This is some kind of wonderful. As the final day of the regular season dawns, we know every team that will be in the playoffs and nothing about how they will match up in the first round.
The Oakland Athletics could win the American League West. The Baltimore Orioles could win the AL East. The Washington Nationals could finish with the best record in the major leagues.
That is just the start of the craziness. The triple crown is at stake too.
This is the complete playoff schedule, as we know it: The Atlanta Braves play the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, in a sudden-death wild-card qualifier. The Detroit Tigers play somebody Saturday. The San Francisco Giants play somebody Saturday.
So here's what to watch for Wednesday, from your cubicle or your couch, from a smart phone or a sports bar:
10 a.m. PDT: Philadelphia at Washington — The Nationals have 97 victories, but so do the Cincinnati Reds. The National League team with the best record secures home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, thanks to the since-suspended Melky Cabrera and his most-valuable-player performance in the All-Star game. The better reward: a first-round date against the survivor of the sudden-death wild-card qualifier, since the Braves will use ace Kris Medlen and the Cardinals will be exhausted.
12:30 p.m. PDT: Texas at Oakland — No one has won the triple crown since 1967, but Detroit's Miguel Cabrera might clinch it by the end of this game. Cabrera has all but locked up the AL titles in batting average and runs batted in, but the Rangers' Josh Hamilton trails him by only one home run.
That's the secondary story line, since the A's and Rangers are tied for the AL West lead. The winner of Wednesday's game wins the division, and with it a spot in the best-of-five first round. The loser slips into the sudden-death wild-card qualifier Friday.
4 p.m. PDT: Boston at New York and Baltimore at Tampa Bay — If the Yankees win, or if the Orioles lose, then the Yankees are champions of the AL East. The Yankees also would finish with the best record in the league, giving them three days to revive their pitching staff before facing the raggedy staff of the wild-card survivor.
If the Yankees lose and the Orioles win, then the teams will play a one-game tiebreaker in Baltimore on Thursday. The Orioles, weary of Yankees fans overrunning Camden Yards, restricted the first two hours of tiebreaker ticket sales to fans with a local address.
The loser of the tiebreaker would play host to the sudden-death wild-card game Friday, so the loser of the Oakland-Texas game would have to sit around into the evening, stewing over the defeat and awaiting a destination for the team charter.
5: 10 p.m. PDT: Detroit at Kansas City — If the triple crown remains at stake, that is.
5:15 p.m. PDT: Cincinnati at St. Louis — The Reds take their shot at the best record in the NL, and the premium playoff position that comes with it.
The calendar already has turned to October, and the October thrills already have started. In an otherwise meaningless game in Miami on Tuesday, Adam Greenberg got an at-bat.
In 2005, Greenberg was hit in the head in his first major league plate appearance. He never made it back to the majors, so the Marlins were kind enough to grant him his first at-bat. He got a standing ovation.
He struck out, on three pitches, in 33 seconds.
"That's 33 more seconds than I could have asked for," Greenberg told reporters in Miami.
The regular season has about 10 hours left. Bring 'em on.