There's the old saying, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."
Which I'm about to ignore.
It's no secret that I like baseball. And that I follow and support the local minor league team, the Columbus Catfish.
So, for that reason alone, I'm ignoring the good advice and am going to say right now that I expect the Catfish to win the first half.
Minor league baseball fans will be aware ... but others might not ... that most minor league schedules call for a split season. That is, they play half the schedule, and whoever's in first place is awarded the first half championship, and have a spot in the playoffs.
The league then wipes the slate clean, and they start over, playing the second half. Whoever has the best record in the second half wins the second half championship, and a spot in the playoffs.
If a team wins both halves, then the team with the next-best record over the season takes the second playoff spot.
The first half winners plays the second half winner, to advance to the league championship series.
Leagues with other than two divisions do it a little differently, but that's essentially how it's done in most minor leagues.
So, understanding that, I'm saying the Catfish will win their division in the first half.
There are 23 games left to play, and they are in 3rd place.
So what makes me think they'll win the first half?
I can read a schedule. And do math.
The Catfish play Savannah (12-34; .261) 4 times, starting tonight. They play Charleston (24-23; .511) 8 times, 4 there and 4 in Columbus. They face Rome (16-30; .348) 7 times, 4 at home and 3 on the road. The conclude the first half with 4 games at Greenville (19-27; .413).
That means their opponents have a combined record of 71-144 (.384). Extended to consider the number of times they play each team -- that is, 4 times 12-34; 8 times 24-23; 7 times 16-30; and 4 times 19-27 -- the combined extended record is 428-638 (.402).
Now, Augusta plays 4 times each against Lexington (21-26; .447), Greensboro (27-20; .574), Savannah (12-34; .261), and Charleston (24-23; .511).
Asheville plays 4 times against Lexington (21-26; .447) and 12 times against Hickory (18-26; .409).
Here's where it gets really interesting. Augusta and Asheville play each other 7 times.
Augusta's opponents have a record of 115-118 (.494), extended to 553-517 (.517). Asheville's opponents have a record of 71-67 (.514), extended to 524-521 (.501).
The Catfish are a game out of first place. The two teams in front of them play each other 7 times. And the Catfish have the easiest schedule, even if you ignore the fact that Asheville and Augusta play each other.
I may be about to jinx the team. But I'm already planning a trip to Charleston, West Virginia to play the West Virginia Power in the playoffs in early September. Maybe I'll take Don Surber to a playoff game ... and show him how a real baseball team plays.