Yesterday, for a brief moment I heard the same thing from several directions. "The Nats odds seem way too low" The odds at the time were hovering in the 2-4% range and were in fact completely reasonable. If you want to see the math behind it yesterday's comments have a couple good entries into that. But I can boil down the macro-level reasons down to two.
1) Cold hearted analysis cares nothing about your momentum. Going into yesterday's game you might have felt the Nats were playing so well that winning 8 of their last 11 was almost a given, and winning 5 or less was pretty much impossible. That's nice and human, but here's the thing about "momentum" and "playing well" and the like. If these things do exist (and let's assume they do because it doesn't effect what I'm going to say anyway) we still have no way of figuring out when they start and end. Teams win 5 games in a row then lose 5 games in a row. Why? What happened? What changed? We don't know. If we can't know we can't rightfully include it in analysis. There's simply no way of doing it.
The machines and soulless automatons look at the Nats and see a mid-high 80s win team playing a decently hard schedule to end the season. Just looking at that and with 11 games left that maybe means 6 wins. You've seen the scenarios. That isn't going to cut it.
2) The power of math compels you. Let's say you ignore the above. You LOVE the Nats. "Nuts about the Nats" is your ringtone. You wear warrior eye black to work. You polish your multiple signed bats tenderly with Pledge and a game worn Kory Casto jersey (about all it is good for). You think the chances they win 8 or more games in these last 10 are 75%. (That's SO high. What is WRONG with you?!). At the same time you hate the Reds. You think the chances they win 2 or fewer in their last 10 is 25%. Congratulations you just gave the Nats less than a 19% chance at making the playoffs.
And you are an insane person. Go with 50% and 10% (still crazy but at least not carve your own feces into little boat insane) and the chance plummets to 5%. No way out to escape the truth in the numbers.
What's left to root for?
Again, all offseason to talk about the mistakes of this year so we'll keep dancing this playoff dance until the cotillion organizer realizes that we're the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who snuck in here to try to talk to that rich handsome boy who gave us a lift when our car broke down and kicks us out. I don't want to say I told you so, because I never really told anyone anything, but I have strongly hinted several times that the Pirates could be the more reasonable option for the Nats to catch, since they have been overplaying their hand. Is it time to change rooting interests?
We've run into the weekend the Nats fans had been waiting for. The Nats play the Marlins for 4 games, while the Pirates and Reds play eachother. The Nats win and they'll gain on someone. What should you root for? Pretty simple on the Nats side (sweep!). On the Pirates Reds side? Here you go:
If the Pirates win tonight, root for them to sweep the Reds.
If the Pirates lose tonight, root for whoever wins game #1 in the Reds/Pirates series to sweep.
There you go. Worst case scenario is the Pirates win tonight and the Reds win 2 out of 3.