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Friday, June 22, 2007

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Nice post, Paul. I know I haven't been around much, and this is going to sound an awful lot like fair-weather optimism or something of that sort...but am I the only SF who never got particularly worried during NY's run? Like not even a little bit? Don't get me wrong, I still watch the scoreboard and haven't declared the season finished just yet...but I just didn't see the Sox' scuffling as predictive of things to come. And all the cards are pretty much in Boston's hands.

I'm working 3-11 right now, which is an absolutely miserable shift as far as baseball is concerned...but I've been ghosting since work started, occasionally trying to make time to post. I tried a few times in the middle of the streak. And on three separate occasions that I can remember, typepad decided it didn't like what I had to say and erased pretty sizable posts, to the point where I got pissed off and just gave up.

I was sort of surprised to see some of the panic...SF was particularly vitriolic during Schilling's last start. Incidentally, the last time I tried to post was after Schilling's start. Had this relatively long look at his peripheral stats all written up...then it disappeared. Tried again, same thing happened. Then I went to bed. Anyway, I basically said I thought he'd be up-and-down all season and that a DL-visit was in the near future to get him some rest; I still hold out hope that this is something like a dead arm.

Anyway, I was going to say pretty much the same thing Paul just did...even in a slump, the Sox never really got hammered. They lost 3/4 that could have easily gone either way in Oakland, and 2/3 from the extremely underrated Rockies...that was about it. In 19 June games, 8 were decided by 2 or fewer runs. Boston went 4-4 in those 8 games. Interestingly enough...the four losses came consecutively in the start of June--the loss to NY after Paps and Oki broke our hearts, followed by the Sox' inability to come up with a big hit against Oakland--and the four wins have come since. In April and May, Boston was 15-5 in 1 or 2-run games. I consider that 4-4 stretch something of a statistical evening-out...

Great read, Paul. I will be mildly surprised if the Sox win 105 this season, as that is a formidable total. However, the Sox team ERA positively sparkles, and once the run support (which is by track record only due to get better since the most potent hitters have yet to reach their stride, not that it has mattered) comes, it should be a walk to the pennant, and I should retract and not be so surprised if/when the team eclipses 100 wins (that's really _hard_ to do), considering the truly excellent baseball the Sox have played for the most part.

"...but am I the only SF who never got particularly worried during NY's run? Like not even a little bit?"

No, you are not. In fact, I'm shocked that there were any Red Sox fans that were seriously sweating about a collapse. Those gloom-and-doomers are living in a pre-2004 world.

I've always maintained it's difficult to shake years of preconditioning just because of three glorious weeks in October. I'll confess to being a little worried, but I'd like to think I remained confident -- and still do -- that the Sox will win the East.

if it helps Sox fans, I'm the opposite of confident regarding the Yanks' chances of winning the AL East.

That was a wonderful post. Thank you for taking all that time to research it.

That said, can we still lobby to get rid of El Vacio please??

Come on, it's not ridiculous to think that a team that gave away 7 games in two weeks was just fine, that things were all peachy. They aren't, still, though clearly the team is very, very good, and the last few days does show that emotional pendulum swings may not be the wisest thing for one's heart, that rationalism is healthier.

I was one who certainly had mood swings, but they weren't irrational. We have a shortstop who has had a 500 at-bat sample size of futility. We had a centerfielder with a 400 at-bat sample size of offensive underperformance. We have a fifth starter who is totally overachieving. We have a third starter on the DL, who has gotten shellacked in recent weeks. We have a third baseman with a bad ligament in his wrist on a pace for 30 errors. And we had a division rival much healthier, with a $200M lineup hitting to their abilities, or perhaps slightly above their abilities. Nobody who was worried by the last four weeks should have to apologize for the worries raised by that stretch, myself included.

If this sounds defensive, it's because it is.

(Oh, and great post, Paul. Superb.)

Great work, Paul.

-andrews

Not saying anyone should apologize for being a little worried, just that I was surprised by HOW worried some people were. (And I didn't mean to call you out SF...that was supposed to be something of a joke about how you took my role as most-negative-in-game-poster, but I erased the rest by accident in editing...heh. ;-) )

And we do have all those problems--though Lugo's on pace for 23 errors, by my count--but they come along with a fat 10-game lead. Manny and Ortiz are just hitting their stride (well, Manny, at least; Ortiz has had a fantastic year) and so is JD Drew, whose move to the 5-hole is an inevitability at this point. (I'd like Pedroia-Youk hitting 1-2, I don't think Youkilis has Drew's power. Though I am happy with things the way they are.)

I dunno, I told myself the whole time that I would refuse to panic until the lead was cut to 4-6 games, and then only if it was something Boston could control. Like if NY goes 15-3 later on against a regular schedule and not the pile of crap they beat up in early June...not a ton Boston can do about that, the lead's going to shrink a bit. If the Sox suddenly get pounded for a few weeks and none of the games are close...that's when I freak out.

Tavarez is due for a crash--for some reason I feel very bad about this Seattle series as a whole (SD is a coinflip)--but at least there are a good four guys throwing the ball real well in Pawtucket. (I haven't totally given up on Hansack's ability to be a long-man, and while their WHIPS concern me, Pauley and Gabbard look solid. I still don't think Lester's ready but he could probably contribute at a reasonable level.)

Tavarez is due for a crash....

I don't know if I agree, D. Tavarez is what he is, but this starting role seems to have him very pumped, and he seems more suited to do it. I think that he knows if he makes a mistake in the second inning, it's okay, he has time to correct it. It's completely different from the pen, and I don't think he was cut for that kind of pressure. He's no ace for sure, but he has gotten better and better. It's not like he didn't help out the rotation last year as well, or had ten bad starts and two good ones. He's done very well in his role, and I don't really expect him to get much better, or much worse for that matter. He is what he is, but I don't think he's due for a crash. If he does, I'd be surprised. I know he'll get lit up from time to time, or he'll walk to many to live through it, but a "crash" isn't something I see happening.

Great read Paul, as usual. It's a little spine-tingling to even consider that we might witness something historic with the 2007 Red Sox.

...but am I the only SF who never got particularly worried during NY's run? Like not even a little bit?

No, you're not. I'll admit it certainly was disconcerting seeing a 14 game lead drop to 7 in the span of two weeks, but I didn't buy into all the doom and gloom so many others did. I maintained all through it that it was a "rough path" and that soon enough it would end. The key was the pitching; if the staff had completely imploded during that last West Coast swing, then I might've worried, but it didn't and the track records of the hitters indicated that the offense wouldn't stay anemic forever. Baseball is a game of streaks, after all.

And now that Coco's hitting like a man possessed, things look even better. As to Lugo, well...I will do my best to remain patient.

I was never worried during the media hyped Yankee streak. They beat up on some of the worst teams in baseball. Whoopty friggin do, we beat the Pirates who have a .400 winning % in the terrible NL. Mets haven't won in a month, Arizona is ehh, White Sox are garbage. The second they played a real team again in Colorodo they got destroyed again. What do you think is going to happen when they have to play AL teams again? Back to sub .500 ball for the Yanks.

Arizona was 10 games over .500. Is "ehh" the word one uses when avoiding the weak part of an argument?

It's all perspective.

If we led the Yanks by 3 and bumped it up to 8 games, we'd be thrilled. If it dropped from 14 to 8, we'd be annoyed.

But we'd still have an 8 game lead at that particular date. ... And now it's 10.5!


the media hyped Yankee streak

It wasn't a media-hyped streak. It was a real, honest-to-goodness STREAK, and it knocked 7 games off a lead in no time. The Yankees showed that they are capable of being a very good team for longer stretches. That they stumbled against the Rockies isn't evidence of the inevitability of the opposite. It was a short series against some unfamiliar pitchers. We SFs know how that works, right?

The importance of the Yankees' stumbling against the Rockies, in my opinion, was that the Sox were able to win two of three at the same time and essentially erase most of the gains the Yankees made during their hot streak. There's a huge psychological boost, at least as a fan, to have weathered a once-in-a-season-type streak from the second-place team and still be in roughly the same position as before the streak began.

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