I don't mean to get anyone's hopes up here. But after the Red Sox and their unprecedented 10 game collapse allowed the Rays to even the wild card race, I started thinking: why not us? The most obvious answer is that basic, high school equivalency-level math forbids it. The Reds were officially eliminated from the playoffs eleven days a go. But as Billy Beane, from Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Moneyball, proved: you can't let numbers stand in your way. All you need, as the title suggests, is a little bit of money to take a ragtag band of misfits and turn them into a winning machine. I may have grossly misinterpreted the movie, but I don't really have time to get hung up on the details. There's only 2 games left in the season and much work to be done.
Here are just a few scenarios for how the Reds might pull this thing off:
Playoff team vacates its wins
Given that there are actually five additional non-division-winning teams with better records that the Reds right now, this is going to require every playoff team to vacate its 2011 wins and for the Reds to finish with a better record than the Nationals. But every team has its vulnerabilities. It's obviously unfair that the Phillies have a playoff rotation of Halladay, Lee and Hamels. That's sure to run afoul of antitrust law. Just have to fast-track the lawsuit. Easy. Bud Selig used to own the Brewers, so there's a pretty massive conflict of interest. Collusion, also. Done. And the Diamondbacks, judging by their name alone, have probably arranged for inappropriate gifting and other recruiting practices that will scandalize their program and cause them to discipline themselves without a lengthy legal process.
This strategy may have to work retroactively, but if successful will ensure that the Reds will have "made" the playoff in 2011.
In this scenario, I'm assuming that Major League Baseball uses some kind of proprietary software to schedule its season and post season, which allows for some degree of human error. And that there is no "un-do" feature in that program. If a mid-level functionary is plugging in the teams and happens to mis-click in some drop-down menu, the Reds would be in like Larry Flynt, as "Cincinnati Reds" is very close alphabetically to both "Boston Red Sox" and "Detroit Tigers." This would put the Reds in the American League playoffs, but playoffs just the same. The team would be on a plane to Arlington or New York before the mess could be sorted out.
What we know as reality is virtual, while video games are reality
There's a compelling philosophical argument that we might actually be living in a computer simulation. It stands to reason, then, that what we think of as virtual might actually be "true reality." I'm sure you've accepted both of those premises already, so then it's highly likely that Out of the Park Baseball or the MLB The Show 11 dynasty mode holds the real historical record for this season. That iteration of the 2011 Reds where you traded Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez and Paul Janish for Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon may be less outrageous than you think, if you choose to ignore the horrifying consequences of what reality is.
A lot of weird laws have been passed over the years. Including, according to DumbLaws.com, a statute in Ohio that says "if you ignore an orator on Decoration day to such an extent as to publicly play croquet or pitch horseshoes within one mile of the speaker's stand, you can be fined $25." Is this any weirder than a law that mandates the Reds be in the playoffs? I'd even be willing to accept some kind of bogus play-in game.
I don't mean mobs taking to the streets, though that's not a bad thought. It's best to go through the proper channels - the commissioner's office. The Reds are five games under .500 in one-run games and four games worse than their Pythag. It doesn't take a genius to realize that, by adding those numbers together, baseball is 9 - let's just round up to 10 - TEN games in arrears to the Reds. If Selig, that collusive Commish, grants the Reds just 90% of the wins they're owed then -- the Reds are still third in the Wild Card race. OK, it's back to 10 wins. Give them 10 wins + 2 more wins for pain and suffering and the Reds are in. It might be a hard sell, but I think Mr. Red, who as I understand it is the mayor of the Reds, has the rhetorical skills to pull it off:
MR RED: I trust you are in receipt of our request for gameilogical relief. We're owed 10 wins and I'll not be leaving this office until the request is processed.
BUD SELIG: "-ilogical," yes. How did you get in? Did you sleep in here?
MR RED: I don't sleep.
BUD SELIG: I did receive a note on JTM stationary that said "ISN'T FARE [SIC]:" and had a picture of a triangle and a lot of squared numbers crossed out. It said "OVER" at the bottom and had some more numbers crossed out. And it said "BILL FOR: 10 WINS." I put it in THERE.
Selig points to the trash.
MR RED: Yeah, well what did you think?
BUD SELIG: I... Who's in that costume? Your voice sounds awfully familiar.
MR RED: OH. You put it in the File 13. That's what it says on your waste basket. I'm beginning to think that's not a file at all.
While he's distracted, Selig takes off Mr. Red's baseball head.
BUD SELIG: Hal Morris?