Sunday, July 01, 2007

Every once in a great while, the devastatingly perceptive announcing tandem of Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo manages to unearth a nugget that almost makes it worth my while to suffer through a game that they're covering. This afternoon was one of those times. Thanks to their stats gurus and fact checkers, I do not have to expend any effort to tell you that the Red Sox are currently 1-28 when trailing after 8 innings.

That news made my weekend considerably brighter. Perhaps, if you are a member or fan of this incarnation of the Boston Red Sox, you can find a reason to dismiss that stat. At that point, you might even be willing to believe that JD Drew, Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp are merely lulling the opposition into a false sense of security with their inferior performance at the plate. And that it's not a bad sign that Texas beat up on Josh Beckett yesterday. Of course, since I am not a Red Sox fan, I am free to look at events as they unfold untainted by a compulsion to whitewash the team's blemishes and imperfections.

Many things will end up haunting the Red Sox when they bow out of the playoffs almost before the postseason has begun. I think the fact that Alex Cora and that kid from Pawtucket whose name I might just learn should he get another start for the Sox were playing in the rubber game of a series whilst a 10 million dollar duo (Crisp and Lugo) warmed the bench should stun and dismay the citizens of Red Sox Nation. But that's just me.

I think what will bother Red Sox fans most about this season is that their team whom they have embraced wholehearedly cannot come from behind. Against the Dodgers or the Giants or another NL West team, it won't matter. The National League West doesn't look like it will turn out a serious contender this season. But against a team like the Tigers or the Twins, I think it will send the Red Sox packing early.

I am, or at least I try to be, a rational man. I don't expect that the Red Sox should come from behind to win every game in the late innings. I would probably be as surprised today if I found that the Sox were 28-1 or even 19-10 in late inning comebacks. That's just the way the world works. The Red Sox should be below .500 in that category, considering that every opponent has a pitcher prepared to enter tight games to preserve a victory. Even a few bad teams can have a closer who should end up with 30 saves. So teams with leads should close the deal in the 8th and 9th innings considerably more often than they fall apart.

But to have only come back once all season when the payroll comes out to be in the $140-$150 million range is disgusting. It tells me that this team has next to no character, nor heart. Good teams come back in the 8th/9th innings to help win games. More importantly, champions have to be able to do it. The Red Sox can front run with the best of them. That much is clear, but if they can't win when they're down in the last half of the 9th in Friendly Fenway more often, I'll be providing Red Sox Nation with the lyrics to the Crowded House opus "Don't Dream It's Over" far sooner than the citizens might hope.

1 comment:

Matt said...

most teams lose when trailing after 8 innings. that's not a useful stat, especially out of context. I'd wager most teams have a similar record in that situation. it's like saying that a football team loses most of it's games when it's trailing by a touchdown with under a minute to go.

well, duh!