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Does being in first place on Memorial Day matter?

May 31, 2010, 10:45 AM EDT

Memorial Day poppy.jpgQuick answer: If the Braves beat the Phillies today and take first place then, yes, a lead on Memorial Day is the most important thing ever. At least to Bravos Backers like myself.

Answer based on data rather than emotion: It matters about 65.625% of the time.  That’s the number Buster Olney’s research team came up with when asked how often a team makes the playoffs after being in first place on Memorial Day.  That’s based on a sample of 96 first place teams since the advent of the Wild Card, 58 of whom won the division, five of whom won the wild card and 33 of whom stayed home.

How does this year’s crop of firsties shape up?  I like the Rays, Twins, and Phillies to make the playoffs one way or the other. I’m way more skeptical about the Athletics, Reds and Padres.  I think first place in the AL West is going to be a revolving door. I’d like to combine the Reds’ offense and the Padres pitching into a super squad, but I’m skeptical that each team is complete enough to grind it out against their more talented division rivals.

Back to emotion over data:  I’m pretty psyched that no one is running away with their division this year. It’s going to make a for a wonderful summer.

And let’s be clear about something:  The only reason you have the day off today to sit around and think about which front runner will make the playoffs is because soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have died in service to our country. Far be it from me to tell you not to enjoy your baseball and your barbecue today, but before you do, give your thoughts and give your thanks to our nation’s veterans.

Happy Memorial Day everyone.

  1. Patrick - May 31, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    Happy Memorial Day, Craig!

  2. Real Vikings fans wouldn't cheer for Favre - May 31, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    I still refuse to take the Reds serious.

  3. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - May 31, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    Happy Memorial Day everyone.

    Well said. And what should be a must read for everyone, although everything Joe Pos writes is a must read, here’s a great article on true heroes (aka, not athletes).

  4. YankeesfanLen - May 31, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    Memorial Day is one of our most important National holidays, please don’t forget our pause for reflection and thanks for our servicemen at three o’clock. God Bless Them.

  5. Bob - May 31, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    Well, you have not been paying attention. They lead the NL in HRs, Rs, SB, defense and their starting staff the last month has an ERA of 3.00.
    They also have Chapman, Volquez, and others for their staff. They are for real. When they take the series starting today with the Cards, then you will know.

  6. Ron Rollins - May 31, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    As a veteran, many thanks. A sad side note to this is that 133 ball players lost their lives during WWII, as well as more during WWI, and many were wounded in all the conflicts.
    Sadly, Major League Baseball does nothing to honor these people on, not even on Memorial Day. I know individual teams do a lot on their own, but it seems like something could be done by MLB itself.
    Guesss there’s no profit in it, is there Bud. At least we know how you feel about it.

  7. APBA Guy - May 31, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    When I lived in DC I’d go to Arlington National cemetery in the morning on Memorial Day and walk around for a bit. I’d stop by my father’s grave and some of graves of his friends from the Army, then walk up the hill where the Civil War veterans are buried. You can take the subway and avoid the traffic from the official ceremonies and the place is big enough to reflect without intrusion. Out here in SF I go to the National Cemetery in South San, a little suburb of SF on the peninsula. Just got back, as a matter of fact. Thanks for your blurb about Memorial Day.

  8. scatterbrian - May 31, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    I refuse to take football fans serious….ly

  9. Jonny5 - Jun 1, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    So you’re hoping the Braves have a 65-5/8% chance of taking the division this season? I think that’s what’s going on here. Because, you can’t just be saying it. Was that data taking into account the percentage of teams with a .5 game lead on memorial day? Because, if I were a betting man, that number would be much closer to I don’t know, lets just say, 5%. ;>P

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