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Can Cardinals close it out? They'd better

People ask me a lot these days if I think the Cardinals can win enough games in their last two series of the season to make the playoffs.

My answer is always the same. And it always seems to catch people off guard. But it's true.

"It doesn't matter," I say.

What? Does this mean that I don't care about the Cardinals' fate? That I have given up on a 12th St. Louis championship in 2012? No. It's a simple matter of mathematics and baseball justice that will make the decision. And, whichever way it turns out, I'm not going to cry about it.

The Redbirds' magic number against is four. Any combination of four St. Louis wins or Dodgers losses puts the Birds back in the thick of the playoffs. Since Each team has six games left for a total of 12 contests, all the Cardinals need is one quarter of the games to go their way to win the last playoff berth.

By any measure, the Cardinals have to make a lay-up to get in the playoffs. Win three games out of six -- at home -- against two teams that are going to be in the post season and the Dodgers would have to win six games in a row to force a tiebreaker. It's hard to ask for a better chance than that.

But, here's where the baseball justice component comes into the picture: If the Cardinals can't make this gimme putt, I don't care if they don't make the playoffs because they, plain and simple, didn't deserve to make it.

For all practical purposes, their unexplainably poor play during the summer months put them on the bubble. Now they have a chance to prove who they really are against a couple of play-off teams. And if they can't win three of six games, I am at peace with the fact that this just isn't their year.

That being said, I don't consider the playoffs to start before the divisional series. Does it really matter a hill of beans if they play 162 games or 163 if they don't get to the division series?

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