One can debate the merits of East Bay leagues holding tournaments in baseball or softball to determine their automatic qualifiers to the North Coast Section playoffs, rather than having it go to the regular season champion.
But there's no question these tournaments will add some drama to the next two days.
The Diablo Valley Athletic League, the Tri-County Athletic League and the West Alameda County Conference are each holding tournaments this week to determine automatic qualifiers for the NCS playoffs, which begin next week. The East Bay Athletic League and Mission Valley Athletic League in baseball will settle things with a number of key regular-season games helping to decide their champions and who get the automatic berth.
Here are the key games in each league.
BVAL: In baseball, Liberty can clinch the league title outright with a win over Freedom on Thursday. If the Lions lose and both second place Heritage and Deer Valley win Thursday, there will be a three-way tie for first and each team will share the title. But Liberty, since it beat both Heritage and Deer Valley in the second half of the league season, gets the automatic berth to NCS.
In softball, Heritage has already clinched first place and the automatic berth.
DFAL: The Campolindo baseball team and the Alhambra softball team have already sewn up league titles and automatic berths.
DVAL: A pair of exciting league tournament championship games are on tap for Thursday, as Clayton Valley Charter plays College Park at Concord High in baseball and Concord faces College Park at Northgate in softball.
College Park won both meetings with Clayton Valley last week, and Thursday's game could feature another excellent pitching matchup between Falcons junior Joe DeMers and Eagles senior Gabe Taylor.
In softball, Concord, the two-time defending NCS Division II champion, faces a College Park team that has won five of its last six. The winner gets to host an opening round NCS game. Concord swept College Park in a home-and-home series in late March.
EBAL: Four baseball teams -- Amador Valley, California, De La Salle and San Ramon Valley -- are tied for first with 8-5 records. California plays at De La Salle on Thursday, and on Friday, Foothill plays at Amador Valley and San Ramon Valley plays at Monte Vista.
If two teams finish tied for first, then the tie is broken first by head-to-head results, then by who finished with the better record in the second half of the league season. If the two teams are still tied, then the automatic qualifier is determined by a lottery, which was held before the season.
A three- or four-way tie is first broken using head-to-head record between the teams tied for first. If two or three teams are still tied, then second-half records are used. If after that two teams are still tied, then the process reverts back to the first tiebreaker.
Amador Valley has already wrapped up the EBAL softball title and the automatic berth.
MVAL: James Logan has clinched the league's automatic berth in softball, but things are more complex in baseball. Newark Memorial and Washington, which split their two regular-season meeting, both have 9-4 records going into the last game of the season.
If those two teams stay tied, the automatic berth goes to the team with the better record against the team that finishes third. If that doesn't solve anything, then it goes to the team with the better record against the fourth-place team, and so on.
TCAL: Salesian beat St. Patrick-St. Vincent in the softball tournament title game for the league's automatic bid to NCS. In baseball, Pinole Valley beat St. Patrick-St. Vincent 9-0 in a league semifinal Wednesday and will take on St. Mary's in the final Friday.
WACC: Foothill and Shoreline Division titles will be settled Thursday in tournament championship games. In baseball, there's a doubleheader at Laney College, with Arroyo facing Bishop O'Dowd in the Foothill title game at 3:30 p.m. and San Leandro facing San Lorenzo in the Shoreline title game at 6 p.m.
In softball, Castro Valley faces Arroyo in the Foothill Division title game at Larry Standley Field in Hayward at 5 p.m.