I Don’t Think Either of Them Can Win

I’ve got an article in today’s New York Sun about the war of attrition being fought over the NL West and NL Wild Card playoff spots. As I conceived the piece, in thinking about the recent struggles of the Brewers and Mets I was reminded of a great old quote. Had I been able to source it immediately, I probably would have led off with it, but it took forever to find, even with the help of Steven Goldman. As it is, it closes the piece out nicely:

The struggles of both teams remind one of the immortal words of sportswriter Walter Brown. In analyzing the war-depleted rosters of the Cubs and Tigers before the 1945 World Series, he famously quipped, “I don’t think either of them can win.” Observers of this year’s NL races can certainly relate.

Flipping around between six games last night (thank you, Extra Innings package, and thank you, iPhone) as I assembled Ikea furniture, I watched considerable portions of both the Mets and Brewers wins while the Phillies lost, results that shifted the article’s cited Postseason Odds — the estimated percentage chance that they could gain entry to the playoffs — a bit; even with Prince Fielder’s walk-off homer, the Brewers lost gound:

Thru 9/23   Div   WC    Tot
Phillies 95.5 4.1 99.6
Mets 4.5 60.9 65.3
Brewers 0.0 34.0 34.0

Thru 9/24 Div WC Tot
Phillies 87.4 11.1 98.5
Mets 12.6 59.6 72.1
Brewers 0.0 29.3 29.3

Of course, those numbers can change dramatically. As of September 1, the Brewers were at 14.8/81.2/96.0, and of course last year the Mets were at 98.8 overall prior to their collapse. Until they clinch, there’s no such thing as a lock — just ask the 2007 Rockies.

As for the Dodgers, they dodged a bit of a bullet last night. They came into the game against the Padres with a two-game lead over the Diamondbacks and a 91.5 percent shot at the division title, and while they were initially scheduled to face Jake Peavy, the ace’s absence from the team over the weekend to attend the birth of his son compelled Pad skipper Bud Black to push him back until Thursday. Instead the Dodgers scored six first-inning runs off replacement starter Your Name Here and rolled to a 10-1 win while the D-bags lost, raising the Dodgers’ odds to 98.0 percent and cutting their magic number to three. Aw yeah, baby.

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