Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

This coming week, the MLB Postseason starts, with games airing on five different networks over the course of the next month. As a baseball diehard, it’s heaven on Earth. Even with the addition of the second Wild Card, playoff baseball is fantastic to watch, from the first pitch of the first game to the celebrations on the field at the end of the World Series. When you also consider there won’t be any Yankees-Red Sox marathon contests this October, it’s even more exciting to think about.

But while the Postseason is scheduled to start on Tuesday with the AL Wild Card game on TBS, we could get a tiebreaker game on Monday. In previous years, when two teams were tied for a division title and both would have qualified for the playoffs anyway, the team with the better head to head record on the season earned the division crown, while the other earned the Wild Card spot. Because of the introduction of the second Wild Card in 2012, the division title is a lot more important than either Wild Card, and a tiebreaker game will be played in the event of a tie at the top of the division. There also could be a situation this year where we have a tie for the second Wild Card spot in the American League, necessitating a tiebreaker game to advance to the one game playoff, like we saw last year with the Rays and Rangers.

In the event of a tiebreaker, the game will air Monday on ESPN. That sounds all well and good until you realize Monday + ESPN = Monday Night Football. Last year’s tiebreaker game took place in primetime on TBS, and drew 2.9 million viewers. Would ESPN shift a tiebreaker game to ESPN2 in primetime? Would they push MLB to schedule the game in an afternoon slot, and potentially eat into their Monday Night Football pregame show?

Neither situation is ideal for MLB – stick the game in the afternoon on ESPN, and you’re subjecting yourself to disappointing ratings because of viewers stuck at work, especially if a west coast team like the Mariners or A’s is involved. Keep the game in primetime but get booted to ESPN2? Well then you’re going head to head with Monday Night Football and a matchup of two playoff teams in the Patriots and Chiefs. Imagine if the Royals were involved in a tiebreaker game – the Kansas City metro would be losing their minds.

If a tiebreaker game ends up happening, MLB could be forced with some unenviable decisions. We all love rooting for chaos when situations like this arise at the end of the year, but MLB is probably just hoping that all of the playoff chaos gets resolved before Sunday so they don’t need to worry about this situation unfolding at all.

Oh, and if two tiebreaker games are necessary? Someone is really getting screwed. One will need to air in the afternoon, and one is going to have to air in either a late afternoon or primetime window. That’s a great situation for us fans, but a disaster for MLB and ESPN from a scheduling point of view.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.