For the balance of this year, I refuse to acknowledge any player, manager, GM or media person who utters the following words, "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon". My rudimentary math skills tell me that the past two extra-inning, one-run losses will count EXACTLY equally in the final standings—the same as a loss in April or a loss in October. And no amount of "marathon" clap-trap imagery is going to change that. You can count on these two losses coming back to haunt us as surely as you can count on Carl Everett denying that dinosaurs ever walked on the moon.
And it's not just the objective zero-sum game of wins and losses that matters here. There are other, more subtle, effects that will come into play the next time we meet the Empire or those pesky blue avains from north of the border. If we go into a series 2 1/2 games ahead of a team as opposed to 4 1/2 ( the REAL effect of the July 9th & 13th losses to Chicago and Oakland), there are psychological and tactical consequences as well. Starting pitching match-ups become more critical, roster decisions might be changed, players not rested who should be rested—a whole host of choices that have a different feel because the strategic balance has shifted due to one or two key losses.
If you need more convincing, just remember where we stood at the end of 2005—deadlocked at 95 wins with the Evil Ones. They took the flag because of more head-to-head wins. But, one fewer blown save by Keith Foulke in April would have made the issue moot. So, please, leave the marathon stuff for Patriot's Day.