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Imagining a five-way Wild Card tiebreaker

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This got a little crazy

Wild Card Game - Oakland Athletics v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Royals have recovered a bit from a devastating start to August, winning three of their last four series.

That stretch has brought them back to within 0.5 games of the second Wild Card spot.

Unfortunately for the Royals, however, there is still a team ahead of them (Minnesota) and two more tied with them at 0.5 games back (Los Angeles and Seattle). Oh, and did I mention that Texas is just a game back as well?

Five teams within one game of the same spot. If you want include Tampa Bay and Baltimore, there are seven team within 3.0 games for that one spot.

That’s a lot of traffic.

If history is any guide, that traffic will break up a bit. A team or two will get hot, a team or two will get cold, and more than likely, only one of those teams will end up with that spot.

However, we as sports fans are bred to love chaos. As a Royals fan, a five-way (or heaven forbid, seven-way) tie for a Wild Card spot is a hellish scenario. But as a sports fan, it would be wrong to not at least entertain the thought, right?

So that’s exactly what we are going to do today. Tampa Bay and Baltimore will fall to the wayside for this exercise (sorry La Canfora), leaving me to examine a five-way tie. I don’t have an MLB rulebook on me and, quite frankly, don’t really have the energy to examine the fine print. So if I make a mistake, feel free to correct me. So without further edu, let’s get started.

Determining A, B, C, D, E designations for each team

Good morning. It is October 2. The Royals beat Arizona yesterday and wouldn’t you know it, they have found their way into the postseason with a record of 83-79! Unfortunately, the Angels, Twins, Mariners and Rangers also have records of 83-79.

We have ourselves a good ole’ fashioned five-way tie. This has never happened before, so you grab your phone and google “playoff tie break rules” just like I did before starting this article. Because a five-way tie has not only never happened before, but is also incredibly improbable, there is only a guide for tiebreakers up to four teams. So we’ll have to improvise a bit.

What we can do is use a typical five-team bracket as our guide. Major League Baseball certainly has a more nuanced plan, but for the sake of this exercise, we will go with simplicity. The first step is to assign designations, or for lack of a better term, seeds to each team. Now, there is a long drawn out process in determining how the five teams would be seeded, so I am going to simplify it for our exercise.

Since we don’t have each team’s record against the other four clubs with the season having not yet completing, I have chosen to give designations based on the standings we woke up to on Thursday morning. Here’s how it shakes out:

A. Los Angeles B. Minnesota C. Kansas City D. Seattle E. Texas

This isn’t exactly like the NCAA tournament, where the highest seed automatically plays the lowest. According to the rulebook, the highest seed actually gets to choose. So, with no way to predict who would want what designation, we will just assign them, with the Angels as the one seed, Minnesota as the two seed, and so on.

Here is the part where I give you my official narration of how this scenario would go down.

Wild Card Chaos: Round One

In a Wild Card game to the Wild Card game, the two lowest seeds play to get into the playoff.

Game One: Texas (E) at Seattle (D)

No Yu Darvish for the Rangers, but they do have Joey Gallo.

Gallo hits three home runs in his first three at-bats, two coming off of Seattle starter Felix Hernandez, who was tagged for six runs in just 2.1 innings pitched.

Cole Hamels cruised through seven scoreless innings and the Rangers beat the Mariners 10-2 to advance to round two.

Wild Card Chaos: Round Two

With the Rangers winning the play-in game, they now travel to Los Angeles, while the Royals travel to Minnesota.

Game Two: Kansas City (C) at Minnesota (B)

The Royals started their season with a sweep in Minnesota and they weren’t as interested in that this time around.

Big Sexy couldn’t keep the Royals offense down, with the Royals scoring four runs in the first inning and not looking back.

Lorenzo Cain went 3-4 with a homer, double and 3 RBIs, but Jake Junis stole the show, throwing a complete game in his first career postseason start.

Former Twin Torii Hunter is in the crowd and throws his shirt onto the field in protest.

The Royals win 8-2 and advance to round three.

Game Three: Texas (E) at Los Angeles (A)

Mike Trout hits a solo homer in the first and drives in two more with an RBI single in the 5th, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead.

The Rangers loaded the bases in 8th with two outs, but Andrealton Simmons made a game saving catch, robbing Rougned Odor of a hit that would have likely given the Rangers the lead.

However, Texas would have the last laugh, with Gallo striking again, hitting a two-run go-ahead homer in the 9th to put the Rangers up 4-3.

Matt Bush would escape a bases loaded jam in the 9th to send Texas to Kansas City.

Wild Card Chaos: Round Three

With yet another Texas’ upset over the Angels, they travel to Kansas City for the right to play in the Wild Card game.

Game Four: Texas (E) at Kansas City (C)

Joey Gallo hits his fifth homer in three games, this time a three-run shot in the first inning off of Ian Kennedy to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.

After Whit Merrifield led off the bottom half of the inning with a double, but was stranded, neither team would move a runner into scoring position for the next six innings.

That would finally happen in the 8th, with Lorenzo Cain leading off the inning with a walk and Melky Cabrera singling him to third with nobody out.

After a Eric Hosmer strikeout and a Salvador Perez popout, Mike Moustakas would save the day with a three-run, game-tying fountain shot to right center.

Marlins Man was amped.

Two innings later, Hosmer would redeem himself with his second career walk-off home run to send the Royals to the Wild Card game. He also gets hugs from Marlins Man and Patrick Mahomes during the celebration.

The Royals would go on to beat the Yankees in the Wild Card game and eventually win the World Series, a run even more improbable than 2014.


My sources confirm that this is indeed how the AL Wild Card will play out. You laugh now but you won't be laughing when I land a job at PECOTA after all of this goes down.

In all seriousness, this would probably be the craziest thing to happen in the history of playoff sports. Five win-or-go-home games before we even reach the divisional round. How fun would that be? Well, how fun would it be if you weren’t a fan of one of the participating teams.

In a word, very. Very fun.