July 8, 2009



You can almost hear the inner voice of a typical Red Sox fan as those five games progress:

Damn, a loss right out of the gate ... Alright, a nice comeback to even things out, let's look forward ... Hey! Two in a row, now we're talking, look out AL! ... Shit, back to .500, wtf is Tito doing? ... Okay, we salvaged that rubber game, but these guys better get their asses in gear -- (and in this pattern, there will be a loss -- and subsequent moaning and groaning -- the next night)

But if the Red Sox repeated this pattern for an entire year, they would almost always win the AL East. Winning 3 out of every 5 games is a .600 winning percentage -- good for 97 wins over the course of a season.

Right now, Boston is 50-33, a .602 winning percentage.

A team is never as good as they seem when they are on a 10-2 run and they are never as bad as they appear during a 7-game losing streak. It may be a cliche, but it's absolutely true.

While I understand some complaining after a loss, and I feel some frustration when a good player is in a slump, I also know, from more than three decades of watching baseball, that slumps end and even the best team in baseball will lose 2 games for every 3 they win.


Amy said...

Who said we were in a slump? I hadn't noticed. I just always try to remember that rule that says split on the road and win 2 out of 3 at home. Now we may not yet be 2/3 on this home stand, but overall, we have been staying within those parameters.

If I am not worried, who is?

Unknown said...

You are generally absolutely correct, BUT ... the issues (for me) have been the eminently sweepable opponents AT HOME and the performance of Smoltz.


Rob said...

I'd rather see the Red Sox flounder a little against the mediocre and bad teams and then show up big against the good teams. They're doing that this year. They feasted on division leaders.

Barth said...

I hear you, but we are not on that kind of run. We are on a homestand against very weak teams where we are LLWLW.

My point the last few days is not hat we are in a tailspin or doomed and, no, I do not cry myself to sleep after every loss. But we are not hitting right now and the bullpen has not lived up to what iis was for several months. These are causes for concern. Not jump out of the window concern, stop looking at NY fans in the eye concern or the dread that comes over the RSN when, say, we don't get Texeira and they do.

But concern.

That concern, coupled with the obsession in the front office and a bit of the RSN to will Smoltz' comeback into being a success, instead of just trying to win every game, is bothersome and yes, Amy, it worries me.

I suspect the front office will do what has to be done, and will do it sooner rather than later. It always has since this regime commenced. But watching us struggle against a really horrible Oakland team is not as much fun as I had hoped going into this series.

allan said...

But we are not hitting right now and the bullpen has not lived up to what iis was for several months.

I see that you are 12 years older than I am -- and you've been watching baseball for decades.

So you know that over six months of games, there will be rough patches for every single good team. And there will be times when they look unbeatable. This happens every single season.

In a lot of the worry/concern -- I'm not referring solely to your comments, by the way -- I get a sense that the person is forgetting how baseball works and they think this slump is the new normal rather than just a low point in the peaks and valleys of a long season.

The old adage about failing 7 times out of 10 and being considered damn good holds true here.

allan said...

I hear you, but we are not on that kind of run.

Yes we are. That's .600 ball.
The Sox are playing .602 ball.

We are on a homestand against very weak teams where we are LLWLW.

So consider this one of the "L"s. Things tend to even out over 162 games.

Barth said...

There is a part of everyone who sees rain and wonders whether we will ever see the sun again.

You are right, of course. It is a long season and there are good parts of it and bad and some in between. I regret this home stand started off badly since hopes were high (maybe a bit too high).

But this is the best Red Sox team since 2004 and maybe even better than that one and our talent both on the 25 and beyond is deeper and better than any other in the major leagues. That is the good news.

The bad news is that being the best isn't always enough. I made the mistake of citing 1978 as evidence of that, which hit too raw a nerve, but 2003 is another (though NY was closer to our level then than they are this year).

And, as Drew (and others) say, the Smoltz thing is going to get tired real fast. My tolerance for his experiment is simply not at the level it would be if, say, his name was Schilling or Nomar or Trot or, well, Lowell. It's not fair and maybe counterproductive in the long run, but we are not a patient people.

Jon said...

That's funny because I just saw that today they got their 50th win and could be on pace for over 100which is any division is a great season. Just doesn't seem like they're doing that well because of those misses on the sweeps.

allan said...

I made the mistake of citing 1978 as evidence of that, which hit too raw a nerve

It didn't hit a nerve at all. It was wholly irrelevant to the discussion. That was the issue. You might as well have mentioned 1937 or 1492 or 256 BCE.

It's not fair and maybe counterproductive in the long run, but we are not a patient people.

If it's counterproductive in the long run -- and the season itself can be categorized as a long run -- then ...

It's unlikely that Smoltz will be allowed to throw up a 6.60 ERA forever -- although his .370 BABIP indicates being dogged by some bad luck.

allan said...

It is worth noting that the Red Sox have not lost more than two consecutive games in almost eight weeks (since May 15).

laura k said...

Well said!

"If I am not worried, who is?"

Lots of people. I usually just avoid them, but occasionally they join the little sewing circle.

laura k said...

"I made the mistake of citing 1978 as evidence of that, which hit too raw a nerve,"

You seem to have misinterpreted the reaction to your 1978 reference. I seriously doubt there are any raw nerves - 30+ years and 2 WS wins later - on this blog over 1978. It sucks but it's history.

The thing you hit was the irrelvancy button. A Sox fan bringing up 1978 in 2009 is no different than a Yankees fan bringing up 1918, IMO. You might do it for a different reason, but it's equally meaningless.

allan said...

Remember back in September 2007 when everyone -- and I mean EVERYFUCKINGBODY* -- was busy losing his or her everloving shit over the Red Sox's slide?

The beyond-moronic '78 chatter at that point was off the fookin' charts. It was a pathetic, disgusting display by a supposedly intelligent fan base that should have known better.

Naturally, the Red Sox NEVER fell out of first place, pulled off YET ANOTHER AMAZING ALCS COMEBACK -- and won the World Series. Ta-da!

For fuck's sake ...

2nd best record in MLB -- after more than half the season has been played -- ain't good enough for ya?


*: Not everyone here, though.

Jake said...

Another good reference (which I first heard attributed to THeo but know he didn't come up with it) is the "Every team will win 50 games and lose 50 games, its what you do in the other 62 that counts."

Zenslinger said...

I'm going to go back to the impression I had at the beginning of the year: that, because of our depth, we were bound to be the steadiest team in the division. NY and TB may have more impressive stretches, but they'll also have worse stretches, and that's the way it's worked out.

There is a lot to talk about in terms of how we could improve (trades, people coming back healthy). But, overall, it's good. I don't think we should worry too much even if the Yanks pull even or even if they overtake us. It will probably be temporary, unless we face injuries on a 2006 level.

Barth said...

1978 is irrelevant if I cite it as an example of what is likely to happen or that there is something about the Red Sox uniform or team name that causes things to happen. I never believed in the myticism, or curses (and I don't think Dan S did either).

But 1978 is relevant, as is any other year that any other team might cite, as to what can happen when a team fails to take advantage of the good times, assuming they will always continue, or to deal with problems that become obvious as time goes on in the season.

In 78, we did not deal with the rotation issues, and the injured third baseman issue until it was too late, thinking that that pow, pow, pow offense in the summer would carry us through. In 2003, nobody made sure that Grady knew about the 100 pitches rule when Pedro was on the mound. This year, the Smoltz experiment and the Lowell problem are on the horizon right now.

I have confidence that the FO is on it, but my point in raising 1978 is that however long ago it was and however many championships we have won, the lessons of that year ought not be forgotten.

(I was not born in 1948 when the Yankee lover who was managing us decided to "save" Parnell for the World Series, and had somebody nobody ever heard of pitch the playoff game against Cleveland. The result was that Parnell next pitched in 1949. That lesson, 61 years later, is also still valid and one that Terry Francona (and even Kevin Kennedy) has understood in the post seasons since then about winning the critical games before worrying about the next one. We are obviously not at that point right now, but when we get there, the fact that McCarthy made a big mistake remains relevant, IMHO, despite the lifetime since he did it.

Rob said...

I've heard similar to Jake's... Win a third, lose a third, what happens in the other third, etc.

Zenslinger said...

It's also possible to be a good team, have a great year, and lose a playoff anyway. Atlanta Braves - 1 WS win in 14 straight playoff appearances; Buffalo Bills' 4 Super Bowl losses (right?); 2008 Sox lose to the Rays.

All you can do is be there and try to be there healthy.

I'd be surprised if we didn't make the playoffs.

allan said...

1978 is a useless comparison because the Red Sox have an actual thinking human being managing the team now, not a brain-dead piece of shit.

In 2003, nobody made sure that Grady knew about the 100 pitches rule when Pedro was on the mound.

This is completely and utterly wrong.

Thinking that no one told Gump lets him off the hook for making arguably the worse managerial decision in baseball history.

Theo had told Gump about Pedro's 100-pitch dividing line **all season long** and, in fact, Gump was expressly told RIGHT BEFORE GAME SEVEN that if Pedro lasted 100 pitches, that he was to be pulled asap.

He chose to disobey that order -- not trusting a light-out bullpen trio that had allowed only 1 run in 22.2 innings -- and will go down in history as the dumbest man who ever existed.

Indeed, as Gump visited the mound during that inning and walked back to the dugout alone, John Henry -- after making eye contact with Theo a couple of sections away as if to say WTF?? -- turned to Larry Lucchino and asked: "Can we fire him right now?"

(Henry, seeing what an idiot Gump was in every facet of the game from the 2002 season, had wanted to dump him before 2003 even began, but was overruled.)

Amy said...

I never knew that story about John Henry. Amazing. Makes me ever madder about Game 7.

allan said...

Seth Mnookin's "Feeding the Monster", p. 224.

Amy said...


allan said...

... and the thing was, Gump obeyed the 100 pitch rule pretty much the entire season, as I recall. But not in the most important game of the year, though.

(He did the exact same thing with Burkett in the 2003 ALDS, but got lucky and the Sox won.)

Anything the Sox did in 2003 was done IN SPITE of the manager, not because of him. So many of those amazing comebacks were the team rallying to get out of the hole their manager had put them in.

ARRRRGGGGGGGGGG - getting pissed. gotta stop now.

Amy said...

I do distinctly remember feeling like in any other game, Pedro would not have been allowed to stay in the game at that point. It was as if every fan watching was screaming, "Take him out!," and Grady did not listen.

I, too, am getting pissed. Got to remind myself that that was before 2004 and 2007 and let it go....

allan said...

pre-jos, when i was blogging at my old pedro site, i ranted long and loud about gump. jos started in august 2003.

johngoldfine said...

I worry, Amy. Maybe I'm too old to change, but my default after decades of following the team is fear and anxiety. I wish it were otherwise, but it isn't. I've read the thread, agree completely with Allan, and yet a homestand like this is all it takes to set my lizard brain gibbering.

Lisa Cohen said...

As I tell my kiddos after a loss and they are moping around the house: you can't win every game.

It's a ridiculously long season which is part of what makes it so interesting. Any given game is only 1/162nd of the season in importance. Granted, you can't lose too many of them, but you're going to lose some. Maybe even a bunch.

Remember, we're talking about a game where if you fail to hit 2/3 of the time hitting, you're considered a success! How strange is that?!

Barth said...

The "Gump" post is, of course, right, but they hired him and he was a mistake. Not as big a mistake as Dan putting Saint Kerrigan in charge after firing Jimy Williams for no reason I can think of, but a mistake.

(I thought Zim did a very good job after taking over from the brain dead fool who somehow got us to game 7 in 1975. Somehow the air got to him in August, though: maybe missing Burleson, maybe too much talk radio or dog track afternoons, but the FO also fell asleep that year, too.

Yes. I think the FO is much better today and the manager is the best I have seen in 50 plus years of examining the guys sitting in that chair.