Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Playing .700 Ball, Snakes Not Even Close to Striking Distance

When a team plays .700 baseball, as the Arizona Diamondbacks have over the past ten games, good things are supposed to happen.  Your ball club usually moves up in the standings.  Sometimes you move up a lot.  The vibe in the clubhouse is positive.  If it’s during the pennant race, things are even better.    Visions of post season success are running through your mind. Your ball club is clicking on all cylinders and optimism reigns. That is, unless you lose three games in the standings during that time frame.

Gerardo Parra in happier times, a June 10th win at Dodger Stadium (photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

So here is how the two teams stood the day after the last Dodger loss in St. Louis on August 6, 2013:

L.A.   62-50   ----
Arizona 56-55   6.0 GB

The Diamondbacks have played good baseball since.  Seven wins in ten games.   All they have to show for it is an 8.5 game deficit in the standings.  Not a total loss for them you’d think, they’ll move up in the wildcard standings then?  Not really.  The Cincinnati Reds have played 7-3 baseball over the same time frame and Arizona has simply held in place at 5 games back in the wild card race.

It must be a frustrating state of affairs for Kirk Gibson and his team that is playing good baseball and not being rewarded for it.  This historic Dodger run is putting things in perspective for the D-Backs and that is that they are doomed to finish short of qualifying for post-season play.  That frustration has to be mounting in Phoenix as they continue saying all the right things in an effort to be optimistic about their season.

With forty-one games remaining, Arizona’s window of opportunity is closing fast.  They have to be questioning in their minds, “When will the Dodgers come back to reality?”  as Los Angeles just keeps winning.  This has been going on for 50 games at an astounding and historic .840 clip, and there seems to be no end in sight with the Dodgers soon going in to Miami for a 4 game set against one of the worst teams in the game.

The Dodgers in the early to mid seventies faced the same predicament while often finishing in second place to the Cincinnati Reds.  Winning teams in 1970, 71, 72, 73, 75 and 76 fell short.  Their 1973 team won 95 games and finished 3.5 back of the Big Red Machine.  In 1975 an 88 win season resulted in a second place finish that was an amazing 20 game deficit to the Reds who won 108 games.  In ’76, the Dodgers won a respectable 92 games, but the eventual World Champion Reds (in back-to-back fashion), won 102 games, leaving Los Angeles 10 games back.  It was only a club record setting 104 win season for the Dodgers in 1974 that got them past Cincinnati for a division title.   Arizona will be required to produce that same type of Herculean effort to supplant Los Angeles in the standings now, and that still might not be enough.

So we’ve been there.  We had good teams that went up against super human teams and didn’t even come close to qualifying for post season play.  It was a long time ago, but the memory hasn’t faded.  Those were some good Dodger teams that deserved a better fate and would have had much better fortune had the divisions been aligned geographically and Cincinnati been in the Eastern Division of the National League.

Now let’s do some math here, because at this time of the year, being in the position the Dodgers are in, it’s kind of fun.

If the Dodgers play .500 ball the rest of the way, Arizona will have to finish at 30-11 to pass them.  That’s a .732 winning percentage.
If the Dodgers play .550 ball, the D-Backs must play .805 ball.  And if the Dodgers play .600 ball, the D-Backs, .830.  

Simple math is telling a clear story here.  The season is close to over.  The Diamondbacks have one opportunity left, well actually seven, and that’s the number of head-to-head games they’ll have with the Dodgers.  They must sweep.  That’s the simple fact.  They sweep L.A. and they have a chance.  Anything less than a sweep or near sweep and their division hopes are slashed.  The Dodger magic number now sits at 33.

(photo by Christian Peterson)

What do frustrated D-Backs fans have to say about it?  Not much, except complain about the national media’s coverage Yasiel Puig.   Read THIS ARTICLE and comments that follow for an interesting perspective.  It's a batch of sour grapes for the author.  Some very astute and accurate perspective comes from some who comment.  Overall, Arizona fans are feeling a sense of disrespect from the national media which probably is centered on the fact that their team is performing well and they aren't being recognized.  Essentially the Diamondbacks are   running a foot race at Olympic record speed against a freight train going at full steam.  They might keep up for a little while, but eventually that are bound to be left in the dust.

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