I love Magic Numbers. It’s one of my favorite stupid baseball things to track in the final weeks of the season. The number of combined wins and trailing-team losses that add up to your team clinching a postseason spot. It’s fun to follow – “Dang, Cubs lost, but their Magic Number still dropped by one!” “Oh man, that’s a double drop day!” “Crap, the Magic Number is still 11.” And so forth.
Well, we don’t get that this year. The Cubs were never even close to leading the division or the Wild Card race at a time when we would’ve started talking about Magic Numbers. We were robbed!
So let me offer you that today you can still kinda think about a Magic Number if you want.
Thanks to their most recent wins, the Rockies and Royals have made it impossible for themselves to pass the Cubs in the Reverse Standings. So the floor for the Cubs is now the 8th pick in 2022 draft (and the associated bonus pool). The ceiling is also just about capped because of last night’s Cubs win over the Pirates. Had they lost, there would have been an outside chance at passing the Marlins for the 6th pick. But now the only shot is the Cubs losing every single remaining game, and the Marlins winning every single remaining game. The Marlins have three left against the Phillies after a game against the Mets today. I don’t see them winning out (and I don’t necessarily see the Cubs losing out, either).
So if the eight is the floor and the seven is basically the ceiling, then what needs to happen? Well that’s where the Magic Number comes in. As things stand now, and thanks to the tiebreaker, the Twins would have to lose out and the Cubs would have to win out for the Twins to pass the Cubs. It’s the equivalent of a Magic Number of one.
One more Cubs loss, *OR* one more Twins win, and the thing is set. Wouldn’t it be nice if it happened today so that we can just root for the Cubs to beat the Cardinals in the final series, without any cognitive dissonance whatsoever?
So, either lose to the Pirates tonight, Cubs. Or Twins, beat the Tigers one more time. (After that, the Twins get the Royals, so I’m thinking they will *probably* win at least one more in any case. But better safe than sorry!)