BALTIMORE -- A lot of season remains and a lot can still happen, but if the schedule ended today, the Angels would easily have the second-best record in the Majors -- they were five games better than the third-place Tigers when play began on Tuesday -- and still their season would come down to one game.
It's the misfortune that comes with residing in the same American League West division as baseball's best team -- the A's, who the Angels trailed by 1 1/2 games entering Tuesday -- and it's the bad timing of playing in an era with two Wild Card teams in each league.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has long been a proponent of divisional play, believing division winners should have clear advantages over those that make the playoffs via the Wild Card. And the fact that his club is on the other side of that isn't making him change his stance.
"I think the weight that is on winning a division is warranted," Scioscia said prior to the series opener at Camden Yards. "I think that if you're going to have divisional baseball, you have to really make winning a division the first objective of any team that's contending. And if you don't quite reach that goal, and you play well enough, then you have the opportunity to work your way into the playoffs."
One alternative to a team running into the scenario the Angels are in is to extend the Wild Card to a three-game series, but Scioscia said that would penalize the division winners because they'd wait around too long.
"You will lose your edge, no doubt about it, with that much time off," he said.
Another would be to eliminate divisional play, which the longtime skipper doesn't like. And a more unconventional one would be to slice each league into four divisions, something Scioscia floated out as a possibility if more expansion takes place.
The ladder isn't necessarily feasible right now, which makes the current goal pretty simple.
"Win your division," Scioscia said. "Let's just put it that way."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.