Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Against the Odds: The Story of the 2007 Pirates

I am an avid reader of Dejan Kovacevik over at the Post-Gazette. Not only does he provide clubhouse insight, but Pat and I honestly believe he is one of if not the best sports writers for the PG. Anyway, during his chat session yesterday he implied the Pirates players are still thinking division title (sixth question from the top). While I would be rather disappointed in the players if they said they weren't still trying, it seems to me they actually believe they have a shot.

Pirate in Search of Nutting's Chest came up to visit this past weekend, and we couldn't help but let our minds drift a little bit into the realm of impossibility. What if we could pull within 5 games of the Cubs by the time the 3 game series at Wrigley started on September 21st? A sweep could put us within 2 with 6 games to play. After coming to the conclusion we were insane, we decided to stop discussing the possibilities until the Pirates moved within 6 games. But I still wanted to know just how improbable it was.

The people who schedule baseball games have one thing in mind at the end of the year: drama. How else can you explain that out of the 10 series that each Central Division team has left, 8 are against divisional opponents? This technically does not give an advantage to any individual team, but keep in mind that to play 8 series against 5 teams, you have to play 2 series each against three of those teams. In regard to those three teams, the Pirates lucked out.

The most ground we have to make up is against the Cubs (9 games), the Brewers (7.5), and the Cards (7). Dejan brings up a good point in the chat: "One almost never sees leapfrogs of that magnitude for the simple reason that not every team above yours is going to collapse." This is compounded and partially due to the fact that often times the division leaders could still play 6 or 7 games against one another, which means both can't lose. Thankfully, the top three teams mentioned previously only play each other for one series each. The Pirates, on the other hand, play each of those teams twice.

Let's just assume for a minute that the rest of the division goes 16-17 the rest of the way, a modest assumption considering the quality of the teams. The Pirates would then have to go 25-8. Assuming a bit more, let's say we maximize our wins and losses by winning all 6 series. 3-0 and 2-1 against the Cubs, 3-1 and 2-1 against the Cards, and 2-1 and 2-1 against the Brewers. With a little help from our friends, the Cubs go 12-15 in all the other games, while the Brewers go 12-14 and the Cards 14-14. The Pirates would have to go 8-6 in their remaining games, for a combined record of 22-11. This would leave a 4 team clusterfuck at the top of the division. The tie breaking procedure would be a mini playoff where the teams would pair off, and the winners would advance to play for the division title.

Am I insane? Yes. The best part is that even by the end of the day this whole scenario could be shot with two losses in the double header today combined with a Cubs win, potentially dropping our chances from 1% to .5%. Or it could be all the more likely with the opposite occurring. The important thing to take out of my madness is that if a historic comeback such as this were to take place the Pirates schedule would need to be accommodating, and it is. The hot hitting of late, an improved Matt Morris, and the return to form of Gorzo and Snell don't hurt either. Also to note, a 22-11 record corresponds with a .666 winning percentage. Dave Littlefield has made some atrocious deals in the past, why not make one now with the devil?

End of Post


Anonymous said...

They haven't had a run approaching 22-11 in 15 years, but what the hey, anything is possible.

You make a good point about the .666 winning percentage. Littlefield needs to make this deal yesterday, though he'd probably screw up the deal with the devil.

Pat said...

I was going to write something today, but this is probably my favorite article of the summer - it is so vintage sam. I'm just letting it run.

Sam said...

-Yeah, you're right, 22-11 is still pretty much impossible. I would just like them to get a bit closer, just to make the end of the season bearable. Also, I wouldn't mind setting the goal of simply passing the Brewers. We have a game in hand and they're 7.5 games ahead...its not as insane. After all their hype at the beginning of the year it would be welcoming to see them right next to us, as usual.

-Thanks, Pat. I suppose illogical optimism is something I enjoy.

Dave Wannstache said...

If the Pirates were 30 games under with 31 games to play, Sam and PiSoNC would still believe the Pirates would have a chance to win the division.

I Want To Fight Tom Brady said...

We're not that dumb Stache'.

This division blows and anything can happen when you have head-to-head games against your division foes.

I Want To Fight Tom Brady said...

P.s. Right now the Pirates are the most well rounded team in the NL Central, with THE BEST pitching staff in the division.v

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about Dejan Kovacevic, he seems like the only writer at the Post-Gazette who's not about to shoot himself (Cook, Smizik, Bouchette, etc.) And he has by far the worst job of any of them!

What I find funny about his chats is how when someone asks him his opinion on something, he'll say it's not his job as a beat reporter to give his opinion. And then a couple questions later, he'll offer his opinion on something without being prompted! In other words, he'll only give his opinion when he feels like it.