Breaking down the NL playoff picture

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San Diego has lost 22 of 34 since August 25th, when they had a six and a half game lead on the Giants. So it’s not like we should weep for them or anything, as their wounds are self-inflicted. But it is a bit sad that such an unexpectedly good season from them is most likely going to end on Sunday rather than extend into postseason land.

And “most likely” is the key phrase here. The playoff math, such as it is, breaks down thusly:

  • The Padres could still win the division. How? By sweeping the Giants this weekend and beating them in a one-game playoff on Monday down in San Diego (this weekend’s series is in San Francisco);
  • If the Padres sweep and if the Braves
    lose all three of their games against the Phillies, no Padres-Giants playoff will be necessary. Why? Because, if both the
    Padres and the Giants are assured of a playoff spot they’ll be co-NL West champs, the Padres will be
    seeded as the champ in the playoffs and the Giants will be seeded as the wild card. The seeding is
    by virtue of the Padres winning the season series from the Giants;
  • The Braves playoff magic number is two, so any combination of Braves
    wins and Padres losses that add up to two eliminates the Padres from
    wild card contention. This could happen as early as tonight.
  • If the Padres win two of three from the Giants and the Braves get swept, the Padres and Braves will play game 163 in Atlanta on Monday. Which, even if I don’t want that to happen because of my rooting interests, would be fairly awesome for baseball in general.

I think that covers it all (this involves simple math, and even simple math is a challenge for me).  Basically, though, the Padres have to win all three games or they’re probably SOL.

And yes, if you think that part of the reason I wrote this post was so that I can use another pic of the Padres in their 1984 throwbacks from yesterday, you are absolutely right.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.