Monday, May 14, 2007

A Few More Words About the Red Sox

My favorite baseball quote of all time comes, ironically enough (you'll understand the irony soon) from Earl Weaver, the longtime skipper of the Baltimore Orioles:

"You can't sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You've got to throw the ball over the goddamn plate and give the other man his chance. That's why baseball is the greatest game of them all."

Yesterday, the Red Sox, down five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, scored six for an improbable 6-5 victory over the selfsame Orioles that Weaver managed for so many years. Had they harkened to his words of wisdom, this game would have ended up the laugher that it had been shaping up to be all afternoon. But an error, an ill-timed pitching change, a few base hits, a few walks, another error, and hey presto, 6-5 good guys.

One hears that the Yankees were scoreboard-watching and couldn't believe that the Sox ended up winning. "I looked up and couldn't really believe it," the New York Daily News quoted the ever quotable Johnny Damon as saying. "It seemed like the Orioles had the game convincingly. I thought they might have made a mistake, that it should have still been 5-0."

No mistake, Johnny D.

Combined with a 2-1 Yankees loss to the Mariners (where A-Rod had the game on his bat with two outs and two on in the eighth, but whiffed), this means that the Orioles and the Yankees both trail the Sox in the AL East by eight games, which is quite a lead for the middle of May. Of course it's no guarantee that the crown comes to Boston this year, but I'm sure they'd rather be eight up than eight down.

In my last post I articulated why I think this is no fluke; the team is strong in just about every category you can measure. But I'll add some additional analysis, and hope that the less stat-minded among you will forgive me.

The Red Sox are tied for second place in all of baseball in the category of runs scored with 198, tied with Detroit and second only to a certain New York based team whose name rhymes with "Shmankees." They are also the outright leader in runs allowed, with 125.

A heady combination, that. Makes one really start thinking that this team is well-constructed for the long haul.

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