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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 29 September 2007 20:32

MLBThe National League may have never seen such a traffic jam as the regular season ends. Tie-breaking scenarios that involve two, three, or four teams are a very real possibility as the regular season enters its final day Sunday.

Sunday is a perfect day to grab the clicker, and watch the drama unfold...

With the Mets smashing the Marlins 13-0 and the Phillies losing to the Nationals on Saturday, the two teams are knotted up at the top of the NL East. The Rockies beat the Diamondbacks to stay in the hunt, as well. If the Padres beat the Brewers Sunday, they win the NL Wildcard after the Diamondbacks won the NL West on Saturday.

But, really the only certainty is uncertainty at this point for the National League. We could see a number of tie-breaker games happen before Division Series play on Weds. Here's the possibilities as reported by MLB.com:

If there's a four-way tie among the Mets, Phillies, Rockies and Pads:

• The Mets and Phillies would play in Philly on Monday to crown the East champ.

• The loser would then enter a three-game mini-tournament for which the Rockies, based on head-to-head records during the regular season, would have the option of trying to win at home and then on the road or just once on the road to advance.

• If the Rockies choose to stay home, their opponent would be determined by the wishes of the team with the second-best combined head-to-head record; it'd be the Phillies if they're involved, but the Padres if the Mets drop into the three-way. That team could choose to play at the Rockies on Tuesday, but it's more likely that it would opt for a single game and travel to play the winner of Tuesday's game on Wednesday.

• If the Rockies opt for the one road game, Tuesday's game would feature New York at San Diego, or San Diego at Philly, with the winner hosting Colorado on Wednesday.

If there's a three-way tie among the Padres, Mets and Phillies: This scenario is possible only if the Padres and Rockies both lose Sunday and the Phillies and Mets both win.

• The Mets and Phillies would play in Philly on Monday to crown the East champ.

• Monday's losing team would play Tuesday to decide the Wild Card. The Padres would either host the Phils, or travel to New York.

There also remains the possibility that there will be a pair of two-way ties needing to be broken, and they will be created only if the Rockies win Sunday and the Padres lose, while the Mets and Phillies both lose to end their Wild Card bids.

If the Mets and Phillies end up tied in the NL East: You already know this one; they'll play one game in Philly on Monday to crown the champ. And if you're wondering why the Phillies don't just get the division title based on their season-series victory over the Mets, it's because head-to-head tie-breakers are used only when both teams already have a playoff spot secured, and they simply determine seeding. Any regular-season tie that would send the loser home for the year has to be broken on the field.

If the Padres and Rockies finish in a tie for the Wild Card: A one-game playoff will be played Monday at Colorado.

According to a 2006 MLB.com article, there have only been six one-game tie-breaker games. Our research has yet to reveal any tie-breakers that involved three, or more teams.

Historically, six one-game playoffs whose sites were determined by coin-flips have actually been played -- and visitors won four of them.

The, arguably, most famous example is 1978's ultimate game, in which Bucky Dent's home run into the Fenway Park netting beat Boston, 5-4, to send the Yankees to the AL Championship Series.

Other teams to lose coin-flips but win games were the 1948 Indians (also in Boston), the 1980 Astros (in Dodger Stadium) and the 1999 Mets, who won at Cincinnati to claim the NL Wild Card.

The only two teams to make good of this home-field advantage thus were the 1995 Mariners, who won the AL West with a 9-1 trouncing of the Angels in the Kingdome, and the 1998 Cubs, who claimed the NL Wild Card in Wrigley Field with a 5-3 victory over the Giants.

Remember... check the MLB Postseason Schedule on The Biz of Baseball to find dates, and networks carrying games starting on Weds. 


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus contributed to the 2007 Pro Football Prospectus and is an available freelance writer.

He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here

 
 
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