Sunday, July 27, 2008

Magic numbers

Somehow, without noticing it, it snuck up on me: it's the last week of the season. Tonight is our penultimate home date of the regular season, and Tuesday night's doubleheader is Fraser's regular season finale. Thus, seven days before the start of the playoffs, it's time to contemplate the complex and very entertaining North Division pennant race.

Here are the standings:
North Shore 23-12
Sanford 23-12
Keene 21-14, 2 GB
Vermont 18-17, 5 GB
Holyoke 18-18, 5.5 GB
Lowell 14-22, 9.5 GB

Making the playoffs

The magic number for the Navs to stay ahead of 5th place Holyoke, and thus clinch a spot in the postseason, is 2 - so a win over the Sox tonight means that the Navigators are in the playoffs. Or, if Holyoke goes on a big run and solidifies their playoff berth, the magic number to finish ahead of Vermont is also 2 (since North Shore has won the season series against the Mountaineers).

So the formula here is simple: One win in three tries against Holyoke, or two wins overall, and the Navs are in the playoffs, no matter what anyone else does.

First place

Because the Navs hold the tiebreaker over Sanford, they "only" have to win all seven remaining games to clinch first place.

Let's take a look at the schedule breakdown:
vs. Holyoke / vs. Keene
@ Vermont / vs. Keene
vs. Lowell / vs. Holyoke
vs. Lowell / vs. Holyoke
@ Holyoke / @ Vermont
Torrington* / @ Vermont
@ Holyoke / @ Lowell
*in Holyoke

Although Sanford has one more home game, their path is a bit tougher, playing three doubleheaders, all against teams in the North Division playoff hunt.

After Sanford and Keene complete their doubleheader tonight, we'll have a lot clearer picture at the top of the North standings.

Home Field

The #1 concern for many Navigators fans is having to play 2 of 3 in Keene in the playoffs. Keene has been the toughest place to play for North Shore this year, as they have lost all three games there. With the Navs holding a two-game cushion over the Swamp Bats, the magic number to stay ahead of them (and at least ensure home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs) is 6.

The last playoff spot

Not only are Vermont and Holyoke just 1/2 game apart from one another in the standings, their season series is tied 3-3. If the two teams are tied at the end of the season, they will play a one-game playoff, with the site being determined by coin toss.

Tiebreaker rules

In case any of these teams end up tied (very likely):

(A) The NECBL shall use the following tie-breaker rule for teams eligible for the playoffs that end the regular season with identical win-loss records, with the exception of the final playoff spot (see below):
a. FIRST- Head-to-Head record between teams tied.
b. SECOND- Combined Head-to-Head record with First teams.
c. THIRD – Combined Head-to-Head record with Second place teams.
d. FOURTH – Combined Head-to-Head record with third place teams (etc., until a winner can be decided)
e. FIFTH – In the event all of the foregoing fails to break the tie, it shall be broken by a coin toss.
(B) In the event of a tie for the last and final playoff spot, the position shall be decided by a one game playoff with the home field to be decided by a coin toss.

Playoff Picture (to be updated daily)

Team - # of wins - Max # of wins - [Places they can finish] -e#=elimination number

NSR - 23 - 30 [1-5]
SAN - 23 - 30 [1-5]
KEE - 21 - 28 [1-5]
VER - 18 - 25 [1-6] e#=8
HOL - 18 - 24 [1-6] e#=7
LOW - 14 - 20 [4-6] e#=2

--Clinch in: Wins=25--
--Clinch out: max wins #=18--
--Clinch home field [1st or 2nd]: Wins=29--
--Clinch 1st: Wins=31--

PIT - 22 - 30 [1-2]
NEW - 22 - 26 [1-2]
--Clinch home field [1st or 2nd]: Wins=22--
--Clinch in: Wins=22--
NA - 16 - 21 [3-6] e#=7
MAN - 15 - 20 [3-6] e#=6
TOR - 12 - 19 [3-6] e#=5
DAN - 11 - 16 [3-6] e#=1

--Clinch 1st: wins=31--
--Clinch out: Max wins=15--

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