Two Articles, One of Which You’ll See Next Week

by JohnBowen

Baltimore, 9/28/11

With Boston’s loss at the hands of the Orioles in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Ray’s victory at home against the mighty Yankees, the greatest choke in the history of baseball is complete.

Despite entering September with an 83-52 record and the best record in the American League, the Red Sox slumped terribly while the young, scrappy Rays fought, clawed and battled their way to the American League Wildcard, despite a payroll less than that of the Red Sox bullpen.

The pieces were there – three bonafide MVP candidates in Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury (though giving the award to any of these gentlemen after the biggest choke in history would be nothing short of a sham). A rotation led by dual-aces Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. A bullpen anchored by Jonathon Papelbon. And the second highest payroll in baseball to fill in the gaps.

What separated the 2011 Red Sox from their 2004 and 2007 predecessors wasn’t talent, that’s for sure. It was fire. Passion. Desire. Kevin Millar. When the rag-tag Rays put together their late-season charge, there was too much panic in the clubhouse, not enough leadership. There weren’t any sparkplugs, no cowboy-ups, no idiots. Just a stiff group of guys with big numbers.

That’s what we’ve come to expect from the Red Sox since 2008. Too many statistics. Not enough championships.

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Baltimore, 9/28/11

With a gutsy performance by Josh Beckett against the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox staved off an attack by the Tampa Bay Rays to win the American League Wild Card. This will be the 7th playoff appearance in nine years for a team expected by many to take their winning ways to another World Series title.

“We bent but did not break” Red Sox Captain Jason Varitek remarked in the champagne-soaked Baltimore clubhouse after the game.

“It’s a great group of guys” said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “We came together; we were tested and we prevailed.”

They surely were tested. But they did not panic. With clubhouse veterans like David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, and Kevin Youkilis providing the leadership this team needed, this rag-tag group of gamers withstood Tampa Bay’s late season charge and secured the American League Wild Card on the season’s final day.

With another playoff appearance in the books, the only question remaining: which of Boston’s three superstars – Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, or Adrian Gonzalez – should be this year’s American League Most Valuable Player?

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15 Responses to “Two Articles, One of Which You’ll See Next Week”

  1. Chuck Says:

    “Too many statistics. Not enough championships.”

    The official definition of sabermetrics.

    Great on paper, not so much on the field.

  2. JohnBowen Says:

    Chuck, here’s a fun exercise.

    After the season, go look up every team’s total WAR and add 49 to it.

    You’ll see every team’s win total is more/less the same as their WAR (plus 49, what a typical AAA would do) total.

    Sorry, bud.

    Works great in the field.

  3. JohnBowen Says:

    Also, I find it funny that you’re pandering to the opinions of a hypothetical person I satirically invented.

  4. Raul Says:

    Which two articles are you going to write for Prince Fielder?

  5. JohnBowen Says:

    Haha, funny you should mention that, Raul.

    So I’ve probably watched, or at least listened to, around 130-140 Brewers games this year.

    My roommate has observed that whenever Prince Fielder does something good, I call him Prince.

    Whenever he does something bad, I call him Fielder.

    Ironic, cuz generally he screws up…while fielding.

  6. Jim Says:

    Try as the RS will to choke and not make the playoffs, the Yanks won’t let them and will stuff the Rays in their back pockets.

  7. Jim Says:

    And the boos rain down in Fenway as the Sox lose to the O’s again.

  8. John Says:

    Meanwhile, the Mets blow it yet again to the Cards.

    Ridiculous.

  9. Mike Felber Says:

    WAR is pretty good overall John, but there are significant problems & questions, especially with pitcher rankings, due to whether they used adjusted ERA or FIP. But for batters there are big issues, defensive rankings are a big part of it, but not all. On B-R.com i have been advocating for a while for an open debate as to the merits & weaknesses of various total value systems, chief amongst them distinct versions of WAR.

    See this thread for not only a discussion of hurler disparities, but I give a bunch of examples of wide career disparities between very different position players. When Fangraph & B-R WAR rates many players similarly, but many have a 15, 20, even sometimes 30% + difference in career ratings, there is much to resolve. Start with post #14 for some eye opening discrepancies.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/15160#comments

  10. Raul Says:

    2-2 in the 8th.

    Tampa needs this. They already blew the game earlier today.

  11. Jim Says:

    And the Yanks, keep the RS 2.5 games ahead.

    Tampa struggles to score.

  12. Chuck Says:

    Mike,

    Johnny T said it best later on in that thread, “WAR is an argument starter, not an argument ender.”

    And I agree with your philosophy that there are too many discrepancies between the various versions of WAR for it to be taken seriously.

  13. Chuck Says:

    “Also, I find it funny that you’re pandering to the opinions of a hypothetical person I satirically invented”

    Right.

  14. Chuck Says:

    I have an article which you’ll see the first week of November.

    My solid gold lock World Series predictions.

  15. John Says:

    So, Scenerio 1 happened.

    http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2011/10/12/red_sox_unity_dedication_dissolved_during_epic_late_season_collapse/

    Guarantee if they eeked it out and went on to win the WS, we’d be reading about how they played video games in the clubhouse to stay loose.

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