Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Gordon Edes in a mail bag speaks to the Sox difficulties in one-run games.
…beginning play Monday, the Red Sox had the worst record in one-run games (8-17)…Every other playoff contender in the AL has a winning record in one-run games; the Indians despite a bullpen that had more blown saves than saves, had 22 one-run wins, as many as the White Sox and three more than the Yankees. Does this mean Terry Francona is being outmanaged by, among others, Joe Torre, Eric Wedge and Ozzie Guillen, not to mention Grady Little, who last season guided the Sox to a 26-16 record in one-run games? That might be your first conclusion.
But the numbers crunchers, including Bill James, will tell you that luck and randomness are significant factors in one-run outcomes [emphasis EGG], and it's not hard to find some support for that conclusion. For example, last season, the Toronto Blue Jays were 10 games over .500, but were just 14-23 in one-run games. This season, they're 14-15 in one-run games, but began play Monday 20 games under .500. Felipe Alou is widely regarded as one of the game's best managers, and last season his Giants were 28-12 in one-run games. This season, they're 15-19; did Alou suddenly become a worse manager? How 'bout the Cubs? Under Dusty Baker, they were 27-17 in one-run games last season; this season it's 15-19. This might be the best example of all. Last season, the Braves were just 17-25 in one-run games, and yet won 101 games overall. How does the Braves' record in one-run games reflect on Bobby Cox's managerial abilities? My answer: Not at all. And the same may be true for Terry Francona, too.
The Sox were fortunate last evening that Cabrera’s ball did not take the usual trajectory – downward – when coming off the Monster. As noted by Jerry Remy and company, the ball floating up, after bouncing off the top of the new metal scoreboard, gave Damon the extra time to beat the throw home and score from first. If that ball hits off the old scoreboard or any other part of the Monster, Damon likely doesn’t score the game winner. Other than Roberts, no other player is fast enough to beat the throw too.
The stars were aligned for the Old Town Team to score the game winner on that play. The Sox were “all in” and made their straight flush draw on the river to beat the Jays four aces last night. The Red Sox magic is back and it will last until November this year!