The Damn Number is 5
So it is gut check time. I understand why some people were mad that Bonds sat out Thursday's game; I trust that Bonds would not sit out a game like Washington's without good reason but unfortunately we needed him big time then and lost a close game. Then again, what people forget is that if he didn't push to get back to us in the first place, we wouldn't even be able to say that right now, we probably would have been eliminated already (or close enough) if he didn't come back and hit homers in four straight games plus affect games just with his presence.
To show how powerful a presence he is (not that any Giants fan wouldn't know this), but while at Baseball Prospectus, I checked out their runs differentials and runs scored W/L records to see how the season might have been different with Bonds in the lineup (yeah, spilt milk but I couldn't help myself). Assuming he would have added 1 run per game (or approximately so), I changed the record for each Run Scored category to the percentage (roughly in my head) of the next higher. So they were 1-21 when they scored 1 run but were 5-18 when they score 2 runs, which results in an additional 4 wins (5-1=4, roughly). That worked out to approximately 20 games or so, making the Giants record 91-61 right now and running away with the division. And 1 run per game seems totally reasonable; if anything, it seems a bit short, like it should be at least 1.5 runs. (And for something completely different, a daydreaming sidenote here: sigh, just think where we'd be if the Giants would have signed Vlad and not traded for Pierzynski, we probably would have survived Bonds' and Benitez' extensive DL's, that is, since Benitez wouldn't have been signed).
Anyhoo, OK, wishful thinking, but even if the Giants could sweep 'do-Rockies and the 'Dres lose the two games to the D-backs, the Giants are still 3 games back and would need to sweep the 'Dres to have a good chance of winning the division; going 3-1 would leave the Giants still 1 game back with 3 games left in the weekend. Still not eliminated but the chances are not great with that either and the 'Dres will probably win one of the remaining games with the D-backs and that would essentially force the Giants to need to sweep.
Nope, the Giants have to win at least 6 straight now if they hope to take the division and that is not likely as Bonds will probably take Sunday off; however, luck is with us in the San Diego series, all the games are night games, so Bonds should be playing all those games. So his next rest, assuming he only rests on day games after a night game, would be the last Saturday game of the season; he might play that, however, if the Giants are still in contention, reasoning that he has all off-season to rest.
Poor guy, he works his ass off all season to try to get back, endure the horrors of imagining losing his leg and what that would entail (think about it yourself...), only to have columnists accuse him of lazing by 1) waiting until the homestand so that he start off with adoring fans and 2) skipping day games after night games. How ridiculous, no wonder he treats reporters rudely. But that's a losing battle because most of them probably were neutral towards him until he treated them rudely because of some of the rude brethren they have and so on and so on.
Then again, none of them are willing to call out the journalists who cross the line, like all the ones who reported he snapped at reporters at a press conference after the World Series but neglected to add that he was saying that only because some of the them were about to step on his son (I would have bitched slapped them for doing that) or the ones who reported his "dissing" of the Babe when he was just joking around. For the latter, one columnist came close to putting down her fellow journalists by writing that anyone who was in the interview room knew that Bonds was kidding (Ann Killion, I like her writing for the Merc) but stopped there and did not take the next step of giving her colleagues a good tongue lashing by rebuking their actions.
I was just reading over this and realized that the Giants have a magic number as well. Perhaps that would be a better way for us to look at it. Our magic number is currently 15 as far as I can tell. That's because even if the Giants win the rest of their games (9), the 'Dres would have to go 3-6 for the Giants to take the division. The 'Dres going 4-5 clinches at least a tie with the Giants.
Yep, any way you slice it, the odds are very long of the Giants doing it. But just like this game against Pittsburgh about 30-something years ago - the Giants were down like 7-8 runs in the bottom of the ninth and came back to win the damn game - you never know. Or like Mauch's Phillies (1964?) which collapsed and lost what was a sure pennant in the last weeks of the season. Plus look at the ChiSox and Cleveland right now, basically neck and neck when the ChiSox had this "wrapped" up long ago. So there is a chance.
As it is not impossible for the 'Dres to go on an extended losing streak, but just not likely. So I'm holding out hope until we are officially out of the race but my hope is tempered by the fact that our Giants are pretty much out of it and the 'Dres will inevitibly win the pennant without trying much or very hard.