Down The Stretch: What I'm Rooting For In The AL

I'm sure Robert Andino wouldn't see the problem with things working out this way.

As Brewer fans, most of us are probably rooting for the same thing as the season's final two months play out. Despite the fact that it's unlikely we're hoping the Crew gets hot, wins the NL Central and goes back to the World Series for the first time since 1982. If that's not what you're hoping for, you're not a Brewer fan.

In the AL, though, many of us are probably hoping for a wide variety of things. I, for example, am hoping the AL gives us an epic disaster to properly display every flaw in MLB's new playoff procedures. In my ideal world, the division winners would look something like this:

Division winners

Division Team W L
AL East Rays 100 62
AL Central Tigers 84 78
AL West Rangers 90 72

In the AL East, the Rays get red hot (playing .750 baseball from here out) and finish with the best record in baseball. They're challenged right up to the season's final day, however, by the Yankees and don't get a chance to rest their regulars.

The AL Central devolves into complete chaos. Halfway through September it looks like 81 wins might be enough to take it. The Tigers get hot down the stretch, though, fueled largely by a schedule that gives them home series against the Twins and Royals, then road games against the Twins and Royals in their final 13 games. They're the worst playoff team by record.

The Angels trip up in August and the Rangers lock up the AL West early, allowing them to rest their regulars and go 2-8 in their final ten games.

Wild Cards

Position Team W L
Wild Card #1 Yankees 98 64
Wild Card #2 Orioles 86 76

The Yankees are tied for the lead in the AL East coming into the season's final series but drop two of three to the Red Sox. They're a wild card despite having baseball's second best record.

The Orioles are baseball's biggest surprise and edge out the Angels for the final playoff spot. The Angels, winners of 85 games, will miss the playoffs despite having a better record than the Tigers.

To sum up where we're at so far:

  • Baseball's second best team (the Yankees) is going to have to play a single game playoff despite having baseball's second best record.
  • A division winner from a bad division (the Tigers) makes the playoffs and gets a bye to the ALDS despite being worse than both Wild Card teams and a team that missed the playoffs.
  • The Rangers were able the only team able to coast into the playoffs and set their rotation despite having the league's third best record.

Follow the jump to see what I'm rooting for next.

Single Game Wild Card Playoff: Orioles 7, Yankees 0

The Yankees were 12 games better than the Orioles during the season but still had to play for their lives in a single home game against them. Anything can happen in a single game, as evidenced here by four Oriole pitchers combining to throw a no-hitter. September callup Dylan Bundy strikes out the side in the ninth, and baseball's second best team is eliminated from the playoffs after just one day.

ALDS Series 1: Tigers 3, Rangers 0

The Rangers' decision to rest up their starters down the stretch backfires, as they look listless while losing Games 1 and 2 of the series in Detroit and can't recover at home. Prince Fielder homers in all three games.

ALDS Series 2: Orioles 3, Rays 2

Like the Tigers, the Orioles take advantage of playing Games 1 and 2 at home and head to Tropicana Field needing just one win, which they finally get in Game 5. This sets up an ALCS featuring the fourth and sixth best AL teams from the regular season.

ALCS: Orioles 4, Tigers 2

The Tigers' luck runs out here, as Orioles pitching dominates the series. Matt Garza (who they'll acquire from the Cubs this week) is the series MVP, winning Games 1 and 5. The Orioles will become the first team ever to make the World Series after finishing in third place in their own division.

So, to sum up:

  • The second best team in baseball loses a single game and is eliminated.
  • The Divisional Series' new 2-3 format opens the door for a pair of major upsets, as underdogs are able to build 2-0 leads at home before having to go on the road.
  • The AL's sixth best team during the regular season gets a first round bye and capitalizes on it.
  • A third place team in a five-team division will represent the league in the World Series, despite the fact that the best and second best teams in baseball were in the league with them.

Of course, the Orioles magic runs out as the end of October draws near and the Brewers sweep them in four games.

Some of these endings are far-fetched. A lot would have to go right to make this scenario happen. But my point is that every one of these outcomes is possible. The AL playoffs (or the NL, for that matter) could become a complete and total mess because the powers that be couldn't resist the financial implications of shoehorning in one more playoff team.

I hope every possible thing goes wrong this fall, so baseball is forced to reconsider this plan before next season.

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