Skip to content

The AL wild card tiebreaker could be bananas

Sep 23, 2011, 9:50 AM EDT


Whenever there is an outrageously wild game going on — usually college basketball, but sometimes baseball too — my friend Amanda Rykoff of espnW tweets that it’s “bananas.”  I wouldn’t dare speak for her, but I think she would agree that the AL wild card tiebreaker has some serious bananas potential.

If two teams are tied when the regular season is over, a one-game playoff will be held next Thursday. If the Rays are involved, the game will be played at Tropicana Field. If it’s between the Red Sox and Angels, the game is in Boston.  Simple enough so far.  OK, now it gets tricky.

A three-way tie will mean two playoff games, one on Thursday and one on Friday. Because of the various tiebreakers involved, the Rays would be the top seed, the Red Sox the second seed and the Angels the third. Here I’m just gonna quote Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune, because I think he laid it out better than anyone:

As the top seed, the Rays would have their choice between three plans, with the Red Sox picking second and the Angels getting what’s left.

Plan A: Get to play both games at home, providing you win Game 1.

Plan B: Play the first game on the road, win that and get the second game at home.

Plan C: Play the winner of Game 1, but do so on the road.

Got it?  Good. And no, no one knows what Joe Maddon would pick right now, because he wouldn’t say.  But let’s remember that the Rays didn’t exactly benefit from home field advantage in last year’s playoffs. They have a slight home field advantage in 2011. If I were them I take option C and play one game for the wild card rather than two, home field options be damned.

So, yeah, bananas.

  1. bravesman1983 - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Damn. I was hoping it actually involved bananas.

  2. derekjetersmansion - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Too soon?

  3. easports82 - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    I don’t see why either the Rays or Sox would take option B, unless they were planning on vacationing in Hawaii in October and wanted to get one of the flights out of the way.

  4. alexpoterack - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Maybe I’m missing something, but it looks to me like you have to rank those options C, A, B in order of preference

  5. shaggylocks - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    Wait, could someone tell me why any team with the first pick would want anything other than Plan C? Isn’t one game easier to win than two games in row, regardless of where it’s played?

    • bigxrob - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      If it were a team like the brewers (52 – 23 at home, 39 – 42 on the road), would they consider the two at home v. 1 on the road?
      Probably not, but they may consider it.

      • bigxrob - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM

        I should probably proof read what I type.
        disregard the second sentance.

    • phukyouk - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      yea im in the same boat as you

  6. sdelmonte - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    I say let’s play a three sided game.

    First two innings: Team A bats first against Team B, then Team B bats against Team C, and then Team C bats against Team A.

    Next two innings: Team A bats against Team C, Team B bats against Team A, Team C bats against Team A.

    Last three innings: The two teams with the most runs play the rest of the game.

    Home field is determined by a random number generator.

    Outlandish? You bet. But a lot easier to explain.

    • CJ - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:51 AM

      that’s a lot easier to explain? how do you fit three combination into two innings? Or are the innings you propose divided into thirds?

      • sdelmonte - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        They’re divided into thirds, naturally.

        (Been pondering how to do a three team playoff since reading Philip Roth’s bizarre “Great American Novel,” which imagines a world with three major leagues but never explains just how they play a World Series.)

      • CJ - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        I’ll readily admit I don’t have the mental capacity or desire to comprehend much of what you proposed, but I’d rather play the game the same way as it’s always been played. That’s the beauty of baseball.

        I just couldn’t ever buy in to a game with three halves of an inning, tha just isn’t baseball to me.

        I’d much rather see it play out like this:

        Plan A: Get to play both games as a double header at home, providing you win Game 1.

        Plan B: Get to play both games as a double header at away, providing you win Game 1.

        Plan C: Play the winner of Game 1, but do so on the road.

        No travel hassle or extra days or any of that. Just get it over with in a day and move on to the A/NLDS. At the same time a great deal of strategy is involved regarding how to balance advancing into the LDS without over-extending your bullpen and regulars at the cost of getting knocked out early. Also, do you use your ace in the tiebreakers or do you save him as your game 1 starter of the LDS so he can pitch twice there if you need him? Although the last issue is already one often questioned in the tiebreakers as it is.

  7. thefalcon123 - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Dan Patrick: With the first nine months of the Baseketball postseason out of the way, the playoff picture is starting to emerge.

    Kenny Mayne: So, with last night’s victory over Boston, next week the Milwaukee Beers must beat Indianapolis in order to advance to Charlotte. That’s in an effort to reduce their magic number to three.

    Dan Patrick: Right, and then the Beers can advance to the National Eastern Division North to play Tampa.

    Kenny Mayne: So, if the Beers beat Detroit and Denver beats Atlanta in the American Southwestern Division East Northern, then Milwaukee goes to the Denslow Cup, unless Baltimore can upset Buffalo and Charlotte ties Toronto, then Oakland would play LA and Pittsburgh in a blind choice round robin. And if no clear winner emerges from all of this, a two-man sack race will be held on consecutive Sundays until a champion can be crowned.

    • thevandalen - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:00 AM

      Amazing reference. I’d give 3 thumbs-up if I could.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:04 AM


    • easports82 - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      Who knew that crappy-ass movie would come in handy for anything.

      • bravesman1983 - Sep 23, 2011 at 2:35 PM


  8. Ari Collins - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Echoing everyone else: there is no reason whatsoever to try to win two games when you can choose instead to only have to win one.

    Mathematically, let’s say you’re a .600 team at home and a .400 away, which is pretty extreme, having to win two at home gives you a 36% chance of advancing, while one away gives you a 40%.

    Don’t have the time to find the break-even point, but, of course, you also have to consider wear and tear on your pitchers and lining up your rotation for the next round, both of which favor one game as well (but not as easily mathed out).

  9. nolanwiffle - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Would it have killed you to post a picture of Fleagle to accompany the article?

  10. dailyrev - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    It could take a while to find out: weather here in NYC is likely to make Sawx-Yanx either PPD or another 3AM finish; same thing tomorrow. The Sawx might spend most of the weekend sitting in the clubhouse rooting for J’s and A’s.

  11. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    I have heard it explained that, in any 3-way tie, the Angels would have to play the Sox in Boston, with the winner traveling to Tampa to play the Rays. Why would the Angels or Sox have the opportunity to knock out the Rays in the first game if the Rays are the top seed? Why wouldn’t the top seed have home-field? Has MLB actually announced this? Not to doubt Roger Mooney, but I have never heard of this ‘3 option’ scenario before, and it seems rather overly complicated…

  12. marshmallowsnake - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    No need to worry about this. The Red Sox will win the wild card…or I am jumping off of a roof 😉

  13. gogigantos - Sep 23, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    rooting for the three way tie in both leagues,,

  14. kalinedrive - Sep 23, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    The reason a team may choose to play two games is to make more money and have the home crowd twice. It wouldn’t be a wise baseball decision, but it might be a wise business decision.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. G. Stanton (2594)
  2. B. Crawford (2406)
  3. Y. Puig (2342)
  4. G. Springer (2166)
  5. D. Wright (2053)
  1. J. Hamilton (2035)
  2. J. Fernandez (2033)
  3. C. Correa (1979)
  4. H. Ramirez (1963)
  5. D. Span (1940)