August 30, 2010

I've Been There, I Know The Way

With five weeks remaining in the regular season, the American East looks like this:
           W   L   PCT   GB  TO PLAY
Rays 80 50 .615 --- 32
Yankees 80 50 .615 --- 32
Red Sox 74 57 .565 6.5 31
Boston is also 6.5 GB in the wild card standings.

The odds of making the playoffs are slim. Baseball Prospectus gives the Red Sox a 10.9% chance (last night's loss dropped the chances by a full 7%) Cool Standings has Boston at 6.2%.

The Red Sox have three games left against the Rays (September 6-8) and six games against the Yankees, including three at Fenway to end the season (September 24-26, October 1-3). Even if the Sox could go 6-0 or 5-1 against New York, it simply may be too late.

If the Rays and/or Yankees go 16-16, the Red Sox would need to go 22-9 to tie.

The good news is that at various points in (approximately) mid-May to the end of June, the Red Sox were that hot. From May 17 to June 19 and from May 29 to July 3, the team went 23-8. That is their best record over any 31-game stretch this year.

So if both the Rays and Yankees play better than .500 ball, the Red Sox would have to finish the season playing better than they have played at any time this season. Like I said, that is the good news.

The bad news is that the Yankees have not had any 32-game stretch this year in which they have played .500 ball. The worst has been 17-15 (April 20 to May 23, May 9 to June 11, and July 25 to August 27, for example.)

Tampa Bay went 12-20 from May 24 to June 29 -- which was around the time of Boston's hot streak. During Tampa's 12-20 slide, the Red Sox went 23-10 -- a difference of 10.5 games in the standings! If that little slice of history could repeat itself ....

As we all know, just because something has ever happened before does not mean it cannot or will not happen. Baseball is full of examples of improbable comebacks and collapses: the 1914 Braves, the 1964 Phillies, the 1995 Angels*.

* BP says this is the worst collapse in history -- by far. On August 20, the Angels had a 99.988% playoff probability (odds of collapse: 8,332-to-1 against).

Maybe you can get there from here ...


tim said...

Thanks for this, I just read PA's last couple posts on EB and got pretty pissed off. Blah blah blah, insurmountable, blah blah season is over, blah blah 2011, blah blah blah.

Report on the game, shithead. That's what you're paid to do. Not be CHB jr.

allan said...

You know who is also (besides Eri Yoshida) in the Golden Baseball League?

Mark Prior. Still only 29. Last MLB games was on August 10, 2006.

Threw for major-league scouts June 30. No offers. Tried out for the Orange County Flyers on July 31, signed on August and debuted that night.

In eight games, he's pitched 10 innings, 4 hits, 5 walks, 20 strikeouts, and one unearned run.

allan said...

Lackey had been pretty consistent this year -- both at Fenway and on the road:

14 home starts: .295/.349/.443/.792
13 road starts: .283/.355/.435/.790

14 home starts: 4.60 ERA
13 road starts: 4.60 ERA

home record: 9-3
road record: 3-5

BRef: "... essentially identical performances from Lackey at home and on the road ... This is a truly great indicator of how little W-L record means for individual pitchers, especially without context."

Patrick said...

I did lose a little faith with that series, but I still cling to a little hope.

The Rays and Yanks duke it out 7 games in September. If the Rays beat up on the Yanks, and then we do as well, we could take their spot in the playoffs.

It can happen.

MacLeodCartoons said...

I love optimism, but the Sox best streak of the season was with Pedey and Youk in the lineup every night and probably Cameron there too, right? I think it stretches credibility to believe that this team can go 22-9 without FY and Youk, given the frailties of the bullpen and the feebleness of Beckett and Lackey. I'd love to be wrong, but I think 'tis done.

allan said...

Tonight, 7 PM:
Blue Jays/Rays

BB History: August 30:

1913 - With two outs in the top of the 9th, and the Phillies leading the Giants 8-6, umpire Bill Brennan, at the request of NYG manager John McGraw, orders Phillies captain Mickey Doolan to have spectators removed from the CF bleachers, where they are waving hats, newspapers, and handkerchiefs to distract the New York batters. Doolan refuses and so Brennan forfeits the game to the Giants. Bedlam ensues. When the two umpires and Giants players try to board the train at the North Philadelphia Station, they are attacked by fans. The police draw their revolvers to control the crowd. The Phillies protest the forfeit and NL president Thomas Lynch reverses the ruling and give Philadelphia an 8-6 win. The Giants appeal -- and the game eventually is completed on October 2 from the point at which it was stopped. Phils win 8-6.

1918 - The Giants beat the Robins 1-0. Time of game: 0:57.

1972 - In Pittsburgh, announcer Bob Prince turns the mike over to Harold Arlin. On August 5, 1921, Arlin was the first announcer to broadcast a live play-by-play game, on KDKA. Arlin calls a few innings while his grandson, Steve, is on the mound for the Pirates against San Diego.

1993 - Oakland's Rich Gossage breaks his right wrist when he trips over a ball bag prior to a game with Toronto.


Also on August 30, 2005

allan said...

I'd love to be wrong, but I think 'tis done.

Me, too.

Anonymous said...

Haha love the South Park picture . . .

laura k said...

I don't even love the optimism. It just seems silly to me.

Still here, still watching, just not hoping.

wardo said...

I've been looking for a clip from Airplane II where Shatner's character is shouting "That's it! Shut 'er down! They're doomed!" while grabbing his briefcase and turning off the lights on the bridge. The fact that I can't find it gives me hope that, indeed, the season will turn around.

laura k said...

I like the new tagline, btw.

tim said...

yeah, new tagline is sweet.

i think i finally accepted that this team won't be playing past the first weekend of october. but still, we watch.

johngoldfine said...

i think i finally accepted that this team won't be playing past the first weekend of october. but still, we watch.

I think no one can quite rest easy because 'this team' is hardly the team we came north with from spring training.

But the team we imagine playing, the team we feel we ought to have playing--that team would kick ass. But it's not on the field, just its ghost.

'Bad luck' hardly covers what has happened. Curses anyone?

allan said...

Deadline for a possible deal with the Angels for Napoli passes.

allan said...

OAK - 300 100 010 - 5 7 0
MFY - 302 150 00x - 11 13 0

TOR - 001 010 000 - 2 6 3
FKR - 203 000 01x - 6 5 0

7 GB ....

SoSock said...

I have not given up hope, not by any stretch. But I have accepted that the odds are very much against the Sox playing in Octber.
But, still we watch, and hope for a win ever time they play. And still we watch the scoreboard, and hope for a loss or 2 beside the right names.
Every so often I buy a lottery ticket. Very rarely, but occasionally. I never expect to win, but I still think there's a chance, or I wouldn't bother. That's knda where I'm at with this season. I don't expect to make the playoffs, but I still think it's possible.
Stranger things have happened. Hell, stranger things happen all the time in this game.

MacLeodCartoons said...

There's been plenty times when my belief in this team has risen and fallen over the course of like seven pitches, so there's no reason to think that there won't be some ups and downs left! I just feel that the combo of three things - the injuries, the weakness of the bullpen, including at some critical points Pap, and the generally feeble contributions of four of the six mainline starters, has doomed this team. The fact that we might have made it with only two of these three factors against us tells us a lot about how good this group really was and is. And I personally will be rooting hard for Darnell and Billy Hall for the rest of their careers.

sparky said...

Having the odds stacked against will not stop me from watching/listening. Who knows what weird things could happen anyway? Enjoy the rest of the season, get Yook and Pedroia healthy for '11 and then get after it.


Tom DePlonty said...

It took a few days to shake off Saturday night in Tampa Bay, but I'm still watching, until the end.

CHB wrote his "it's ovah!" column, in case anybody cares, which of course nobody should.