Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday pythagorean, 9/30/2013

Ok, they only went 2-3. But in the games that had any meaning whatsoever, they went 2-1 and clinched the best record in the AL. So, not that bad...

  • When the week started, the only questions were whether or not the Red Sox would maintain their hold on the AL's best record, and who they'd play in the post-season. The wins on Wednesday and Friday pretty much settled the first (they officially clinched with Oakland's loss in Seattle on Saturday) and the second won't be known until Wednesday night.


  • Embarassing finishes: Minnesota lost four to Oakland, two of three to Detroit, and four to Cleveland to finish out the year. Houston finished on a fifteen game losing streak, including four to Cleveland and three to Texas. For the scoreboard watchers among us, it wasn't a good month to see our competition facing the Twins or Astros.


  • Congratulations to Terry Francona and his Indians for a great month of September. They spent the month playing the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Helen Keller School for the Blind, but they took advantage of their schedule and made the playoffs. In the last two and a half weeks, their last 17 games, they were 4-0 vs. the 96-loss Twins, 6-0 vs. the 99-loss Chicago White Sox and 4-0 vs. the 111-loss Houston Astros. Oh, and 1-2 vs. the Kansas City Royals, who apparently put Major Leaguers on the field.


  • I don't want to belittle the Indians' accomplishment too much - I certainly didn't expect them to make the playoff this year. But the three worst teams in the AL headed into September were the Twins, White Sox and Astros, and they were much worse in September. They were a combined 24-61 after August 31, and the Indians faced them in 14 of their final 17 games.


  • No team in the AL East lost 90 games, Toronto finishing last with 88 losses. Two teams in the Central lost 95+, and two in the West lost 91 and 111. Tampa's 91-71 is more impressive than Texas' identical record, and more impressive than Cleveland's 92-70.


  • My concerns about Mr. Middlebrooks (.174/.174/.478/.652, 1.35 runs created, 1.61 RC/25 outs) have not been alleviated, after another dreadful week. Yes, he hit the two home runs in Colorado, and they certainly helped. Other than those two swings, he was 1-21, and walkless. You've got to be hitting a LOT more home runs than that to be valuable with a sub-.200 OBP. He now looks, again, exactly like the player who lost his job to Jose Iglesias early in the summer. A .227/.271/.425/.696, 36.49 runs created, 3.18 RC/25 outs season is pretty much not getting it done.


  • Consistency:
    David Ortiz 2012 (.311/.397/.564/.961)
    David Ortiz 2013 (.309/.395/.564/.959)


  • I expect to have some play-off stuff later in the week. For now, let's just say that this was as satisfying and enjoyable a regular season as we've had from this team in years...


  • Red Sox Player of the Week - With no dominant performances, this seems a good week to recognize one of the unsung members of the bullpen, Craig Breslow, who allowed two hits and no runs in three scoreless innings over three games this week, and who has quietly put together an outstanding year.


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Quintin Berry (.600/.667/1.200/1.867, 3.27 runs created, 40.90 RC/25 outs) made the most of his at-bats, but there were only five of them. Jonny Gomes (.500/.545/.800/1.345, 3.59 runs created, 17.93 RC/25 outs) was also productive in short at-bats. This week, I'm going to split the award, and it seems fitting, because these guys have had very productive years while flying a little under the radar as regards the team's success. Daniel Nava (.471/.500/.647/1.147, 4.80 runs created, 13.34 RC/25 outs) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.467/.467/.800/1.267, 4.64 runs created, 14.49 RC/25 outs).


AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/30/2013
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Boston5.27(1)4.05(6)0.618(1)100629765-3
Detroit4.91(2)3.85(2)0.61(2)99639369-6
Oakland4.73(3)3.86(3)0.593(3)966696660
Texas4.49(7)3.9(4)0.565(4)92709171-1
Cleveland4.6(4)4.09(7)0.554(5)907292702
Tampa Bay4.29(9)3.98(5)0.535(6)877591714
Kansas City4(11)3.71(1)0.534(7)87758676-1
Baltimore4.6(4)4.38(9)0.523(8)857785770
LA Angels4.52(6)4.55(11)0.498(9)81817884-3
NY Yankees4.01(10)4.14(8)0.485(10)798385776
Toronto4.4(8)4.67(13)0.473(11)77857488-3
Seattle3.85(12)4.65(12)0.414(12)679571914
Chicago Sox3.69(15)4.46(10)0.414(13)67956399-4
Minnesota3.79(13)4.86(14)0.388(14)639966963
Houston3.77(14)5.23(15)0.354(15)5710551111-6


Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Boston9765
Oakland9666
Detroit9369
Cleveland9270
Texas9171


Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Boston9765
Oakland9666
Detroit9369
Cleveland9270
Texas9171


Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas6.57(3)2.71(2)0.835(1)61701
Cleveland6.67(2)3.17(3)0.796(2)51601
Oakland5.5(4)3.33(4)0.714(3)4233-1
Boston8.2(1)5.8(15)0.653(4)3223-1
Tampa Bay5.14(5)3.71(6)0.645(5)52520
Toronto4.43(7)4.14(8)0.53(6)4334-1
Kansas City3.43(10)3.57(5)0.481(7)34431
Detroit1.83(14)2(1)0.46(8)3324-1
Baltimore4.86(6)5.43(14)0.449(9)34431
Seattle4(8)4.67(10)0.43(10)33330
LA Angels3.57(9)5(11)0.351(11)25250
Chicago Sox2.71(11)4.57(9)0.278(12)25250
NY Yankees2.17(13)3.83(7)0.26(13)24331
Minnesota2.71(11)5.14(12)0.237(14)2516-1
Houston1.5(15)5.33(13)0.089(15)1506-1

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Magic numbers, 9/29/2013

Saturday's Games:
Baltimore 6, Boston 5
Seattle 7, Oakland 5



The Boston Red Sox have clinched the best record in the American League. They have also clinched the best record in Major League Baseball, but that does not matter for playoff seeding purposes.  (The St. Louis Cardinals could match them with a Boston loss and St. Louis win on the final day.)


Boston will open the playoffs at home on Friday, 10/4, against the winner of the AL Wild Card, which will be Cleveland, Texas or Tampa.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Magic numbers, 9/28/2013

Friday's Games:
Boston 12, Baltimore 3
Oakland 8, Seattle 2
Miami 3, Detroit 2
If Boston wins 1 of their remaining 2 games (1-1, .500, 98 wins):
Detroit cannot tie
Oakland cannot tie

AL East:
The Boston Red Sox are AL East Champions!

Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 1 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

Detroit's loss in Miami eliminated the Tigers from the top spot in the AL about 20 minutes before Boston's win in Baltimore, which would have done the same thing, went final. The 3-way tie for the best record, and the Boston-Detroit tie for the best record, are off the table. It locks the Tigers in as the 3rd seed in the AL. (They could finish with the same record as Oakland, but the A's won the season series between the two teams, 4-3.)

It also ensures that the Red Sox open at home. As will the A's. Boston will either finish with the best record in the AL, or they'll finish tied with Oakland and lose the tie-breaker.

In either case, Boston will host one of the AL Division series. If Boston loses its next two and Oakland wins its next two, they'll finish the season tied at 97 wins. In that case, the Red Sox would be the 2nd seed, and would host the Detroit Tigers in the Division Series, while the A's would host the Wild Card winner. If the Red Sox win another, or Oakland loses another, then the A's would host the Tigers while the Red Sox host the Wild Card winner.



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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Magic numbers, 9/26/2013

Wednesday's Games:
Boston 15, Colorado 5
LAA 3, Oakland 1
Detroit 1, Minnesota 0
If Boston wins 1 of their remaining 3 games (1-2, .333, 97 wins):
Detroit cannot tie
Oakland must go 3-0 to tie

AL East:
The Boston Red Sox are AL East Champions!

Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 1 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 2 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland


Remaining schedule:
Boston has three games in Baltimore against the 82-76 (.519) Orioles
Oakland has three games in Seattle against the 70-89 (.440) Mariners
Detroit has three games in Miami against the 59-100 (.371) Marlins

Tie-breaker scenarios:
Season series head-to-head records:
Boston 3, Oakland 3
Detroit 4, Boston 3
Oakland 4, Detroit 3
  • 3-way tie at 96-66: I believe that this would result in the following: "Club 1 [Detroit] has a better record against Club 2 [Boston], Club 2 [Boston] and 3 [Oakland] have identical records against one another and Club 3 [Oakland] has a better record against Club 1 [Detroit]". This means that "The Clubs will be ranked by their overall winning percentage amongst the other Clubs combined," so Boston would be the 3rd seed by virtue of going 6-7 vs. Detroit and Oakland, where the other two each went 7-6 among those games. Detroit would be the top seed based on a better record in the Central than Oakland has in the West.


  • 2-way tie (Boston-Detroit) at 96-66: Oakland is the third seed. Detroit is the top seed by virtue of going 4-3 vs. Boston head-to-head.


  • 2-way tie (Boston-Oakland) at 96-66: Detroit is the third seed. Oakland is the top seed by virtue of going 44-32 in the West while Boston went 43-33 in the East.


  • 2-way tie at 97-65: Detroit is the third seed. Oakland is the top seed by virtue of going 45-31 in the West while Boston went 44-32 in the East.

So it appears that the Red Sox lose any tie-breakers.  They need to finish with the best record to get the top seed.

Let me say this - the breaking of ties between teams in different divisions based on their records inside their own division is patently ridiculous in a situation like this. Given the dramatically unbalanced schedules teams play, there can be significant differences in the competition level. Oakland played 76 games against the other Western division teams, and the Red Sox played 76 games against the other Eastern division teams. So Oakland's "tie-breaker record" was compiled in 76 games against teams that are currently 286-348 (.451) while Boston's was compiled in 76 games against teams that are 325-307 (.514). So not only would the Athletics have tied Boston based on a much-easier schedule, they would then win that tie-breaker based on their record against the inferior division opponents that allowed them to tie in the first place.

In fact, Boston has played better against the East than Oakland has (.589 vs. .531) and Boston has played better against the West than Oakland has (.625 vs. .575) and Boston has played better against the East and West combined than Oakland has (.600 vs. .562).  [Boston also played better in inter-league play than Oakland did (.700 vs .650). Oakland did play better against the AL Central than the Red Sox, but that's the only divisional play advantage for the A's.] A tie-breaker that compares Oakland's record in the weak West to Boston's record in the strong East, when Boston has a better record against those divisions, individually and cumulatively, than the A's do, is patently absurd1.

If Boston wins two in Baltimore, of course, or if they win one+ and Oakland loses one+, then it's all moot. But silly anyway.



All three teams have the night off, so there will not be a magic number report on Friday.  The next report will be on Saturday morning.






1 - Not a first for baseball, of course, as those of us who remember the Red Sox finishing 1/2 a game behind Detroit in 1972 because they played one fewer game, or the Yankees winning the World Series in 1981 despite finishing with the 4th best record in the AL East, well know...

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Magic numbers, 9/25/2013

Tuesday's Games:
Colorado 8, Boston 3
LAA 3, Oakland 0
Detroit 4, Minnesota 2
If Boston wins 2 of their remaining 4 games (2-2, .500, 97 wins):
Detroit cannot tie
Oakland must go 3-1 to tie

AL East:
The Boston Red Sox are AL East Champions!

Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 2 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 4 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Magic numbers, 9/24/2013

Monday's Games:
Boston idle
Oakland 10, LAA 5
Minnesota 4, Detroit 3
If Boston wins 2 of their remaining 5 games (2-3, .400, 97 wins):
Detroit cannot tie
Oakland must go 3-2 to tie

AL East:
The Boston Red Sox are AL East Champions!


Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 2 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 5 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday pythagorean, 9/23/2013

On its face, there's nothing special about a 3-3 week. But when the three wins include the games that eliminate one division rival from contention, and then eliminate the last, clinching the division, well, that's as good a week as it needs to be...

  • The division race is over. Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, 2013 AL East champions!


  • For the week, the offense didn't do much, but the pitching covered a lot of the struggles.


  • It seems as if it were an article of faith between September of 2011 and March of 2013, that John Lackey would never pitch another game in a Red Sox uniform. All he's done this year is throw 183 1/3 inning of 3.44 ERA ball in 28 starts. Only 27 pitchers, fewer than one per team, pitched 180+ innings in 28+ starts with a lower ERA. He's been a big part of the success of the 2013 Red Sox.


  • Another poor week from Will Middlebrooks (.222/.263/.222/.485, 1.08 runs created, 1.93 RC/25 outs). I'd feel a lot better about his potential for helping in the post-season if I could see him take a few walks and hit a long ball this week, and the former is more important to me than the latter.


  • As much fun as the idea of Clay Buchholz finishing the season without a loss was, his outing this week was another positive. He reached 106 pitches with still one start to go before the post-season, and was effectie, albeit less so than in many of his earlier starts.


  • Jacoby Ellsbury has started baseball activity. It will be another positive sign if he can get 10 at-bats in 3-4 appearances this week without hurting himself again.


  • The Red Sox don't need help to clinch the best record in the AL, but it would be a little easier with some help. They sure didn't get any from the Twins this weekend, who went 0-4 while being outscored 39-14 over the weekend in Oakland.


  • At least the A's are going on the road this week. Of course, so are the Sox. And the A's are facing bad teams. Of course, so are the Sox. At least for a couple of days in Colorado. So, root, root, root for the Angels and Mariners this week. It would be nice to hold on to the best record in the AL, the best record in baseball, for another week.


  • 100 is still mathematically possible. They would have to finish 5-0 this week to get there, but they're the only team in baseball without a 63rd loss yet.


  • Unless Tampa, Cleveland and Texas all crash and burn this week - badly - the Yankees and Orioles are done. I don't know what Boston will need from the series in Baltimore next weekend, but the Orioles won't still be in contention for anything when the Sox arrive.


  • Well, the Uehara streak ended, as we knew it had to. It seemed like a catchable ball, and it led to a loss, but c'est la vie.


  • I already posted this on its own, but here's today's Magic Number report: Sunday's Games:
    Boston 5, Toronto 2
    Oakland 11, Minnesota 7
    Chicago WS 6, Detroit 3


    If Boston wins 2 of their remaining 5 games (2-3, .400, 97 wins):
    Detroit must go 6-0 to tie
    Oakland must go 4-2 to tie

    AL East:
    The Boston Red Sox are AL East Champions!

    Best Record in AL:
    Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 3 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
    Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 5 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

  • Red Sox Player of the Week - With arguably his best start in a Red Sox uniform, John Lackey gave up two hits and one run in the game that clinched a playoff berth for the Red Sox.


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - A great week, in short at-bats, for Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.455/.455/.818/1.273, 3.38 runs created, 14.10 RC/25 outs). But the best combination of productivity and production came from Stephen Drew (.316/.435/.579/1.014, 4.76 runs created, 8.49 RC/25 outs).


AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/23/2013
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Boston5.17(1)3.99(6)0.616(1)97609562-2
Detroit5.03(2)3.92(3)0.612(2)95619165-4
Oakland4.71(3)3.88(2)0.588(3)926493631
Texas4.4(7)3.95(4)0.549(4)85708471-1
Cleveland4.52(6)4.12(7)0.542(5)857186701
Kansas City4.03(11)3.72(1)0.537(6)83728273-1
Tampa Bay4.25(9)3.99(5)0.529(7)827386694
Baltimore4.59(4)4.33(9)0.526(8)82738174-1
LA Angels4.57(5)4.53(11)0.504(9)78777679-2
NY Yankees4.08(10)4.15(8)0.492(10)777982745
Toronto4.39(8)4.69(13)0.47(11)73827184-2
Chicago Sox3.74(15)4.46(10)0.42(12)65906194-4
Seattle3.85(13)4.65(12)0.414(13)659168883
Minnesota3.84(14)4.85(14)0.394(14)619465904
Houston3.85(12)5.23(15)0.364(15)579951105-6


Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Boston9864
Oakland9765
Detroit9567
Tampa Bay9072
Cleveland8973


Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Boston9864
Oakland9765
Detroit9567
Tampa Bay9072
Cleveland8973



Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Kansas City4(5)2(1)0.78(1)5142-1
LA Angels4.83(4)2.83(3)0.727(2)42420
Oakland6.57(1)4.57(11)0.66(3)52520
NY Yankees3(13)2.33(2)0.613(4)4233-1
Texas3.43(10)2.86(4)0.583(5)4334-1
Chicago Sox6(2)5(13)0.583(6)33330
Boston3.5(9)3(5)0.57(7)33330
Cleveland3.57(8)3.14(6)0.558(8)43521
Detroit5.29(3)4.71(12)0.552(9)43521
Toronto3.33(11)3.17(7)0.523(10)33330
Seattle3.71(6)3.71(9)0.5(11)4325-2
Tampa Bay3.71(6)3.71(9)0.5(11)43521
Baltimore2.5(14)3.5(8)0.351(13)24240
Minnesota3.14(12)8.29(15)0.145(14)16160
Houston1.57(15)5.57(14)0.09(15)1607-1

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Magic numbers, 9/23/2013

Sunday's Games:
Boston 5, Toronto 2
Oakland 11, Minnesota 7
Chicago WS 6, Detroit 3
If Boston wins 2 of their remaining 5 games (2-3, .400, 97 wins):
Detroit must go 6-0 to tie
Oakland must go 4-2 to tie

AL East:
The Boston Red Sox are AL East Champions!


Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 3 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 5 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Magic numbers, 9/22/2013

Saturday's Games:
Toronto 4, Boston 2
Oakland 9 , Minnesota 1
Detroit 7 , Chicago WS 6
If Boston wins 2 of their remaining 6 games (2-4, .333, 96 wins):
Detroit must go 5-2 to tie
Oakland must go 4-3 to tie

AL East:
The Boston Red Sox are AL East Champions!


Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 5 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 6 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Magic numbers, 9/21/2013

Friday's Games:
Boston 6, Toronto 3 - Red Sox clinch the East with this win!
Oakland 11 , Minnesota 0
Detroit 12 , Chicago WS 5
Tampa, Baltimore, NY Yankees results are all irrelevant now.


If Boston wins 2 of their remaining 7 games (2-5, .286, 96 wins):
Detroit must go 7-2 to tie
Oakland must go 6-3 to tie

AL East:
The Boston Red Sox are AL East Champions!

Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 5 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 6 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

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Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 AL East Champions...

...are the Boston Red Sox.  Congratulations!

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Magic numbers, 9/20/2013


Thursday's Games:
Boston 3,Baltimore 1
Texas 8, Tampa 2
Oakland 8, Minnesota 6
Detroit 5, Seattle 4
If Boston wins 3 of their remaining 8 games (3-5, .375, 96 wins):
Tampa Bay cannot tie
Baltimore cannot tie
NY Yankees cannot tie

Detroit must go 7-2 to tie
Oakland must go 6-3 to tie

AL East:
Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 1 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay

Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 6 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 7 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

Thoughts:
  • In their last two wins, the Red Sox have eliminated the Yankees and Orioles from division contention. Not that either was really in it, at this point, but it was still satisfying to eliminate them head-to-head.
  • Everyone is acknowledging that the Red Sox have clinched a playoff spot, which is clear - they've won 93 games, and only four other AL teams still have a shot at getting to 93.  So they will definitely play October baseball.  What is not clear to me is whether they have clinched the division, too.  Tampa is one of the team's that can get to 93, so the two teams could still finish in a tie.  But, given that the only possible tie is at 93 wins, getting them both in to the post-season, and given that Boston took the season series between the two clubs (12-7), it seems as if Boston has already clinched the "division winner" playoff spot.  Maybe MLB has changed the rules with the one-game Wild Card playoff, and they'd have to have a one-game playoff for the division with the loser playing the Wild Card playoff.  (Update:  Apparently, that's true.  "If just one game is needed to settle the issue, it will tentatively be played on Monday, Sept. 30. That applies to determining the division championship whether or not the losing team would still qualify as a Wild Card."  That game would be played in Boston.)
  • Unless Boston goes 0-8 while Tampa goes 10-0, the preceding was entirely academic.
  • One can make the case that last night's game was John Lackey's best start in a Red Sox uniform.  It's only his second complete game, and it is the first time that he's gone 9 innings (his other CG was 8 scoreless2 innings in a loss in LA earlier this season).  He has had three starts in which he allowed no runs, but two of those were shorter than 7 innings and the third was 8 (in 2010).  Using Bill James' Game Scores1, he scored an 85 last night, which is his highest game score in a Boston uniform.  (The previous high was 81, in an 8-inning, 1 run, 0 earned performance against Seattle in 2010.)




1 - It's kind of a toy, but an interesting one.
  1. Start with 50 points.
  2. Add one point for each out recorded, so three points for every complete inning pitched.
  3. Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth.
  4. Add one point for each strikeout.
  5. Subtract two points for each hit allowed.
  6. Subtract four points for each earned run allowed.
  7. Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed.
  8. Subtract one point for each walk.
2 - Update:  Oops.  Obviously, MLB's next "scoreless loss" will be its first...

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The comment I did NOT post on facebook this morning...


A high school classmate posted a link to an article about France's new ban on "child beauty contests" with the comments, "Good on France" and "When do beauty pageants get banned altogether?"  This is a classmate who is a fervent supporter of abortion rights, because, "women's control over their own bodies" and what-not.

My comment, written and then deleted (as is so often the case):
Ok, I've tried to not do this, but I've got to know - how do you reconcile support for abortion (because "women must have control over their own bodies") with government bans on beauty pageants?  If women have the right to "reproductive autonomy" don't they have the right to compete in swimsuit competitions?

I don't want to debate abortion (or beauty pageants), but the cognitive dissonance strikes me as overwhelming, and I'm honestly curious as to how you would reconcile those positions.

And I really am curious.  But it's the wrong conversation for the wrong forum, so, delete.

But if anyone reading this happens to hold both of those positions (pro-choice, pro-prohibition on beauty pageants), I'd love to understand how...

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Magic numbers, 9/19/2013

Wednesday's Games:
Baltimore 5, Boston 3
Tampa 4, Texas 3
LAA 5 , Oakland4
Seattle 8, Detroit 0
If Boston wins 4 of their remaining 9 games (4-5, .444, 96 wins):
Tampa Bay cannot tie
Baltimore cannot tie
NY Yankees cannot tie

Detroit must go 8-2 to tie
Oakland must go 7-3 to tie

AL East:
Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 3 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 1 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore


Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 7 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 8 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What Economic Recovery?


From the Hoover Institution, a piece (by Lee Ohanian and John B. Taylor) on which I look favorably (because it expresses what I already believe to be true1).
Since the fall of 2008, the U.S. government has adopted dozens of policies that were advertised as being necessary to restore prosperity. These policies impacted many key economic channels, including monetary and fiscal policies, commercial and investment banking, manufacturing, housing, and the environment. But many of these policies have depressed growth by distorting the normal forces of supply and demand that are critical for a market economy to function well and create new jobs. Many of the policies that were implemented were based on old Keynesian models that advocate temporary spending increases and one-time tax rebates, while others created new regulations of economic activity in key sectors. But both of these policy responses misdiagnosed the problems facing the American economy. The spending policies had little impact on the economy other than to increase government debt, and regulatory policies raised business costs and depressed growth.

The centerpiece of the old Keynesian stimulus policies was the 2009 $821 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which combined temporary tax cuts with federal funds for national, state, and local government spending...There are two important reasons why the ARRA failed to restore jobs. One is that attempts to stimulate spending likely had a much smaller impact than was advertised. The second is that the type of spending that was supposed to be undertaken – including investment in government infrastructure – simply did not materialize in any significant way. State and local governments did not use these federal funds to significantly expand infrastructure spending. Instead, these governments increased transfer payments and reduced debt, and the nation’s employment rate continued to decline.

Other spending policies were aimed at propping up the hard-hit auto and residential construction industries. These policies included “Cash for Clunkers”, which provided some new car buyers with payments between $3,500 and $4,500 by turning in an old car that was scrapped, and the Homebuyer Tax Credit, which provided some buyers of houses a tax credit of $7,500. These policies did little to strengthen either industry. Sales of autos and homes temporarily increased while these policies were in place, but then sales declined sharply once the policies ended. These policies were pure subsidies to some auto and home buyers, with little if any impact on the industries that were supposed to be helped.

Not that it required a real prophet to see that coming...




1 - This is called "confirmation bias," and it's a cognitive trap. I know that but believe all of this anyway...

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Magic numbers, 9/18/2013

Tuesday's results:
Baltimore 3, Boston 2
Texas 7, Tampa 1
Detroit 6, Seattle 2
Oakland 2, LAA 1

If Boston wins 4 of their remaining 10 games (4-6, .400, 96 wins):
Tampa Bay cannot tie
Baltimore cannot tie

Detroit must go 8-3 to tie
Oakland must go 7-4 to tie

AL East:
Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 3 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 1 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore

Best record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 8 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 9 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland


Thoughts:
  • The Uehara run ended, as it had to.  Not only did he give up a hit, he gave up a run and took the loss.  The frustrating part was that it was a ball that Ellsbury would have caught, and Victorino should have.  He was there and just missed it.  If he catches that, they go to the bottom of the 9th tied, and the Uehara streak is at 40 consecutive batters retired.  Ah, well...
  • It was interesting to watch the final at-bat.  Johnson missed with the first two pitches, but the umpire called the second pitch a strike.  Johnson then threw two more pitches in the same spot as the second one, and Bogaerts went ahead to swing at them.  If the second pitch is (correctly, IMO) called a ball, then it's 2-0, and he probably doesn't swing at the next two pitches.  Ah, well...

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Breaking news...


I hope you're sitting down when you come to this article. According to the Boston Globe,
McDaniels: Healthy Gronkowski would have impact on game plan
I know, I know - shocking.

I wonder if the presence or absence of Brady would affect the game plan, too...

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Magic numbers, 9/17/2013

Monday's results:
Boston idle
Tampa 6, Texas 2
Baltimore idle
Detroit 4, Seattle 2
LAA 12, Oakland 1



If Boston wins 4 of their remaining 11 games (4-7, .364, 96 wins):
Tampa Bay cannot tie
Baltimore cannot tie

Detroit must go 9-3 to tie
Oakland must go 8-4 to tie

AL East:
Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 4 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 1 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore

Best Record in AL:
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 8 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 9 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday pythagorean, 9/16/2013

5-1 is always a good week. 5-1 against division competition, half of it on the road, in September, to put the division away, including a three-game sweep of the Yankees that eliminates them from the division race, is a great week...

  • What a difference a year makes. On September 15, 2012, the Red Sox beat Toronto 3-2, raising their record to 66-80, 16 1/2 games behind the first place Yankees. On September 15, 2013, the Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Yankees, finished taking 6-of-7 from the Yankees in September, and eliminated the Yankees from contention in the AL East.

  • They don't really need any help in the division race at this point. Boston has 11 games remaining, and only needs to win four to take the East, regardless of what the Rays and O's do.

  • It would have been nice to get some help in the AL Best Record race this weekend from Texas, who were 3 1/2 games behind the AL West first place A's, and hosting them with a chance to tighten that division race significantly. Instead, the Rangers rolled over and let the A's, for all intents and purposes, put the West away. The Red Sox still have an edge, but the race for the AL's best record is close.

  • The Ellsbury news is relatively positive - the swelling has gone down, he's started baseball activity, and they expect him back before the regular season ends.

  • The Buchholz news is extremely positive. With two more starts in the regular season, he should be pretty close to fully stretched out for the post-season. Fully stretched out, close to mid-season form, and extremely well-rested. That could be a good combination.

  • The Red Sox, after struggling mightily in the last two Septembers, are now 11-3 in September of 2013, which has allowed them to open up a huge lead in the East. Oakland is still close, though, largely because the A's are also 11-3 in September.

  • Because I've heard other people talking about it, let's just note, for the record, that a) the Red Sox have never won 100 games since the AL expanded in 1961, b) the last time the Red Sox won 100 games was the 104 wins of the legendary 1946 team and c) if this team goes 8-3 in its last 11 games, it will finish with a record of 100-62.

  • Yes, I've got enough superstition remaining to feel like it's asking for trouble to even mention it.

  • Have I mentioned yet that last night's Red Sox win against the Yankees, their 6th in 7 tries over the last week and a half, eliminated the Yankees from contention in the AL East?

  • For the first time since he returned from his (brief) Minor League exile, Will Middlebrooks (.000/.000/.000/.000 in 17 at-bats, -2.07 runs created, -2.88 RC/25 outs) really struggled. That, in and of itself, is not a big deal - it happens to everyone. David Ortiz had a week much like that within the last month. The concern with Middlebrooks is that it either represents, or causes, a reversion to the pre-exilic bad habits that rendered him useless offensively. This is, therefore, a big week for Will, and the team, on that front.

  • The game of the week was Tuesday's thriller in Tampa, featuring the return of Clay Buchholz vs. David Price and the Rays. This is what I wrote on Wednesday: Tuesday night's win was huge for Boston.
    • Buchholz was outstanding for five innings in his first start in over three months.
    • They beat David Price.  (They also made him throw 127 pitches, which may be a positive externality for the Twins when they face the Rays on Sunday.)
    • The won the game that looked, going in, like the best pitching matchup in the series for Tampa.  (Tonight's Cobb vs. Dempster matchup also favors Tampa, but good as Cobb has been, he isn't Price, not yet anyway.  And the Red Sox had no idea what they'd get from Buchholz, and knew going in that the bullpen would be in early.)
    • They went in to the series with a 7 1/2 game lead - last night's win ensures that they'll leave Tampa with at least 6 1/2 games of that lead still in place.  The Rays, to have a realistic chance of winning the division, needed to sweep Boston.  The Red Sox have already done everything in this series, and everything on this road trip, that they needed to do, regardless of what happens the next two nights.

  • It takes a Grand Slam to go from a tie-game to a four-run lead on one play. The Red Sox did it twice this week, Carp (pinch-hitting) against the Rays and then Saltalamacchia against the Yankees. And each time, it was the game's last scoring.

  • Magic Number report:
    Sunday's Games:
    Boston 9, NY Yankees 2
    Minnesota 6, Tampa 4
    Baltimore 3, Toronto 1
    Oakland 5, Texas 1
    Detroit 3, Kansas City 2
    If Boston wins 5 of their remaining 11 games (5-6, .455, 97 wins):
    Tampa Bay cannot tie
    Baltimore cannot tie
    NY Yankees cannot tie

    Detroit must go 11-2 to tie
    Oakland must go 9-4 to tie

    AL East:
    Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 4 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
    Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 1 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore

    Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 8 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
    Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 10 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

  • The Red Sox are not yet mathematically guaranteed a post-season berth, though the odds of them not making it are vanishingly small. They are guaranteed, however to finish no worse than 2nd in the East, as they've eliminated the Yankees, and the Orioles and Rays cannot both get to 92 wins. One or the other could, but not both, as they've got four head-to-head remaining. They will have mathematically clinched when they eliminate Texas (magic number = 4) or Cleveland (magic number = 3). With Texas in Tampa for the next four days, and Baltimore in Boston from Tuesday-Thursday, they are likely to have clinched a playoff berth before the weekend, and to have clinched the East before next Monday.



  • Red Sox Player of the Week - On a per-plate appearance basis, the best two weeks were had by Mike Napoli (.333/.524/.667/1.190, 5.22 runs created, 13.06 RC/25 outs) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.333/.400/.917/1.317, 4.58 runs created, 12.71 RC/25 outs). But due to playing time and lineup position, the most productivity came from Daniel Nava (.500/.476/.600/1.076, 5.25 runs created, 10.09 RC/25 outs). Any of them would be worthy, and I'm going to go with Daniel Nava.



  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - He's back, almost as if he never went away. Two starts, two wins, 11 innings and only one un-earned run for Clay Buchholz.



  • AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/16/2013
    ProjectedActual
    R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
    Boston5.24(1)4.03(6)0.617(1)93589259-1
    Detroit5.02(2)3.89(3)0.615(2)92578663-6
    Oakland4.62(4)3.85(2)0.583(3)876288611
    Texas4.45(7)4(4)0.548(4)816781670
    Cleveland4.56(5)4.17(7)0.541(5)816881680
    Baltimore4.67(3)4.36(9)0.531(6)797079700
    Tampa Bay4.28(9)4(4)0.531(7)796981672
    Kansas City4.03(11)3.79(1)0.528(8)79707871-1
    LA Angels4.56(6)4.6(11)0.496(9)74757277-2
    NY Yankees4.13(10)4.23(8)0.489(10)737779716
    Toronto4.44(8)4.75(14)0.469(11)70796881-2
    Minnesota3.87(13)4.69(12)0.413(12)618764843
    Chicago Sox3.64(15)4.44(10)0.411(13)61885891-3
    Seattle3.85(14)4.7(13)0.41(14)618866835
    Houston3.96(12)5.21(15)0.377(15)56935198-5


    Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
    Boston9963
    Oakland9666
    Detroit9468
    Texas8973
    Tampa Bay8973


    Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
    Boston9963
    Oakland9666
    Detroit9468
    Texas8973
    Cleveland8874




    Standings for the week
    ProjectedActual
    R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
    Oakland7.33(1)3(3)0.837(1)51510
    Boston5.67(4)2.33(2)0.835(2)51510
    Cleveland5.86(3)3(3)0.773(3)52520
    Houston6.17(2)3.67(7)0.721(4)42420
    Detroit3.33(11)2(1)0.718(5)42420
    LA Angels5.57(5)4.43(9)0.604(6)43521
    Tampa Bay3.5(8)3(3)0.57(7)33330
    Kansas City3.5(8)3(3)0.57(7)33330
    Baltimore4.14(6)4(8)0.516(9)4334-1
    NY Yankees3.86(7)5.71(12)0.328(10)25341
    Toronto3.5(8)5.33(11)0.316(11)2415-1
    Texas3(12)4.67(10)0.308(12)2406-2
    Minnesota3(12)6.57(14)0.192(13)16342
    Seattle2.33(14)6.67(15)0.128(14)15150
    Chicago Sox1.71(15)6.14(13)0.088(15)16160

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    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    Magic numbers, 9/15/2015


    Saturday's results:
    Boston 5, NY Yankees 1
    Toronto 4, Baltimore 3
    Tampa 7, Minnesota 0
    Oakland 1, Texas 0
    Kansas City 1, Detroit 0


    If Boston wins 5 of their remaining 12 games (5-7, .417, 96 wins):
    Tampa Bay must go 15-0 to tie
    NY Yankees cannot tie
    Baltimore cannot tie

    Detroit must go 11-3 to tie
    Oakland must go 9-5 to tie

    AL East:
    Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 6 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
    Any combination of Boston wins and NY Yankees losses totaling 2 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of NY Yankees
    Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 2 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore

    Best record in the AL:
    Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 9 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
    Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 11 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland

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    Saturday, September 14, 2013

    Magic numbers, 9/14/2013


    Friday's games:
    Boston 8, NY Yankees 4
    Tampa 3, Minnesota 0
    Baltimore 5, Cleveland 3
    Detroit 6, Kansas City 3
    Oakland 9, Texas 8


    If Boston wins 5 of their remaining 13 games (5-8, .385, 95 wins):
    Tampa Bay must go 15-1 to tie
    NY Yankees cannot tie
    Baltimore cannot tie

    Detroit must go 10-5 to tie
    Oakland must go 9-6 to tie

    AL East: Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 7 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay1
    Any combination of Boston wins and NY Yankees losses totaling 4 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of NY Yankees1
    Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 4 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore

    Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 11 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
    Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 12 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland



    1 - If Boston were to finish in a tie with either NY or Tampa in which the winner took the East and the loser was one of the Wild Card teams, the Red Sox would win the East by virtue of winning the season series between the teams.

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    Friday, September 13, 2013

    Magic numbers, 9/13/2013


    Thursday's games:
    Tampa 4, Boston 3
    NY Yankees 6, Baltimore 5
    Oakland 8, Minnesota 3
    Detroit was idle


    If Boston wins 5 of their remaining 14 games (5-9, .357, 94 wins):
    Tampa Bay must go 15-2 to tie
    NY Yankees must go 15-0 to tie
    Baltimore cannot tie

    Detroit must go 10-6 to tie
    Oakland must go 9-7 to tie

    AL East: Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 8 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay1
    Any combination of Boston wins and NY Yankees losses totaling 6 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of NY Yankees1
    Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 5 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore

    Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 12 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
    Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 13 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland



    1 - If Boston were to finish in a tie with either NY or Tampa in which the winner took the East and the loser was one of the Wild Card teams, the Red Sox would win the East by virtue of winning the season series between the teams.

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    Thursday, September 12, 2013

    Magic Numbers, 9/12/2013




    Wednesday's results:
    Boston 7, Tampa 3
    NY Yankees 5, Baltimore 4
    Oakland 18, Minnesota 3
    Detroit 1, Chicago WS 0


    AL East:
    Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 8 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
    Any combination of Boston wins and NY Yankees losses totaling 6 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of NY Yankees
    Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 6 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore


    Best record in the AL
    Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 12 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
    Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 13 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland




    If Boston wins 6 of their remaining 15 games (6-9, .400, 95 wins):
    Tampa Bay must go 17-1 to tie
    NY Yankees cannot tie
    Baltimore cannot tie

    Detroit must go 11-5 to tie
    Oakland must go 11-6 to tie


    If Boston wins 7 of their remaining 15 games (7-8, .467, 96 wins):
    Tampa Bay must go 18-0 to tie
    NY Yankees cannot tie
    Baltimore cannot tie

    Detroit must go 12-4 to tie
    Oakland must go 12-5 to tie



     Thoughts:

    Another thriller for the Sox as Mike Carp hits a pinch Grand Slam in the 10th for the win.  And the third game of the series (head-to-head against Jets-Patriots in the Boston TV market tonight) is the game in this series where the pitching matchup (Peavy vs. Hellickson) most clearly favors the Red Sox.  (Which, baseball being what it is, probably means it's the game in the series that they lose.)

    Baseball is a game without a clock, which always makes implausible comebacks possible.  A game isn't over until the 27th out, and a division race isn't over until it's clinched.  That said, while the other non-Toronto teams in their division haven't been eliminated yet, it's hard to imagine the Red Sox not winning the East.  Their worst 15 game stretch this year came in early May as they went 5-10.  If they were to go 5-10 again in their remaining 15, they would finish at 94 wins, requiring Tampa to go 16-2 to tie them.  If the unthinkable were to happen and they finished up 0-15, Tampa would still have to play .611 ball, 11-7, to tie them.  (And if they were to finish in a tie where one team won the East and the other won a Wild Card, the Red Sox would win the East by virtue of winning the season series between the two teams.)

    Finishing with the best record in the league, and the home field advantage that goes with it, is less certain, but they're 4 and 4 1/2 up on Oakland and Detroit respectively, and have to be considered the favorites.

    Boston could clinch the AL East as early as Sunday afternoon, by winning out for the rest of the week and getting some help from Minnesota and Toronto.  More likely is that they clinch some time late next week or next weekend, at home against Baltimore or Toronto.  They certainly don't want to head out on the road not having clinched, because they'd love to do it at home, and not having done it by then means that they haven't had a very good week.

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    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Magic number, 9/11/2013




    Tuesday's results:
    Boston 2, Tampa 0
    NY Yankees 7, Baltimore 5
    Detroit 9, Chicago WS 1
    Minnesota 4, Oakland 3

    If Boston wins 7 of their remaining 16 games (7-9, .438, 95 wins):
    Tampa Bay must go 17-2 to tie
    Baltimore must go 18-0 to tie
    NY Yankees cannot tie
     
    Detroit must go 12-5 to tie
    Oakland must go 12-6 to tie

    AL East:
     Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 10 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
    Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 8 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore
    Any combination of Boston wins and NY Yankees losses totaling 7 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of NY Yankees
    Boston has already won the season series with both NY and Tampa.  In the event of a tie where the loser would be one of the Wild Card teams, the Red Sox would win the division anyway.



    Best record in the AL
    Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 13 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
    Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 14 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland



     Thoughts:

    Tuesday night's win was huge for Boston.
    • Buchholz was outstanding for five innings in his first start in over three months.
    • They beat David Price.  (They also made him throw 127 pitches, which may be a positive externality for the Twins when they face the Rays on Sunday.)
    • The won the game that looked, going in, like the best pitching matchup in the series for Tampa.  (Tonight's Cobb vs. Dempster matchup also favors Tampa, but good as Cobb has been, he isn't Price, not yet anyway.  And the Red Sox had no idea what they'd get from Buchholz, and knew going in that the bullpen would be in early.)
    • They went in to the series with a 7 1/2 game lead - last night's win ensures that they'll leave Tampa with at least 6 1/2 games of that lead still in place.  The Rays, to have a realistic chance of winning the division, needed to sweep Boston.  The Red Sox have already done everything in this series, and everything on this road trip, that they needed to do, regardless of what happens the next two nights.

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    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Magic numbers, 9/10/2013

    Results from Monday night:
    Baltimore 4, NY Yankees 2
    White Sox 5, Tigers 1
    Boston, Tampa, Oakland1 did not play

    If Boston wins 7 of their remaining 17 games (7-10, .412, 94 wins):
    Tampa Bay must go 16-4 to tie
    Baltimore must go 17-2 to tie
    NY Yankees must go 18-0 to tie

    Detroit must go 12-6 to tie
    Oakland must go 11-8 to tie

    Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totalling 12 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
    Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totalling 10 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore
    Any combination of Boston wins and NY Yankees losses totalling 8 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of NY Yankees

    Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totalling 14 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
    Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totalling 16 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland






    1 - The Tigers lead the Indians by 4 1/2 in the Central. The A's lead the Rangers by two in the AL West. It is only the division leader that's relevant on any given day.

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    Monday, September 09, 2013

    At least we've got John Kerry on our side...


    This sounds like it should be from The Onion, but it's actually from The Globe and Mail. (Obviously, that doesn't make it true, but...)
    “We’re not going to war,” Mr. Kerry told reporters Monday after meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London. “We will be able to hold [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort, in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we are talking about doing; an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”
    Of course, an "unbelievably small, limited kind of effort" is almost certain to produce an "unbelievably small, limited kind of result." Any results that aren't "unbelievably small [and] limited" are almost certainly going to be unintended results, and probably negative.

    There's also this classic:
    “The end of the conflict requires a political solution,” he said. “There is no military solution and we have no illusions about that.”


    We know that there's "no military solution," so the obvious next step is an "unbelievably small, limited" military action, because "unbelievably small" military gestures are how we always get to political solutions.

    Obviously, if you're going to pick John Kerry to be Secretary of State, you aren't going to do a good job managing foreign affairs. The next time John Kerry is right about anything will be the first. But this seems spectacularly wrong-headed, even for Kerry. "Yeah, we're going to attack, because we said we would, but we aren't actually going to do any damage because it will be a small attack, so it's just empty symbolism to show Assad that we're capable of empty symbolism, because otherwise, the President who drew that red line in the sand will look like a feckless idiot, rather than a strong leader, because nothing says strong leadership like telling people beforehand that your attack won't do anything useful."



    It's hard to believe that this isn't selling well in the heartland, or even on Capitol Hill...

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    New England 23, Buffalo 21

    The storyline: New England was bad, and very lucky to pull out a victory over a weak Buffalo team.

    The reality: If not for two unforced errors on the part of the Patriots, the Bills are never in that game. Stevan Ridley put the ball on the ground entirely on his own, with no Buffalo defenders nearby, and that was Buffalo's first touchdown. A pass into the hands of Zach Sudfeld was virtually placed into a Bills' defender's hands, and that directly led to the second.

    On the game, the Patriots ran 89 plays to the Bills' 61 and outgained them 431-286. Yes, New England had 50% more offense than Buffalo. They had more 1st downs (26-15), more yards rushing (158-136) at a better yards/carry average, more yards passing (273-150) and a huge time of possession edge (37:43-22:17). New England converted 11-of-20 3rd down opportunities, the Bills only 4-of-13.

    Buffalo had 13 drives and scored on 2 (15%). Their average drive covered 21 yards on 4.6 plays. The Patriots had 15 and scored on 5 (33%). Their average drive covered 30 yards on 6.1 plays.

    The Ridley play, in particular, completely changed the game. The Patriots had a 10-0 lead and were in scoring position again when an untouched Ridley just dropped the ball and the Bills scored. Instead of going up 13-0 or 14-0, it was suddenly 10-7. Before that, Buffalo had five drives, and had run a total of 19 plays for 69 yards (3.63 average). The Patriots five drives had resulted in 33 plays for 142 yards (4.30 average). New England was in control, and driving for a bigger lead, and Ridley just dropped the ball, untouched. Buffalo ran it back for a touchdown, and the game was completely changed.

    Other than the turnovers, New England completely controlled the game. (Yes, yes - "other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play." The turnovers are part of the game, all New England mistakes. They explain the final score, which was close despite the Patriots outplaying the Bills badly.) Buffalo had one good drive, 80 yards for a touchdown to start off the second half. Their other 12 drives averaged 4 plays for 16 yards.



    The first storyline: New England screwed Wes Welker, who's a much better and tougher player than Danny Amendola.

    The revised storyline: New England screwed Wes Welker, who's a much better and tougher player than Danny Amendola.

    The second revised storyline: New England screwed Wes Welker, who's a much better and tougher player than never hurt, unlike Danny Amendola.

    The reality: Wes Welker is a great player. He was a great player in New England, and Patriots fans should (and, for the most part, do) have nothing but good things to say about him. And he is a tough player, who has done a better job staying in the lineup than Danny Amendola. Partly by being hurt less seriously and/or less often.

    But partly from "lucky" timing of his serious injuries. As we listen to the paeans to Welker fly, to the toughness tributes, and how he always got back up and never missed a start, go back and check his stats from the 2009 playoffs. Hmm, 0 catches on 0 targets. Why was that? Well, it was because he didn't play. But he started all 16 games in 2009? Yes, and tore his ACL in game 16. If he'd done it in game 1, he would have started 1 game in 2009, just like Tom Brady in 2008. And, having missed an entire season to injury, the Amendola commentary right now would be significantly less toxic.



    The storyline: The Patriots' rookie receivers had a bad game.

    The reality: The Patriots' rookie receivers had a bad game.

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    Monday pythagorean - 9/9/2013

    There are times when a 5-2 week, good though it is in the abstract, isn't quite good enough. This was not one of those times. The Red Sox 5-2, combined with Tampa's continued struggles, increased the lead in the division to 7 1/2 with just three weeks remaining.

    • The race is not over yet. It is not over yet. It is not over until someone clinches. But for Boston to miss the play-offs at this point, it would take the kind of meltdown that we haven't seen from the Sox since ... well, since last year. And the year before.


    • The best record in Major League baseball this morning, the most wins, best winning percentage, and the best run differential, all belong to your Boston Red Sox. Just as we all predicted before the season started. Ok, maybe not...


    • In games played after August 31 the last two years, the Red Sox are 14-42 (7-20 in 2011, 7-22 in 2012). Thus far, they're 6-1 in 2013. For them to end up with just 7 September wins for the 3rd straight year, it will take a meltdown that would make September 2011 look like a success.


    • That doesn't mean that they're not capable of it, of course, but saying that I think it unlikely is an understatement.


    • We've known for a while, but Saturday's Red Sox win made it official - Toronto will not win the AL East this year.


    • When the week began, the Tigers had a fairly substantial lead in run differential in Major League baseball. The week ends with Boston leading, 162-161, largely on the strength of Wednesday's 20-4 drubbing, a 16-run win that, because it was against Detroit, produced a 32-run swing in the two teams' relative run differentials.


    • Tuesday's game was that rarity - an expected pitcher's duel that lived up to its billing. Scherzer was excellent, and Lester was better. Two 2-out base hits (Iglesias in the 2nd for the Tigers, Middlebrooks in the 5th for the Red Sox) accounted for all of the scoring.


    • On Friday morning, the Red Sox were 3-1 in their first four games of the week. Of the three wins, the one that was the least interesting, the least inspirational, the least impressive of the three was the 20-4 win in which they tied the club record for home runs in a game. If you knew beforehand that one of the games would be that one, you wouldn't predict that there were two better. But it was sandwiched between the Lester-Scherzer duel and the scintillating double-comeback game in the Bronx. And then, on Friday night, Boston came back from an 8-3 deficit to win again. By the time the week ended, the 20-4, 8 HR from 7 different players blow-out of the Tigers was completely overshadowed by what had preceded and followed it.


    • The Yankees are obviously celebrating the spectacular career of Mariano Rivera, and one of the special things they're doing is recreations of some of his memorable moments. I wasn't there, but rumor has it that the public address announcement accompanying Rivera's entry into Thursday's game went something like this: "Ladies and gentlemen, in tonight's re-enactment of the 9th inning of game four of the 2004 ALCS, the part of Dave Roberts will be played by Quintin Berry. Mike Napoli will be playing Kevin Millar, Stephen Drew will be playing the Bill Mueller part, and Mr. Rivera is appearing as himself..."


    • And the Red Sox are back at .600. Again. They were 3-2 in their first five games, and they've been 3-2 for the season. Consistently very good, from start to (almost) finish.


    • From Buster Olney came this tidbit:
      Thursday was Mariano Rivera's first blown save against the Red Sox since August of 2011 and his first against Boston at home since September of 2010. But in his career he's had more blown saves against the Red Sox than any other team, with 15 in total. The Orioles are second, as he's blown nine against them.
      15 blown saves against Boston, vs. 58 saves. That means that, as of Friday, Mariano Rivera had successfully converted fewer than 80% of his save opportunites against the Red Sox. And then he blew another one on Sunday, bringing that up to 58 saves in 74 attempts, which is about 78%. How many of you thought that Rivera's save percentage against the Red Sox was higher - much higher - than that?


    • For the week, the Red Sox had 10 players hit 18 HR over the course of seven games.


    • Injuries giveth, and injuries taketh away. With Clay Buchholz scheduled to start in Tampa tomorrow night, Jacoby Ellsbury is on the sidelines with a fractured navicular bone in the foot. If that sounds familiar, it's because that's the injury that cost Dustin Pedroia the last half of his 2010 season. Reports are the Ellsbury's fracture is not as serious as Pedroia's, does not require surgery, and may not even cost him the rest of the regular season. It would be a detriment to their chances of post-season success to be playing without Ellsbury, but of course, baseball being what it is, anything could still happen...


    • On August 17, Lyle Overbay doubled against Koji Uehara in the 9th inning of a game in the Bronx. Since then, Uehara's pitched a perfect game, retiring the next 27 batters he's faced, 12 by strikeout.


    • Magic Numbers
      If Boston wins 8 of their remaining 17 games (8-9, .471, 95 wins):
      Tampa Bay must go 17-3 to tie
      Baltimore must go 19-1 to tie
      NY Yankees must go 19-0 to tie

      For the AL East:
      Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totalling 12 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
      Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totalling 10 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore
      Any combination of Boston wins and NY Yankees losses totalling 9 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of NY Yankees
      For the best record in the AL:
      Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totalling 16 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland
      Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totalling 15 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
      I'll be updating these daily until they're no longer relevant - Magic Numbers


    • Red Sox Player of the Week - Obviously, when you average 8 1/2 runs per game, when you score 54 runs in a four-game stretch, there are going to be some gaudy numbers. Like Daniel Nava's (.333/.500/.619/1.119, 6.57 runs created, 11.73 RC/25 outs). And Will Middlebrooks' (.464/.500/.929/1.429, 10.26 runs created, 16.03 RC/25 outs). But the gaudiest were the ones that Mike Napoli (.476/.577/1.143/1.720, 10.68 runs created, 24.26 RC/25 outs) put up.


    • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Even if the rest of the starters had been excellent (they weren't), the first start from Jon Lester was probably enough, as he outpitched 19-1 (now 19-2) Max Scherzer on Tuesday in a game that felt like a playoff game, both before and during. He was very good again on Sunday, albeit without sufficient run and bullpen support to gather another Win.


    AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/9/2013
    ProjectedActual
    R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
    Detroit5.09(2)3.97(3)0.612(1)88558261-6
    Boston5.22(1)4.1(6)0.608(2)88578758-1
    Oakland4.5(6)3.88(2)0.568(3)816283602
    Texas4.51(4)3.97(4)0.558(4)796381612
    Baltimore4.7(3)4.38(10)0.532(5)766676660
    Tampa Bay4.31(9)4.04(5)0.529(6)756778643
    Cleveland4.5(7)4.23(8)0.529(7)756776661
    Kansas City4.05(11)3.82(1)0.527(8)756875680
    NY Yankees4.14(10)4.15(7)0.498(9)717276675
    LA Angels4.51(4)4.61(12)0.49(10)70726775-3
    Toronto4.48(8)4.73(14)0.475(11)68756776-1
    Chicago Sox3.74(15)4.35(9)0.431(12)61815785-4
    Minnesota3.91(13)4.6(11)0.427(13)608161801
    Seattle3.92(12)4.62(13)0.425(14)618265784
    Houston3.87(14)5.28(15)0.361(15)52914796-5


    Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
    Boston9765
    Oakland9468
    Detroit9369
    Texas9270
    Tampa Bay8973


    Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
    Boston9765
    Detroit9468
    Oakland9468
    Texas9270
    Tampa Bay8973


    Standings for the week
    ProjectedActual
    R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
    Toronto6(3)2.67(1)0.815(1)51510
    Boston8.43(1)5.29(9)0.701(2)52520
    Oakland4.86(7)3.14(3)0.689(3)52520
    Cleveland5(6)3.5(4)0.658(4)42420
    LA Angels5.14(5)3.71(5)0.645(5)5243-1
    Baltimore3.86(12)2.86(2)0.634(6)43430
    NY Yankees7.14(2)6.71(15)0.528(7)43430
    Seattle4.14(9)4(6)0.516(8)4334-1
    Detroit4.83(8)5.5(11)0.441(9)3324-1
    Minnesota5.17(4)6.17(14)0.42(10)3324-1
    Kansas City4.14(9)5.29(9)0.39(11)34522
    Tampa Bay3.43(14)4.57(7)0.371(12)34340
    Texas3.83(13)5.5(11)0.341(13)24240
    Houston4.14(9)6(13)0.337(14)25250
    Chicago Sox2.57(15)4.86(8)0.238(15)2516-1

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    Magic numbers - 9/9/2013

    Magic Number report

    If Boston wins 8 of their remaining 17 games (8-9, .471, 95 wins):
    Tampa Bay must go 17-3 to tie
    Baltimore must go 19-1 to tie
    NY Yankees must go 19-0 to tie

    For the AL East:
    Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totalling 12 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
    Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totalling 10 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore
    Any combination of Boston wins and NY Yankees losses totalling 9 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of NY Yankees
    For the best record in the AL:
    Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totalling 16 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland
    Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totalling 15 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
    I'll be updating these daily until they're no longer relevant - Magic Numbers

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    Thursday, September 05, 2013

    Boston 20, Detroit 4


    Well, that was quite a game. And it's amazing how quickly some things can change when something like this happens.

    • As noted on Monday, the week began with the Tigers leading Major League baseball in run differential, by a pretty healthy margin, 165-140 over second place Boston. When yesterday started, the lead was 29 runs, 167-138. Last night saw a 32-run swing, and the Red Sox now have the best run differential in baseball, 154-151 over Detroit.


    • Monday, the Tigers had the best pythagorean winning percentage in the AL at .621 to Boston's .601. This morning, Boston's .6084 is just better than Detroit's .6082, as the Red Sox now have the AL's best pythagorean record.


    • Detroit's runs allowed per game jumped from 3.90 (2nd in the AL) to 3.97 (4th in the AL) in one game. Their 140th.


    • Boston passed Detroit in runs scored, and runs scored/game.


    • No matter what they do in NY, the Red Sox offense for the week is bound to end up looking decent. They scored 2 runs in the first two games against the Tigers but ended up averaging over 7 runs per game in the series.


    • The Red Sox' eight home runs tied the franchise record for one game. The first time, seven of them were solos, as they ended up beating Toronto 9-6. (Yes, they hit 8 home runs and only scored 9 runs.) Butch Hobson, Bernie Carbo, Fred Lynn (2), George Scott (2), Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski. They actually trailed that game 6-5 before Lynn, Rice and Yastrzemski went deep back-to-back-to-back in the 8th. Last night, it was Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway, Daniel Nava, Mike Napoli and David Ortiz (2). And a lot more base-runners.



    And congratulations are in order for David Ortiz, who collected his 1999th (HR), 2000th (2B) and 2001st (HR) hits in the game. He hit the milestones in style, going 3-5 with 10 total bases and four runs batted in. In fact, since extending his hitless slump through the Baltimore series a week ago, he's now hitting .381/.500/.762/1.262 with 7.27 runs created and 13.97 RC/25 outs in his last six games. Not done yet, apparently...


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