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Outrunning The Slowest Gazelle

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August 31st:

The Dodgers magic number is down to 27, so barring any miracle runs by both the Phillies and Padres, simply playing a little better than .500 ball will get the Dodgers into the playoffs.

Since I wrote that, the Dodgers played .470 ball over the last 17 games. Meanwhile, the Padres have gone 11-7 and the Phillies have put up a 12-8 record.  While those aren't quite "miracle runs" our competitors have been playing good baseball in September, while the Dodgers haven't. With the Dodgers loss to the Pirates, the Phillies and Dodgers have entered a tie for the wild card, with the Padres leading both teams by one in the loss column. While there are lots of questions to be asked about last nights game: why was Aaron Sele allowed to cleanup his own mess when he hasn't been able to get anyone out in the second half? Why wasn't J.D. Drew starting against Shawn Chacon? How do we not score 10 runs off Chacon? None of this matters any more. All that matters is the next ten games. In those ten games, all the Dodgers have to do is outrun the slowest gazelle, and they make the playoffs.

I've said all along that the Dodgers are a better team than both the Padres and the Phillies, but the edge that the Dodgers have is all but irrelevant now. The difference between a .550 team and a .520 team is only one win every 33 games. There's not enough time left in the season for the minor jump in quality to matter. It's a lot like the difference between Marlon Anderson and a readily available player. In the long haul, sure, Anderson is probably better, but there's no way for the differences to show up in such a small sample size. However, much like the explosion we've seen from Anderson, it's possible for the Dodgers to win out the rest of the way. The lesson is that anything can happen in the next ten games, we just have to hope that fortune decides to smile on us, our players break out of the malaise that has engulfed most of them the past couple weeks, and that the Padres and Phillies stumble a little. Sounds simple enough to me.