MLB tiebreaker rules ensure Reds fans never have to endure the pain of another Al Leiter experience

Mets pitcher Al Leiter threw a complete game shutout against the Reds on October 4, 1999.
New York Mets pitcher Al Leiter
New York Mets pitcher Al Leiter / RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
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Not to open up old wounds, but the majority of fans throughout Reds Country undoubtedly remember New York Mets starter Al Leiter as the pitcher who singlehandedly eliminated the Cincinnati Reds from playoff contention in 1999.

A Reds lineup that consisted of Mike Cameron, Barry Larkin, Sean Casey, and Pokey Reese helped lead Cincinnati to 96 wins that season. But thanks to Leiter, it wasn't enough.

The Reds and Mets finished the regular season with identical records (96-66) and in order to decide which team would be headed to the playoffs, the two clubs met for Game 163 was played on October 4, 1999.

MLB tiebreaker rules ensure Reds fans never have to endure the pain of another Al Leiter experience.

A crowd of 54,621 had their hearts broken after watching Al Leiter allow just two hits over nine innings as the New York Mets celebrated a 5-0 victory at Riverfront Stadium and headed off to the MLB playoffs in 1999.

Thankfully, Cincinnati Reds fans will never have to endure the pain of a loss in Game 163 ever again. In fact, no fanbase throughout Major League Baseball will. With the expansion of the MLB playoffs, ties will no longer be settled on the field.

Tiebreakers are now decided by head-to-head records during the regular season. If teams have identical win-loss records after Game 162, whichever team had the upper-hand during the regular season will punch their ticket to the postseason.

This is great news for the Cincinnati Reds if they finish the 2023 regular season with the same record as the Arizona Diamondbacks or Chicago Cubs. Cincinnati was 4-3 versus Arizona this season and 7-6 versus Chicago. But, the San Francisco Giants hold a 4-3 advantage over Cincy.

What happens if the Reds and Marlins are tied for the final NL Wild Card spot?

Now, if teams finish the season with identical win-loss records and split the season series, then it goes a bit deeper. The Reds would run into this scenario if both Cincinnati and the Miami Marlins finish the regular season with the same record.

According to MLB.com, if the two teams competing for a Wild Card spot have identical records and play in different divisions, intradivisional records take precedence. At the moment, the Marlins hold a 21-22 record versus the NL East and the Reds are 19-27 against the NL Central.

That's a difference of 3.5 games, which means that Cincinnati needs wins in the worst way against the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals while also hoping the Marlins fall to the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets in the coming weeks.

But. if it's any solace to Reds fans, never again will there be a Game 163 in which the opposing pitcher just rips your heart out. From here on out, it's just simple math.

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