Tonight in Arlington, Texas, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers will play a game 163 with the winner advancing to play in the AL Wild Card game against the Cleveland Indianson Wednesday. A full season of 162 games simply was not enough to settle the final MLB playoff spot.
If history is any indicator, then tonight’s game might just be a game for the ages. There have been three Game 163s since 2007, and each came down to the wire. The Minnesota Twins took part in the past two, beating the Detroit Tigers 7-6 in extra innings in 2009, and losing to the Chicago White Sox 1-0 a year before.
Most Boston Red Sox fans will recall the 1978 one-game playoff with the New York Yankees that had a very dramatic ending that fans are not likely to forget — even though they have tried. The game of course featured Bucky Dent‘s famous homer at Fenway Park which helped to push the Yankees to a 5-4 win. They went on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in a rematch of the 1977 World Series.
The most famous tie-breaker series of all time came in 1951, when the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers played in a best of three game playoff to represent the NL in the World Series. It was in the deciding game three between two bitter cross town rivals that the world witnessed Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”, which gave the Giants a 5-4 victory.
The win sent the Giants to the World Series, where they lost to the New York Yankees in six games.
So tonight in Arlington, it will be the Rays with their star pitcher David Price going to mound to face the Rangers’ fine lefty Martin Perez. Both teams have plenty of big-game experience and while the record shows that playing in Arlington has been a nightmare for Tampa Bay, this is where legends are created.
So by midnight tonight, we should know if indeed it was one for the ages. Here is hoping that after such a great baseball season thus far that this one becomes an instant classic.