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Breaking down the NL playoff picture

Oct 1, 2010, 8:25 AM EDT

Short version: for the Padres, it will take something just short of a miracle to make the playoffs.

San Diego has lost 22 of 34 since August 25th, when they had a six and a half game lead on the Giants. So it’s not like we should weep for them or anything, as their wounds are self-inflicted. But it is a bit sad that such an unexpectedly good season from them is most likely going to end on Sunday rather than extend into postseason land.

And “most likely” is the key phrase here. The playoff math, such as it is, breaks down thusly:

  • The Padres could still win the division. How? By sweeping the Giants this weekend and beating them in a one-game playoff on Monday down in San Diego (this weekend’s series is in San Francisco);
  • If the Padres sweep and if the Braves
    lose all three of their games against the Phillies, no Padres-Giants playoff will be necessary. Why? Because, if both the
    Padres and the Giants are assured of a playoff spot they’ll be co-NL West champs, the Padres will be
    seeded as the champ in the playoffs and the Giants will be seeded as the wild card. The seeding is
    by virtue of the Padres winning the season series from the Giants;
  • The Braves playoff magic number is two, so any combination of Braves
    wins and Padres losses that add up to two eliminates the Padres from
    wild card contention. This could happen as early as tonight.
  • If the Padres win two of three from the Giants and the Braves get swept, the Padres and Braves will play game 163 in Atlanta on Monday. Which, even if I don’t want that to happen because of my rooting interests, would be fairly awesome for baseball in general.

I think that covers it all (this involves simple math, and even simple math is a challenge for me).  Basically, though, the Padres have to win all three games or they’re probably SOL.

And yes, if you think that part of the reason I wrote this post was so that I can use another pic of the Padres in their 1984 throwbacks from yesterday, you are absolutely right.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 1, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    How about the scenario where the Padres sweep and the Braves win 1 of 3. Then we would have a 3 way tie, right. The Giants/Padres would play Monday to see who wins the NL West. If the Padres win that game, the Braves would have to fly to SF to play a game on Tuesday. If the Giants win, they would have to fly to Philly right after that game for Wednesday’s game at CBP. If the Braves win, they would have to fly down to SD to play in SD. Either way, Cincy would have to wait until after Tuesday’s game as well…because they would have to either fly to SF or Philly depending on the outcome. As a baseball fan, THAT would be awesome for baseball…although not quite as awesome for the Braves/Giants/Padres/Cincy fans.

  2. Cheap Seat Chronicles - Oct 1, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    As a Twins fan, I’m going to warn you now. Game 163 will either be the most amazing baseball experience (see: 2009) or one of the most heart-breaking (see: 2008) and absolutely nothing in-betwixt.
    It would be great for baseball and the overall sales figures for the fine folks at Pepto Bismol, but it’s hell on the fans.
    …well unless their team, you know, wins that game.

  3. Cheap Seat Chronicles - Oct 1, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    So much complication. Wouldn’t it be easier just to say “screw it” and draw everyone’s name out of a hat. I haven’t double-checked, but I’m 93% sure that’s how they do it in the NBA and NHL.

  4. Jasonb - Oct 1, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    As a Padres fan I’m disappointed in their recent play, but will root for them until the year is over. Losing 1-0 to the Cubs twice isn’t acceptable.. I mean seriously they only scored 5 runs in 4 games vs the Cubs.

  5. Cheap Seat Chronicles - Oct 1, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    If they miss the playoffs, coupled with that tough loss in the 2007 tie-breaker (note: still waiting for Matt Holliday to touch home plate), it’ll be tough to get behind the next Padres run. Too much of a bad taste left in everyone’s mouth.
    Granted, I’d still cheer for any team that’s gonna rock those sexy-ass throwbacks.

  6. BC - Oct 1, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    Throw a rainout in there somewhere and everything goes iasufdsfghdfjatrejytkdgdsfhethjrtjkte. Let’s root for that 3 way tie.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 1, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    There’s no reason not to root for the Padres right now…they still technically control their own destiny, so why not? It would be alot worse if they weren’t playing the Giants this weekend. But win and they are in. What could be better?

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 1, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    As a Phillies fan, it would be awesome. Of course, I don’t think the Phillies need the advantage, but considering they will be sitting in Philly waiting to play someone on Wednesday no matter what happens, it is the ultimate advantage…not that homefield advantage means anything(being ironic-al)…LOL. TGIF.

  9. The Steve Jeltz Experiment - Oct 1, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    Those throwbacks rock.
    I like the idea of the three-way tie for the sheer awesomness of playoff baseball, but that probably ain’t happening. The Braves are likely not losing two of three this weekend, in Bobby Cox’s last regular season home series, to a Phillies team that has nothing to play for. I’ll gladly take a Game 163, but I’ll also settle for two NL games that matter on Sunday, so here’s hoping the Braves split at bext Friday-Saturday and the Pads win Friday and Saturday. After that, everything is gravy.

  10. Chipmaker - Oct 1, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    Atlanta won their season series against both San Diego and San Francisco — so if there’s an NL wildcard playoff game, it’ll be in Atlanta.
    Figure that with a home game, the opponent flying three time zones eastward, and probably having used up their ace in the NL West playoff tiebreaker, odds would favor the Braves. If this happens.

  11. BC - Oct 1, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    I thought they used a coin flip to determine home field for one-game playoffs. They usually do them around September 1. Or did they stop doing that?

  12. Cheap Seat Chronicles - Oct 1, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    I’m not saying I’d pull up the anchor and ship out on the Pads now, not by any means.
    I was trying to make a point about how the club–which made great headway this year–could struggle to keep attracting the casual fans (the diehards will always be there) given the major letdowns in 2007 and (if they miss the postseason) 2010.

  13. Cheap Seat Chronicles - Oct 1, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    They called it quits on the coin-toss after 2008.
    That was the year the Twins had to go play game 163 in Chicago despite having the better regular season record against the White Sox. It caused quite the shit-storm (and rightfully so) and it’s since gone to the team with the best head-to-head record.

  14. cull1224 - Oct 1, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    SHould the Braves and SD play game #163 to get into the playoffs, I can easily picture a 0-0 game into the 14th inning. Both offenses are truly sucky.

  15. MerkleBoner - Oct 1, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    The Giants should be in the playoffs already. See: Phil Cuzzi

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