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October 16, 2013

Baseball Therapy

Did Big Papi’s Big Home Run Give Boston the Big Mo?

by Russell A. Carleton


Last night, the Tigers and Red Sox faced off in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. It was the first meeting between the teams since the Red Sox tied up the series at one game apiece after trailing 5-1 going into the eighth inning. In case your short-term memory isn’t so good lately, that was the game where David Ortiz, a man who has had great troubles in the past during key situations, did this:

In the ninth, a Jarrod Saltalamacchia single to plate Johnny Gomes sent the Tigers home as 6-5 losers. With such a dramatic win, Boston most certainly seized the momentum. Then they won Game 3 by a 1-0 score. Did momentum give them that run?

Before we go any further, what exactly is momentum? The common definition seems to be that it is some sort of circumstance that confers an extra advantage on the team that has “big mo” in its corner. But given that we accept that “momentum can swing with every at-bat,” what’s the point of momentum? If it can be undone by the other team doing something interesting, then perhaps momentum can be better defined as “An alternate formation of the question ‘Which team has done something interesting lately?’” Still, the idea of a big home run conferring some sort of advantage on the momentous team in their next game is a testable hypothesis.

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Related Content:  Playoffs,  Boston Red Sox,  David Ortiz,  Momentum

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