Third the Golden Bird
Earlier in the season it was announced that along with there being a second wild card team being added to the postseason fray, MLB said that like the times where the playoff formats were kind of dumb, the two teams with the weaker records of the four remaining teams in each league would get to host the first two games of the playoffs in their respective division series. That would mean the number three overall record of the three division winners, and the wild card play-in winner would get the chance for an opening statement in front of their home fans to begin the best-of-five.
Unlike the wild card play-in winners who might need to tweak and adjust their rosters for that one game moneymaker, all the third seed has to do is win their division with the least impressive record, no matter how strong or weak their strength of schedule was. While I do not have the links to prove it, I would imagine the prevailing opinion is that this format is believed to be pretty lame, and could also be why MLB has said this would be a one-year gig.
The current third seeds are the Chicago White Sox (who lead the Detroit Tigers by a game), and the San Francisco Giants. With about eight games to go, it’s a pretty safe assumption that whoever wins the AL Central and the Giants are going to be placed in that #3 spot.
This isn’t to say the third and fourth seeds will easily win their respective series, but there there is something to be said for playing at home and taking the field before getting your chance to bat. This is a path that worked for the Giants in 2010, when they started against the Braves at home (although they would have come back to SF for a fifth game), went to Philly for Games 1, 2, and 6 for the NLCS, and then had home series advantage for the World Series. They would potentially go through a similar path if they win in the NLDS, the #1 seed wins their division so they play host to the Giants in the NLCS, and the NL team gets to host the World Series this year, thanks to the NL shutting out the AL 8-0 in Kansas City.
So here’s to being third.