Monday, August 31, 2009

Fishy Dilemma: Which Race to Choose?

The Florida Marlins find themselves in a tough situation, choosing which playoff race to compete for. On one end you have the Philadelphia Phillies 8 games away, but within somewhat of a reach. Then you have the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants atop the N.L. Wild Card race, only 3.5 games ahead. With that said, the upcoming series between the Phillies and Giants may decide what race the Marlins will focus their attention on.

If the Phillies dominate the Giants and take two or three games in that series, then it seems like the Wild Card would be the easier route to take. On the contrary, if the Giants take two or three games that will likely lower the gap in the N.L. East race and keep the distance in the Wild Card. All of this is contingent on the Marlins winning the series against the Braves of course.

Some will say that the Wild Card is probably the most realistic chance for the Fish and will point to their 1997 and 2003 Wild Card playoff berths. At the same time, that means that the Fish would be backing down from a feat that is seemingly not plausible, but still possible. That is taking the N.L. East title from the defending World Series Champions.

Barring the recent history of late season collapses by the Marlins, the Fish have a chance to make history by starting a strong push now.

The final month of the regular season holds many division rivalry games for all teams and is a prime opportunity to make moves in the standings. After this series against the Braves, Florida has three upcoming series with the Nationals (twice) and the Mets, which the Marlins have had success against in their overall season match-ups. The Marlins are 9-3 against the Nationals and 7-5 against the Mets this season.

Not to mention a three-game series against the Phillies in late-September may be the deciding factor in this all. September will be critical to say the least.

Philadelphia will face off against the Giants, Astros, Nationals and Mets respectively in their next four series. The Phillies are 1-3 against the Giants and have not faced the Astros all season long, which is favorable for the Marlins' hopes. But the Phillies have dominated the Nats (10-2) and Mets (9-5) this season. The difficulty of the match-ups even out at the end of it all.

The possibility is there for Florida to take the N.L. East, but so is the Wild Card, if the division battle becomes statistically out of reach. The bold choice: go for the ultimate prize as the division champions. If all else fails, try for the "third time's a charm" path and make a Wild Card run.

Before any of this can happen, the Fish will have to prove history wrong and prevent another second half collapse from bursting the bubbles of all the South Florida faithful.

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