For a game that can be traced in this country back to the first few years after the American Civil War, it’s a rare thing for something historic and or unusual to occur in Major League Baseball. But today, October 1, 2018 – is such a day, a red-letter day in the realm of my sporting geekiness.
Baseball is the last of the four major team sports based in the United States (outside of the NBA, NHL, and the NFL) that doesn’t use tiebreaking criterium of some sort when teams wind up with the same number of wins at the end of the regular season. In baseball, if such a tie subsists and a playoff qualifier is needed – a one-game tiebreaker is held, which counts as an additional regular-season game for each team.
This 2018 season will hold the distinction of being the first ever season in MLB history where two divisions ended with a tie for first place. The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee each obtained 95 games in the NL Central, while the Dodgers and Rockies each tied for the NL West lead with 91 wins apiece.
Today, conveniently scheduled for broadcast on ESPN this afternoon and early evening, the division races were settled, with the Brewers (3-1) and the Dodgers (5-2) winning their games and getting a few days to rest before playing again.
Tomorrow night will also be historic as the losers of each of the divisional tiebreaker games each make the playoffs, and play each other in the one game that decides the National League wild-card entrant into the round where eight teams play a best of five Division Series. So, only the team that loses today AND tomorrow is discharged and has a long winter to ponder what might have been.
Will this headache that was the 2018 MLB season cause the league to revisit how it decides ties when the tied teams are all playoff eligible? One would think so.