Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Panic! Panic! Panic! (or not...)

So, the Red Sox are now in an extended stretch of .500 ball, playing mediocre, uninspired baseball. I think that it's pretty clear to everyone that team playing this way end up going nowhere. It's time to write off the 2008 season. Time to start looking ahead to 2009, identifying scapegoats, running Manny out of town, etc. In other words, the normal business of a team that, while it hasn't yet officially played itself out of the race, is clearly on that track.

To change the subject from the disappointing 2008 season, it's time to start playing baseball stat quizzes. I've chosen five teams, not-quite-at-random, and chosen to look at stretches of their seasons.

(Hint: One of these things is not like the others...)

1) Identify the team and season.
2) Identify what four of them have in common, and why the fifth is different.

OK, you have ... five minutes ... starting ... now.

A selection of not-quite-random teams






(Cue the Jeopardy waiting music...)

OK, everyone got it?

Here are the answers, with a little more detail:

A selection of not-quite-random teams
TeamStart DateEnd DateGamesWLRRAPythagoreanSeason result

2008 Red Sox8-Jun29-Jul422121202168.584???????

2007 Red Sox19-May19-Jul542727245242.506Won World Series

2006 Cardinals26-May1-Oct1145262537539.498Won World Series

2005 White Sox8-Jul22-Sep693435297309.482Won World Series

2004 Red Sox27-May11-Aug663333388354.542Won World Series


It looks as though each of the last four World Series Champions had an extended stretch that was both a) longer and b) worse than what the Red Sox have gone through over the past month and a half.

None of this means that it isn't frustrating right now. The seven straight losses to the Angels is concerning, and the Texeira trade makes them a better team than they were, albeit probably not a better team than their record suggests. But experience, and 30 seconds of WEEI this morning, makes me think that there are a lot people who are going to go into hyperbolic overdrive for the next 48 hours. I'm not comfortable with the way the bullpen has pitched, but otherwise, I don't have any great concerns going forward.

They won't trade Manny, the trade deadline will pass and the Manny talk will subside, they'll put together a better stretch, they'll pass Tampa and stay ahead of the Yankees and win the AL East. And the playoffs will be, as they always are, a crapshoot. They'll win, or they'll lose, and it's impossible to say right now which it will be.

There. You heard it here first.

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