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I miss Game 163 already
A one-game playoff between the Astros and Rangers would have been so epic.
My favorite baseball team made the playoffs!
The Texas Rangers hadn't reached the postseason since 2016. It's been a rough few years for the Rangers. There's been a lot of rough years for the Rangers.
Texas led the A.L. West division for most of the season before cratering in August and September. In the season's final weeks, Texas — on the strength of a six-game win streak — briefly returned to the top of the standings, only to squander it by losing three of four games against the Mariners.
The Rangers and Houston Astros finished with identical 90-72 records, and Seattle finished two games back at 88-74.
Throughout baseball's history, teams that ended the regular season tied — such as the Astros and Rangers — participated in tie-breaker games for the chance to move on to the playoffs or to finalize playoff seeding.
But "Game 163," as it's known, was eliminated last year. Instead, tiebreakers are now decided through metrics and math.
Because Houston won more head-to-head games against Texas, the Astros were awarded the division title, while the Rangers earned a Wild Card spot. Thus, the Rangers are taking a trip to classy Tampa Bay to play the Rays in the super duper elimination round playoff spectacular1 while Houston gets to rest ahead of the Division Series, which begins about a week from now.
I get the reasoning for the change to the playoff format. Erasing Game 163 allows MLB to squeeze more teams into the playoffs. More playoff teams means more TV broadcast money and more playoff gear to sell.
But doing away with Game 163 means a lot less intrigue and excitement around the race to the postseason.
Do-or-die, rivalry-fueled games and series have spawned some of the most iconic moments in baseball history:
Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning homer to lift the New York Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers 72 years ago on Oct. 3, 1951.
Bucky f'ing Dent, leading the Yankees over the hated Red Sox in 1978.
Randy Johnson's complete game gem against the Angels in 1995.2
Those games were a lot more fun — and a lot more impactful — than tiebreaker math and Wild Card series, some involving third-place teams.
This season, meanwhile, there was almost no drama on the regular season’s final day. All of the postseason teams had been decided.
But here we are.
Yes, the Astros have completely owned the Rangers this season, going 9-4 against their intrastate rivals. But a one-game playoff between the Astros and Rangers would have been so epic.
Even with the likelihood that the Rangers would have lost a Game 163 against Houston, I would have appreciated the chance to see that game played and the score settled. Winner takes it all, instead of the division champ being decided on a technicality.
Calling the 2023 Astros division champs when they finished the regular season tied with another team? That, for me, is hot garbage.
The commercialization of the postseason stinks, too, but I’m admittedly not above it — you better believe that I ordered a Rangers playoff T-shirt.
Take October, it says.
It’s supposed to ship by Oct. 10. Will the T-shirt arrive before the Rangers' season ends?
Maybe not the actual name … feels like that, at least.
Under the current system, the Angels would have won the A.L. West in 1995, despite seeing a 10-game division lead evaporate in the season's final months, because California owned a 7-5 record against the Mariners that year. The 1978 Yankees, meanwhile, would have advanced past the Red Sox due to a 9-6 record.