With a payroll of $235 million on Opening Day, the Los Angeles Dodgers weren't a team put together for the purpose of finishing second in their division. But that's just where they stand in the National League West on Friday, with the San Francisco Giants having opened up a 8 1/2-game lead. While that might not sound like an insurmountable gap to make up, history suggests the 2014 NL West is almost certainly going to be taken by the men in orange and black, not Dodger blue.
While there have always been teams that have blown significant leads in the standings, this actually happens less often than most people believe. We root for the underdogs, after all, which is why so many of our sports movies feature storylines with plucky losers catching the antagonists. The Dodgers didn't enter the season as the underdog -- the team would be even more frighteningly expensive if it was expected to be a .500 team -- but history suggests that leads like the Giants have now are usually safe.