So, you want to watch the world burn, too, eh? Excellent. Come on inside.

This is the situation. With 11 (or 12, in some cases) games left in the 2013 season, six teams have at least a puncher’s chance at attaining one of the two American League Wild Card berths. All six are within three and a half games of one another, and eight remaining games pit one of the six against another.

I’m sure the fans of each of the six clubs—the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees—will pull fervently for their home nine to win one of the slots in the coin-flip game Bud Selig foisted on baseball fans (without provocation or justification) beginning last season. For those of us who root for someone else, though, the highest good I can imagine is a chaotic finish that would cruelly satirize this system, and remind the head offices of MLB what was lost when they built this system—the integrity of the regular season.

To that end, I offer this guide to cheering on these six through their seasons’ final acts, with the goal being a six-way tie at the close of 162 games. I warn you, it demands a leap of faith, given the Indians’ schedule. It’s not impossible, though. It’s not even especially difficult to imagine.

Tampa Bay Rays – 82-68

Tamps has 12 games left, and they have by far the most sway over the race. Their next nine contests will come against other teams still in the mix.

Rays – What to Root For

Opponent (Number of Games)

Hoped-for Result

Texas (2)

1-1

Baltimore (4)

2-2

Yankees (3)

1-2

Toronto (3)

2-1

Total

6-6, to finish 88-74

Texas Rangers – 82-68

The Rangers should be able to make some hay at the end of the season, if they can survive the next five contests. On the other hand, the Angels have been playing quite well lately. Mike Trout might yet have a say in who sees October.

Rangers – What to Root For

Opponent (Number of Games)

Hoped-for Result

Tampa (2)

1-1

Kansas City (3)

1-2

Houston (3)

2-1

Angels (4)

2-2

Total

6-6, to finish 88-74

Cleveland Indians – 82-69

The softness of the Tribe’s schedule might be the single biggest impediment to the Wild Wild Wild Card scenario. They have four games in Minnesota to finish the season, and their sub-.500 road record provides hope that the Twins could bring them back to the pack.

Indians – What to Root For

Opponent (Number of Games)

Hoped-for Result

Kansas City (1)

0-1

Houston (4)

3-1

White Sox (2)

1-1

Minnesota (4)

2-2

Total

6-5, to finish 88-74

Baltimore Orioles – 80-70

Five remaining games against the Red Sox, who are making a habit of shaking the contenders back in forth in their jaws like a dog with a chew toy, threaten the Orioles’ viability. They’ll need to step up, and hope the Sox start lining up their post-season rotation so that Baltimore can face Allen Webster or someone during the final weekend.

Orioles – What to Root For

Opponent (Number of Games)

Hoped-for Result

Boston (2)

1-1

Tampa Bay (4)

2-2

Toronto (3)

3-0

Boston (3)

2-1

Total

8-4, to finish 88-74

Kansas City Royals – 79-72

The last two weeks have been vicious, and they have to hit the road to close out the season, but the offense’s improvement during the second half positions them as a legitimate threat. When their lineup is hitting, they’re one of the two or three best teams in this group.

Royals – What to Root For

Opponent (Number of Games)

Hoped-for Result

Cleveland (1)

1-0

Texas (3)

2-1

Seattle (3)

3-0

White Sox (4)

3-1

Total

9-2, to finish 88-74

New York Yankees – 79-72

If they can beat the Rays, they can do this. It’s a tall order, but if Alfonso Soriano and the aging starting rotation can hold up just another fortnight, this is a solid team, and certainly not the fluky one that got them here with a patchwork effort in the first half.

Yankees – What to Root For

Opponent (Number of Games)

Hoped-for Result

Toronto (2)

2-0

San Francisco (3)

2-1

Tampa Bay (3)

2-1

Houston (3)

3-0

Total

9-2, to finish 88-74

An Alternate Scenario

The Royals and Yankees have to really hit the gas to realize this scenario. It’s unlikely, of course. But it couls certainly happen.

Another way to line these up would be to get all six to 87-75 instead. If you find that more feasible, go for it.

The Rays would have to lose two of three to Toronto. The Angels would have to take three of four from Texas. The Astros would have to split with the Indians in Cleveland. The Orioles could settle for taking two of three from the Blue Jays. The Royals would no longer need to sweep the Mariners, and the Yankees could split their next two with Toronto.

So if you buy into the Blue Jays, maybe this is more realistic. With both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion shut down for the year, though, I’d rather bet against the Blue Jays winning those three games than against the Indians winning a home series against the 51-100 Astros.

Anyway, here we are. The season is coming down to the wire. Enjoy, and follow this guide as you root for utter pandemonium.

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