What Is and What Should Never Be

Dan WadeSenior Analyst ISeptember 30, 2008

Important note: this article was written BEFORE tonight's game. It has nothing to do with outcome and everything to do with structures.

Major League Baseball has one of the longest schedules of any major sport in the world. 162 games leads teams from April to September, from the Tokyo Dome to Dolphin Stadium. At the end of the long road, eight teams battle it out for the right to draw the world's eye in October.

So why in the unholy name of Marge Schott are the Twins and Sox playing a 163rd game tonight?

In every other major sport, the end of the regular season is a true deadline, none of this expandable season junk. They, too, must decide how to settle disputes between clubs. Their tie-breakers go as follows:

NFL: 1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).

NBA: (1) Head-to-head

NHL: 3. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. [1 and 2 aren't relevant]

MLS: 1) The highest position shall be awarded to the team with the better win/loss record in current regular season games against all other teams equal in points. (head-to-head competition)

The English Premier League decides rare ties on the basis of goal differential.

For some reason, Major League Baseball has unilaterally decided that the 18 games already played between these two teams are irrelevant. The Twins victory in the season series, 10 games to 8, is basically wiped out; they may have well played those 18 games against the National League.

Even if the EPL system were to be in place, the Twins would by flying to Tampa, based on their lead in run differential, 85-81. 

As it stands, the Twins see no benefit for their body of work, and will be forced to play in the most hostile environment imaginable. A win tonight would be one of the biggest in team history, even if they go nowhere in the playoffs, simply due to the terrible odds against them.

Irrespective of tonight's outcome, Major League Baseball should overhaul this ridiculous tie breaking system, so that a 162-game season isn't rendered moot by one, non-neutral site match-up.