Friday, September 28, 2007

when October comes...

This time of the year, most of the sports spotlight goes to college and pro football.

Football is the best sport for most Americans. Weekly games fit into our busy schedules. The fast pace and action fit into mindsets that value noise and activity over quiet (relatively speaking) and focus.

I certainly fit both molds, especially the former. I like noise and activity. And as I've grown older-- or more accurately, as I've grown busier with family-- it has become more and more difficult to follow a daily sport like baseball (especially with the changes wrought by free agency) and easier to slide toward a weekly sport like football.

That said, baseball is still an awesome sport-- and October is its time of the year. But before the playoffs begin and culminate in the World Series, we may have a final weekend of historic proportions. With three games to go, there's not much room to move, but the margins are so tight that things remain quite interesting.

The storied Yankees/Red Sox rivalry continues in a struggle for the division title, but the Red Sox's two game lead will probably hold up.

But there is far more drama in the National League-- where five teams are within two games of each other, fighting for three spots. (The fourth spot will go to Milwaukee or the Cubs-- where the Cubs only lead by two games.) In fact, it is possible that multiple teams could tie-- in itself, extraordinary, but also leading to a complex set of tie-breakers to determine who would go to the playoffs.

Here's the run-down of the possibilities from

Here's a scenario that could mess up baseball's postseason schedule: Imagine if Arizona, Colorado, the New York Mets, Philadelphia and San Diego finish with the same record. That would create ties in the NL East, NL West and wild-card race, necessitating four days of tiebreaker games to determine postseason berths.

The NL East is the easiest: The Mets would play Monday at Philadelphia.

In the West, the team with the best head-to-head record against the others (because Arizona plays Colorado this weekend, that's yet to be determined), gets to choose whether it prefers one tiebreaker road game or two home games. Presumably, the team with the choice would take one road game. Monday's winner would then host the club with the bye on Tuesday for the NL West title.

Starting Wednesday, the three teams that failed to win division titles would be involved in a two-day, two-game tiebreakers to determine the wild-card winner.

Actually, it's impossible for Arizona and Colorado to tie since they are two games apart and play each other for three games. But everything else is still (quite) possible! It should be a fun weekend-- flipping back and forth between the pennant races and the pigskin action.


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