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Schrödinger’s Elimination

The Giants both are and are not eliminated from postseason contention.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

I love writing an article with a three-hour shelf life, but let this be hosted on the SB Nation servers for as long as they feel like it as a historical record. Also, it’s been a while since I’ve read about Schrödinger’s cat, so I really hope I haven’t missed some historical revelation about the Austrian-Irish physicist. Anyway —

Last night, the San Francisco Giants won 5-2 and moved to 76-78. Long since eliminated from the NL West race, they still held a wildly improbable chance of making the postseason via the Wild Card.

As of last night:

WILD CARD 1: New York / Atlanta | 97-58
WILD CARD 2: San Diego | 86-68
WILD CARD 3: Philadelphia | 83-70
Milwaukee | 82-72
San Francisco | 76-78

But as of this morning:

Now... why would MLB on Fox tweet this? Well, because says it’s true:

I’m absolutely terrible at math — maybe one of the worst to ever do it — but the Giants still have eight games remaining. They win all eight, they’re at 84 wins. The Phillies and and Brewers lose all their remaining games, the Giants leap over both and get the final Wild Card. Doug talked about this right at the top of the latest McCovey Chroncast (listen and send in your questions!) And according to my esteemed former colleague, Grant Brisbee, the Giants hold the tiebreaker over the Phillies. And according to this guy, they hold the tiebreaker if they finish a three-way tie with the Brewers and Phillies.

That Twitter exchange I hyperlinked to gives it all a bit more insight into this weirdness: that’s elimination decision is disconnected from tiebreakers. Hover over that WCE (Wild Card Elimination) and the site explains:

Elimination Number. E#values are mathematical calculations and do not take tiebreakers or remaining schedules into account

Seems like a bad calculation if it gets the calculation wrong, but I’m also not responsible for the public-facing side of a multibillion dollar organization, so it’s possible that I have no idea what it takes to keep this machine up and running. And if nothing else, it’s additional content for the league conversation.

What I do know is that the Giants are basically a hard sneeze away from elimination, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a lot of pollen and dust in the air. It would be a lot of fun — perhaps too much fun — if the Giants ran the table, but even then, the chances of neither the Phillies nor the Brewers winning two more games is low. Of course I want to see this happen — that would be a lot of fun, but that would also betray this 2022 Giants season, which has been the antithesis of fun.

This post really just aggregates a minor little hiccup in the grand scheme of things and for people who aren’t Terminally Online, the Giants were eliminated weeks or even months ago. How we feel about the failure/success of this season will be, for content’s sake, the subject of another post, but generally, I think most of us agree that 107 wins last season setup the Giants to be a failure almost no matter the outcome, but that this potentially sub-.500 result is easily among the 90th percentile in worst outcomes.

The Giants did get to 75 wins, satisfying Farhan Zaidi’s Theorem that a team which follows sound sabermetric principles can be put together for the 2014 equivalent of $50 million. They might get to 81 wins satisfying the curse of mediocrity that fortune teller put on Gabe Kapler at a carnival on the Cal State Fullerton campus many years ago. They will be eliminated from the postseason, possibly as soon as five hours from now, and all of that kinda sucks. Even this anticipatory elimination calculation sucks. The whole season sucks.