What to know for the MLB Playoffs

Summer’s over. We’ve already covered that. But with the end of summer comes the beginning of “America’s favorite pastime”. The last week of September means that part of the year people remember to start caring about Baseball. But because MintVine is an international network, this isn’t going to be an in-depth analysis of the upcoming Postseason, but more of a guideline for how it works and a introduction to what is going to happen.

So, diehards (unless you need a refresher on the newly created playoffs system) and season-ticket holders please do not be offended for what follows.

The baseball playoffs begin after the 162-game season, typically in the first full week of October.

Ten teams make the playoffs – five each in the American and National Leagues. The three division champs and two wild cards – the two teams with the best records that do not win a division – qualify for the postseason.

History of the Playoffs

The first World Series was played in 1903, and the winners of the American League and National League met in what was first a best-of-nine series, then a best-of-seven series two years later. When the AL and NL split into two divisions in 1969, the ALCS and NLCS were formed and four teams made the playoffs. When the leagues adopted a six-division alignment in 1994, another round of playoffs was created with the Division Series. A fifth team from each league was added to the playoffs before the 2012 season.


If there is a tie for any of the divisions or the wild card, there is a one-game playoff the day after the season to determine the team that advances.

If there is a tie for a division and the losing team is assured of winning a wild card, there is no one-game playoff and the team that won the season series between the teams is named the division champion. If the teams split their season series equally, the team with the better record within the division wins the title. And if they’re still tied, the team with the better record in the final 81 games is declared the winner. If they’re still tied, that scenario is extended back to 82 games, 83 games, 84 games, etc.

Division Series (ALDS and NLDS)

Beginning in 2012, a second wild card team was added. Prior to that, there had been just one wild card team in each league – the team with the best record that didn’t win their division.

Now the two wild-card teams play each other in a winner-take-all game two days after the regular season ends. The winner of that game advances to the Division Series to face the No. 1 seed.

The Division Series is a best-of-five series. The team with the best overall record gets the top seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs. It hosts Games 1, 2 and 5 in the Division Series round. The team with the second-best record will hosts Games 1, 2 and 5 in its series. But in 2012 only, it will be a 2-3 format, with the team with home-field advantage hosting games 3, 4 and 5.

League Championship Series (ALCS and NLCS)

The winners of the Division Series then advance to the best-of-seven American League and National League Championship Series. The team with the best record of the remaining teams will have home-field advantage. In the event that a wild-card team has the better record than the other qualifying team that is a division champion, the division champion still gets the advantage and hosts Games 1, 2, 6 and 7.


World Series

The winners of the ALCS and NLCS advance to the World Series. Home-field advantage in the World Series is determined by the winning league in the All-Star Game.



10 Best Shows You Need to Watch This Fall

It has probably already become obvious, but if you haven’t figured it out just yet – we are huge Television fans here at MintVine.  So much, in fact, that we scrapped our weekly meetings for “Seinfeld Hour”. However, a new fall season means lots of new TV shows, and navigating through those shows can be as scary as it can be rewarding. So, in order to make your television viewing experience a little bit easier on you, we present the 10 Best Shows you need to be watching this fall – five new ones and five old ones.


Airs: Monday, 10 pm, NBCRevolution has all the hallmarks of the latest, great serial drama, created by Supernatural‘s Eric Kripke, executive produced by Lost‘s J.J. Abrams, and the pilot episode was even directed by Iron Man‘s Jon Favreau. For those of you who have yet to see it, the series takes place 15 years after a catastrophe simply known as the Blackout caused every piece of modern technology to stop working. That means no lights, no planes, no motor cars—the entire world has basically been rendered a post-apocalyptic Gilligan’s Island. Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos), a spunky young woman with archery skills that would shame Katniss Everdeen, embarks on a quest with her surly Uncle Miles (Billy Burke) to rescue her brother Danny (Graham Rogers), who was taken by a militia led by Captain Neville (Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito). Gen. Monroe (David Lyons) ordered capture of the Matheson boy in order to lure his old comrade Miles out of hiding in the hopes that he might hold the key for turning the world’s power back on.

The Big Bang Theory

Premieres: September 27, 8 pm, CBSMuch like the monumental event that the show derives its title from, the universe of The Big Bang Theory has evolved and expanded over the past five seasons to become one of the most watched and critically acclaimed comedies currently on TV—not to mention being one of the smartest too. From the moment Cheesecake Factory waitress Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moved in across the hall from Caltech physicists Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), neither their lives or those of their closest friends—including fellow physicist Rajesh Kothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), engineer Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), and Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s own Wil Wheaton—would ever be the same as their two disparate worlds collided. Last season found Leonard and Penny rekindling their on again/off again relationship, Sheldon growing closer to his “girlfriend” Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik, who has a real-life Ph.D. in neuroscience), and Wolowitz marrying Penny’s friend Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), just as he blasts off for the ISS. The show’s brainy reputation has led to some amazing guest stars, including Stephen Hawking, Apple’s Steve Wozniak, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Last Resort

Premieres: September 27, 8 pm, ABCShawn Ryan’s The Shield is considered by fans and critics alike to be one of the greatest television shows of all time and the best cop drama, period. So it only makes sense that his latest creation Last Resort would be generating a lot of buzz here at our office.

The fictional USS Colorado, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, receives a mysterious order to launch a nuclear first strike against Pakistan. The plot revolves around the resulting cat-and-mouse game that ensues between the U.S. Navy and the sub when Capt. Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) defies that order. The only hope for the submarine and the lives of the crew are a delicate nuclear detente, as Chaplin and his XO, Lt. Cmdr. Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman), commandeer the island nation of Sainte Marina as they desperately try and unravel the conspiracy against them and prove their innocence. While the premise sounds highly implausible, the solid writing and breakneck pace of the pilot episode make this one of our most hotly anticipated fall series.


Premieres: September 27, 10 pm, CBSThere has never been a fictional sleuth as enduring as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation Sherlock Holmes, and almost all modern-day police procedurals owe an immense debt to the British detective’s cunning combination of deductive reasoning paired with a love of forensic science. In fact, between Guy Ritchie’s blockbuster films, the BBC’s hit series Sherlock, and now with CBS’s Elementary, Holmes is having a moment. Much like the BBC show, the classic character is given a modern-day makeover, but that’s where the similarities end, as Elementary‘s Holmes, played with scruffy charm by Johnny Lee Miller, is a recovering addict living in New York City, and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, is now a woman (Lucy Liu). For anyone unfamiliar with the rich history of the character, this is about as seismic a change in the Holmes universe as one could ever imagine. But the show’s creators swear there will never be any romance between the two, though the possibility of other romantic entanglements aren’t out of the question.


Premieres: September 28, 9 pm, FOXAs J.J. Abrams’ mind-bending science-fiction series Fringe begins its fifth and final season, the creators have decided to turn things on their ear, and that’s saying something for a show that deals with such high concepts as parallel universes, evil doppelgangers, and alternate timelines on a weekly basis. Using the fourth season head-scratcher, Letters of Transit, as a jumping-off point, the characters are propelled into the year 2036, a dystopian future where the world has fallen under the control of the Observers, a race of pale, bald, black-suited, fedora-wearing beings from the 26th century. Ironically, this isn’t the first Fox series to make a foray into the near future, as the short-lived War of the Worlds(1988–1990) also made the leap from its promising first season full of government cover-ups and slimy three-fingered aliens to a dreary second season on an alien-ruled Earth. Warned of the Observer’s takeover plans, Walter Bishop (John Noble) encases himself and his team in amber in order to be revived and help take back the planet.


Premieres: September 30, 10 pm, ShowtimeHomeland, based on the critically acclaimed Israeli series Hatufim, was the surprise hit of last season and most recently walked away with Emmys for outstanding drama series and outstanding lead actor and actress in a drama for its stars Damian Lewis and Claire Danes. With 24‘s seemingly unstoppable superagent, Jack Bauer, having ridden off into the sunset—for now at least—we’ve finally been given a post-9/11 espionage drama that features characters on both sides of the war on terror, who are showing the physical and psychological ramifications their actions bring. Last season introduced us to Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Lewis), returning home a war hero after being held prisoner by al-Qaida for the past eight years, and CIA operations officer Carrie Mathison (Danes) who is secretly investigating him, convinced that he has been brainwashed into a terrorist sleeper agent. Season two picks up with the troubled Carrie out of the agency and her one-time nemesis Brody being vetted to be the next vice president of the U.S.

666 Park Avenue

Premieres: September 30, 10 pm, ABCNetwork television has always had a rocky relationship with the horror genre, opting for scares rooted more in the psychological than the supernatural, but ABC is taking a chance with 666 Park Avenue, based loosely on Gabriella Pierce’s series of novels. It’s The Shining meets Rosemary’s Baby. Make no mistake, 666 Park Avenue will have none of the over-the-top gore or sick twists found in the likes of FX’s American Horror Story, but with Terry O’Quinn, Lost‘s John Locke, as the proprietor of The Drake, the titular residence of the series, the creep quotient is certainly upped. The show follows a young couple (Dave Annable and Rachael Taylor) who answer an ad to be the new on-site managers but quickly realize that all is not as it seems in their new tony Upper East Side digs.


Premieres: October 3, 9 pm, The CWMuch like the undead, mythological, and demonic forces that the valiant Winchester brothers face week in and week out, Supernatural just will not die. Creator Eric Kripke originally envisioned an overarching storyline for the series spanning five seasons, but the fans—and the network—had other ideas. Following in the footsteps of such great cult shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Supernatural follows the trials and tribulations of Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles),the last in a long line of monster hunters. Unlike other shows of this ilk, Supernatural realized early on with the death of the Winchester patriarch (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) that in order to maintain tension, no one could be off-limits, with many of the Winchester’s allies, and even the brother’s themselves, dying (they eventually got better). Dean and the Angel Castiel (Misha Collins) were trapped in Purgatory after saving the world at the end of last season, but now Dean has returned a changed man.


Premieres: October 10, 8 pm, The CWWith the finale of the CW’s long-running superhero series Smallville last year, there’s now a noticeable dearth of caped crusaders on the tube. The hip, action-packed Arrow hopes to change that, offering up a streamlined version of DC’s popular Green Arrow character, created back in 1941. Not to be confused with the Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) who appeared on Smallville, Arrow (Stephen Amell) is the alter ego of Oliver Queen, the son of billionaire industrialist Robert Queen (Homeland‘s Jamey Sheridan), who was forced to survive for five years on an island after a boating accident. The show aims to please fans of the comic by including series stalwarts such as love interest Dinah Lance (Katie Cassidy) and villainous archer Merlyn (Colin Donnell).

The Walking Dead

Premieres: October 14, 9 pm, AMCAMC’s The Walking Dead has the unenviable task of straddling two separate-but-equal worlds: that of creator Robert Kirkman’s critically acclaimed ongoing comic-book of the same name and that of the show’s universe, which sometimes lurches and staggers like one of the series’ zombies. When going back and viewing the first two seasons as three six-episode story arcs, one gains an appreciation for the series slow-burn storytelling approach. But fans of both gasped at season two’s finale, which ended the brewing rivalry between Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his former bff Shane (Jon Bernthal) once and for all, as well as gave audiences the first glimpse of the survivor’s new sanctuary—an abandoned prison—and the promise that it holds. I’m not spoiling anything by saying that the introduction of the prison setting and the neighboring town of Woodbury, as well as the addition of fan-favorite characters Michonne (Danai Gurira) and the Governor (David Morrissey), have elevated the level of anticipation for the premiere to all-time highs.

7 Netflix Hacks That Every Binge-Watcher Needs To Know

Back in olden times before Netflix, you had to wait days, even weeks, between episodes of your favorite show, and it was terrible. Then the streaming service came along and changed everything.

Today, the time between episodes has been reduced to seconds, the term binge-watch has been added to the Oxford Dictionary and, thanks to Netflix’s seemingly endless options, there’s really not any reason to go outside any more. (Who needs sun when you have self tanner, Vitamin D fortified milk and “Orange is the New Black”?)

And if you thought Netflix was amazing already, here are some easy tips and tricks to make your viewing experience more impressive than the “Cosmos”:

1. Watch Titles In HD

tv show gifs

Many Netflix users aren’t aware that HD is already available through their subscriptions. They just haven’t been using it. To set up your account for HD, Netflix says to perform the following steps:

1. Navigate to Your Account.
2. Select Playback settings.
3. Under Data Usage, click High.
4. Click the Save button.

Just remember that streaming in HD uses up a lot of data, so you’ll probably want to make sure you’re using a Wi-Fi network and not your data plan. After you’ve done that, your picture will be so clear that next time you watch Walter White throw a pizza on his roof, tomato sauce will probably splash in your face.

2. Access A Hidden Menu To Eliminate Buffering


As far as first world problems go, it doesn’t get worse than buffering, but now there’s something you can do about it.

Netflix has a secret menu you can access while watching videos in order to cut down on buffering during playback. To access the menu, perform the following action: Shift+Alt+Left Click (Shift+Option+Click on a Mac).

After that, select the stream manager and manually match up the playback with the buffering rate. This should cut down on the buffering issues you’re experiencing, and your friends will think you’re the coolest.

3. Use A Cheat Code To Log In On A Gaming System

Being stuck in someone else’s Netflix account is the worst. Your preferences are all wrong, the recommendations are atrocious and anyone who stumbles in thinks you were the one who left off halfway through “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.”

As Lifehacker explains:

If you want to log out of your account and login into someone else’s on a Xbox 360 or PS3, you just need to get into the debug menu. From the Netflix app’s main screen, hit the following buttons on your controller:

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, up, up, up, up.

 In addition to logging out of an account, the debug menu can also help improve playback.

4. Clear Your Netflix History To Stop The Haters

Okay, so you’ve clicked on some embarrassing titles in Netflix. Who hasn’t? Somebody has to watch “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta,” right?

If you’re trying to clear your viewing history, you have a couple different options. The simplest way is through profiles. According to Netflix, you can have up to five different profiles for each account. Once these are created, all the preferences and everything you watch is associated with the profile you’re using. Deleting these profiles will clear all viewing history.

The only issue is your main profile can’t be deleted. If you’re trying to remove the viewing history from your main profile, you must delete the account and resubscribe to Netflix. This may sound like a hassle, but it’s actually pretty easy and super worth it if you’ve been watching a few too many critically panned movies with George Lopez pretending he’s a Chihuahua. (We’ve all been there.)

5. Turn Your Phone Into A Personal Netflix Remote


Besides the debugging menu, another Netflix hack for PS3 is turning your smartphone into a remote. All you need to do is connect your gaming system and your phone to the same Wi-Fi network and log on to the same account in the Netflix app on both devices.

Speaking of remote controls, there are also tricks you can use with a remote on an Apple TV, according to Tech of the Hub. Just hit the up arrow twice on the remote to display a banner with the thumbnail of the show, its description and a rating. Also, clicking the remote’s down arrow breaks up the program into 20 sections of equal length. By hitting the left or right arrows on the remote, you can jump between the sections.

6. Use Keyboard Shortcuts To Binge-Watch Like A Pro

tv show gifs

Netflix has a variety of keyboard shortcuts you can use to improve your viewing experience. Here is a list via Reddit (for the Silverlight desktop version):

Space – Toggle Play/Pause
Enter – Toggle Play/Pause
PgUp – Play
PgDn – Pause
F – Full-screen
Esc – Exit full-screen
Shift+Left arrow – Rewind
Shift+Right arrow – Fast Forward
Up arrow – Volume Up
Down arrow – Volume Down
M – Mute toggle

Additionally, if you want to scroll through a video by frames, click Ctrl+Space and use the arrows to navigate forward or backward.

7. Websites And Add-Ons Make Netflix Even Better


When it comes to Netflix, there’s usually an app for that.

Using InstantWatcher.com is a user-friendly way to navigate Netflix, allowing you to review titles, check out ratings and be connected directly to the video you want to watch by clicking on it.

There are also a lot of different Chrome extensions, such as Netflix Enhancer, which can let you get more out of your streaming by showing you trailers and ratings.

Bonus: Never Fall Asleep During Netflix Again

During Netflix’s 24-hour hack day, the company discovered how to use a Fitbit to tell devices when a Netflix user had fallen asleep. Using this technology, you could doze off during a binge-watching session and start from the same point you left it at the next time you use Netflix, without having to scroll back through episodes.

Though the technology is not available yet, there is one other guaranteed way to not fall asleep while binge-watching Netflix: Just turn off Netflix!

Back to School Savings Tips

Labor Day has already happened? Did the summer really fly by that quickly? Unfortunately the answer to both of those questions is a begrudging yes. And to prove it “back to school sales” seem to be popping up everywhere and alarm clocks seem to be going off sooner.  This year Mintvine is here to help you streamline your process to get you ready for school and help you save a few bucks while doing so.

Put in Planning Time

First, gather any back-to-school supply lists from your kids’ schools, add the clothing and any extras they’ll need, then look through the calendar to try to predict the cost of upcoming school activities, suggests Dunn. “As parents, we often get surprised by expenses that we shouldn’t,” he says. With your list in hand, it’s easier to set a realistic budget for each category.

Focus on Big-Ticket Items

There are so many ways to save these days: coupons, incentive programs, rebates, weekly specials, online-only deals. To cut through the clutter, Chrissy Pate, co-author of Be CentsAble: How to Cut Your Household Budget in Half ($14,amazon.com), recommends focusing on finding the best prices for the most expensive items on your list. “Don’t worry so much about what the prices of the crayons or the pencils are because you’re going to find pretty good deals everywhere on those,” she says. “You’ll save the most money on those big items, as well as time and gas money.”

Best for: Computers, calculators, cell phones, backpacks.

Shop on Tax-Free Days

Many state and local governments offer special tax-free shopping periods with the back-to-school shopper in mind. Check our list of tax-free shopping dates to find out when you state is participating and which items are exempt.

Best for: Clothing, school supplies, computers, books.

Follow Your Favorite Stores

Back-to-school clothing sales start appearing in mid-July through the end of August, and the options can be dizzying. “They’re putting lots of coupons out there,” says Pate. She suggests keeping track of your favorite retailers’ deals by following them on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. “Then use those coupons in conjunction with sales to really get the biggest bang for your buck.”

Buy Free Money

Once you’ve decided where you’re going to shop, look for discounted gift cards to those stores on sites like giftcards.com or plasticjungle.com. You’ll save as much as 25 percent on cards recipients don’t want.

Best for: Clothing, electronics.

Shop at Consignment Sales

If you like consignment stores—where you can buy and sell used clothing in good condition—look for group consignment sales in your area. These mega sales, which are usually held over a weekend, bring together a plethora of consigners’ items under one roof. If you want to take care of an entire season’s worth of shopping in one afternoon, this is the place. “It’s especially great for younger kids because they outgrow their clothes so quickly,” says Pate. Find a national directory of consignment sales at kidsconsignmentsales.com.

Best for: Clothing, sporting equipment.

Go Green for Lunch

When it comes time to pack those lunches, think reusable. Washable sandwich bags ($9, lunchskins.com), perfectly portioned bento box-inspired lunch cubes ($5, containerstore.com), and real spoons from your utensil drawer require an initial investment but will save money on plastic bags in the long run and keep all that plastic out of the landfill.

Get Your Kids Involved

Back-to-school season is a great time to teach budgeting basics to your children. “Give your children a clothing budget and a list of necessities, and let them help make decisions on the rest of the wardrobe,” says Dunn. This also works with extra-curricular activities. “Does it cost $50 to join the Spanish club? Varsity volleyball uniforms and fees are $150? If so, then they need to know that their activity of choice is not only a time commitment, but a financial commitment as well,” he says.