Saturday, August 16, 2008

it's magic

Is it too early to start thinking about magic numbers? So what?

Magic number =
# of games (total) + 1
- # of wins by the leading team - # of losses by the trailing team

Therefore, right now Chicago's magic number (163 - 75 - 53) is 35.

Explanation: Every game that's played moves teams closer to the end. Therefore, a win will automatically move the leading team one magic number closer (because that's one less chance the trailing team has to catch up).

The magic number is also the "elimination number" for the trailing team for the same reason.

For example, because the number is 35, if the Brewers lose 35 games between now and the end of the season, they have no chance at winning the division. Conversely, if the Cubs win 35 games between now and the end, the Brewers have no chance at winning the division.
Besides which, every game the Brewers lose is one less the Cubs have to win.

The Cubs can move to 34 by winning today, no matter what the Brewers do. But if the Brewers also lose, the Cubs' magic number becomes 33. If the Cubs lose, the number stays the same unless the Brewers also lose.

Confused? The magic number is only affected by a WIN for the leading team or a LOSS for the trailing team. Cubs win, -1. Brewers lose, -1. (Cubs win and Brewers lose, -2.)

Nothing else makes a difference. In other words, the Brewers can't help themselves beyond not hurting themselves. All they can do is try and win and hope the Cubs lose. That is, of course, unless they are playing each other, which they will do six more times this season. If the Brewers win those games it will help them because the Cubs will have lost.

I think the official rule for determining whether it's too early to start keeping track is if your end result is more than 20. I guess it's too early.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not conceding anything. There's plenty of time left in the season for things to change, especially if the Cards can keep up what they've been doing lately (namely, winning).

We only have two more games with Milwaukee, but six with the Cubbies. We could make a real statement by taking at least four of those six games, and even if we can't get back into the division race, the Wild Card is far from decided.

The Cards have played 125 games (37 remain), the Brewers have played 123 (39 remain), and the Cubs have played 122 (40 remain).

(Oh, and by the way, the Angels still have 42 games left and their magic number is 25. If you're looking for a safe bet, I think you just found one.)

Here's how it looks from here on out...

The Redbirds' schedule:
we play Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Milwaukee (2) at Busch;
then Houston and Arizona on the road;
Florida and the Cubs (3) at Busch;
Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and the Cubs (3) on the road;
and finish the season playing Arizona and Cincinnati at Busch.

The Cubs' schedule:
they play Cincinnati and Washington at Wrigley;
then Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on the road;
Houston at Wrigley;
Cincinnati, St Louis (3), and Houston on the road;
Milwaukee (3) and St Louis (3) at Wrigley;
and finish with the Mets and Milwaukee (3) on the road.

The Brewers' schedule:
they play Houston and Pittsburgh at Miller;
then St Louis (2) and Pittsburgh on the road;
the Mets, Cincinnati, and San Diego at Miller;
Philadelphia, the Cubs (3), and Cincinnati on the road;
and finish up with Pittsburgh and the Cubs (3) at Miller.