While millions of Americans eagerly await the temporary darkness of next week’s total solar eclipse, an even more rare phenomenon looming on the horizon began to come into focus on Monday. D.C. sports fans might need more than special sunglasses to enjoy it should it come to pass.

On Oct. 30, 2016, there was at least one MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL game on the same day for only the 16th time in history. The Cubs defeated the Indians in Game 5 of the World Series that Sunday, which also featured 11 NFL games, eight NHL games and seven NBA games. Such an occurrence has been dubbed a sports equinox, a term popularized by The Post’s Reuben Fischer-Baum during his time at FiveThirtyEight.

Following the release of the NBA’s regular season schedule on Monday, there are three potential sports equinoxes on the calendar this year. They all fall within a 10-day span in October, and they’re all dependent on baseball playoff games that, in a pair of best-of-seven series, may not be necessary.

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Thursday, October 19
MLB (1 game):
NLCS Game 5 (if necessary) 
NBA (3 games)
NFL (1 game)

NHL (9 games)

Sunday, October 22
MLB (1 game): NLCS Game 7 (if necessary)
NBA (3 games)
NFL (11 games)
NHL
 (1 game)

Sunday, October 29
MLB (1 game): World Series Game 5 (if necessary)
NBA (7 games)
NFL (11 games)
NHL (3 games)

Of the 16 previous sports equinoxes, Phoenix is the only city to have its NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams play on the same day. On Nov. 4, 2001, the Cardinals, Suns and Coyotes all lost, but fans in the Valley of the Sun probably didn’t care much about those results, as the Diamondbacks defeated the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series on Luis Gonzalez’s ninth-inning single off Mariano Rivera.

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Now get this: Barring games that are postponed and rescheduled for whatever reason, D.C. is the only city that could join Phoenix in the exclusive four-games-in-one-day club this year.

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The only NFL game on Oct. 19, the first potential sports equinox of 2017, is between the Chiefs and Raiders. Kansas City hasn’t had an NBA team since 1985, while Oakland doesn’t have an NHL team and its MLB team plays in the American League. The only NHL game on Oct. 22, the second potential sports equinox, is between Vancouver and Detroit. The Canucks are the only franchise from the four major professional sports leagues in Vancouver, while Detroit won’t be participating in the NLCS.

That leaves Oct. 29, when the Redskins host the Cowboys, the Wizards play at Sacramento and the Capitals visit Calgary. Game 5 of the World Series is also scheduled for that day, and while the Nationals have never won a postseason series, they’re a virtual lock to qualify for the playoffs and it’s not impossible — nor a jinx — to imagine them in the Fall Classic. Game 5 will be hosted by the team that finishes with the worse regular season record.

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Last year, the Redskins played a game on the same day as a Nationals playoff game for the first time, and both teams emerged victorious. D.C. sports fans have celebrated multiple D.C. sports trifectas involving Wizards and Capitals playoff wins in recent years, and there was that superfecta in May 2015 featuring the Capitals, Nationals, Wizards and D.C. United. This could arguably be the biggest day in D.C. sports history. You should probably put in your vacation request for Oct. 30 now.

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There were no instances of MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL games on the same day from 1986 until 2001, because the NBA season regularly started after the World Series ended during that span. Phoenix’s superfecta in 2001 came after baseball’s playoffs were delayed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which resulted in the first three November games in baseball history. The NBA is starting nearly two weeks earlier than previous years this season to reduce the number of back-to-back sets, which should make sports equinoxes more common in the coming years. For now, they remain as elusive as postseason success for D.C. sports teams.

Previous Sports Equinoxes
Oct. 17, 1971
Oct. 15, 1972
Oct. 22, 1972
Oct. 14, 1973
Oct. 21, 1973
Oct. 15, 1978
Oct. 14, 1979
Oct. 12, 1980
Oct. 19, 1980
Oct. 27, 1985
Nov. 4, 2001
Nov. 1, 2009
Nov. 2, 2009
Nov. 1, 2010
Nov. 1, 2015
Oct. 30, 2016

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