Blowing a Lead in the Last Week of the Season
According to a post by David Smith, the founder of Retrosheet, on the SABR-L message board yesterday, "If the Tigers lose to the Twins in their playoff game (today), they would become the first team to lead by 3 games with 4 to play and not win the division (or league). There have been five previous instances of a team having a lead greater than 2 games with 7 or fewer games to play and not being able to finish it off. They are:
Team Lead Date Games Left Winner
Dodgers 2.5 9-24-1951 7 Giants
Dodgers 3 9-24-1962 6 Giants
Blue Jays 2.5 9-28-1987 5 Tigers
Dodgers 2.5 9-25-1996 4 Padres
Mets 2.5 9-23-2007 7 Phillies
A lifelong Dodgers fan, Smith notes that "you will hopefully excuse me for seeing a depressing pattern here."
While the Dodgers have been prone to blowing leads in the past, it's all on the Tigers this year. For the sake of avoiding infamy, I hope Detroit wins.
On the other hand, my fantasy baseball team is in first place by the slimmest of margins (0.25 points over second and 0.75 points over third), the closest finish in our league's 30+ year history. Our league uses CBS Sportsline and our commissioner was informed in an email exchange by an apparently ill-informed staffer last weekend that the site's fantasy season ended on Sunday, irrespective of makeup games and tiebreakers. I was proclaimed the winner after the final out was recorded in the last game of the "regular" season and received congratulatory emails from several competitors.
However, it all changed yesterday afternoon when CBS Sportsline posted the following missive on its message center.
The Twins and Tigers will be playing a game on Tuesday October 6th to decide who will go to the MLB playoffs. This game will count in our leagues as a regular season game for all scoring types.
Daily leagues will be able to set a lineup for this game, while Weekly leagues will use the same lineup from the final scoring period.
As a result, I'm going to have to sweat it our for another day. There's good news and bad news for me. I have Scott Baker in my lineup. As such, I will pass the team directly ahead of me in innings and pick up a full point if he can complete three innings and jump ahead of the team two above me and record two points for 6 2/3 IP. However, my team's WHIP currently stands at 1.273, .001 ahead of the third-place club. As such, I could easily lose a point if Baker allows too many hits and walks in too few innings.
Stay with me here. Although the team in second place doesn't really have any skin in today's game (unless Justin Verlander or Nick Blackburn pitch in relief), the club in third place has Michael Cuddyer and is close enough in doubles/triples, home runs, runs scored, and RBI that he could gain enough points to leapfrog me if Cuddyer goes off.
Did I mention that even the fourth-place team in our standings is within striking distance and has Jason Kubel and Brandon Inge? He could pick up a point if they combine for two runs scored and perhaps catch me should Baker falter.
If you're not a Tigers or Twins fan, please root for me. I mean, I don't want to pull a Detroit and blow the lead.