Some years, you need a rooting guide to track which teams need to win or lose in order for your favorite team to make the playoffs.
Other years, it's to figure out how to earn the highest draft pick. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, this year it's the latter.
But that doesn't mean fans should care any less about how the final day of the 2020 MLB season plays out. If a few key games go the right way, the O's could finish with as high as the no. 3 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, which would be their third straight season with a top-three selection.
They could also as finish out of the top five, if things don't fall the right way. So there's a wide range of possible outcomes here, and the gap between the third pick and the sixth is bigger in baseball than it is in other sports.
It's never fun rooting for your team to lose, especially when it's your last chance to watch them for a while. But this as already been a successful season in Baltimore, with some nice development and glimpses of good young talent in the big leagues.
The best thing that can happen for the future of the franchise is to get a higher pick in what looks like a top-heavy draft, plus the extra bonus slot money that comes with it. That should outweigh any one game, especially when the O's aren't even in a position to play spoiler for their opponent.
Here are the games Orioles fans should be paying attention to Sunday afternoon as the season wraps up.
Orioles-Blue Jays (3:07 p.m.)
This one is obvious. At 24-35, if the Orioles lose, they will be assured of picking no worse than fifth overall. With the shorter season, more teams are clumped together than usual, so tiebreaker scenarios become more critical.
The tiebreaker for determining draft order is the previous season's record, which helps the O's, as they had baseball's second-worst record in 2019. If they lose, then only four teams can possibly win fewer games this year, so they'll be picking fifth or higher. As gross as it is to type, root for the Blue Jays.
Tigers-Royals (1:05 p.m.)
The only team who can beat the Orioles in a tiebreaker? Detroit. Thankfully for O's fans, the Tigers have played fewer games this season, meaning their 23 wins entering the final day (one fewer than the Orioles) doesn't guarantee a higher pick.
If they beat the Royals, their record will be 24-34, which would be a higher winning percentage than a 24-36 O's team. So the only team who has the tiebreaker over Baltimore can't actually tie with Baltimore. If the Tigers win and the O's lose, the O's will jump them in the draft order. Root for the Tigers.
Red Sox-Braves (3:10 p.m.)
The Red Sox have just 23 wins, meaning they need to win and the Orioles need to lose in order for Baltimore to leapfrog them in draft position. It's a surprise seeing Boston in pole position for such a high draft pick, but the O's poor 2019 record helps them again in a potential tie.
If the Red Sox lose or the Orioles win, then Boston is guaranteed the higher draft pick. Root for the Red Sox.
Diamondbacks-Rockies (3:10 p.m.)
Arizona is the only team currently below the Orioles who can pass them. The two teams enter Sunday at 24-35, so the O's currently have the fifth pick thanks to their tiebreaker. But if the Diamondbacks win, even if the O's do too, then Baltimore will be guaranteed the higher pick. Root for the Diamondbacks.