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Updated: September 27, 2010, 12:53 AM ET

Wins, not dollars, all that matter this time of year

Ravech By Karl Ravech
ESPN
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One of the lines Gordon Gekko uses in the new movie "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" goes like this --"If there's one thing I learned in prison it's that money is not the prime commodity in our lives is, time is."

How appropriate to baseball given the approaching deadline known as the end of the regular season. It's a time in the baseball season when money doesn't matter, but time does. The Yankees hear the same ticktock as the far-less expensive Rays and Padres and Reds.

[+] EnlargeEric Young
Byron Hetzler/US PresswireThe Rockies are chasing the Giants and Padres, but it was the Diamondbacks who inflicted the most damage up Colorado's playoffs hopes this month.

There are certain "go-to" predictors for baseball fans this time of the season. One of them is your own team's starting pitching -- how healthy is it? Is my offense clicking? Which guys have track records in September and October? Another go-to phrase for baseball fans is "strength of schedule." How often do you hear that "Such-and-such team is in good shape because they have no one on their schedule that is above .500 for the season." Good thought, though it hardly guarantees success.

This season is just like any other season; teams that are out of contention are causing major league headaches for the teams that are in contention. Before this past weekend series with the Giants, the Rockies were swept by the Diamondbacks. The Rockies, the hottest team in the game, September's Santa Claus, were set to deliver another gift to Rockies fans when they ran into Arizona. Yep, the same Diamondbacks team that the Rockies just swept a week earlier scored 21 runs in three games against them and swept them right into the outbound lane of the playoffs.

Conventional wisdom suggests the Rays are in better shape than the Yankees because the schedule maker has the Rays playing at home against Baltimore for three games, then ending the regular season on the road in Kansas City. Six games against opponents that are a combined 62 games under .500. But these are not your brother's Orioles anymore. Buck Showalter and his team have a winning record in September. There is also the argument that you would actually rather play a team that is invested in the game as well, somebody that will keep the intensity up, rather than go to a place like Kansas City where there is as much baseball life as there is in Montreal right now.

The Yankees are 2-4 in Toronto this season, and they have three there before they go to Fenway to wrap up the regular season. The Red Sox could be 50 games under on their own and we all know how much that would mean, right? Absolutely nothing, because knowing they could ruin the Yankees' season, or at least mess with their chances at home-field advantage, would be enough to have Boston ready to go. So, which team would you think has a better chance of winning more of its final games, Tampa or New York?

No team illustrates the unreliability of the upcoming schedule as a true measure of likely success better than the Cardinals. St. Louis was right in the middle of a real hot race with the Reds when it did this: went 2-4 against the Pirates, lost three of four to the Nationals, suffered three more defeats at the hands of the Houston Astros, then finally dropped two of three to the Brewers. Game over, good night.

Money doesn't matter right now; neither does a team's record. Gordon Gekko appreciates riding the hot horse as much as anyone. Time is blind.

Karl Ravech is a host for "Baseball Tonight."

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