“What are you going to do now? Hit me? Is that it? I don’t see your reasoning so now you’re going to hit me?”
“Why does it always come to that? Seriously, why? Hitting you would be… well it would be completely unfair because I know what’s coming. It’s not exactly like you’re going to pop me with a surprise left.”
“Be a big surprise though.”
“No doubt. True. But the Giants…”
“Oh for fuck’s sake, Slots. The Giants, again, stand virtually no chance of making the wild card. Am I going to have to go through this again with you?”
“They’re only three-and-a-half games out. Three-and-a-half.”
I just stared at him in awe of his deference toward his own delusion. I was going to have to go over the inanity of his seeing-eye base hit of illogical math and crush his dreams of the Giants getting the shady possibility of four World Series championships in a single decade. They took ’10, ’12 and ’14. If not for some dreadfully bad relief pitching they had the possibility of toppling the Cubs before the Cubs smoked the Dodgers in the ’16 NLCS. But hey, at least the Cubs took out the hated Dodgers.
But here we were, Slots and I, doing what we do best in the summer, drinking and arguing at The Inn. Though who am I kidding. Drinking and arguing was a full-time sport. Summers just gave us a crack of midday sun peeking through the dark shutters of this garden level Valhalla in our North Beach neighborhood. You know, once the sun finished burning off the fog. There’s always some fog drifting in off the bay. Todays seemed to be a lot thicker, but only around Slots’ head.
Slots Malone is a legit man’s man with a broad sense of Irish self-deprecating humor. He created his own nickname after the construction accident a couple decades back. Lost his left arm when he got it caught between a cement truck and a brick wall. Still continued to be a carpenter. As he puts it when he’s working on picking up a woman, ‘got skills, darling, skills. Driven nails into wood for decades and have never hit my thumb.’ His confidence never waned, even in his current absolute mathematically illogical stand on the San Francisco Giants.
“Alright Slots, you really want me to go over this again?”
“Not sayin I want it… but the Giants had a helluva July to get back into this, so why not?”
The Giants, for those who don’t know, went 20-6 in July. For those like Slots who struggle with the basics of math, if one were to extrapolate that record over the course of a season, they would insanely come up with the Giants going 120-42. Naturally, to most of us, that’s stupidly obscene.
“They can still win 90 and 90…”
“Yeah yeah yeah… no. Sure Slots, 90 – most years – gets a team into the playoffs. But seriously? 90 wins? Really? You know what 90 wins is Slots?”
“Pretty good, but not great.”
“Sounds great to me.”
“Yeah, for this year’s Giants.” I took a quick drink of my Anchor Steam before pursuing my angle of what I felt, if not most statisticians as well, was perfectly sound math. “Slots, 90 wins broken down over an entire season is going five and four every nine games 18 times.”
“Add 5 and 4 you get 9. 9 times 18 equals 162.”
“That’s a season.”
“Exactly. Yeah. So you follow?”
“The 162 part I do.”
“Slots, did they put something into your Anchor Steam Porter that I failed to get? They’re 500 right now. 500. 61 and 61. 40 games left. So you, in your head, actually think they can play 750 ball the rest of the season.” I took another quick slug of my beer before adding, “that’s what they’d have to do. 750 ball.”
“They did better in July.”
“Marginally… and that’s my point. For the love of MadBum, no, Slots. No, no and no. July is what statisticians call an anomaly.”
“Umm… pretty sure that’s the money I pay to my ex every month.”
“So you said it wrong.”
He winked, took a draw and after stared into the bar mirror as if trying get an answer he was not going to find. A second draw on his beer bought me a few seconds more. I hoped both draws would combine forces to allow logical math to pour into his brain as the swirl of alcohol messed with his synapses. Naturally, I was incorrect.
“It’s only three-and-a-half games.”
My palms stung for thirty seconds or so after I slapped both hands on The Inn’s cherry-stained bar top. It would’ve surprised our bartender, but Jilly was used to it.
“Yeah, that’s me Slots. Always showing off.”
“Just by showing up.”
“Correct on that one. However…”
“Oh here we go again.”
“Yeah, Slots. So, the Giants are three-and-a-half back with 40 games left. So let’s just say, for the sake of your argument, they win two-thirds of those games.”
“Two-thirds of 40 is like what?”
“26 more wins.”
“Uh – well – yeah, okay. Amazing but…”
“Amazing Mets did it in ’69.”
“No, Slots we are not getting into that. I’ll tell you why in a moment, just hold on.”
Today’s Giants-Diamondbacks game was an evening tilt between two 500 teams. As was their way, the announcers were already poking around pre-game pontifications and playing fiddles for the Slots of the world about the Giants chances. Jilly looked over at me and smiled as she turned down the volume.
“You know what, Slots? I’ll do it now.”
“1969. So, the Amazin’ Mets came back and swamped the Cubs by playing over 750 ball.”
“So it can happen.”
“Yeah, if and this is a big if, the other team, this one being the Cubs, completely choke.”
“Completely. While the Mets won 38 out of their last 50? The Cubs? They won 20.”
“And you know this how?”
“Because as much as I hate the Dodgers? The Cubs are the next ladder rung down. And, and, and? The Mets really only had one team to climb over to get there, not four.”
“I’m getting there. Hold on. So, 26 wins by our Giants puts them at a stunning 87 for the season. Which means the current wild card team they’d need to catch, the Cubs…”
“As of today, yes. They would have to win 23 games to beat them to the spot.”
“23-21. Slots. That’s all they’d have to do. Believe me, I wish they wouldn’t, but with that line-up? They do worse than that and heads are deservedly rolling.”
“And the number of teams ahead of the Giants means…?”
I mocked him. Had to really. The math wasn’t. “Well Slots? As I said, there are currently four other teams ahead of them – four.”
“That means EVERY SINGLE TEAM would need to do worse for the Giants to make it. EVERY ONE OF THEM.”
Jilly, toweling out a pint glass, took a glance over. She held the glass in one hand and gestured to me using bar sign language asking if we needed another round. I shook her off, Bumgartner’d her as well as MadBum would do Posey.
“So rude, the yelling.”
“GAAH. Which is why, Slots, men far smarter than you or I do statistical analysis, merging not only every team’s remaining schedule, but their odds against over 500 playing teams; home versus away… lot of stuff.”
“So much math.”
“Yeah, and the Giants are awful against over 500 teams.”
“That’s my point. They’ve got the Dodgers seven times more.”
“Math is a bitch.”
“Math, Slots, is more a mistress than a bitch. She’s the one that’s generally good to you, but ultimately will throw you right on your ass if you’re not paying attention.”
“Still… three-and-a-half back.”
One long sigh and a completion of my beer and I was back. “So glad you are sitting down. Look at me, you one-armed hammer slinger. The Giants have a 4% chance of making the wild card.”
“Thanks for proving my point.”
“So you’re saying there’s a chance.”
I turned, pretending I had a splash of red onion waves having come through the kitchen atop a sizzling burger invade my tear ducts. As I did, I caught the attention of Jilly.
“Jilly? We need another round.”
“Same old same old?”
“No. Irish Car Bombs. Want that, Slots?”
“I, like the Giants, can handle it.”
“Only Jilly? Triple the whiskey for me… and hold everything else.”