San Francisco Giants playoff chances: Anything can happen down the stretch


Apr 21, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants celebrate their 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

“When the lights…go down…in the city…”

What lights? It’s our playoff hopes dimming, even as the “sun…shines…on the bay.”

But this is San Francisco Giants baseball—anything can happen.

I’ve said this before, but I don’t mind repeating: who would have thought, after seeing him at the plate this year and last, that Tim Hudson would send one over the wall? Did you see that coming? I know I didn’t.  It’s an excellent example that anything goes in baseball.

Or how about Ryan Vogelsong? Thirty eight years old, pitched for minor league teams, pitched in Japan, and in a last ditch effort to give his baseball career another shot, landed back on the team that drafted him in the first place. Vogey’s had his ups and downs—mirroring the ball club he pitches for—but this year takes the cake. Or the chicken enchilada. Or the cheeseburger.

In the offseason he almost went to the Astros, but that didn’t work out. Fortunately for us, he made a deal with the Giants. He was told he would be assigned to the bullpen, then he was put in the rotation, then back to the bullpen, then asked to start because Matt Cain wasn’t ready yet. He’s been bounced around like a check for groceries right before payday.

Last week he started a game and he had a terrible outing—he wasn’t able to get it done on the mound, so he gave it his best shot at the plate. What did he do? He sent the first pitch offered right over the fence into the Rockies bullpen. His first big league dinger ever.

You might be wondering at this point, “What exactly, are you trying to say, Toni?” Well, I’ll tell you. Most of you who have read my stuff know that baseball is an emotional game for me. I’m not a stats geek; I don’t go by the numbers much. All you sabremetricians probably tear your hair out when you read about what I believe it takes to win a baseball game.

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I think it takes big heaping spoonfuls of attitude, guts, hope and a little magic. I’ve said this before: as far as I’m concerned,  ERA is a civil rights movement, WAR is a battle between countries and BABIP is a type of Korean food. You guys can do your math and tell the rest of us how it’s going to turn out. I’ll go ahead and work with Yogi Berra’isms, Kruk and Kuip’isms, the magic wandoo and a little fairy dust to tell you how I think it will come out.

Even so, looking at it your way—some might even call it the logical way—the Giants are still in it. Oh, I know, you’re going to tell me that there is no way in H-E-double hockey sticks that the Giants can pull this one out. But this is where I go with the magic behind the math.

There are 22 games left on our schedule. In order to pass up the Dodgers, the Dodgers need to lose a game every time we win for at least nine games. Easy enough—all we need to do is go on a nine game winning streak while they go into a nine game skid. If you mix the math and the magic, it could happen!

There is evidence that it’s possible. In a recent post by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Hank Schulman, the Giants beat writer penned: “The 2011 Tampa Bay Rays trailed the Red Sox by nine games for the lone American League wild card with 24 to play. The Rays finished 16-8 to wrest the playoff spot from Boston, which went 6-18.”

See what I mean? It’s possible. Highly unlikely? Maybe so.

What can I say? It’s baseball—anything can happen.

And besides…I still like our chances.