MLB Commissioner Bud Selig must be very happy right now. His sport is enjoying what many consider one of the most exciting stretch runs in its history. If certain circumstances take place over the next three days things could really get wacky in the American League.
Going into tonight’s games the three American League divisions are as tight as they’ve ever been. With three games to go the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees are tied in the East. The Oakland Athletics trail the Texas Rangers by two games. The Detroit Tigers lead the Chicago White Sox by three. The odds are against it, but there is a chance that all three divisions could come down to the final day or a playoff.
In the East Baltimore and New York both sport records of 92-67. The Orioles are in Tampa for a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees are at home for three against the Boston Red Sox. Tampa Bay still has an outside shot at earning a wildcard birth while the Red Sox are eliminated. So the Rays will play Baltimore tough for at least one game. Despite their disappointing season one would think that Boston would take great glee in stopping the Yankees from winning the East.
If the Orioles and Yankees finish tied they would play a one game playoff to decide the division and who gets the wildcard birth as both teams have qualified for post season play. This would be an interesting scenario as each would have to win in order to earn a break and avoid playing four straight days.
In the West, Texas and Oakland can decide everything before the season is over. They meet in a three game series in Oakland. With the Rangers up two games there is no way that they can finish the season tied. Either Oakland sweeps and wins it or Texas wins one game and clinches.
The Tigers and White Sox are three games apart and both are finishing the season on the road. Detroit is playing the Kansas City Royals while Chicago faces the Cleveland Indians. If the Royals sweep the Tigers and the White Sox do the same in Cleveland then Detroit and Chicago will finish tied at 86-76. They would have to play a one game playoff with the loser going home.
Commissioner Selig could have a logistical nightmare by Thursday with two playoff games to decide who wins their division. There is even the chance of a playoff for the National League East as the Washington Nationals currently hold a three game lead over the Atlanta Braves.
Selig added an extra wildcard team in order to ensure a one game playoff every year. He may have forgotten that with four divisions the chances of teams finishing tied for first place or a wildcard birth increase. Or maybe the commissioner wanted it this way.
Whatever the reasons Selig has to be smiling pretty wide right now.