The San Francisco Giants find themselves just a half-game out of first place in the NL West as the below-.500 LA Dodgers are in town for a three-game series. Is it time to be drooling over that playoff spot, Giants fans?
Their remaining schedule looks appetizing. Including this Dodgers series at home, the Giants have the easiest remaining regular season schedule of any team in the NL playoff race. They also have the most days off of any NL team still contending for a playoff spot.
Do the math -- or let MLB.com do it for you. The NL teams with 80 wins or more are still legitimately in the playoff race as we enter the season's final three weeks. Those teams, in order of the most wins, are the Phillies, Braves, Reds, Giants, and Padres.
The Giants have 12 remaining home games as opposed to only six road games. These other contending NL teams all have an even split, or are within a game of being even. Except the pratfalling Padres, who have only seven home games compared to 13 road games.
And the Giants' strength of schedule is the most favorable of the contending lot. In their 18 remaining games, they only face an opponent with a winning record six times. The other teams face opponents with winning records at least nine times, and the Padres face a winning team on 13 remaining occasions.
And remember -- if the Giants just finish with a better record than the Padres, they're in. They'd then win the NL West and all this other other scoreboard watching becomes moot.
The Dodgers are not technically not fully eliminated from the playoff race. But Tommy Lasorda will knock up Penelope Cruz before these Dodgers make the 2010 postseason. With 18 games left, they're ten-and-a-half games out of first.
Thursday night's Dodgers series finale will be broadcast live on NBC Bay Area at 7 p.m. PDT. It's the final Giants-Dodgers game of the season!
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is digging the hat Randy Moss was wearing during his "Y'all don't want to see me do good" rant after the New England Patriots game on Sunday.