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More baseball, I'm afraid

Yes, I’m focusing on baseball, mostly because there are three weeks left in the season, and every game seems to be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Really, these games don’t count any more than the ones in May, and if we’d won some more of those, we’d be cruising now. But never mind, here we are.

My Giants are one loss behind the Cubs for the wild card; the standings say we’re half-a-game ahead, because we have two more wins, but if the Cubs win all the rest of their games, we can’t catch them. I’d call that a Cubs lead. Florida has the same number of losses as the Giants, but four fewer wins; Houston is a legitimate game back with one more loss and one more win. San Diego is behind them (three losses and three wins behind SF). We still have three to play against Houston and six against San Diego; the Cubs play two against Florida.

Anyway, it seems obvious to me that in this five-team scrum, somebody is going to break out. Some team is going to win thirteen out of their last seventeen, or fifteen out of their last twenty. Fearless prediction: the wildcard will have more than ninety wins. That may be the Giants, but here’s the thing: in addition to the nine games we play against wildcard competitors, we play six against the division leading team from down south. And we’re only five losses behind them.

What I’m saying is this. If the Giants are going to make the playoffs, they’re going to need to win twelve or thirteen games to do it. Say we sweep the Brewers: that’s two. Of the six against the Padres, we take four or five. Of the three against Houston, we take two. That’s eight or nine wins out of eleven, which means that not only have we knocked the Astros and the Padres out of it, but we’ve at least held our own against the Cubs and Marlins. It also means, though, that we’ve held our own against the Dodgers, and we still need to take four or five out of six. And if we do that ...

Another way of looking at it: if I’m right, the Giants will either have something like 92 wins or not make the playoffs. If we sweep the Dodgers, they would have to win eight of their other twelve games to stay in first. If we win five of six, they would need seven of twelve. They may well do it (they’ve won 84 of 144 so far this year, which is, um, seven of twelve), but they may not.

On one level, of course, it doesn’t much matter whether we win the division and start the playoffs on the road in Atlanta or win the wildcard and start the playoffs on the road in St. Louis. We’re not the best team in the league, and I fully expect either team would beat us handily. And, after all, in a short series anything can happen. So perhaps it’s best to focus on simply getting to play more than 162 games. But another way of looking at it is this: it doesn’t really matter what the Cubs do. Yes, if they win all the rest of their games, they win the wildcard. But if we win all the rest of ours, we win the division.



If the Giants make the playoffs, I think they would match up well with the Braves; the AL East is not a strong division, and the Braves lack a Jason-Schmidt-calibre starter. I like the Giants over the Braves in 5 if Schmidt makes two starts.

My Pirates are doing their best to make sure that none of the wild-card teams they face get to win out. They took 3 of 5 (nearly 4 of 5) from the Astros, and they played the Cubs very tough yesterday. But the Giants do have the most difficult remaining road of any of the Wild Card contenders, nevertheless. I think if they make the play-offs, their play in the next three weeks will have demonstrated that they are good enough to have a real chance to make it to the Series.

I think the schedule is going to play a massive role in how all this plays out and the Giants have a brutal schedule after this week. On the other hand the Cubs have two against the Marlins next Monday, three against the Braves the last weekend when Atlanta is likely more concerned about setting up their rotation for the Division Series and a lot of weak teams. Florida's schedule also looks ugly except for the fact that they have 7 games left against the Phillies, so that should be at least 6 wins for them, probably 7. (And if that would get Bowa fired, I'd root for that...)

So I don't think the odds for the Giants are all that good, and the Cubs are looking like the frontrunners for the wild card to me. Although to be honest I don't think it matters all that much since the Cardinals are looking awfully tough to beat unless they have substantial injury problems.

I agree that the Giants have a tough time. On the positive side, though, they have two days off, and after tonight's flight back, they have no travel outside California. I would guess from Bonds' presence in the lineup today that Bonds will be playing every game from here out if he possibly can. By my reckoning, that increases their chances to nearly even with the Cubs, who are going to be playing tired.

And, after all, there's this. I really think we will head south at the end of the season with a do-or-die situation. The last three games will decide the division winner. As a fan, I can't be happier.

Well, if my Giants were three and a half ahead rether than behind, but never mind.


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