September 8, 2008

One Week Later

One week ago, on the morning of September 1, with the Red Sox 5.5 GB the Rays, I wrote the following:
I have been slow to concede the division to Tampa Bay, but after a few minutes with a pencil and paper, I now agree that the wild card is Boston's only ticket to the 2008 playoffs. ... History has seen some strange things, but a Tampa slide and Boston surge happening simultaneously is highly unlikely.
Well, now.

The past seven days has seen the Red Sox go 5-1 against the Orioles and Rangers while the Rays went 1-5 against the Yankees and Blue Jays.
       Rays        Red Sox     GB

0901 W 7-4 5
0902 L 2-7 W 14-2 4
0903 L 4-8 W 5-4 3
0904 W 7-5 3.5
0905 L 4-6 W 8-1 2.5
0906 L 4-7 (13) L 8-15 2.5
0907 L 0-1 W 7-2 1.5
Boston and Tampa Bay will battle six times in the next 10 days -- two series that may possibly decide the champion of the American League East. ... Or not. The teams could split the six games (as they have split the previous 12 meetings this season) and the mystery of who will end up on top on September 29 will continue.

Cool Standings runs one million simulations of the rest of the season every day to estimate every team's chances of making the playoffs. How did things change this week?

Chance of Winning the East
         Rays     Red Sox
0901 80.5 19.4
0902 72.4 27.5
0903 65.3 34.6
0904 69.6 30.4
0905 62.0 38.0
0906 64.3 35.6
0907 ? ?
0908 56.4 43.6
Current Chances of Making Playoffs
Angels      100.0
Rays 98.8
Red Sox 98.0
White Sox 69.8
Twins 31.6
Blue Jays 1.4
Yankees 0.4
Monday: Jackson (4.07, 106 ERA+) / Lester (3.37, 134 ERA+)
Tuesday: Kazmir (2.99, 144 ERA+) / Matsuzaka (2.88, 157 ERA+)
Wednesday: Sonnanstine (4.66, 92 ERA+) / Beckett (4.20, 108 ERA+)

David Ortiz says his left wrist is still bothering him:
It's still bugging me once in a while but we're winning, so I don't pay attention to it. ... No pain, just clicking. If it was pain, I wouldn't be playing. Pain won't allow you to play like that. I just try to not think about it and just play. Since I got this thing [May 31], my whole swing has changed, you know? I mentally try to keep the same approach going to the plate and not think about it but it's hard, man, really tough.
Since he returned to the lineup, Ortiz has hit .296/.420/.493 in 38 games/174 PA.

23 comments:

9casey said...

More amazing, the people who agreed with you.......Like moths to a flame....

ish said...

History has seen some strange things, but a Tampa slide and Boston surge happening simultaneously is highly unlikely.

There'd be no question that on September 1st what you said was correct. It just so happened the unlikely thing happened, and 6 head-to-head games become monster games of great interest rather than one team trying to claw its way back with a sweep or near-sweep to get back into it.

L-girl said...

More amazing, the people who agreed with you.......Like moths to a flame....

I agreed with him because I agreed with him. I'm still unconvinced we're going to win the east.

No flame, no moth, just some people who think alike. I'm sure others do/did too.

papa sime said...

I LOVE THE JOY OF SOX SO MUCH. I get so pumped when my RSS shows a new JOS post. It makes me happy. I love this place. Thanks Allan.

Tony said...

A lead that big, it's hard to imagine a team coughing it up, even with a month still to go. Plus, and I don't think redsock had this in mind, there was a weird aura of invincibility surrounding the Rays around August, in which they lost players left and right and just kept rolling like a Panzer tank. Now it looks like the Panzer's met a couple Shermans (hope I got that metaphor right), and that aura has dimmed. Not to mention, of course, they have a red-hot team right on their ass.

I think this series is probably more important to the Rays than to the Sox - the Sox can take the division lead with a sweep, sure, but the Rays will have taken an uppercut of monstrous proportions if they drop 3 in a row. We're going to find out a lot about the mettle of that team in the next 3 games. I simply cannot wait.

Jake of All Trades said...

I have been slow to concede the division to Tampa Bay, but after a few minutes with a pencil and paper, I now agree that the wild card is Boston's only ticket to the 2008 playoffs. ...

When I read your post last week, I thought deep down you were doing it as a sort of reverse jinx on Tampa. (Not that there's any such thing...)

Worked like a charm ;)

redsock said...

L
I agreed with him because I agreed with him.

Actually, it was a case of me finally agreeing with you.

Huge pressure for the Rays this week: they got swept on the road by the Blue Jays, the last two games being a 13-inning heartbreaker and a 1-0 loss.

Now their lead is as low as it's been since July 28 -- and they are coming into a sold-out Fenway, where the Red Sox are playing .716 ball (48-19, a 116-win pace).

Jere said...

About this Allan thing. When he said the Rays had locked up the division, I was a little surprised just knowing his usual optimism. (As well as thinking, of course, "sweet! Just the jinx the Rays need!") But this always seems to happen where people make a prediction, it doesn't happen the way they said it would, yet get credit for having made "the right call at the time." But that's the point of a prediction: to say what will happen. If that doesn't happen, you shouldn't get credit for predicting what should have happened!

Now, granted, there are several weeks left. Nothing's been decided at all. But let's say the Sox cruise to a five-game division win. I don't think Allan would be looking to take credit for what will have been an incorrect prediction. Shouldn't the people that get credit be the ones whose prediction ends up coming true? Personally, I just kept saying, It'll be a boring final week, because we're gonna catch the Rays and pass 'em. If that happens, should I somehow be thought of as making the wrong prediction, because at the time logic said the opposite would happen? (Also note that I fully admit that my predictions pretty much always are that the Red Sox will win every time. I've been right in two seasons out of the 33 I've been alive for....)

It's like the Wily Mo Pena thing. The pro-Pena people still insist it was the right move to trade Arroyo for him because at the time it looked like the right thing to do. To me the only thing that matters is how it turns out, not how it was supposed to turn out.

I'm not tryin' to be a dick or anything, I would be saying this even if I'd agreed with Allan last week. And I will admit I was wrong if we don't take this division. I'm just sayin', for we who happened to think the Sox would still catch them, if it happens, we should get the credit (whatever that means). If you're gonna give the credit to those who made what seemed like the logical decision at the time, why even play out the rest of the season?

I guess the key is, like L said, that none of us are or were rooting any less hard for the team. It's not like Allan said the Sox had absolutely no chance and shut down the blog and stopped watching the games or anything.

Oh, and for Nix: The CT lottery this summer has been selling both Red Sox and Yankee scratch-off tickets. On their site they show the number of tickets sold. Sox: 1.54 million, Yanks, 1.46 million. I think this is a better gauge than the Quinnipiac polls. (Which also say there are slightly more Sox fans in CT.) CT is Red Sox Domain, baby!

Jere said...

oh and if anyone responds to that, I'm not ignoring you, I'm just headed up to Fenway right now....

Devine said...

Hadn't quite given up on the division when you apparently did, personally, but I was getting close.

The home-away splits favor us, the return of injured players (when their injured players haven't returned) favors us, the fact that our lineup is, um, better than theirs favors us, the pitching matchups this week favor us (IMO).

It's gonna be a fun ride, but I'm glad the wild card is practically sewn up. Winning the division (and hopefully best record, only 2 GB of the Angels, who play the Yankees tonight, making my head want to explode with conflicting rooting interests, as has happened often recently with the Yankees) would be really, really great, but I'm just glad they're (very probably) going to see some postseason action and try to defend the title.

And if they're 1-2 GB in the last week with the wild card clinched, they should be aligning their rotation for October rather than going full-bore after the Rays. Home-field advantage matters, but if they lose in the postseason because they played a couple more games on the road, they didn't deserve to win anyway.

Amy said...

Like I said a week ago...

Like 9Casey said, I will hold out some thin reed of hope for the Division. It ain't over til it's over. Or til the fat lady sings. Or something like that.

I would love so much to be proven right about this!

FenFan said...

If Tampa goes 11-10 to end the season, Boston needs to go 13-7 to win the division. Given the number of home games that remain (14) and how well the Sox have played on the road as of late, it's entirely plausible.

Regardless, without looking at coolstandings.com's predicitions, both teams should make the post-season. Again, given Boston's current record (84-58) as the wild card leader, if the Sox go 10-10 the rest of the way, Minnesota would need to 17-2, Toronto 19-1, and New York 19-0. All of that means that there should be, nay, there will be some October baseball in Boston this year!

andy said...

Don't forget I have been calling for the crumbling of the playing above their level rays for most of the season. I would be more afraid of the rays next year after they make some moves in the off season and with their experience in pressure situations from this season. When they repeatedly do not run out doubles and make idiot mistakes elsewhere on the bases it shows you how likely they are to fall. Sure they played good and caught many teams off guard. Don't forget that their only comp in the east went through a rough patch with one of their core players imploding off the field and being traded not to mention many very key injuries. Now as the starters come on line for the stretch run you will see more dominance(Sox) and less luck(Rays). The series that really worries me is the Jays double header weekend. The jays don't go away nicely. Hell they play for a whole country's pride. That two game day could tax our bullpen and with the rays in the trop right after which could be the clinching games for the east. The remaining schedule looks easy but it will be hard because of this week and a half. We go 7-3 in the next 10 games then we will win the east and that will show how we are on just in time for the playoffs. If we go 5-5 I see a tough series with a healthier than last year Angels club. The Angels are resting now too. This is the biggest part of this season here. This is the playoffs before the playoffs. I am pumped!!!

andy said...

The good thing about baseball now with the wild card series is that no matter how we finish the season, division champs or wild card, everyone will be playing games, no byes.

L-girl said...

Don't forget I have been calling for the crumbling of the playing above their level rays for most of the season.

As if we could forget!

But if you're right, if they do fold - which they haven't done yet - all it means is you were lucky. You were basing your prediction on nothing.

L-girl said...

(Also note that I fully admit that my predictions pretty much always are that the Red Sox will win every time. I've been right in two seasons out of the 33 I've been alive for....)

Right. And I think Andy's predictions re the Rays were the equivalent of that. Just keep saying it - it might happen - then if it does, you're right!

andy said...

Hey now. I have based my opinion on gut feelings and past results in similar situations.

L-girl said...

Exactly. None of which have any bearing on the present. You weren't basing your opinion on the 2008 Rays.

nick said...

gadzooks! this thread has the highest concentration of lengthy comments I've ever seen.

andy said...

I believe I referenced some things from this years rays. I watch them play and I see they getting lucky and making unpofessional mistakes. is it so hard to admit they may just not be as good as their record?

andy said...

Just look at the splits and individual stats and you will see an inconsistancy and a very thin team. if luck or chance or natural randomness can add losses to an otherwise great team, those same things can add wins to a semi-good to mediocre team.

L-girl said...

is it so hard to admit they may just not be as good as their record?

Hard to admit? Earth to Andy: I DO NOT AGREE WITH YOU! It happens!

redsock said...

Hey now. I have based my opinion on gut feelings and past results in similar situations.

How is that different from Yankee fan who say their team will always win because of their past glories?