Nationals Baseball: Tick

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tick

One of my favorite things to say late in a game is "They now face two opponents, the other team... and the clock" I don't know why it always amuses me but it does. It highlights how in a timed event it's not only the team on the other side that you need to worry about but the amount of time left for you to comeback. At certain points a comeback becomes an impossiblity simply because it cannot be completed in the time allowed.

Baseball of course doesn't have a clock so while comebacks become progressively more unlikely they never become impossible. You can't come up with a scenario on how to score 5 pts in .2 seconds in basketball, but 9 runs in one out? Just don't get out. 

But while baseball the game doesn't have a clock, baseball the season does. You don't get your turn to make up 4.5 games at the end of the year. The season, and time to make up ground, will run out on you. And that's the other opponent the Nats face right now. They won last night. So did the Mets. Ground wasn't lost but a game that could have been used to make up their deficit was. Tick.

It ominous, every game passing costing the Nats something even if they do win, but it's actually not terrible if the Nats simply hold their ground. That's because of the 6 head to head games left. I've said before that as long as they can be within six, I'm not writing the Nats off. In some ways the way the season breaks is even better for the Nats, or at least for the tiny sparks of hope residing in their fans.

The best news for the Nats lies in the fact they end the season with the Mets. Three games. So if the Nats are within 3 games of New York at that point. There's a reasonable chance they could get to where they want to be. What's reasonable? Well say you give the Nats a 50/50 shot at winning any game against the Mets. For the Nats to make up three games they'd need to sweep the Mets. Since every Nats win is a Mets loss in this case the chances of this happening would be 0.5 * 0.5 * 0.5 = 0.125 or about 12.5% That's not likely but it's better than being 3 out and not playing the Mets to end the year. In that case the Nats wins and Mets losses are distinct events. Even if you like the Nats to win vs their opponent a lot. say 70% (which is crazy high) and you like the Mets to lose to their opponent alot, let's again say 70% (which is again crazy high) you have to have 6 things, not 3 going your way. In math that would be (0.7 * 0.7) * (0.7 * 0.7) * (0.7 * 0.7) = 0.118 or 11.8%.  That's giving the Nats winning and Mets losing crazy good odds of happening, like best team playing worst team odds. Something more reasonable like 55%?  Your chances drop below 3%

So really that's where the Nats stand. There are 41 games between now and the final Mets series. The Nats need to only make up 1.5 games in those 41 games for fans to have any hope of making the playoffs come October 2nd. And that hope wouldn't be crazy. In the meantime the Nats have another 3 game set versus the Mets sitting there 18 games from now. I've set that as kind of a mid-way goal. Make up 1.5 games in 18, get to that Mets series with a chance to get back into a tie for first. That's not too much to ask, is it?

15 comments:

W. Patterson said...

I'm resolved to them not winning the division. I would like, however, for them to play decent ball and end within spitting distance of the Mets. Of course, if the Nats DID pull this one out it'd be a heck of a ride!

That being said, your statement about scoring five points in .2 seconds in basketball should be relayed to some of the Nats - like Desmond trying to hit a five-run homer every time he came up to bat. (There, I kicked that dead horse one more time.)

Anonymous said...

The Mets early-season 8 game lead evaporated in 20 games. The Nationals collapse...we all know about. There was also a four game swing over four played in mid-June. It's a volatile NL East, probably for reasons of youth, injury, an active deadline, and weak mutual competition. There's plenty of time for that final weekend to become a bad thing, too.

SM said...

One of those old-school, football hard guys--I think it was Vince Lombardi, but not certain--used to say, "We didn't lose, we just ran out of time."

So the Rolling Stones were wrong. Time isn't on the Nats' side.

Robot said...

"Time is on the Nationals' Side" must be one of those rare B-sides I'm not familiar with...

SM said...

Unreleased Basement Tapes.

Anonymous said...

It's much too early to write off the Nats. As Anonymous at 8:09 AM points out, there have been several large swings in the standings in 2-3 week spans already this season.

Obviously, a lead is better than a deficit in the standings, but I think the Mets already blew their chance to go 7-8 games up. They needed that cushion to hold off the Nats. The Mets nearly blew another game last night. They have a thin margin for error with pronounced team weaknesses constantly pushing at it, while the Nats have an easier schedule than the Mets from here on out plus the 6 H2H.

Even if the Mets play well, the Nats should be able to catch up with modest steps. Make up 1.5 games to go into the 1st H2H series 3 game down. Win the series 2-1 to knock the Mets lead down to 2 games. Make up 1 game to go into the 2nd H2H series 1 game down. Win the series 2-1 to force a division play-off at home because the Nats will have taken the season series. Win the division play-off game at home.

I think it's likelier the Mets will be behind the Nats by the season-ending series.

Anonymous said...

Guy above me, stop making stupid predictions and just enjoy baseball...

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad that the Nats finally won a game. Let's see if they can actually win two in a row before we pronounce the Mets toast. Given the Nats' inability to generate offense against elite pitchers, I'm not optimistic about their chances to beat the Mets in the H2H games. But one never knows.

Anonymous said...

What matters is the number in Loss Column. If we have fewer losses than Mets at the end of the season, we are in. Right now, we are 4 behind Mets in that column.

KingCranium said...

I'd be concerned about JZim's performance (again), but at least some of it might be due to the altitude here. And I'd also worry that while they beat up on the Rox bullpen, Matty had to go to his a lot too. So I'm not writing a script where the zombie Nats escape their self-dug grave yet.

Anonymous said...

agreed King, can't credit the offensive outburst at a mile up to a revival

Anonymous said...

The Nats can win the division. I like the change to Werth in the lead bat position. I like the commitment of Rizzo and Williams. The bats seem to be waking up. They need to stay awake. Good pitchers on the roster need to figure out how to perform well every day. It's a game by game grind. They can do it.

Anonymous said...

Coors Field. Good for what ails ya.

Now, can the new, improved Stephen Strasburg stay healthy for 2 and a half months?
Please?

Chaos

Donald said...

It's just one game, but it helps. On paper, the Nats should absolutely have the advantage in tonight's game as well. It would be nice to inch to within 3 games. Of course, the Mets get to play the Rockies next so whatever fun we have in Colorado, they get to have over the weekend.

I don't want to count on having to sweep the Mets in any series as the only chance to make the play-offs. It would be much better to be only 2 games back and only have to win both series.

Kenny B. said...

Well maybe the offense in Denver doesn't mean anything, but good pitching should mean double, right? Either way, it's nice to see a couple of wins strung together and actually move slightly up in the standings. Baby steps...