The One Game Playoff

162 games just wasn’t enough to decide the winner of the AL Central, so on Tuesday night, the Twins and Tigers will engage in a one game playoff to determine who gets to keep playing. Minnesota tries to finish off a tremendous comeback, while Detroit tries to avoid a pretty staggering collapse.

The game itself will be tremendous drama to watch, but the existence of the game itself is bad news for both teams. Regardless of which team wins, they’re going to be at a significant disadvantage in the AL division series.

The Tigers used Justin Verlander on Sunday in order to force the 163rd game. In an effort to win that game and qualify for the playoffs, they’ll send Rick Porcello to the hill tomorrow. And then, if they win, they’ll have to turn around and play the Yankees on Wednesdady. Neither Verlander nor Porcello would be eligible to make that start, obviously, so instead, Edwin Jackson would be the game one starter for Detroit. Given his second half struggles, that’s certainly not an ideal situation for the Tigers.

The Twins face an even more serious problem. They’ll try to beat the Tigers with Scott Baker tomorrow, which would make him available for just one game in a first round match-up against New York, as they’d have to hand their two start spots to Nick Blackburn and Carl Pavano. Both are decent pitchers, but they’re clearly inferior to Baker. And with Minnesota only able to throw their best starter once in a five game series, their odds of being able to take down the Yankees takes a real hit.

As a fan without a rooting interest in the outcome of the AL Central, the one game playoff should provide some pretty enjoyable baseball to watch. But the price of the game is going to inflict a significant toll on the winner.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


20 Responses to “The One Game Playoff”

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  1. thank you fucking finally says:

    finally, someone out there stating the obvious, that though this makes for fascinating baseball the Tigers have squandered resources (Verlander) and the Twins would be riding high on adrenaline, not competent pitching arms.

    It would have been an advantageous situation for the Yankees even without the 163rd game. Why are no print columnists able to mention this?

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  2. walkoffblast says:

    The real quirky thing is that they would have played Monday except for Monday night football happening to take over the stadium where they have to play the game. If the Twins had won on monday then they could have thought about Baker on three days rest on friday for game 2 and then full rest for game 5 if necessary. This is where it gets annoying that baseball drags out the regular season and makes the playoffs so restrictive to the point of outside factors creating imbalances that cannot be dealt with.

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    • joser says:

      The other part of that scheduling quirk is that this is a home game for the Twins; in any previous year, when the old coin-toss rule was still in force, there would’ve been a 50% chance that the game would be played on Monday in Detroit instead. Of course, the reason it’s a home game is the new rule bases home field advantage on the head-to-head record, and the Twins were a decisive 11-7 against the Tigers this year. A 8-10 record would not have looked much better for the Tigers, but it would’ve been enough for them to put them ahead of the Twins in the standings and avoid this whole problem altogether. (I haven’t been following the Central closely, but I bet there’s at least one game in that season series where some fairly insignificant play or decision led to a loss by the Tigers with consequences no one recognized at the time.)

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  3. C says:

    If either team would’ve won the division, they wouldn’t be having this problem. Its not baseballs fault. They gave the teams 162 games to decide, which is more than a reasonable amount.

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  4. Rob says:

    Not that it’ll happen, but it’d be awesome to see Pavano dominate the Yanks in the ALDS. I really can’t think of a scenario that’d be more aggravating to New Yorkers.

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    • JoeR43 says:

      Pavano dominating, and then peeing on a statue of Babe Ruth while sucking the magic superaura from Derek Jeter while inflicting him with A-Rod postseason AIDS, obviously.

      Not that either of the last two points exist, but they do in NYC. Must be some quantum physics crap that New Yorkers have evolved to see but no one else can.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        I think the more appropriate comparison is dog whistles

        Yes, I am a Yankee fan. Yes, I am ashamed of some of the bullshit spouted. Oh, and check out K-Law’s previews. MAORP!

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      • JoeR43 says:

        I think the more appropriate comparison is dog whistles

        I just wanted to use a quantum physics reference and you had to go blow it. Thanks.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Oh.

        And here I was, thinking you’d appreciate Yankee fans being compared to dogs.

        I’m going to go and cry in my corner now.

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    • Rob in CT says:

      Yeah, that would be pretty bad. Roughly twice as bad as being dominated by Kenny Rogers…

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Worst would probably be if A-Rod had actually left for Anaheim after opting out, then returned to burn them in the playoffs. Of course, the fans would have deserved every second of it, but that’s probably the worst it could have been.

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  5. James says:

    Whichever team wins No. 163 should just enjoy the excitement of that win, and enjoy the playoff revenue they get from the extra games, because they’re not beating the Yankees.

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  6. GOBLUEBILLY says:

    It is nice to read some analysis of the playoffs. The sole topic of conversation in Detroit is Cabrara’s bender last weekend.

    IF the Tigers face the Yankees, Verlander would be available for two starts in the absence of a sweep. He gives the Tigers a good chance in every game he pitches. I remember 2006, the last time that the Tigers had absolutely no chance to compete with the Yankees in the playoffs.

    GO TIGERS!

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