In the entire history of Major Leage Baseball, there have only been thirteen occasions in which two teams finished the regular season tied at the top of the standings. Of those thirteen ties, four were settled with a three-game series. The other nine? They were settled with a one-game, winner-take-all, loser-go-home playoff.
To the young’ins reading this, that small number may surprise you. After all, we’ve seen a number of one-game playoffs in recent years. But it’s true: ties in the standings have simply not been that common, so the one-game playoff has been a rarity.
However, that all changed this year. Drunk off a string of extremely exciting conclusions to the regular season, MLB has tinkered with the playoff formula this year so that two teams in each league will face each other in a one-game playoff to determine who takes the Wild Card. And, coincidentally enough, those two games go down tonight, with the Braves-Cardinals at 5PM EST and the Rangers-Orioles at 8PM EST.
Today, in honor of these two winner-take-all games, we’re going to have a look back at the 9 pervious times in the history of Major League Baseball that a single game has determined which team got to play postseason baseball. If today’s games are half as exciting as some of the ones on this list, we’re all in for a treat.