Tuesday, April 14, 2015

2001 Co-Champions?

The Cardinals unveiled what is possibly the douchiest scorecard ever, though it does look cool:

As the Chronicle noted, they include 2001 in their division title list, which is nonsense. And since the Astros were a trainwreck last night, let's go back and talk about this, because it's fun to think about winning games and divisions and playoffs and whatnot.

The 2001 Astros were 93-69. So were the 2001 St. Louis Cardinals. The Astros were 50-34 against the NL Central, one game better than the 49-35 record the Cardinals posted against the division. Furthermore, the Astros were 9-7 against the Cardinals in 2001 which, for our mathematically-challenged friends from Missouri, is - stay with me - two games better than the 7-9 record the Cardinals posted against the Astros. In the final series of the 2001 season at St. Louis, the Astros were 92-69 while the Cardinals were 93-68. The Astros won the season finale 9-2 (Shane Reynolds got the win, Darryl Kile got the loss).

I had to go to a Cardinals bulletin board to get the details of this, but somehow the Cardinals decided that they weren't just "2001 Wild Card Winners," they were "NL Central Co-Champions" on their 2002 Media Guide. The Astros weren't pleased. Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty said, "I would think they have more significant concerns than something trivial like that."

Except it's not trivial, dammit. MLB VP of Scheduling and Club Relations Katy Feeney said at the time:
Since the Astros had the better head-to-head record, they were determined to be the champions and the Cardinals the wild card for the post season. But since they both had the same regular season record, they were both co-champions. Technically, the Astros get the champion title.

No. There is no "technically." But Walt Jocketty, who you would think had more significant concerns that something trivial like this, cited the official certificate, which reads:
By virtue of having the highest percentage of games won in the National League Central Division, the lesser record vs. co-champions Houston Astros and better record of all second-place teams, the St. Louis Cardinals are hereby declared the 2001 Wild Card Champions and Central Division Co-Champions of the National League...

Except this is stupid. Rule 33 says, in the event two teams from the same division have the same record, the division champion shall be "the club with the higher winning percentage in head-to-head competition..." The Astros were 9-7 against the Cardinals. Nine is higher than seven. And because seven is not as high as nine, the Cardinals are not "co-champions."

But even if you live in a world where nine is not higher than seven, and instead your world treats nine and seven as though they are the same number, the Cardinals didn't have the highest percentage of games won in the NL Central. 50/84 is .595. That is the Astros winning percentage against the NL Central. 49/84 - and this is apparently where it gets hard - is .583. Now it's theoretically possible that there is a universe where .595 is not higher than .583. And in that universe, yes, the St. Louis Cardinals are co-champions of the NL Central in 2001. Good mathing, Cardinals. And good job, Chronicle, you got me all petty and pissed off at 6:15am on a Tuesday over the 2001 season and a 2002 Cardinals media guide.