I understand not giving up hope, especially with two months to go.
I understand that weird things can happen in the final two weeks of a baseball season, let alone the final two months. I saw the 2006 and 2009 Tigers up close, and the 2008 Mets, too. I saw the 2007 Mets from a distance.
But as I sat at Citi Field on Tuesday, listening to the .500 Mets and Marlins talk about their "pennant race," I found myself nodding to keep from laughing.
Pennant race? Mets? Marlins?
So I went to consult the friendly computers at Cool Standings, which look at these things without laughing. They assured me that the Mets have just a 4.8 percent chance of making the playoffs, with the Marlins even further behind, at 2.2 percent. (You can use the computers at Baseball Prospectus if you prefer, but I use Cool Standings because it's, well, cool -- and besides, BP gives the Mets and Marlins even less chance at the playoffs).
But here's the question: What exactly does that mean? A 4.8 percent chance is just about 1 in 20. Does that mean that if the Mets were in this spot 20 consecutive years -- and sometimes it feels like they have been -- they would make the playoffs one time?
Perhaps that's true, but when I went back through the entire wild-card era (back to 1995), I couldn't find one team that had a 4.8 percent chance on Aug. 3 and made it. The closest was Phil Garner's 2004 Astros, who were at 9.0 percent on Aug. 3.
Those same cool computers say that the Phillies (99.6 percent), the Yankees (97.6) and the Red Sox (97.3) are all virtual locks to be in the postseason (the fourth highest percentage belongs to the Braves, at 66.1). Your eyes probably tell you the same thing.
But 99.6 isn't 100, as anyone who remembers the 1995 Angels could tell you. Cool Standings wasn't around in '95, but when they went back and calculated the Angels' playoff chances as of Aug. 3 that year, they came up with 99.8 -- and the Angels went 22-34 from that point on and missed the playoffs.
So yes, I am saying there's a chance.
But not for the Mets and Marlins.
A couple of other things that surprised or interested me, and may surprise or interest you:
-- The Tigers, according to the computers, now have far and away the best chance of winning the American League Central. Cool Standings put them at 61.3 percent (just about exactly the same as the Rangers' chance of winning the AL West), while Baseball Prospectus says it's 74.5 percent.
-- The computers totally disagree on the National League West. Cool says the Diamondbacks are now favorites, at 55.8 percent. BP still loves the Giants, at 85.8 percent.
-- The computers come up with the percentages by simulating the rest of the season 1 million times. According to the Cool computer, the only teams that didn't make the playoffs in any of those 1 million simulations were the Orioles and Astros.