Ahh, September, the time of year where the cool breeze comes in and we all transition from summer to fall. However, this year things have been different. It is almost October and there are still eighty eight degree days we have had to suffer through.
Now there are many unproven reasons as to why it has been such a hot time. Your local scientist might suggest that global warming is to blame for this. Looking closer at the issue, maybe, just maybe, it is because of how the baseball playoffs are heating up.
In the National League, three teams find themselves locked in a battle for the two wildcard spots. The New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants are both tied entering the last week of baseball. Right behind them at just half a game back are the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Mets should be the favorite to grab the top spot as they finish their season with a three game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets have a 10-6 record against the Phillies this year so it is likely that New York wins at least two out of the final three games significantly increasing their playoff chances.
The Cardinals are the next favorite to get the second wildcard spot despite being half of a game behind the Giants. St. Louis ends their season at home against the Pirates, a matchup in which they have four games against a weaker divisional opponent to try and keep up with the Mets.
The Giants have a tough task ahead of them if they want to make it to October baseball. San Francisco finishes their season at home against the NL West division champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For a tie to occur, the Mets and Giants have to win the same number of games which is possible so long as the Giants can find a way to squeeze out a win or two against the Dodgers. If both the Mets and Giants win two games, then the Cardinals have to win three against the Pirates. If the Mets and Giants win only one, then the Cardinals only need to win two of their last four.
At the end of the season, if a tie occurs, the Cardinals are the team with the advantage. St Louis would have top priority in a three way tie due to a better intra-divisional record against the Mets and a better Head to Head record against the Giants. The Mets would then have second priority and the Giants third.
With that said, the way the tie breaking procedure would work is the Cardinals would host a play-in game against the Mets. The winner of that game gets the first wildcard spot and also gets to host the wildcard game. The loser of that game would then go on to play a road game in San Francisco to determine who gets the second wildcard spot. This means that both the Cardinals and Mets have two chances to get in the playoffs while the Giants only have one.
While the possibility of having a three way tie is exciting to think about, it must be noted that a three way tie has never occurred for a playoff position in the entire history of Major League Baseball. History suggests that this year will not be any different, however we are in for a wild ride if a tie does occur.