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What happens if the Mets, Cardinals and Giants finish in a three-way tie?


The Cardinals, Mets and Giants are playing musical chairs for the two National League Wild Card slots. No one is playing particularly well. The Giants are in freefall, the Mets just got swept by the Braves and the Cardinals got pounded by the Rockies yesterday and have been running hot and cold. Their collective wheel-spinning has even gotten the Pirates (3.5 games out) and the Marlins (4) back into the conversation, at least nominally.

The best part of this is that the Mets, Giants and Cardinals, each of whom are 80-72 right now, could end up in a three-way tie. That’d be when the fun really starts.

Here’s what MLB’s official page on all tiebreakers says about that scenario:

Three-Club Tie for Two Wild Card Spots:
After Clubs have been assigned their A, B and C designations, Club A would host Club B. The winner of the game would be declared one Wild Card winner. Club C would then host the loser of the game between Club A and Club B to determine the second Wild Card Club.

The “A, B, C designations” thing is determined by head-to-head records first. None of the three teams plays each other any more this year. The Mets and Cards are 3-3 against each other. Each are 4-3 against the Giants. So either way, the Giants are third in that A-B-C thing. To break the tie of the tie between the Mets and Cards, you go to intradivision records, meaning the Mets against the NL East and the Cards against the NL Central. At the moment the Cardinals are better against their own division, 36-30, while the Mets are 33-33 against their East rivals. Yup, those games against the Braves this week mattered!

SO: with the caveat that both the Cards and Mets have a lot of intradivision games left and thus it could change, if the season ended today, the Cardinals would be Club A, the Mets would be Club B and the Giants would be Club C. Which means the tiebreaker would look like this, if all three teams finished with identical records:

  • Sunday October 2: Regular Season Ends;
  • Monday October 3: Mets vs. Cards in St. Louis, winner is one of the Wild Card teams
  • Tuesday October 4: Mets vs. Cards loser vs. the Giants in San Francisco, winner is the second Wild Card team

The very next day, Wednesday, October 5, the winner of the game in San Francisco would have to play in either St. Louis or New York in the actual Wild Card game, which would determine who then had to fly to Chicago to face the Cubs in the NLDS. Which begins on Friday, October 7.

Got that?

While Mets, Cards and Giants fans are likely hoping for a little win streak to avoid this mess, I hope the rest of you are joining me in rooting for the bedlam and chaos that would occasion a three-way tie.

Shohei Ohtani is having a brutal spring training

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Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.

Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.

With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.

As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.

As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.

I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.