At last, the long-secret Major League Baseball postseason schedule has been revealed.
Considering the ad hoc way it was developed — a second wild-card team in each league was added shortly before the regular season began — the sport’s October calendar looks quite reasonable.
Among the highlights:
• Game 1 of the World Series is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 24, on FOX, meaning the if-necessary Game 7 would be played Thursday, Nov. 1. MLB commissioner Bud Selig isn’t a fan of November baseball, but it was unavoidable once the extra wild cards were added.
• The regular season ends Wednesday, Oct. 3. The following day has been left open for possible tiebreaker games, with the new wild-card round slated for Friday, Oct. 5.
• In a significant change from previous postseasons, ties for division titles will be decided with one-game playoffs even if both teams have qualified for the playoffs. That is because division champions get automatic berths in the division series, whereas wild-card teams must play an additional game to reach the division series. The distinction is important enough that those will be decided with a 163rd game rather than by head-to-head record.
• In another departure from the previous structure, teams from the same division can play one another in the division series.
• Division series will begin Oct. 6 and Oct. 7, concluding on or before Oct. 12. As was previously announced, the best-of-five division series will begin with two games at the lower seed, followed by three at the higher seed. (The 2-2-1 format will resume next season; this year’s schedule was adjusted to eliminate the travel day before Game 5 and condense the round.)
• Game 1 of the American League Championship Series is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 13, followed by Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday, Oct. 14, on FOX.
Interestingly, the postseason announcement came on a day when three teams — Baltimore, Detroit and Oakland — woke up in a tie for the AL wild card. If the regular season ended that way, head-to-head records among the three would determine seeding in a three-day playoff.
The progression would be as follows: Oct. 4: Club A hosts Club B; Oct. 5: A-B loser plays at Club C; Oct. 6: winners play for the wild card; Oct. 7: wild-card winner begins division series, at home, against the league’s top overall seed.
For any tie between two teams, head-to-head record is the first means of determining which team would host the game. Since I know you’re curious, here is the scorecard for a number of season series that could result in ties (entering Friday):
YANKEES: lead Orioles 6-5, tied with White Sox 2-2, lead Tigers 6-4, lead Angels 5-4, trail Athletics 4-3, trail Rays 7-5, trail Rangers 2-1.
ORIOLES: lead White Sox 3-1, trail Tigers 2-1, trail Angels 7-2, trail Yankees 6-5, tied with Athletics 3-3, tied with Rays 6-6, trail Rangers 3-1.
RAYS: tied with Orioles 6-6, trail White Sox 3-0, trail Tigers 5-2, lead Angels 5-1, lead Yankees 7-5, tied with Athletics 3-3, lead Rangers 2-1.
WHITE SOX: trail Orioles 3-1, trail Tigers 7-4, lead Angels 3-2, tied with Yankees 2-2, trail Athletics 2-1, lead Rays 3-0, lead Rangers 6-3.
TIGERS: lead Orioles 2-1, lead White Sox 7-4, lead Angels 3-1, trail Yankees 6-4, tied with Athletics 2-2, lead Rays 5-2, trail Rangers 5-2.
RANGERS: lead Orioles 3-1, trail White Sox 6-3, lead Tigers 5-2, trail Angels 7-6, lead Yankees 2-1, tied with Athletics 6-6, trail Rays 2-1.
ATHLETICS: tied with Orioles 3-3, lead White Sox 2-1, tied with Tigers 2-2, lead Angels 7-5, lead Yankees 4-3, tied with Rays 3-3, tied with Rangers 6-6.
ANGELS: lead Orioles 7-2, trail White Sox 3-2, trail Tigers 3-1, trail Yankees 5-4, trail Athletics 7-5, trail Rays 5-1, lead Rangers 7-6.
NATIONALS: lead Diamondbacks 2-1, lead Braves 8-4, lead Reds 5-2, trail Dodgers 3-0, trail Pirates 3-2, lead Giants 3-0.
BRAVES: lead Diamondbacks 5-2, trail Reds 5-1, lead Dodgers 2-1, tied with Pirates 2-2, trail Giants 2-1, lead Cardinals 5-1, trail Nationals 8-4.
REDS: tied with Diamondbacks 2-2, lead Braves 5-1, trail Dodgers 2-1, tied with Pirates 6-6, lead Giants 4-3, lead Cardinals 5-4, trail Nationals 5-2.
PIRATES: lead Diamondbacks 4-3, tied with Braves 2-2, tied with Reds 6-6, trail Dodgers 3-0, tied with Giants 3-3, trail Cardinals 5-4, lead Nationals 3-2.
CARDINALS: lead Diamondbacks 3-0, trail Braves 5-1, trail Reds 5-4, trail Dodgers 4-3, lead Pirates 5-4, tied with Giants 3-3.
GIANTS: trail Diamondbacks 5-4, lead Braves 2-1, trail Reds 4-3, trail Dodgers 5-4, tied with Pirates 3-3, tied with Cardinals 3-3, trail Nationals 3-0.
DODGERS: trail Diamondbacks 8-4, trail Braves 2-1, lead Reds 2-1, lead Pirates 3-0, lead Giants 5-4, lead Cardinals 4-3, lead Nationals 3-0.
DIAMONDBACKS: trail Braves 5-2, tied with Reds 2-2, lead Dodgers 8-4, trail Pirates 4-3, lead Giants 5-4, trail Cardinals 3-0, trail Nationals 2-1.