At the conclusion of the 2013 MLB regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers both had 91-71 records, tied for the final American League Wild Card berth.
A one-game tiebreaker was required to solve the matter, but a more balanced schedule could have solved it long before. The Rays faced a more difficult schedule than the Rangers, an unfair reality of life in the AL East.
When Tampa Bay won the eventual tiebreaker, it seemed a matter of karmic justice.
After all, Texas went 53-23 against their own division, the AL West, which boasted a paltry .477 win percentage. The Rays, meanwhile, went 43-33 against AL East competition in a division with a .534 win percentage. Because teams play division opponents 19 times each, making up 46.9 percent of the schedule, division quality is a large determinant of record.
Tampa Bay played 97 games against teams with winning records to just 79 for the Rangers, and each was roughly a scratch team against winning opponents. Texas basically got 18 games against lesser opposition with which to gain a playoff edge and failed to do so.
This all seems terribly unfair, but an equalizing factor may have been at play, favoring teams in the East all along.