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…But the Devil Must Be A Schedule Maker
2005-10-01 22:04
by Mike Carminati

It's like finding out the solution to "Lost", and finding out that it was all a dream. Or finding out that there is no resolution, that it was just a nice premise that the writers never thought they would have to ultimately explain before the show got canceled.

This afternoon the Yankees rode the arm of future Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson to an 8-4 victory over the Red Sox. That gives them a one-game lead with one game left to play.

Clearly, this just serves to ratchet up the drama for tomorrow. If the Red Sox win, then the two teams meet up a 20th and final time for the division title, right?

Ah, no.

Just like at the start of the White Sox-Indians series, the two teams facing off are separated by the same number of games that they are scheduled to play. And just like in the White Sox-Indians series, it doesn't matter worth a damn.

Because of a series of events and our confounded deductive reasoning, we know that tomorrow's game will have no bearing whatsoever on AL East title,

You didn't get the memo? The Yankees won. The Yankees won.

Let's follow the logic, shall we? If the Yankees win, then they own the division outright, the Red Sox are two behind, and depending on the result of the Indians-White Sox game are either the wild card or play the Indians on Monday for the honor of being the wild card.

But we knew that. What about if the Red Sox win? Then the division is again up for grabs, right?

Again, no—how silly of you! The Yankees would win the title because a) both teams would have a better record than the Indians, b) therefore, would both go to the playoffs, and c) in those scenarios, baseball doesn't bother to decide the title on the field. The title would come down to a set of tiebreakers, the first of which is record against the other team. The Yankees are 10-8 against the Red Sox so far. They would be 10-9 if they lost. This is the same scenario as the non-division-deciding White Sox-Indians series.

So we are left with the dregs of wild card-determining finales in both leagues. The Phils trail the Astros by one game, and the Indians trail the Red Sox by one game.

As for myself, a Phillies fan traveling down to DC for the season finale, this makes the season finale quite a climax. But if I were an Indian of Red Sox fan, I would be highly itate as the two scorned suitors now face off—though not directly: thank you, satan, er, the schedule maker.

Should a playoff be necessary to determine the wild card in both leagues it would be the first time ever that that would have happened. Here are all the participants in previous playoffs to determine, well, who are the actual playoff teams:

1946NLSt. Louis Cardinals9858
1946NLBrooklyn Dodgers9660
1948ALCleveland Indians9758
1948ALBoston Red Sox9659
1951NLNew York Giants9859
1951NLBrooklyn Dodgers9760
1959NLLos Angeles Dodgers8868
1959NLMilwaukee Braves8670
1962NLSan Francisco Giants10362
1962NLLos Angeles Dodgers10263
1978ALNew York Yankees10063
1978ALBoston Red Sox9964
1980NLHouston Astros9370
1980NLLos Angeles Dodgers9271
1998NLChicago Cubs9073
1998NLSan Francisco Giants8974
1999NLNew York Mets9766
1999NLCincinnati Reds9667

One last thing, who were the chokers in the AL Central? The Chisox, who hung on to win the division and have taken two straight from Cleveland or the Indians, who have lost five of six against the two worst teams in the American league (Tampa Bay and Kansas City) and a Chicago team that was playing for, at best, homefield advantage in the playoffs?

Keep in mind that on September 24, the Indians were just a game and one-half behind the White Sox, and they lead both the Yankees and Red Sox by two games in the wild card. If they had played .500 ball against dubious opponents in the last six games, they would be a game up on the Red Sox and could have put the wild card away tomorrow. If they had won four out of the six including both White Sox games, they would be a game ahead in the AL Central. Whatever happens to the Indians, this is one wacky way to end a season.

2005-10-02 18:30:01
1.   missouri2725
Ted Williams must be turning over in his grave (or his cryogenic freezer).

Ortiz gets a hit in the 6th to raise his BA to .2995008, then they pinch-run for him to protect his ".300" BA. Contrast this with Williams playing both games of a season-ending doubleheader rather than sitting out to protect his .3995+ average -- he had a big day and ended up at .403.

Joe Morgan announced today that once the Red Sox won the wild card today, Ortiz got his MVP vote. How can a guy that was such a great player be so clueless? I'm not sure which is dumber -- picking Ortiz over a guy who played every game this year and ended up with a better BA, a better OBA, and a better SLG -- not to mention 21 SBs and a great glove -- or saying that you make the choice based on one game and whether the team ends in the playoffs by a game or not. If Cleveland sweeps the Chisox and Schilling is horrible today (both of which are completely beyond Ortiz's control), the Red Sox finish out of the playoffs, and -- by Morgan's reasoning -- ARod is the MVP. Maybe we see now why Morgan has never been given a job as manager or GM.

2005-10-02 20:38:46
2.   PhillyJ
Condolences on another close but...season. Wondering what the feel was like in DC...

Do you think the belt high fastball Wagner laid up to his buddy Biggio a few weeks ago is haunting him like its haunting me?

The only hope is that the 2 games better than 3 of the last 4 seasons will not save the GM's job.

Lastly, why is anyone still surprised by Joe Morgan's ubiquitous idiocy?

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