History says the Cardinals have a (slight) chance…


Over the last month, the common fan’s reason to attend a Cardinals game has quickly gone from “we’re in a freaking pennant race” to “hey, the weather is nice out and they sell beer there”.

In other words, we became the Cubs.

But over the past few weeks, the team has gotten back on track and watched as the wild-card leading Braves tumbled to within striking distance.  Granted it’s still a longshot, but at 4.5 games out with 17 to play…we’re saying there’s a chance.

To determine how much of a chance, we hit up coolstandings.com to get the historical outlook using the past 108 seasons as the comparison.  Here is how the season has played out to this point based on the percentage chance the Birds had of making the postseason at any given point…

To be a little more specific, on May 27th, they had a 76% chance.  As of today, they have a 7.7% chance. That little chunk of math leaves us with two camps to line up in…

The Negative View 
To those who like to see things through their negative Ray-Bans, that means it would take the 18th greatest comeback in MLB history for them to cruise past the floundering Braves (with “comeback” defined as largest gap made up from June 1 through the end of the season; On August 27th, the Cardinals were down to 1.1%).

Expecting that sort of comeback from a team who has been heading downhill since Memorial Day and finally got their first five game winning streak of the season over the weekend might not be terribly realistic.  Considering they still have four road games against the league-best Phillies puts it firmly in fantasy land.

Put it this way, if you were jonesing for a beverage and someone handed you a cup of frothy yellow liquid then told you there was a 8% chance it was Bud Light and a 92% chance it was his urine, you’d probably play the numbers and refuse to take a swig.  Just remember that before you start investing too much emotion and setting yourself up for disappointment in a few days.

The Positive View
For those fans that proudly display a copy of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” on your bookshelf, do you see the little uptick at the very end of that graph?  On August 27th, the Cardinals bottomed out and saw their playoff chances drop to 1.1%, about a percentage point higher than the Kansas City Royals.

Just one week ago they were at 1.4%.  Over the past seven days, they have cranked it up to 8%, just swept the team they’re chasing and clearly have the mythical beast known as momentum on their side.

Aside from the four in Philly, the Cardinals don’t play a team with a winning record the rest of the season.

And you want history?  The Cardinals franchise already owns the record for greatest September comeback in MLB history when, on the same date in 1934, they held a measely 1.9% chance, proceeded to rip off a 14-3 record to close the season and won the National League.  Seven games later, they were World Series champs.

On September 12, 1964, the Cardinals had a 4.7% chance, went 14-6 to earn their spot in the playoffs and won the Series over the Yankees.

More recently, the ’04 and ’05 Astros made the playoffs despite falling below 1% at some point over the last two months in both seasons.  As for the Braves, they probably remember seeing their division-mates, the New York Mets, blowing the 2007 season in which they held a 99.9% chance of being in the playoffs as of September 13, fell apart and let both the Rockies and Phillies catch them.

Oh it can happen, people.

Basically what we’re saying is, if you’re chasing down the bandwagon so you can hop back on, just follow the traffic signs…


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