, they would have home field against the Yankees.

2005-09-30 20:35:51
6.   Mike Carminati
Right, baseball did change the rules. I found documentation on the site:

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