October 02, 2010
The result is that we're set up for one heck of a final Sunday afternoon and Fox can't do anything to keep us from watching San Diego, San Francisco and Atlanta continue battling for two postseason spots.
I say "continue" because there's no guarantee that anything will be concluded by the time that both Game 162s are over. There are four different outcomes for this scrum and it's probably easiest to point you toward Y! Sports' handy-dandy playoff scenario machine to be quickly apprised of the possibilities and the playoff matchups that would follow.
As a baseball fan without a dog in the fight, I've ranked them in my order of preference:
1. The three-way tiebreaker: There have been 13 tiebreakers in baseball history, but there has never been two in the same year. That would change should the Braves and Padres win and bring the record of all three teams to 91-71.
The two playoff spots would be given out like this: After San Diego completes the sweep in San Francisco, the two teams would pick up and fly south to play a tiebreaker for the NL West championship at Petco Park on Monday night. The loser of that game would get a second chance at the postseason, but it'd have to fly across the country and beat the Braves in a wild card tiebreaker on Tuesday night to fully take advantage. That'd be a wild way for us to fill the two scheduled off days before the start of the playoffs on Wednesday, woudn't you say?
2. The wild-card tiebreaker: A tiebreaker for a fourth straight season? Yes, please. The Padres and Braves are currently tied for the wild card lead and they'd meet in Atlanta on Monday to settle their differences if they both lose on Sunday. If the game is even a fraction of how entertaining the last three tiebreakers have been, we'd be in for a treat.
3. San Francisco's dual champagne party: The cleaning staff at AT&T Park is likely rooting for the dream scenario above because it would involve zero cleaning of sprayed champagne in the clubhouse. There is, however, a nightmare scenario for that group because Sunday could feature simultaneous champagne celebrations. If the Padres win and the Braves lose, San Diego and San Francisco would be left with identical 91-71 records.
The Padres would be awarded the division championship by virtue of winning the season series against San Francisco, but the Giants would also be able to celebrate the NL wild card as a consolation prize. It might seem weird that San Francisco would pop corks after being swept at home to end the season, but Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the G-men won't be teetotalers.
(And given that such an outcome would send the Giants to Philadelphia for the first round, you can see where a good amount of drinking might be in order.)
4. Nicely wrapped package: The least desirable permutation, by far, is the Giants winning to clinch the NL West and the Braves winning to clinch the wild card. Everything would be over by the start of Sunday Night Football and we'd have no baseball on Monday or Tuesday. Where's the fun in that?