Thursday, September 21, 2023

Newsletter Excerpt, September 21, 2023 -- "Thinking Inside the Box"

 This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

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"All three teams in the AL West race won yesterday, and all have Thursday off. All three have 68 losses, with the Astros up a half-game by dint of winning one more than the Mariners and Rangers have.

"With the three teams separated by a half-game, I am going to break format here -- no boxscore line -- to lay out an emerging, if unlikely, nightmare scenario developing. It is possible that we’re headed for a three-team tie in the AL West. The Mariners play their last ten games against the Rangers and Astros, so unless they play very well or very poorly, we’re not likely to get a lot of separation in this group between now and next Sunday. We could wake up on October 2 to the following:

"Team A   91-71   #2 overall seed in the AL, bye to the Division Series
Team B   91-71   last wild card team, off to Minnesota for the Wild Card Series
Team C   91-71   year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni

"Now, I’m opposed to using tiebreakers to determine playoff berths, so I come in with my own biases here. I think what happened between the Braves and the Mets last year should have caused MLB to rethink this process, but it didn’t. If, a year later, one team goes 91-71 and gets the #2 seed, and one team goes 91-71 and gets a boot in the ass, we’re going to be able to heat the Dakotas all winter with fire from the takes.

"Baseball teams play 162 games over 187 days to determine who’s the best. If that’s not enough, one more game -- two if necessary, even -- should be played to make that determination. The AL West may be about to make that point better than I ever could."