Last Place Team Wins League Championship on Walk-Off Balk

Do you want proof that baseball playoffs are a total crapshoot? The Eugene Emeralds went 31–45 and just won their league’s playoffs.

The Emeralds, a Cubs affiliate, had the worst record in the Class A Short Season Northwest League but qualified for the playoffs thanks to some wonky minor league rules.

The Northwest League awards playoff spots to four teams: whoever has the most wins in the first and second halves of the season, in both the North and South divisions. The powerhouse Hillsboro Hops won both halves of the season in the South (with a cumulative record of 51–25, a .671 winning percentage), which means the second playoff spot in the division was given to the South team with the second-best second-half record. That would be the Emeralds, who rebounded from a 14–24 first half to finish 17–21 in the second half. 

But as Cubs fans will tell you, anything can happen in the playoffs. After not winning more than two consecutive games all season long, the Emeralds swept the best-of-three first-round series against Hillsboro and took a 2–0 lead in the best-of-five against the Spokane Indians, which takes us to Tuesday night.

With the bases loaded and two outs in a tied game, this is what happened. 

Baseball is so unpredictable over short stretches that even the worst team in the league can get lucky enough over five games to win the title. Keep that in mind next month when the MLB playoffs start next month.


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