Sports How to Enjoy a Pennant Race
posted by August 27 at 19:57 PMon
The key is to prolong your pain by looking ahead and examining every possible nuance of the situation. You cannot just take the casual band-wagon-jumping fan’s easy path, and think, “Hey, if we sweep these goddamn Angels, we’re in first place by a game!” No: you must remember that if you get swept, you’re five games out. That would suck. And winning one or two while losing two or one isn’t so hot either, though it’s better than being swept, although not as good as sweeping.
After this series, the M’s could be one game up, one out, three out, or five out. Barring rainouts–-which I’m told are unlikely here, given the roof and all—they cannot end up tied or an even number of games up or out. But maybe there’ll be an earthquake. Lots of possibilities…
And that’s just the beginning. Being in contention this late in the season is rare, and you owe it to yourself to suck the marrow out of this situation.
But this isn’t sweet marrow: it’s bitter. Being a sports fan is really about pain–since only one team’s fans are ever happy at the end of the season. So, you have to expand the realm of worries: What opponents do you have coming up, also-rans or front-runners? What does the schedule of the team you are chasing look like? How many of their games are at home v. on the road? What are their home and away records? How good are the teams they are playing? Is another team sneaking up on you while you focus on the team you’re chasing?
This extension of other things to worry about is like picking at a scab, or trying to scratch under a cast. You gotta do it, even though it just makes things worse…
Answers to some of the above questions after the jump…
So, coming into tonight's game, the Angels have 17 games remaining at home, and 15 on the road. Their home record is 44-20, and their away is 32-34, which means the schedule favors the Angels.
The M's have 16 or 17 games at home (depending on what happens with that Cleveland snow-out from April, scheduled TBA here), and 17 on the road. This is a push for them.
The Angels have 11 games against teams with winning records--including 7 against the M's--, and 21 against teams with losing records, including 6 against the woeful White Sox and Devil Rays.
The M's have 21 or 22 games left against teams with winning or even records, including the Yankees, Detroit, and Cleveland, all engaged in tight races of their own and so highly motivated. This also favors the Angels. The M's have only 12 games remaining against also-rans.
But the M's still have their own fate in their hands: their 7 games against LA, including tonight, means that they just gotta beat the team in front of them. Right now some bad base-running and sloppy tags are making it look unlikely that they'll win tonight, but it's only the fourth inning. Lots of baseball left to play tonight, and through September.