Thursday, September 29, 2016

See? I Told You I Could Wait.

It was worth it to be able to say, “The Boston Red Sox are American League East Champions!”

 After a couple rough years, it was nice to finally see that happen. Of course, that’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to win that last game in the World Series. I know that. The players know that. But, winning the division is a big helpful step towards that goal!

As you may have heard, they didn’t exactly do it in the most incredible fashion. It’s always more fun to be able to run off the field together and celebrate. But, of course, they weren’t able to do that. They were the ones walking off as the Yankees ran onto the field in celebration. 

The Sox certainly made up for that in the clubhouse though when the party really started.

What amazed me last night, though, was the number of people who were actually concerned about last night’s results. As if winning the division didn’t count if you didn’t win your game on the day they clinched. 

There were complaints of “backing into” the playoffs. Implying they only got in because the Blue Jays lost. That it, of course, absolute bunk. The Red Sox are division champs because their 92 wins are more than anyone else in the division will be able to get. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what order the wins come in. The Sox won eleven in a row in order to put them in position to win. The fact that they lost on the day they would have clinched doesn’t change that. After all, since the Sox game ended after the Jays lost, even if they had won the game, they wouldn’t have clinched the division with the win. It would just be their first win as division champs. What if the magic number was two, and the Sox won their game. Then the Jays play on the west coast and lost. Would that be backing into a playoff spot? What if the Sox were the most consistent team in history and alternated six game winning streaks with four game losing streaks. All season. If they clinched the division during one of the losing streaks, does that mean they backed in?

See how silly this all is?

Even more concerning to me, though, were the people who were actually worried about the results. “I hope this isn’t a sign of Kimbrel’s demise!” “See? This bullpen!” “Farrell can’t manage! What’s Koji doing pitching the eighth?” Do these people not realize that the Sox are division champs? Did they not remember the eleven-game winning streak? Kimbrel and Farrell seemed just fine during the streak. And the Sox seem to have managed a pretty good record all year with them. Why are we now determined to say their bad game is going to kill the Sox? 8-2 over the last ten games is the best stretch in the league. Suddenly that’s a fault that will doom them in October?

Do people just like to whine?

On second thought, don’t answer that.

How about we try enjoying the division title? How about we concentrate on the 92 wins over the last 158 instead of just the two losses in the last two? How about we remember that over the long season, the Red Sox have shown themselves to be the best team in the division, if not the American League. How about we pretend that every thing they do wrong and every mistake they make is just that. A mistake. Not a prediction. Not a pattern. Not a decline. A mistake.

Teams make mistakes. Teams blow saves. Even good teams.

Even division champs.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I Can Wait

I can be a patient person. I know that waiting is not easy. Especially for some. But, I can relax and just wait for the good things to come.

Oh, sure, I would have preferred it if the Red Sox won their game last night. I mean, I certainly expected them to. I guess as much as you can "expect" any team to win a dozen plus games in a row. But, I could just feel it last night. They were on a roll. David Price was going to come up huge, and they would simply clinch the division. Get it all out of the way. 

Or, the Blue Jays were going to lose. After all, they just had that big brawl with the Yankees (yay for them) and were suffering the consequences. Worst case, the Sox wait for them to lose, and then clinch the division.

But, as we all know, that didn't happen. The Sox just couldn't hold on and New York pulled out a Yankee Stadium win. 

Here's the thing, though. You may have forgotten, but teams are allowed to lose. Good teams lose. Teams on an incredible roll lose. Sometimes, you just don't win. It doesn't mean you won't win again. It doesn't mean the Sox aren't the best team in the American League. It doesn't mean they won't clinch tonight. It just means they lost a game. The line-up is still incredibly powerful. Their top two pitchers are still as good as anyone's. They are still a ton of fun to watch. So be ready.

They'll probably clinch tonight.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Surprise from The Phillies Room

There are few things as exciting as heading to the mailbox, and seeing an unexpected package waiting for you. The anticipation starts as soon as you see it. What wonders could be inside? For me, that anticipation is always heightened when the return address indicates it’s from The Phillies Room. Jim has always been one to surprise me with wonderful additions to my collection. As usual, I was not disappointed with the results. Want to see what he sent? I won’t show you everything, but here are a few of the key elements of the package.

Big Papi.

With less than a week left in David Ortiz’s regular season career, these additions were appropriately timed. Of course, the thing that stuck out immediately (pun intended) is the Fathead. These aren’t something I usually purchase, so it’s always welcome when one is included unexpectedly. In fact, I don’t believe this is the first time Jim has added one to my collection. Is it weird that I’m almost as excited about the perfectly sized rigid holder it came in? Ok. It’s weird. But, will make the Fathead much easier to display. As tempted as I am to actually use the Fathead, wall space is scarce in Section 36. It will be much easier to find a home sitting on a shelf. For now at least. Papi was also represented on a Topps Bunt card. I’ll admit to being confused by this. Topps Bunt is an electronic card set…that has physical cards? I do have a Topps Bunt account (section36), and have been accumulating cards on it. Although, I’m not exactly sure what to do with them now. I also see that the Ortiz card Jim sent says I can “Collect and trade this card in the Topps Bunt app today!” So, maybe if I use the code in very small letters on the back, I can add that card to my digital collection? (Unless, of course, Jim has already added the card to his.) I guess that would be a reason to have a physical card to a digital set. Like Disney Infinity, the physical item would provide the digital access. I guess I should buy some physical Bunt packs at some point. The “Perspectives” card is a fun one, including a great shot of Ortiz making some fans happy. The Walk Off Wins card could be an insert set made up exclusively of David Ortiz cards. I doubt that this is the case. But, this card celebrates Ortiz’s walk-off in game 5 of the 2004 ALCS. I don’t need much convincing to think about that game again.

With the retiring old guy covered, Jim also made sure to remember some rookies. Of course, Ted Williams isn’t exactly a rookie this year, but he once was. This Rookie Sensations card is a fun way to celebrate that. And, a “Rookie Sensation” Williams certainly was. On the back, Topps points out that Williams hit .327 his rookie year with 31 HR and 145 RBI. Just for fun, he added 44 doubles. That’s insane. How insane? In Mike Trout’s first full season he went .326/30/83. Yikes. Of course, the actual rookie included in the package was Yoan Moncada. He hasn’t exactly hit the ground running after making the jump from AA to Boston. But, he was the top prospect in baseball for a reason. Here’s hoping he figures it out, and mans the hot corner for the Sox for years to come.

So, a big thank you goes out to The Phillies Room for those cards, and the rest of the cards in the package. I can’t think of a better way to enhance a long Red Sox winning streak than to get some unexpected cards. Thank you Jim!

I’ll be getting something out to you soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Bachelor, in Paradise

About a week ago, blog reader Holly had the good fortune to watch the Red Sox play from the comfort of Section 36. As any fan with such great luck should do, after the game she sent along some pictures to share. She pointed out that one of the pictures had a longer story that went along with it. When she told me, I knew it was a story that had to be shared with all of you. So, I asked her if she’d mind giving all the details so we could all hear them. Thankfully she agreed. So, here’s Holly’s Section 36 Story of something that could, probably, only happen in Section 36!

There I was, sitting in Section 36, Row 15, of Fenway Park, waiting for the Boston Red Sox to take on the Baltimore Orioles. It was around 6:50 pm and the game wasn't scheduled to start until 7:30. Excited to be at Fenway once again, I was taking in the sights and talking to my family members that I was attending the game with. Casually looking around at all of the other people in attendance, I look down to Row 5 and notice that there is a man standing up with a group of 3 blonde haired women and they were getting their picture taken by another blonde. I didn't think too much of it because taking pictures at Fenway is not an unusual activity. After they had their picture taken, the man and the blondes sat down with the man sitting in Row 5 and the blondes sitting directly behind him in Row 6. I continue to people watch and talk to my family, not even thinking twice about the man and the three blondes. While talking to my friend Wendy that was sitting to my right, I notice out of the corner of my eye that the same man and a different blonde had stood up to get their picture taken. For some reason that got my attention so I turned my head to look at them. While I was watching them get their picture taken, I got a feeling that I had seen this man before (prior to this Monday). So I watched them for longer than I probably should have, trying to think of how I knew this man. And then it hit me! I mentioned to my friend that I thought that the man that was standing up was Jared Haibon from The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, two shows that I watch religiously. Wendy replied with that she didn't know if it was or not because she didn't watch those shows. I went back and forth with whether it was really Jared or not in my mind. Maybe it was just a guy that looked like him. I pulled out my phone and decided to get on Jared's Instagram account to see if he had posted anything about if he was at Fenway that night (he hadn't) or to see if he was a Red Sox fan at all. There were a few pictures on his Instagram account of him wearing a Red Sox baseball hat so that gave me the information that I needed to know. He is a fan so there was a possibility that the man standing up ten rows in front of me was indeed Jared. I started to compare the pictures that Jared has of himself on his Instagram account to the man standing in front of me. They were one and the same so at this point I knew that the only way I would know for sure if it was Jared or not was to get the courage up to walk down the stairs and go up to the man to ask him if he was who I thought he was. I will not lie ... It did take a few minutes for me to get my courage up and some encouragement from my family and friend to walk down those stairs. While I was walking down the stairs, I was trying to think of what I would say to this man and what I could talk about if it was Jared standing before me. I couldn't think of anything clever
because I was so nervous about doing something that I don't normally do. I made my way down the stairs and over to where the man was sitting. He looked up as I approached and very meekly I asked, "Are you Jared from The Bachelorette?" He replied with "I am" and I instantly went into crazy girl fan mode. Ugh. Not the way I wanted to come across at all but I couldn't help but be starstruck that I was actually meeting one of the contestants on my favorite reality show. Jared wasn't my favorite and I didn't know much about him, besides of what they show on TV. I did know that I didn't want to bring up any of his exes from the show though, so I basically carried on about how The Bachelor/The Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise were my favorite shows and they are the only ones that I watch faithfully and how glad that I was to be meeting him. Jared waited for me to stop talking obsessively about the show before he asked me what my name was and when I told him, he replied that it was nice to meet me as well. We carried on a brief conversation about Nick being the next Bachelor, how we think he's going to do well, and how we both hope that he finds what he's looking for. We also talked about the Red Sox, how awesome they were doing this season and how we were excited to be at Fenway on this particular Monday night to watch them play the Orioles. Not wanting to take up too much of Jared's time, I asked him if I could get my picture taken with him and he happily obliged. I asked the blonde sitting next to him if she wouldn't mind taking our picture and Jared told me that she wouldn't and that the blonde is his sister. I made introductions with her and told her that it was nice to meet her as well. I handed her my cellphone, Jared and I stepped closer to each other (the seats from Row 4 were separating us), he put his arm around my shoulder and rested his hand on my right shoulder. I wasn't sure where to put my arm so I did what came naturally -- I placed my arm around his waist. As we leaned our heads closer to each other's, we smiled for the camera,
his sister Shannon snapped a couple of pictures and handed my phone back to me. Jared sat down and reached underneath his seat for the Fenway frank that he was eating when I approached him and I figured that I had taken up too much of his time and should be going back to my seat. I thanked Shannon for taking the picture, told Jared again that it was nice to meet him to which he replied with the same and told me to enjoy the game. I walked away with a HUGE grin on my face and my hands shaking so bad from being nervous to talk to Jared. Win or lose, though, my night had been made by meeting Jared. 

And it all happened in Section 36 ...

Now, that’s a story! As it turns out, Jared did end up posting something to both his Instagram and Twitter account about being at the game. So, Holly can be doubly assured that she was talking to the man himself. In fact, check out Jared’s twitter posts from that evening.

See? I keep telling you all that Section 36 is paradise. Now we have confirmation. After all, he would know!

I want to give many thanks to Holly for sharing this story. It was a fun read. Hope you all agree!

If anyone else has a story from their time in Section 36, I encourage you to share it as well. After all, even if you never thought it would happen to you…wonderful things can happen in Section 36.

You might even say it’s “Paradise.”

Monday, September 19, 2016

List of 36

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, here are 36 Things a Pirate Might Say

1. Ahoy Matey!
2. Welcome to PNC Park!
3. So, Hanley’s good again?
4. I can’t believe we got the Sox to take Jason Bay to replace Manny.
5. Boy, that 1903 World Series was a downer.
6. Wonder why Melancon couldn’t pitch in Boston.
7. Glad Ortiz will be retired before we face them in April!
8. Batten down the hatches!
9. Boy, that Sanchez trade worked out for us, eh matey?
10. Where’s a good place to eat in Altoona?
11. Remember when Brock Holt was a throw in?
12. Why doesn’t PNC have a Section 36?
13. Remember when we beat the Yankees in a walk-off World Series?
14. I miss the pillbox hats.
15. Wagner was better than Jeter.
16. Out of my way landlubber!
17. Can’t believe we’ve been eliminated already.
18. Remember when Bonds was clean?
19. Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
20. What’s a pierogi?
21. Tim Wakefiled won how many games for the Sox?
22. So, when we go to Fenway…there will be people in the stands?
23. We are family.
24. Have you seen Bucco D. Finch lately?
25. Wild Card games suck.
26. I miss Tim Neverett.
27. Fly the Jolly Roger!
28. Why aren’t we the Priviteers?
29. Why didn’t we play Brock Holt in the outfield?
30. Yellow bridges are pretty!
31. What’s the average temperature in Fenway on Opening Day?
32. Fenway needs more statues.
33. Boston has four Killer B’s?
34. How do you split an MVP award?
35. Avast ye scurvy dog!

36. I hate Cy Young

Can you think of more?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Daisuke Matsuzaka Live

While I was celebrating Dice-K’s birthday a couple days ago, I was wondering how often I saw he play live. So, I looked it up. As it turns out, I saw him pitch in person five times. Looking it over, I noticed something. I now understand why I never had much of a problem with him. Take a look at the results.

Those are pretty darn good numbers.

No wonder I don’t remember myself being insanely frustrated by his long starts. I probably didn’t see many of them. Sure, he gave up three or four walks a couple times. And he gave up seven hits in one appearance. But he didn’t give up any runs. Typical Matsuzaka.

And look at those numbers projected over a season. 19-6? That’s insane. A 2.16 ERA while striking out 237 guys? That’s a monster season. That’s the guy the Red Sox thought they were getting. That’s the performance that they were expecting. Maybe even the numbers they were hoping for.

It’s just that he only did it while I was watching. That may have skewed my judgement of his time with the Sox. Or, maybe, it simply allowed my to be more objective about him. I wasn’t tainted with horrible performances. I had a solid base to work from. How about you?

How did Daisuke perform when you were in the park?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Well, That Was Fun

I bet you didn't think it could happen. I know twitter didn't seem to think it could happen. Once the Sox went down, it was over. After all, this team is gutless. Heartless. Outmatched. Out managed. They just can't win close games. They have no drive. It's blowout or shutout. Nothing in-between. 

Then the Sox scored five runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the game. Three straight hits with two outs. It was everything they weren't supposed to be able to do.

But, here's the funny thing. It didn't help their record in one-run games. Because they won by two runs. 

Which is where sometimes stats can fall flat on their face. So, was this another all-or-nothing game? When it got tough, and they needed to be clutch, were they? Apparently not. After all, they won by more than a run. Pummeled a weaker team once again. It works to nicely illustrated the absurdity of punishing a team for scoring runs. Imagine if Hanley had hit a walk-off grand slam. It would have been the least clutch thing he's ever done.

Take it a step further. What if Hanley grounds out? The Red Sox would have scored two runs on back to back two-out singles in the bottom of the ninth. Was Papi's hit then not clutch? Did Mookie then not come through? They were only clutch because Hanley hit his home run? Otherwise it would have been another one run loss. Just what the Sox always do. Is that fair? Once again we would have punished the team for getting lots of people on base. We would have punished them for losing by one instead of three. 

Does that seem odd to anyone else?

But that's all, thankfully, a moot point. Hanley did hit the home run. The Sox did come back in the win of the year. They won a game they absolutely needed to win in exciting fashion. They cut the magic number to 15 on a night where it looked like they were only going to drop it by one. They ignited the team. It was an enormous victory. i slept great last night enjoying the victory.

Even if it wasn't a one run game.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Happy 36th Birthday Daisuke Matsuzaka!

Today we wish a very Happy Birthday to former Red Sox pitcher, and international sensation, Daisuke Matsuzaka!

Very few players in the history of the Red Sox, or baseball, or any sport ever, have arrived with the sort of fanfare and expectations that Daisuke joined the Red Sox with. Dice-K was a superstar in Japan, but that was putting it lightly. If you were born in Japan in the same academic year as Daisuke was, you’re considered to be in the “Matsuzaka Generation”. It’s like the Red Sox signing “X”. His spring training starts were covered better than some World Series games. He actually had to announce which type of pitch he would throw as his first pitch. That’s coverage!

So, it’s not surprising that he was considered to have had an underwhelming career in Boston. Sure, he won 15 games in his rookie season, and helped bring the Sox to the 2007 World Series Championship. Sure, he went 18-3 the following year with a 2.90 ERA. (Seriously, did you remember he did that?) He was supposed to come over and use his gyro-ball to strike out every batter he faced. Because he didn’t, he was doomed.

People were also frustrated by him. He was a nibbler. He put a lot of guys on base. He walked the bases loaded more times than people want to remember. I don’t know why. It’s possible he couldn’t control the MLB bass as well as the one in Japan. Maybe he could nibble in Japan more because the Legend got all the strike calls. Or, maybe it was all calculated. He always threw a TON of pitches in Japan. Maybe he was used to pitching carefully to the dangerous guys and then just striking out the less dangerous ones. Maybe he was using the same strategy that Bill Belichick might use. Sure, I’ll walk the bases loaded, because I know I can strike out the next three. But, in MLB, the pitch counts caught up to him. When he was going five innings a start to keep the counts down, he wasn’t very helpful to the Sox. 

But, I for one enjoyed his time with the Sox. I got to see him pitch live five times, and feel lucky to have done so.

Plus, the guy drove in a run during a World Series the Sox won. How can you not love that?

Happy 36th Daisuke Matsuzaka!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Will Miss America Rather Be in Section 36?

Tonight, all eyes will be on the Miss America competition. (Well, ok, during commercial breaks in the Patriots game, all eyes will be on the Miss America competition.) This year, Section 36 will be watching with heightened interest because we can't help but wonder, could the new Miss America possibly "rather be in Section 36"?

That's because for the first time ever, Section 36 has two horses in the to speak. Not one, but two former Section 36 visitors will grace the stage in Atlantic City hoping to win the crown.

Pretty cool, eh?

First, there's Section 36's most recent visitor, Miss Vermont Rylee Field.

During her visit with Section 36, Rylee mentioned she was looking forward to getting together with all her Miss America sisters, and giving it her all during the competition. I'm sure she's had a great week doing just that! Of course, we all wish her the best of luck tonight!

The other former visitor to Section 36 competing for Miss America is something completely unique. 

For the first time ever, someone who owns this amazing shirt will grace the Miss America stage. (I'm going to assume that she won't actually be wearing it onstage. But, I guess you never know.) Miss Massachusetts Alissa Musto has been a good friend of the blog for quite some time. In fact, she made her visit with Section 36 just after being crowned Miss Cambridge. (During that visit, she predicted that the Red Sox would go all the way this season. She's looking pretty good on that so far.) It wasn't until later that she advanced to Miss Massachusetts and made her way to the Miss America competition tonight. How amazing would it be to see Miss America wearing a Section 36 tank top? Best of luck to Alissa as she attempts to accomplish this!

So, we hope that all 52 young ladies competing tonight have an amazing time, and wish them all luck. But, we give special good wishes to the two former Section 36 visitors. Hopefully they'll bring the crown to Section 36!

Good Luck Rylee and Alissa!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Magic Number Drops to 23!

I'd say you call that a success!

Oh, sure. It would be nice to sweep every series. But, I'm certainly not going to expect it. Especially on the road in an NL park. But, I always say you need to win every series at home, and split them on the road...on average. So, the last couple series have been better than that. Sounds good to me.

Even better, the Sox find themselves all alone in first place by a whole game. This is especially nice considering they're on their way to Toronto. Assuming it's unrealistic to expect a sweep of a good club in their park, all the Sox need to to is win one of three to come back home in first place. That's a pretty comfortable place to be. If the Sox take the series, they can extend the lead. 

Things are starting to come together at a good time for the Sox. They'll have their full compliment of players at their disposal, and then some, on offense. No more trying to score runs with Papi on the bench replaced by a pitcher. The rotation is on a good stretch. That all builds off each other. Deep starts limits the wear and tear on the bullpen. If the 'pen isn't tired, they're more effective when they're needed. That means they can bail out a starter every now and then, instead of making matters worse.

Which is why getting Koji back is huge. If nothing else, he helps spread out the rest of the 'pen. Suddenly Ziegler doesn't have to pitch every eighth inning, and Taz doesn't need to be forced into every seventh. There are options. You can swap Koji in. Or Kelly. Or, Kimbrel doesn't need to come into every game if the situation really doesn't suit him. There are two other quality closers to turn to when needed. Options are good for everyone.

And they make baseball a lot more fun.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

As long as the Magic Number drops!

People are weird sometimes. OK. People are weird all the time. Heck, I'm weird all the time. But, people also are weird.

Take their responses to the American League East race. Yesterday, the division leaders, the Blue Jays, lost. (lowering the Red Sox Magic Number to 27) So too did the Red Sox. Most people seemed to take this as a missed opportunity. But, only by the Red Sox. The comments were that the Sox wasted an opportunity to gain ground by losing to a last place team. What nobody mentioned, though, was that the Blue Jays wasted their chance to pull away on a day when the Red Sox lost to a last place team.

It goes beyond just a single game as well. The Sox have been in a bit of a funk lately. They oddly struggled in their last couple games, the runs just weren't coming. In fact, in their last ten games, they're 5-5. "Bleh" has been the reaction. They'll never make the playoffs with a stretch like that. A team that doesn't grab opportunities can't win a championship. The team they're chasing? How have they performed the last ten games? 6-4. Yup. One more win. So, this super-team that the Red Sox are foolish to think they can compete with has won one more game than the Sox over the last ten?

Why are they a team to beat, and the Sox just pretenders?

Is it possible that winning is just hard? That even good teams lose games sometimes? Even good teams lose game in gut-wrenching fashion? To bad teams? It just happens sometimes. It's not a sign of inconsistency. It's not a sign that they can't cut it. It's a sign that sometimes teams score more than you do.

Because, let's not forget, the Sox are still only a game out of first place. A game behind a team they play six times this month. So, the Sox aren't collapsing from the playoff hunt. They're IN the playoff hunt. In a really good position at that.

As long as that magic number drops every single day, the Sox will be division champs. It doesn't matter if it only drops one instead of two every time. It doesn't even really have to be every single day. 

So, the Sox can get shut out. They can make an error. They can give up a three-run homer. It doesn't mean they're breaking our hearts. It doesn't mean they can't cut it. It's not a punch to the gut. (Ok, maybe it's that) It's not the end of the world. It just means that teams lose games sometimes. All teams do.

Just like the Jays did yesterday,

Saturday, September 3, 2016

I Scored!

August 6, 2011

Here’s a great game from not exactly the greatest time period in Red Sox history.

It’s an August game during the great collapse of 2011. Of course, it wasn’t so much a collapse as it was an underestimation of injuries. But, that’s a story for another time.

In this game we see the Red Sox are hosting the New York Yankees. As they might say, you can throw out the standings when these two teams meet. The game was started by John Lackey, as he was struggling through the worst season any starter has ever had. Of course, we all found out later he was battling through a significant arm injury at the time. I bet some people regret booing him. But, in this game, he did OK. He ended up with a quality start, even if it was just barely. With the runs the Sox offense was putting up, he gave the team all it needed. Heck, the game was so well in hand, that the Sox tossed Wheeler out there for an inning!

So, how about that offense? It took them a couple innings to get going. After all, they were facing C.C. Sabathia…when he was good. But, once they got going they exploded. Amazingly, Sabathia stayed in the game for six innings. That’s one of the reasons I always dislike the term “innings eater.” While I can grasp the value of a guy who can save the bullpen in a blowout, is pitching six innings while giving up seven runs something to celebrate?

Take a look at that line-up, will you? Some blasts from the past in there. Not sure which is weirder to me, a line-up with Crawford and Gonzalez in it, or one where Ortiz is batting fifth.

So, who was the player of the game? I really really really want to give it to Carl Crawford. Basically, just so I can say the player of the game was Carl Crawford. And, he actually deserves it. 4-4 with three runs scored. On most days that would be an easy choice. But, at the top of the order, Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-4 with six RBI. Yup, this was Ellsbury’s lone MVP-type season. But, even for him that year, this was a special game.

The goat? Speaking of things I didn’t think I’d ever say…I have to hang the horns on David Ortiz. Yup. You heard me. Ortiz was the only person on the Sox not to reach base, and the only starter without a hit. Maybe it’s because Aviles was protecting him.

But, of course, none of that mattered. Lackey stepped up to the challenge, the offense piled up the runs, and the Red Sox cruised their way to victory.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Eighth Inning Blues

Once again, the Red Sox bullpen had trouble in the eighth inning. Once again they coughed up a lead. Once again it almost cost the Red Sox the game. Why does this always happen?

How come this bullpen chokes every single time they come into the game? 

But, here’s my problem with that question. Math.

Let’s say a pitcher has a 9.00 ERA. That means that, on average, he gives up nine runs every nine innings he pitches. Or, one run per inning. So, if a reliever that comes into the game to pitch the eighth inning has a 9.00 ERA, you should expect him to give up a run. Just one. If he gives up two runs, that means he’ll pitch a scoreless inning at some point to make the number work out. But, overall in one inning of work, you’d expect one run. So if there’s a two run lead, you’d expect a guy with a nine ERA to keep the lead almost all the time.

But, the Red Sox bullpen doesn’t have a 9.00 ERA. You may think it does, but it doesn’t. Heck, even Junichi Tazawa only has a 4.63 ERA. That mean, he only gives up a run about every other inning. So, if he gives up five runs in an inning, he must have thrown 8 shutout innings to make the numbers work. 

So, clearly, the Bullpen isn’t giving up five runs every innings. It’s not even giving up five runs every game.

So, why do we think that they do? I’m not sure. It could be as simple as we only remember crushing defeats. When Kimbrel comes out and shuts the opposition down, it’s just as we expect. But, when he comes in and gives up four runs, it angers us and burns in our memory.

Or, maybe it’s because the Sox use a few relievers every game. So, the odds of any one of them melting down increases. Say you have three guys each pitch an inning for nine games. By the numbers, a couple of them probably give up a run every game. So, as a group, the performance looks worse than any of them do individually.

And, that’s probably the actual answer.

Let’s get crazy and say you have a bullpen made up of guys with 3.00 ERAs. That means they give up a run every three innings or so. Pitch three of them an inning each in nine straight games. So, on average, the 7th inning guy would be expected to give up a run in games 1, 4, and 7. The eighth inning guy might give up a run in games 2, 5, and 8, while the closer gives up a run in games 3, 6, and 9. So, each pitcher has decent number individually. But, the bullpen gives up a run in every inning.

So, it’s not that the bullpen is made up of terrible pitchers. Although, I admit, it’s not like they have five Pedros out there. But, when you’re having them pitch two or three innings every game, the chances are that one of them is going to allow a run. And, every once in a while more than one run. And those are the ones we’re going to remember. Those are the ones we all remember.

The Red Sox have apparently blown the lead in 36 games this year and lost. That means there have been 97 games where they didn’t do that. 

Maybe those are the ones we should remember.

What people are reading this week