You already know that the Cubs and Pirates are headed for a date next Wednesday in the National League wild-card game. The only thing undecided there is the location, and you know the Cubs must win at least two of three in Milwaukee (and get help from the Reds) to have any chance to host the game. Otherwise they'll head to Pittsburgh.
Here are the other things yet undecided for playoff berths and positioning for this season.
The Cardinals, Mets and Dodgers have clinched division titles. The Cardinals have clinched home field throughout the N.L. playoffs and will host the winner of the Cubs/Pirates game in a division series matchup starting October 9.
The Mets and Dodgers are currently tied at 89-70. Between those two clubs, whoever finishes with the better record gets home-field advantage in their division series, which will also begin a week from today. If they wind up tied, the advantage goes to the Mets, who won the season series from L.A. four games to three.
The Royals, Blue Jays and Rangers have clinched division titles. The Rangers will be the No. 3 seed and begin the division-series round on the road against either Kansas City or Toronto next Thursday. The Jays and Royals are currently tied at 92-67 and If they finish with identical records, home field goes to Toronto, who won the season series from K.C. four games to three.
The Yankees clinched a wild-card berth Thursday night. Their magic number to host the wild-card game is one; the only way they don't is if the Astros sweep the Diamondbacks in Phoenix this weekend while the Yankees get swept by the Orioles, as the Astros won the season series from the Yankees four games to three and would host the game if the teams wind up tied. That would be a big advantage to the Astros, as they are 53-28 at Minute Maid Park, the best home mark in the American League.
That leads us to the beautiful mess that is the A.L. race for the second wild card. Here are the standings as of Friday morning:
One game separating three teams with three games left. Delicious, for those of us who would love to see something that's never happened for a MLB postseason berth: a three-way tie.
As noted above, the Astros are in Phoenix this weekend. That's the final interleague series on this year's schedule, and it puts Houston at a bit of a disadvantage as they won't be able to use the DH. It should also be noted that the Astros have been terrible on the road this year, 31-47, by far the worst road record of any playoff contender. For their part, the D'backs have a losing record (38-40) at home. In short, who knows?
The Angels continue a four-game season-ending series at Texas. The Angels lost to the Rangers Thursday night, but are 10-6 against them so far this year.
The Twins host the Royals. That series has meaning to Kansas City, as noted above. The Twins are 7-9 against the Royals so far this year, 2-4 at home.
There are any number of ways these teams can wind up in two- or three-way ties, and the three-way tie scenario is a bit more complicated. Here's what would happen in the event two of these three teams wind up tied for the second wild-card spot.
If the Astros and Angels tie, they'd play a tiebreaker game in Houston Monday night. The Astros won the season series 10 games to nine.
If the Astros and Twins tie, they'd play a tiebreaker game in Minneapolis Monday night. This requires the second tiebreaker (team record within its own division), because the Astros and Twins split six games this year. Houston went 38-38 within the A.L. West; Minnesota is 40-33 against the A.L. Central with this weekend's games remaining.
If the Angels and Twins tie, they'd play a tiebreaker game in Anaheim Monday night. The Angels won the season series five games to two.
Those are fairly straightforward, even though there are three possible locations for a tiebreaker game and it wouldn't be known until late Sunday afternoon where that tiebreaker would be played.
Now, if all three teams wind up with the same record, I'd recommend consulting this Jayson Stark ESPN.com article from last week, which explains every possible tiebreaker scenario.
It should be a fun weekend for those A.L. teams and those of us watching the race. All of Sunday's regular-season finales will begin at the same time -- 3 p.m. Eastern time, 2 p.m. Central time and noon Pacific time. This was done so that no teams have an advantage over another due to a game finishing before another one starts.