Imagining crazy tiebreaker scenarios

Brewers, Cards, Dodgers, Rox, Cubs in for a wild final stretch

September 24th, 2018

If you've got a dog in the fight that is the National League playoff race, by all means root for your club to have an easy path to and through the postseason, with off-days aplenty that are good for the mind and soul.

Just understand that the rest of us want chaos. We want to be enveloped in entropy, with late nights and cross-continental flights and tiebreaking tilts serving as an awesome October appe-tie-zer.

This is what those of us on Team Tie are rooting for in these waning days of the 2018 season:

1. The Cubs and Brewers tie atop the NL Central.

2. The Dodgers and Rockies tie atop the NL West, while also tying the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot.

That would give us three tiebreaker games in two days (and we'll get into the details of that in just a second). Never in MLB history have there been two tiebreaker games in the same year, let alone three.

To be abundantly clear, the chance of all of the above happening is pretty slim. But the divisional ties, whether occurring independent of each other or simultaneously, are quite feasible. Entering Friday, the Cubs have just a one-game lead on the Brewers in the NL Central.

The Rockies, meanwhile, have a one-game edge on the Dodgers in the NL West, and the Dodgers have a one-game lead on the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot.

So yes, this is doable, folks. The first step is believing.

Here are the remaining schedules for the five clubs in play:

Cubs: vs. Cardinals (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

Brewers: vs. Tigers (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

Cardinals: at Cubs (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

Dodgers: at Giants (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

Rockies: vs. Nationals (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)

With the Cubs facing a Cards team with everything to play for and the Brewers facing a rebuilding Tigers team, an NL Central tie isn't an especially difficult scenario to concoct.

As for the three-way tie between the Dodgers, Rockies and Cardinals, that takes a little more heavy lifting. The Cardinals must sweep the Cubs this weekend, while the Rockies must lose two of their final games and the Dodgers one. Or the Cards must win two of three while the Rox get swept and the Dodgers lose twice.

So are we likely to get two tie scenarios involving five teams total? Eh, probably not. But we'll keep our fingers crossed (or tied up, as it were), just in case.

Obviously, though, a Dodgers-Rockies tie is pretty straightforward. The Dodgers have to make up one game of ground over the weekend.

Let's run through the games that would have to be played should both of these division races end in a tie*, and, just so we cover our bases, we'll toss in the effect a Dodgers-Rockies-Cardinals tie would have, too.

(*In case the obvious needs stating, either division tie scenario can exist independent of the other. We're combining them in this piece for peak chaos.)

Monday, Oct. 1: Two tiebreaker games

Both with division titles on the line

The Rockies and Dodgers would play a game to determine the NL West winner. Los Angeles would host that game by virtue of winning the season series, 12-7. The winner of this game would face the Braves in the NL Division Series.

The Cubs and Brewers would play a game to determine the NL Central winner. Chicago would host that game, having won the season series, 11-8. The winner of this game would then face the winner of the NL Wild Card Game in the NLDS.

Tuesday, Oct. 2: Either a Wild Card tiebreaker game or the real NL Wild Card Game

The tiebreaker exists only if the Cardinals are tied with the Rockies and Dodgers. In that scenario, the loser of the Rockies-Dodgers tilt would have to travel to face the Cardinals in St. Louis. Why do the Cardinals get to host that game? It actually has nothing to do with season series matchups. MLB's tiebreaker procedures simply state that this game takes place "at the ballpark of the team outside the division." Them's the rules.

But if the Cardinals aren't involved, then the NL Wild Card Game can proceed, as scheduled, with the loser of the Cubs-Brewers tiebreaker facing the loser of the Dodgers-Rockies tiebreaker (by virtue of having the superior regular-season record).

Wednesday, Oct. 3: The real NL Wild Card Game ... if there was a Wild Card tiebreaker

This game is currently scheduled to be played Tuesday, but a three-way tie would make that schedule impossible to honor. It would have to be pushed back a day.

Thursday, Oct. 4: Game 1 of the NLDS

We don't have a great deal of NL clarity, as you can see, but we do know the NL Central champion will face the winner of the Wild Card Game in the NLDS. The Cubs clinched that with Thursday's win combined with a Braves loss.

The main thing that matters right now is we've still got two division titles and two Wild Card spots to settle, with only a few days remaining on the Major League calendar. If you're scoring at home, there's a scenario that exists in which the Rockies play in Colorado on Sunday, Los Angeles on Monday, St. Louis on Tuesday, Milwaukee or Chicago on Wednesday and Chicago, Milwaukee or Atlanta on Thursday.

That's just "plane" crazy. Come to think of it, let's root for that.