By BEN WALKER
AP Baseball Writer
Already standing tall, CC Sabathia climbed on top of the Brewers dugout and sprayed fans with bubbly.
A vintage scene, indeed.
For the first time since 1982, when it was a member of the American League and well before wild cards even existed, Milwaukee is going to the playoffs.
"It's our time," Sabathia said after beating the Cubs 3-1 Sunday.
No such luck for the New York Mets. They lost on the field -- and the out-of-town scoreboard -- and again were eliminated by Florida on the final day. Making it worse, a farewell-to-Shea Stadium followed.
"We failed. We failed as a team," star David Wright said after a 4-2 loss. "There's no pointing fingers. There's no excuses. We as a unit didn't get the job done."
No telling yet about the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. They still haven't sorted out their AL Central scramble.
So while workers at Wrigley Field and Tropicana Field put up the postseason bunting, this year is going to extra innings.
One slot left, guys.
"It's kind of an ongoing joke that it seems like nobody wanted to win the Central, so this is kind of probably the way it should go down, going into a game tomorrow when the season's supposed to be over," Twins closer Joe Nathan said.
On Monday afternoon, Detroit visits Chicago in a makeup from a September rainout. If the White Sox win, the would host the Twins in a one-game tiebreaker Tuesday for the AL Central title.
Then on Wednesday, the playoffs begin with three games: Manny Ramirez, Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Chicago Cubs, the wild-card Brewers travel to Philadelphia and the World Series champion Boston Red Sox play the 100-win Los Angeles Angels.
On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Rays make their postseason debut when they host the White Sox or Twins.
Before the Rays beat Detroit 8-7 in 11 innings Sunday, manager Joe Maddon held a brief team meeting.
"Joe just said to keep everything normal -- like any other game. There's no reason to start showing up five hours before the game now. It's another game and we need to prepare like it's another game," pitcher James Shields said.
Inside their clubhouse at Comerica Park, there also was a note on a dry erase board: Wear your AL East champs shirts on the flight back home, it reminded the Rays.
The White Sox hoping to join the Rays this week. They gave themselves a chance with a 5-1 win over Cleveland while Minnesota was beating Kansas City 6-0.
"You play 161 games and today is supposed to be the last day of the year," Mark Buehrle said after pitching the White Sox to victory. "Everybody is going home, a lot of people are going to the playoffs and here we got to play another game that matters for us and not for the other team."
The Brewers and Mets went into the final day even at 89-72, facing the possibility of a wild-card tiebreaker at Shea.
Instead, in a moment's notice, the whole playoff picture took shape.
Right after the scoreboard at Miller Park showed the Mets had fallen behind -- the bullpen again was the culprit, with Scott Schoeneweis and Luis Ayala giving up back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning, the Brewers struck.
With Milwaukee fans still buzzing about the big doings in New York, Ryan Braun hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning. Sabathia then closed it out, pitching a four-hitter in his third straight start on three days' rest.
"He's the best pitcher in baseball," Braun said. "The best pitcher on the planet. He's our MVP this year. No chance for us to do this without him."
After their fans watched the Mets' loss on the giant video board in center field, the Brewers celebrated. Quite an end for a team that fired manager Ned Yost with two weeks left, promoted third-base coach Dale Sveum to run the club and overcame a 3-11 September start.
"I give all the credit to Ned," Sveum said. "He's one of my good friends. Just some unfortunate incidents. I love Ned from the bottom of my heart and I wish he was here right now."
The Mets and their fans could only wonder what went wrong.
A year ago, they blew a seven-game division lead with 17 games left. This year, they wasted a 3 1/2-game edge with 17 remaining.
Minus the 1981 split season, the Mets became the first club in big league history to hold 3 1/2-game division leads in consecutive Septembers and fail to make the postseason both times, the Elias Sports Bureau said.
Hardly a way to send out their old ballpark.
"It would have been better if we would have won today, but I don't think it spoils the celebration," general manager Omar Minaya said. "What's going on out there, it's about the history of this building, the history of the players, the history of this organization."