Never tell me the odds

Posted by Scott Wuerz on September 23, 2013 

I learned in high school that math was not my friend.

So forgive me if I don't get excited when people talk about how if the Cardinals win X amount of games it would be almost scientifically impossible for the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates to catch them in the standings.

The ages old debate about advanced mathematics centers on whether it is useful in every day life. And I'm here to tell you that you can sit down and figure that if the Redbirds win four of their next six games the Reds and Pirates would have to win all of their remaining games to catch St. Louis. But... if the Cardinals lose their next two games and Cincinnati and/or Pittsburgh wins those two games, all bets -- or equations -- are off.

Then the Cardinals would have to win four in a row to reasonably assure themselves a division win. It's the same science. But there's a heck of a difference between winning four of six and winning four of four.

On paper today it looks like it's almost impossible for the Birds to blow the division crown. In two days it could be a 50/50 proposition.

What is really impossible is to predict what's going to happen today, much less tomorrow, when it gets down to this point of the season. All a team can do is take care of business and win today.

The most the Cardinals can reasonably rely on at this point is the first wildcard spot. If the Pirates and Reds catch the Birds in the standings, they still have to play each other the last three games of the season. So if one of them is winning, the other has to be losing. Both of them can't run the table.

Still, a home one-game playoff play in game is a poor consolation prize compared to a berth in a five-game series.

I'm less worried about the best record in the National League than I am about the division title. While the Braves and the Dodgers are very good teams, let's not forget that the Cardinals have been battling all year against the toughest division competition in baseball. The Dodgers and Braves were able to wrap up early because their closest pursuers weren't even serious wild card contenders.

If the Cardinals can beat out the Reds and Pirates, I am willing to leave everything else to be settled on the field.

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