Going into Wednesday night’s games, the Mets, Giants and Cardinals are in a three-way tie for the two Wild Card spots. So it is a perfect time to see what happens if the season finishes that way. And it is slightly strange.
(By the way, after doing my own math on this, I found that Adam Rubin at ESPN New York did the same thing. It could have saved me some time had I seen it first!).
To start, the three teams are seeded. And the first step is each teams’ records against each other. The Mets and Cardinals were both 7-6 against the other teams, while the Giants were 6-8. So the Giants are the third seed.
To determine the seedings for the Mets and Cards, it goes to record within their respective divisions. Right now, the Mets are 33-32 in their division, while the Cards are 36-30 in theirs. So if that holds up, the Mets would be the second seed. And that is the worst place to be.
The Mets would have to travel to St. Louis to play the Cardinals in Game 1. If they win, they are the first seed, and then the Cards and Giants face off for the second seed. The Mets would host the Wild Card game in that scenario.
But if they lose, the Mets get another shot against the Giants. However, they would have to travel to San Francisco to play the game. That’s right — the third team, by definition the worst one, undeservedly gets to host a game.
So what position would you rather be in? If you are the second seed, at least you get two chances to be a Wild Card. The third team gets only one. But that team gets to kick back at home for a day while the other two teams battle it out, and then gets to play a tired team the next day in their home ballpark. How do you think the Mets (or any team) would fare after two long plane rides in two days?
Given the rules, it seems like being the third seed is better than the second. I would rather take my chances in a single home game than potentially having to play two on the road.
Another oddity is the second tiebreaker — division records. The three teams play in different divisions; it is not really fair to use that to break a tie. League records might be a bit more fair (which would just leave interleague play out of their records).
In any case, it looks like the Mets would be the losers in a three-team scenario. Let’s hope it does not come down to that.
Jayson Stark at ESPN.com points out that teams can choose what they want do, in order of their ranking. Obviously the first seed would still want to host the first game. Then the second team could choose to drop to the third seed so it can host the final game. It would be interesting to see what the Mets would choose. Depending on how the rotation shakes out, it would be tempting for them to take a chance and host the third game with a rested Noah Syndergaard or Bartolo Colon against a tired and travel-weary Giants or Cardinals club, likely with their best pitcher used in the prior game.