Colorado Rockies fans who remember last year's crazy eleventh-hour run haven't yet given up hope that the team can fight its way into the playoffs again in 2008, despite its current hideous homestand. But they should -- or at least they need to realize that for the squad to duplicate its 2007 feat, it'll have to make last year's 21-victories-in-22-games streak look like a mere warm-up.
The numbers below tell the story.
Here's the National League West standings on August 13, 2007:
You can see that after 117 games, the Rockies were five games over .500 and just five games back of the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks. Moreover, they were playing solid if unspectacular baseball, having won six of the previous ten games -- a little worse than the Diamondbacks, who were 7-3 over a similar stretch, but certainly in the ballpark, as it were.
Now take a look at the National League West standings on August 13, 2008:
These digits contain a lot of grim tidings. The Rockies have played four more games than on this date last year, for a total of 121 -- meaning they've got less time to claw back into contention. Plus, they're in a much bigger hole: fifteen games under .500 and nine games behind the Diamondbacks. In addition, they're mired in a mediocre stretch of performances -- three wins in the last ten games. And while the Diamondbacks are just 4-6 over their previous ten, the Los Angeles Dodgers are on the rise. The Dodgers are only one game behind and have one won six out of ten -- and they've been energized by the timely acquisition of former Boston Red Sox baller Manny Ramirez.
It gets worse. In the Rockies' last 41 regular-season games in 2007 (not counting the play-in game), they were 27-14 -- a damn good record, but only because they triumphed in fourteen of the final fifteen, to reach 89 wins. (The play-in game made ninety.) For the team to reach the same victory total this year, however, they'll have to go 36 and 5.
Yep -- the Rockies can only lose five more times in 2008 to reach last season's plateau. Of course, it may not take 89 wins to win the NL West this year; the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers each have 43 games remaining based on the schedule above, and they'd have to win a healthy 28 and 29 games respectively to reach 89. But do you really see the Rockies winning even thirty of the last 41? Or 25? Me neither.
Miracles have happened before, but seldom ones as big as the Rockies need. When they're not on the field, they'd better be praying as hard as they can. -- Michael Roberts