Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So How Does It End?

Don't worry Darlin', now baby don't you fret
We're livin' in the future, and none of this has happened yet
--Bruce Springsteen, "Livin' In The Future"

Desperately trying to redeem myself from creating the noxious odor catalyzed by memories of New Kids On The Block, I broke out Springsteen's "Magic" album for a spin. And as I listened to the words in this song, I found myself thinking of all the different ways that the Dodgers will lose our slender two-game lead in the final six games of the season.

I'm a worrier. I am paid to worry about these things. And I know that the logic would say otherwise, that the Dodgers' PECOTA playoff odds have only marginally fallen from a peak of 99.0% to the current 91.7%. Jon Weisman attributes the stomach-churning uncertainty to ebb and flow rhythms, implying a rationale for calm. And veterans like Greg Maddux steadfastly believe the Dodgers will eke this divisional title out:

"You know you're going to win," Maddux said of the first-place mind-set. "You just don't know what day."

Even a team as streaky as the Dodgers?

"This team had it when I got here. We had it when we lost eight games in a row [in August]," he said. "Usually, you know when you're going to win and the other team knows when you're going to win. When I was with San Diego, we were saying in June that the Dodgers would win it."

Which is great and all, except now Maddux is with the Dodgers (and unfortunately not winning many games, I might add), and the Padres would like nothing more than to kick us in the nuts.

Yes, there are reasons why I'm worried, probably because the math itself doesn't convey any degree of true safety to me. The Dodgers' magic number of 5, with 12 possible outcomes remaining, means the D'backs' magic number is 9 (or even 8 to force a one-game playoff); the difference between 5 and 9 isn't that great. We need 5 of 12 outcomes to be Dodgers-favorable, but if we only get 4 of 12 favorable results, or 1/3 of the coinflips, we go to the one-game playoff. Where all bets are off.

It's reasonable to envision a scenario where we go 2-4 in our next six games, losing two games to San Diego at home and then losing two more up in San Francisco. If the D'backs can pull two more wins out of their final three games in St. Louis, and then take two of three from the Rockies in Phoenix, we would end the season tied up. Neither one of the Diamondbacks' opponents care about any rivalries, best reflected by Albert Pujols' limp 0-for-2 performance, including a clutch strikeout that one wouldn't tend to see from a solid .348 hitter.

On the flipside, both of the Dodgers' remaining opponents would love to stick it to us--especially the Giants, in their frequently-renamed ballpark, after having their fans suffer through a miserable season with nothing for which to root now that they've cleansed themselves of Orange Julius (the prolific juicer).

The Giants' interest in the rivalry was further evidenced in Friday's Dodgers-Giants game, where Giants manager Bruce Bochy, enjoying the cushion of a 7-1 lead in the ninth inning, came to the mound to replace Alex Hinshaw with Tyler Walker for the final out. For one measly out. With a six-run lead. Why go through this ridiculous charade, except to rub salt in the Dodgers' wound?

Up in Arizona, Brandon Webb is winning games again. Stephen Drew is smoking the ball all over the place. Meanwhile, the Dodgers can't plate a single run in 11 innings on Sunday, and opened the series Friday needing a home run from Pablo frickin' Ozuna to even get on the board.

Manny Ramirez, his long dreadocks cut almost to fit in his helmet, homered twice in the middle game of the Giants series. But what if it was an orange and black Delilah who did the shearing? After all, Manny was powerless in the bookend games!

Six games to go for both teams, none head-to-head, with a slight Dodgers lead that seems more fragile each hour (even in the hours where neither team is playing). I can't take the suspense, particularly since I keep getting visions of negative outcomes. I want to slap the back of neck and just ask, "So how does it end?"

Oh crap, there goes that redemption I sought, ruined by a horribly dated Phil Collins video.


Great sandwich.


Eric Karros said...

Is it just coincidence or do you know who's birthday it is today?

Neeebs (The Original) said...

I know something that will right the Dodgers for the next six games.

I'm waiting for the post.

Feel the Force.

Steve Sax said...

ek, do you mean julio iglesias?

Neeebs (The Original) said...

Eric Estrada, of course!

QuadSevens said...

No no no! Ray Charles!

Delino DeShields, Sr said...

I'm telling you it's no fun, being an illegal allliiiiieeennnnn.