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GMs hoping to eliminate coin flips

GMs hoping to eliminate coin flips

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DANA POINT, Calif. -- Major League Baseball's general managers are down on coin flips.

They've asked MLB's baseball operations department to come up with a better alternative to establish what team would host a one-game playoff for a division title or Wild Card berth if two of them are tied with identical records at the end of the regular season.

The custom has always been to flip a coin several weeks before the possible game to determine which team might host. But some teams would rather have it based on head-to-head records, records within division play, etc.

"Most people in the room kind of agreed with that," Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, said on Thursday after the final session of the three-day meetings. "We're going to try to put something together in writing and present it to the general managers at the Winter Meetings."

There have been only eight one-game tiebreakers for a postseason spot in Major League history and seven of them have been since 1969 when the multi-tiered playoff format went into existence.

Two of them have been the last two seasons. In 2007, the Padres lost the flip and had to travel to Colorado. The Rockies won, 9-8, in 13 innings to claim the National League's Wild Card berth. This year, the Twins lost the flip and went to Chicago, where the White Sox defeated them, 1-0, to win the American League Central title.

In this year's case, there were a myriad of possibilities, a number of them involving the Brewers, who lost every flip and were mandated to play all their tiebreakers on the road. The Brewers staved off the possibility of going to New York for a Wild Card tiebreaker game when they beat the Cubs at home on the final day of the regular season and the Mets lost to the Marlins at Shea Stadium, thus avoiding a tie.

The White Sox, actually, had to play a game rained out earlier in September at home against the Tigers on the Monday after the last day of the regular season to force the tiebreaker against the Twins. They won the makeup game, and then defeated the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday night.

The White Sox had a 8-10 record against the Twins before the tiebreaker this past season and would have had to go to Minneapolis to play that game had head-to-head records been the first criteria. The Twins were 8-1 at home against the White Sox and 2-7 in Chicago before the tiebreaker.

The logistics of waiting for the last minute to determine which team hosts a one-game tiebreaker has to be a matter of consideration if the coin-flip rule is changed.

"As you can tell with our system, logistical problems are kind of a walk in the park for us because that's what we do," Solomon said. "But, yeah, I think there would be logistical problems and the GMs are going to go back and speak to their business and special events departments, their ticket people, and get a sense of the kind of hardship it would put on them.

"But I think that if you were the director of ticket sales or you were the special events coordinator for a club and you had the opportunity to either play at home or away, what would you pick?"

Home, the GMs obviously believe, but not perhaps if it's mandated by a coin flip.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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