It is currently August 17th, 2012. The Sox have just won 3 games in a row against the Toronto Blue Jays IN CANADA (for non-Sox Fans, this is kind of a big deal..) They are 2.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. I think it’s time to start doing something I haven’t had to do in 4 years: Start Counting down the Sox’ Magic Number.
For those of you who don’t follow baseball, are not Stephen Hawking-level Mathematicians, or are fans of the Chicago Cubs, I shall explain:
The Magic Number is the combined number of wins and losses that will guarantee a team finishes in 1st place. In contrast, it is at the same time the Elimination Number for the teams not in first that prevent them from reaching 1st place. Let’s take a look at the Current AL Central Standings.
So, Chicago currently is in 1st place and 2.5 games ahead of Detroit and the Trifecta of Suck that is Cleveland/Kansas City/Minnesota are miles behind. The numbers in parenthesis next to the non-1st place teams are the Sox’s Magic Number to guarantee that team can’t finish ahead of them. If we compare the Sox and the Twins’ Win Totals, the Sox have 65 and the Twins have 50. The Magic Number is 31. Each Sox win or Twins loss decreases that number by 1. The unlikeliest scenario for total elimination of the Twins would have the Sox win the next 31 games in a row. This would give the Sox 96 wins. The Twins already have 57 losses, so the maximum number of wins they could achieve is 95, and that’s if they somehow win every game left in the season!
Obviously, the odds of this happening are extremely low, so a more likely and simpler explanation of exhausting the Magic Number is this: Any combined total of Sox Wins and Twins Losses that add up to 31 for the rest of the season will guarantee the Sox finish above the Twins. (i.e. If the Twins get 20 more losses, the Sox only have to win 11 games to finish with a better record (Sox 76 – Twins 75)
With the Tigers being the closest to the Sox in the standings, the Magic Number is higher at 43, but the math stays the same. If the Tigers lose 20 games the rest of the way, the Sox just have to win 23 to guarantee a better record (Sox 88 – Tigers 87)
While it’s still too early to say that the Sox can run away with the Division and become one of the most improbable playoff entrants in Sox history, the mere fact that it’s Mid-August and I’m still able to watch meaningful Sox baseball when I’m usually stuck watching Horrid Bears Pre-Season football is enough to get me through the Dog Days of Summer.
Let’s Go! Go! Go! GO! WHITE SOX!!!