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October 27, 2008

Prospectus Today

Judgment Calls

by Joe Sheehan

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Through two games, the World Series was going exactly as scripted. Cole Hamels shut down the Rays through seven innings Saturday and was picked up by Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge for a win that the Phillies were expected to get. On Sunday night, the Rays got a good start by their ace, James Shields, and tied the series at a game apiece. In both games, Joe Maddon used his bullpen aggressively, specifically making sure that Ryan Howard was forced to face a steady diet of left-handed relievers, a strength of his team.

The series shifted when that strategy did. Saturday, Maddon let Howard see Matt Garza in the sixth inning of a 3-1 game, and Howard made it 4-1, a key run in a game in which the Rays later rallied to tie it at four. Last night, it was Andy Sonnanstine's turn, protecting a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning of what may well have been an elimination game. Sonnanstine was not pitching well, struggling with his command, which is his entire game. Sonnanstine without his command is like me without the "e" key-you can understand what's happening, and you get the sense that there's skill present, but the results are pretty hard to watch.

Maddon recognized the entire situation; he saw the play developing, and he had Trever Miller up in the bullpen as Sonnanstine faced Chase Utley with two on and no one out. It was getting late early out there; the Rays, down 2-1, had been struggling to score for the entire series, and an early multiple-run deficit was the worst-case scenario for them. All of Maddon's bad moments in the postseason had come from being passive; when he was aggressive with his bullpen, his bullpen rewarded him with outs and wins. When he sat on his hands, things like the events that lost him Game Five of the ALCS or Game Three of the World Series happened.

To some extent, the worst thing that could have happened was Sonnanstine striking out Utley. "He struck out Utley, so at that point I'm saying let's ride with it a little bit," Maddon said. "If Utley had gotten on, Miller would have faced Howard. I didn't really want to do that."

He should have. He had a right-handed command pitcher without his best command, pitching from the stretch in a bandbox, against a guy who had been neutralized all month by southpaws. Howard's October "slump" was entirely a function of being force-fed good left-handed pitching in key spots. When he came to the plate against Sonnanstine in the fourth, Howard was at .357/.454/.571 against right-handers in the postseason, and .125/.300/.125 against left-handers, or basically the same player he's been all season long. It wasn't a slump: it was exploitation of his weakness.

Drawing Sonnanstine's measure, Howard hit a three-run homer to left field, and in the time it took for the ball to leave the yard, the Rays' chance to win a championship redlined. Joe Maddon has oscillated between Casey Stengel and Bob Brenly for three weeks; right there, he made the big mistake at the wrong time. That Howard later ran into one off of Miller in the eighth doesn't mean a thing in terms of the fourth-inning decision. That was a high-leverage situation for the Rays, and they needed to maximize their chance of getting out of it, even if that meant needing the bullpen for 16 or more outs.

The last two nights, Maddon has allowed righties to face Howard in pivotal spots, and the Phillies' starting pitchers have out-pitched the Rays' starters. Howard, Moyer, and Blanton are why the Phillies are up 3-1.

Joe Blanton made the Rays look much like Jamie Moyer made them look: anxious. For the second straight night, the Rays had bad at-bats against a pitcher who took advantage of their sudden loss of plate discipline. Whether it's because they're young and playing in the World Series, or it's just the kind of four-day siesta that we'd look past in June, the Rays' sudden departure from what worked for them all year long is noticeable, and it's killing them. They have a dozen runs in three games, just nine walks, just six extra-base hits, and a .187/.246/.285 overall line. Every Phillies starter has given their team a quality start, and the edge that was supposed to exist in all the non-Cole Hamels starts for the Rays has not emerged. Blanton and Moyer struck out a dozen men in 12 1/3 innings, which may be the single statistic that indicts the Rays' World Series more than any other.

The Maddon decision, the Howard homers, Blanton's work on the mound and at the plate all overshadowed the worst call of October. In a postseason where the umpiring has been shoddy but lacked a signature failure, we got that last night when Tim Welke blew an easy call that was right in front of him. With first and third and one out, Sonnanstine fielded a comebacker and charged at Jimmy Rollins halfway between third and home. He chased Rollins back and threw to Evan Longoria, who plainly tagged Rollins' rear end as the shortstop tried to dive past him to the bag. Welke signaled "safe."

"I just saw [Longoria] swing and miss," said Welke. "I never saw a tag. That's a swipe tag. A lot of times, on a swipe tag, the glove will pause. I saw him try to make a swipe tag but I never saw the glove pause."

Well, it wasn't really a swipe tag, which entails brushing the glove past a player's body. Longoria's tag made full contact with Rollins' behind in a manner that would probably get you slapped in a bar. Welke was in position, wasn't blocked out of the play, and was maybe a foot from the contact. How he missed the call is one of October's great mysteries, right up there with why Linus' parents never had a problem with their toddler spending an autumn night in a godforsaken pumpkin patch wearing a T-shirt and shorts.

The Phillies won 10-2. Had they won 3-2, this is all we'd be talking about. Sooner or later, MLB is going to have to decide whether their efforts to determine a champion are important enough to warrant letting the players decide it. Rollins wasn't safe. He was out, and he was called safe. Maybe that difference works for some people-it certainly works for the umpires union-but it's unacceptable on a stage this big in a world that allows for better. That wasn't the human element we saw last night. That was blatant incompetence.

And with all that said... what the hell was Sonnanstine thinking? With first and third and one out, you go to second on a comebacker. That was a double-play ball with almost anyone running, and with Howard running, it was two free outs and a trip to the dugout. It was a terrible decision by Sonnanstine, who is actually a smart baseball player. In the same way that Maddon's decision overshadowed Welke's call and let him off the hook a little, Welke's call overshadowed Sonnanstine's mental error and let him off the hook a little.

It all added up to Phillies 10, Rays 2. With Hamels on the mound tonight, it's very hard to find anyone who think this World Series is going to break the record-setting stretch of four straight seasons without a Game Six. The Rays, remember, weren't supposed to beat Jon Lester, and they did it twice in a week to get here, so the pessimism about their situation may be overwrought. However, Hamels is better than Lester is, and as a pitcher who relies on a changeup more than a big breaking ball, he's an even tougher matchup for a team that collectively is having trouble staying back at the plate.

This World Series isn't over yet, but for it to take us back to Tampa Bay, the Rays will have to get back to taking pitches and getting into hitters' counts, being aggressive with their bullpen and, quite frankly, getting a little bit lucky by guessing right against Hamels and running into a few balls. If they can just find a way to beat him tonight, they'll be headed home and they'll have the best starter on the mound for each of the final two games. For the Phillies' part, they just have to let Scott Kazmir give them opportunities, which he will with his wildness, and make plays behind Hamels.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  Rays,  The Who,  The Call-up

36 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

oira61

Joe: When was the last time a Series had worse umpiring than this? I remember famous individual blown calls but it seems like these umps are consistently bad. Or am I blowing it out of proportion?

Oct 27, 2008 11:54 AM
rating: 1
 
smitty

I think the big reason the Phils are beating the Rays is the Phils' starting pitching is not worse than the Rays' youngsters, as has widely been assumed by you and many others.

Overall, the Rays' pitchers have had better years than Phils' hurlers as measured by season metrics. But what is more important is the staff as it sits in October. And the Phils' starters are at least as good as the Rays' guys.

Sheilds, who only went 5 1/3 innings in his start, Kazmir, Garza and Sonnastine make a nice rotation supported by a very fine defense. But none of them are stud aces. Garza was very muchg helped by his home park and Sonnastine is not really the type of pitcher who can shut down a good lineup consistently, as we saw last night.

Meanwhile, Moyer was excellent nearly all year for the Phils. He had two rough starts in the playoffs but there really was no reason to believe he wouldn't pitch well vs. the Rays.

Myers was horrible early in the year and even went down to the minors for a while. But in the second half, he was mostly brilliant. The good Myers is better than any Ray pitcher most likely. Finally, Blanton has also been mostly good with Philly. He's not a really good pitcher but he is at least as good as Sonnastine. He is certainly capable of pitching many games similar to last night's effort.

I think some of then other reasons you and guys like Keith Law used to over rate the Rays in this series are also flawed. The fact that the AL is better than the NL is not relavent in my view. These two teams are very close in overall ability. The Phils may or may not be as deep as the Rays. But who really cares if the Rays bench guys that don't play are better than Clay Condrey and So Taguchi?

Oct 27, 2008 12:15 PM
rating: 0
 
John Collins
(110)

Here's a question about the blown call where Longoria tagged Rollins: is there any chance that Rollins should be safe on that play anyway, based on obstruction? It looked like Longoria blocked Rollins' path back to third (before he even had the ball), forcing Rollins to take a more circuitous path back to third. To get an obstruction (or is it interference?) call, would Rollins have needed to actually bump into Longoria, instead of going around him?

Oct 27, 2008 12:18 PM
rating: 1
 
SleepyCA

It's been awful this whole season. I don't see why anyone would be surprised to see it be awful in the post-season as well.

Oct 27, 2008 12:23 PM
rating: 1
 
antoine6

I find it kind of amazing that this is only one of many horrible calls in this series, and yet only this one gets talked about seriously. Many of us have been asking Joe and others here to discuss the umpiring; I guess we should have known it would take a call to go against the Rays for this to happen.

Oct 27, 2008 12:29 PM
rating: -2
 
W. Clark

It has to do with Joe's narrative of the series. His conclusion has been that the Rays are better team and as such are going to win the series. The tone of the stories have invariably reflected that baseline - it is not why the Phillies are beating the Rays, but why the Rays are losing to the Phillies.

Above, the column reads 1)Maddon's poor decision; 2) Rays inexplicable impatience at the plate; 3) Umpires screwing the Rays; 4) Sonnanstine's brain fart.

whatever, if that's the story Sheehan sees, so be it, but the philadelphia narrative seems completely non-existant.

I'm sure there can be a tit for tat around this issue but the fact is that the reaction of Philadelphia readers to this series has been almost universally incredulous, while that of Rays fans has been, well, undiscernable. Is there a Rays fan base on here? Anyways, maybe the Philadelphia readership is universally simple-minded, but that is certainly not the most obvious conclusion.

Oct 27, 2008 12:58 PM
rating: 2
 
aryanglass

Yes there is. We just don't feel the necessity to bitch and moan about everything. One would think Phils fans would be happy they're up in the series. Of course not, though, they always have to feel like they're being unjustly treated somehow.

Oct 27, 2008 13:45 PM
rating: 0
 
jkaplow21

Show me how this isn't true. In fact, look at the article history here and see how it is all about how the opponents of the Phillies have failed and not what the Phillies have done right. What is aggravating is that this is the place where I go to avoid this subjective crap and now it is extremely prevalent here. Maybe I didn't notice it before. And I am not a homer. I hate fluff pieces and Jason Stark is the biggest hack to ever come out of Philly. If the Phils win, might as well put an asterick next to it.

Oct 27, 2008 13:48 PM
rating: 0
 
aryanglass

See below? I don't feel like spending the time to go through past articles. No matter, anyways, because I am sure it would just be countered by some other semantic argument.

Oct 27, 2008 13:55 PM
rating: -1
 
aryanglass

More to the point:

He praises Hamels, and discussed how unlikely it is that the Rays will come back. Do you genuinely believe that Phils 2-4 have been better this year than the Rays? That seems to be the issue. The fact that the Phils starters over-performed in the last two games, while the Rays starters underperformed. The Phils have hit well, and the Rays have not. This seems to be the overwhelming narrative.

The Phils were a good regular season team, but the Rays were better. So, isn't it a little surprising to see them utterly choke it away?

Oct 27, 2008 13:59 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt L.

The umpiring has been talked about seriously in other columns; this is from Joe's 10/24 column after Game 2:

"As mentioned in passing already, Kerwin Danley did not have a good night. He signaled a called third strike on Rocco Baldelli in the second, then sent Baldelli to first base as if he’d walked. In the grand tradition of Doug Eddings, Danley dissembled, claiming that he was waving Baldelli to first base. Which had been relocated to a spot 15 feet above Danley, if you believe his gesture.

In the ninth, Danley missed Price’s fastball catching Rollins’ left sleeve. It would have been a weak hit-by-pitch, but by rule Rollins was hit and should have been on first base, which would have brought the tying run to the plate with no one out in the ninth.

Danley turned an out into a baserunner and the Rays scored. He turned a baserunner into, eventually, an out, and the Phillies’ rally fell short. If the perfectly-umpired game is that one where you never notice the crew, Danley may have umped the diametric opposite last night."

Oct 27, 2008 13:29 PM
rating: 2
 
One Flap Down

I think the Phillies need to send a bouquet of roses or some champagne over to the Boston Red Sox. Sure you can put this down to random variation, regression to the mean or the pitching of Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton, but the basic fact is that the Rays have not been the same team since Boston came back on them in Game 5 of the ALCS. Although the Rays did eke out a Game 7 win (thanks primarily to Garza carrying them on his back), since the 7th inning of Game 5, the Rays have performed considerably more poorly by just about every metric you can think of - their power numbers are down, defensively they come nowhere near resembling the team that finished first in Defensive Efficiency, the pitchers have nibbled, etc. Only in the speed department (which is the most purely athletic and requires the least mental exertion) have they looked like the Rays of 2008 through October 16. Even their WS Game 2 win was pretty ugly - if the Phillies could have plated a couple of the 9 baserunners they put on in less than 6 innings against Shields, the series would be over now,

Oct 27, 2008 12:47 PM
rating: 0
 
beegee73

Right. Because the Rays numbers being down is a function of them performing poorly, not of the Phillies performing well.

Oct 27, 2008 22:11 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

I have noticed on reading some of the previous roundtables that some of the BP writers get upset when most hard hit balls are attributed (at least by the tv guys) as hits off of mistake pitches, when they should rightfully be sometimes credited to the batter doing a great job of hitting the ball. It would be nice if we could also see BP write according to that balancing of zero's sum by attributing a game's outcome not only to the mistakes of the loser, but to the achievements of the winner. As a true zero-sum game, all events in baseball can be boiled down to one team beating another in any given game element (hitting/pitching/defense/base-running/management, etc.) I, for one, would love to read more about how the winner won.

Oct 27, 2008 13:14 PM
rating: 4
 
ashitaka

and on the flipside, when a hitter flicks a ball into play for a hit--usually a dink or flare over the infield or through a hole into no man's land--you will invariably hear the tv guys praise the hitter's piece of hitting...

Oct 27, 2008 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
SamHughes

"That Howard later ran into one off of Miller in the eighth doesn't mean a thing in terms of the fourth-inning decision."

When Howard gets in a groove, he can hit anybody, very much including lefthanders. I'll let someone define the statistical parameters of a groove, and I'll concede that that maybe hitting the bomb off Sonnanstine helped him get into one, since grooves are always made up of several parts confidence. And there's no question that, on the whole, he hits righties better than lefties, especially when he's struggling (when he's god-awful). But describing a shot like that off Miller as "running into one" sounds more like a dyspeptic Billy Wagner than Joe Sheehan.
I love Joe's writing, and he's written plenty of thoughtful, smart things about the Phils over the last few weeks, but the whole "Howard can't play for my team and is only a platoon player" sentiment ignores what a transformational player he can be, IMHO. I'd be interested to hear what some of the smarter GMs have to say about that.

Oct 27, 2008 13:18 PM
rating: 0
 
SamHughes

Right after posting the above, I read John Perrotto's piece that talks about Howard and grooves. Oh well. As long as he's getting his groove back, I'm willing to be redundant.

Oct 27, 2008 13:23 PM
rating: 1
 
ScottyB

Howard's power is still there against lefties. It's just his OBP plummets- feast or famine against lefties, mostly feast against righties. I'll take Howard on my team any day.

Oct 28, 2008 07:46 AM
rating: 0
 
Daniel
(179)

Love your comments, Joe, but please lose the "off of".

Oct 27, 2008 13:33 PM
rating: 0
 
phuturephillies

The argument that Ryan Howard can't hit lefties strikes me as odd. Howard is a streaky hitter, plain and simple. In 2006, before teams started to employ the shift against him full time, he penned a .279/.364/.558 line against LHP in 225 PA's. What did that prove? That he could hit lefties? In 2007 his line dropped to .225/.333/.493 against lefties. His ISO against LHP was still .268. A .268 ISO against LHP. In 2008, he really struggled. .224/.294/.451 v LHP in 265 PA. Howard was also 3rd in the majors with 14 HR v LHP.

So teams have obviously made adjustments. The single biggest adjustment is the shift, which takes away lots of would be base hits on sharp line drives to RF. But Howard is far from the only lefthanded batter who struggles against good LHP. Carlos Pena's 3 slash against LHP this year was .190/.302/.352. I haven't read that he's a platoon player, or in Joe's words "He can't play for me".

I think what this comes down to is pretty simple. Lots of folks here believe Howard doesn't deserve MVP consideration. Because people feel he'll get undeserved votes for the MVP award, they go out of their way to attack Howard's shortcomings. They point to his defense. Yep, his defense is bad, but he actually scores close to average in Dewan's system, moreso than FRAA or FRAR. Again, not a good defender, and his throwing is terrible. But the fact remains, when Howard is locked in, hes one of the best hitters in the majors, vs lefties or righties. Albert Pujols deserves the MVP. Most Phillies fans won't argue against that. But don't let that argument enter into the "Ryan Howard is a platoon player" argument. One more bonus stat. From August 1st till the end of the season, Howard's 3 slash v LHP was .276/.370/.638. He's a streaky hitter.

If Ryan Howard is a platoon player, so are the following guys;

Carlos Pena, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau, James Loney, Prince Fielder, Grady Sizemore, Carl Crawford and Curtis Granderson.

Oct 27, 2008 13:44 PM
rating: 6
 
aryanglass

"If Ryan Howard is a platoon player, so are the following guys;

Carlos Pena, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau, James Loney, Prince Fielder, Grady Sizemore, Carl Crawford and Curtis Granderson."

A fair amount of Joe's platoon argument is that Howard is also a butcher in the field. Save a couple the list above at least provide some value if their bats aren't going.

Oct 27, 2008 13:50 PM
rating: 1
 
DWrek5

Right, and this also doesnt have to be combated by just throwing in a right handed batter. Sometimes its as simple as just dropping them in the order and moving some righties up.
Why does Howard "have" to bat 4th no matter who they are facing or who else is in the lineup?

Oct 27, 2008 14:04 PM
rating: 0
 
relliott22

You can't really blame Joe for the analytical perspective that he adopted for the WS. Tampa Bay came from the toughest division of the stronger league, and still had a better record. They had a deeper starting rotation, a deeper lineup (though perhaps with 2-5 hitters a notch under Philly), and their bullpen was as good as Philly (and tactially it matched up well). The Rays were the favorites by leaps and bounds, and if there were another 10 games to play, they still would be. That's not a narrative he's inventing, it's just the position he adopted after analyzing the data. He shouldn't shift that because the games didn't play out that way, precisely because he's not writing the narrative, he's writing the analysis.

Oct 27, 2008 14:03 PM
rating: 2
 
Sophist

Good point. Although what I think that analysis overlooks, and some above try to rebut, is that the Phils weren't clicking all season long. To take a SP example, consider Myers. His ERA+ for the season finished at 98, but it's not clear how predictive that metric is (relative to any metric's predictability in the playoffs) for these series. His performance after his demotion is well known.

Also, take this statement: "Howard was at .357/.454/.571 against right-handers in the postseason, and .125/.300/.125 against left-handers, or basically the same player he's been all season long."

That "all season long," as phuturephillies (a great site, by the way) points is, could be misleading. Howard is not a consistently poor hitter against LHP. I was arguing for a Howard/Coste platoon (which is pretty dumb) until July. Howard's OPS against LHP in August was .868. In September it was 1.312.

The tougher competition argument is a good one. But I think it's debatable how much deeper their rotation is 1-4 or how much deeper their lineup is. Yeah, Feliz and Ruiz were liabilities much of the year. But Ruiz ended the season very strong (.244/.345 in the second half) and has one of the highest BB% among starting C.

Feliz, well, he shouldn't ever start against RHP. No argument there. But he does have a .845 OPS against LHP. There's really not many merits to Feliz offensively, however. The Rays are batting .187/.246/.285 as a team this series (the Phils: .263/.361/.518.) For point of reference, Feliz hit .189/.250/.283 in the second half this year.

Oct 27, 2008 15:19 PM
rating: 1
 
smitty

The Rays simply are not deeper and better than the Phillies. That's a myth. The Rays have Dioner Navarro hitting sixth and Ben Zobrist and Gabe Gross in their World Series lineup. The end of the bench guys might be somewhat better, but they aren't too relevant in the World Series. Who cares if some Rays are better than Clay Condrey and So Taguchi.

The Phils starters, right now, are better than the Rays' guys. Moyer was great almost all year and his two bad post season starts don't make him worse than Garza -- who was pretty mediocre away from home.

Myers has been mostly great since his return from the minors. Blanton has been very good for the Phils -- especially recently when it counts.

The Phils bullpen, led by guys who have been good for years, Madson, Eyre, Romero and Lidge is better than the rays buch of not so hot pitchers who had very nice regular seasons. Look at the 30 year old Balfur's career and J./P. Howell as well.

Price got torched by Bruntlett for cryin' out loud and hye was one missed HBP call away from real trouble. He will probably be great soon. But I'm not convinced he is right now.

These two teams were very even going into this series. The AL is better than the NL argument is not a good one. In October, the Phils have been at least as good as the Rays, and I contend they are a better team right now -- which is what counts.

Using season stats are misleading when you are dealing with guys like Myers, who had a terrible start. Blanton is also pitching better now than he did all year.

Oct 27, 2008 15:49 PM
rating: 2
 
jkaplow21

I agree that there is a zone where sample sizes become large enough but not including irrelavant data. The implication is that all variables remain the same in the sample. But we know that isn't true. So, ABs in Arpil may be completely different that ABs in September due to a bunch of reasons.

Oct 27, 2008 17:16 PM
rating: 0
 
OrigamiT

I meant to give this post a +1, but accidentally flagged it as inapropriate... Stupid small text on the iPhone. Sorry. Anyway, I think this post sums up the majority of Joe's pieces this series.

Oct 27, 2008 16:58 PM
rating: 0
 
W. Clark

I don't dispute the initial analysis of the series. The Rays were the objective favorites. I don't even posit that the articles have been inaccurate - though I do think some of Sheehan's points have been driven by his conclusion.

But it's tiresome to come to BP the day after seeing the phillies win and see the analysis skewed definitively towards why the better team lost. It takes some of the joy out of this whole thing. The Phillies keep winning, but we keep coming to our favorite site to read that it's a fluke, that it's not deserved. Again, that's the story Sheehan sees.

Oct 27, 2008 18:03 PM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

BP beat up Torre for using the 2 relievers in the wrong sequence when they both got stroked for HRs.

now Joe is beating up Maddon for not using Miller even earlier to get stroked by Howard

"That Howard later ran into one off of Miller in the eighth doesn't mean a thing in terms of the fourth-inning decision."

I thought I read somewhere at BP that the strategy should be to not let Utley or Howard face a righty in the 6th inning on. Seems this decision was entirely consistent with that.

If starting pitching was the advantage the Rays had versus the Phillies, how does removing the starter at the very first sign of trouble serve that advantage? Then Joe could have questioned why Maddon had to use Wheeler or Balfour (given they've already been dismissed by BP staff) in a important moment later in the game.

And if the game goes 10-8 and flips the lineup 3-4 more times, who faces Howard in the 9th?

No manager in the majors would remove his starter down 1 run, with two runners on base, this early. If anything argue Sonanstine's pitch selection.

If Joe was managing the Red Sox, Matzo man might have averaged 3 1/3 IP per start.

Oct 27, 2008 17:49 PM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

Frankly the comment about the Rays not being the same since the Red Sox rallied in game 5 is more observant than anything. But then Joe might have to revisit that chemistry and momentum thing. And you know he doesn't want to go there.

Oct 27, 2008 18:05 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

That's just stupid.

The Rays took an early lead in Game Six of the ALCS, lost that lead, tied it up, and lost a close game.

The Rays fell behind in Game Seven of the ALCS, came back to win, and held off a number of Red Sox rallies to reach the World Series.

The Rays lost to Cole Hamels and won with James Shields. They came back from down 4-1 in the seventh inning of Game Three, and were tied in the ninth inning.

Tonight, they came back down 2-0 to Hamels in brutal conditions.

If you want to say that this team isn't hitting well, that's one thing. They're taking lousy ABs. But to argue that the Rays have been somehow affected by losing Game Five of the ALCS is counterfactual in a way that defies description. They've lost four games since then, three of which were decided by a total of four runs.

Momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher. That's what the ALCS taught us.

Oct 27, 2008 22:53 PM
 
SaberTJ

Joe is absolutely right on this. Momentum is just hogwash.

Oct 28, 2008 07:46 AM
rating: 0
 
GregJP

I think the bigger picture point here is that in a best of 7 series it doesn't matter which team is "better" The luck factor is so huge over such a tiny sample that it overwhelms any objective analysis.

The fact that people are surprised that either of the teams is winning just shows the lack of fundamental understanding in very small sample data.

Oct 27, 2008 20:39 PM
rating: 2
 
antoine6

So those "brutal conditions" show the Rays' incredible skill and toughness, but did nothing to affect Hamels' pitching? And they didn't affect the Phillies at the plate? Please elaborate.

Oct 28, 2008 00:09 AM
rating: 2
 
hurstdm

This comment, paired with the statement it references, is the most obvious indicator I've seen of out-of-character Sheehan irrationality. I'd like an explanation, too, from someone I normally very much enjoy reading.

Similarly, Tim McCarver was vociferously moaning about how brutal and unfair the muddy basepaths would be on the Rays' running game, too, immediately before Upton stole the base which led to the tying run. But don't tell me the muddy, wet conditions wouldn't equally affect the pitcher, the catcher, and the receiver on a stolen base attempt at second. Hamels looked like a drowned rat out there, and I'll bet the catcher's gear gets heavy when it's soaked.

Oct 28, 2008 07:11 AM
rating: 1
 
SaberTJ

As opposed to as soaked as Gerald Laird's gear gets working behind the plate on a 100 degree day in Arlington?

Oct 28, 2008 07:48 AM
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