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Sox just need a little 'magic'

September 17, 2012|By Ben Johnson | For RedEye

The most concise, helpful statistic in all of sports is upon us.

"Magic number."

As I write this, the White Sox have a magic number of 16. What does that mean? It's simple. A magic number is the number of wins or opponent losses that will ensure a division title for a first-place team. So a magic number of 16 means if the Sox win 16 of their last 17 games, they will win the American League Central Division.

Or it could mean that if the Sox lose ALL of their last 17 games, and the Detroit Tigers lose all but one of their last 17 games, then the South Siders will still win the AL Central, provided the Kansas City Royals don't also win all the rest of their games despite being the Kansas City Royals.

See? Magic numbers are fun and easy. It's simple arithmetic.

The White Sox also have a semi-magic number of 17, meaning that even if they don't win their division, they'd still earn a wild card berth if they win all the rest of their games.

Wait a minute, that doesn't make sense. If the White Sox wanted a wild card berth instead of a division title, they could win 14 games while Detroit wins all 17 of its remaining games, and in this scenario three of the four out of Baltimore, Oakland, the L.A. Angels and Tampa Bay get in a team bus crash.

Barring a tie.

Magic numbers are not an exact science. All you and I need to know is if ESPN's Steve Berthiaume says "magic number," it means the White Sox need only so many more of something until a MAGICAL thing happens. You gotta believe in that number for it to work.

Maybe I'm not explaining it clearly enough. You see, if the Sox lose 11 games but the Tigers lose nine, then …

How about this: If at the end of the year the Sox win more games than the other teams in their division, then they will be in good shape. By a factor of … magic.

Note: Numbers as of Monday not magically updated.

Ben Johnson is an improv comedian at iO Theater in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @itisbenjo.


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