What we wrote the last time Roger Clemens came back.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Roger Clemens may be considering coming back to the majors. It wouldn't be the first time. Joe Sheehan responded to Clemens' decision to rejoin the Yankees five seasons ago in the piece reprinted below, which was originally published as a "Prospectus Today" column on May 7th, 2007.
With the regular season complete, we take a look at the BP fantasy crew's votes for a variety of awards.
With the fantasy season coming to a close this past week, each member of the BP Fantasy team cast their votes for a variety of categories. Today, I'm here to hand out the theoretical hardware. After seeing who we thought had the best, worst, and most interesting 2011 seasons, be sure to tell us who you think deserved some recognition in the comments section.
Reliving some of history's most unusual comebacks through the lens of win expectancy.
Had there been an unlikely comeback on yesterday’s slate of games, it would have served as the subject of my lead-in. Since no teams were kind enough to supply one, let’s forgo a lead-in and dive right into the wacky world of win expectancy. Baseball Prospectus houses win expectancy tables for all years over the Retrosheet Era (1954-2010), and The Hardball Times provides a Win Probability Inquirer that uses a theoretical model. I sifted through Retrosheet data to dig up some tidbits on historical win probability, focusing on some of history’s most improbable comebacks.
There have been 4,000 instances since 1954 in which a team has trailed by four runs with nobody on and two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Not once has a team come back from that deficit. According to theoretical win expectancy, that should have happened several times by now. Another 5,000 attempts have been made down by 5 or 6 runs, but the away team still has yet to come through. On a more exciting note, let’s look at some long-shot teams that did rise to the occasion.
The season has hardly had a chance to kick off, but it's still fun to look back at the best stretch drive comebacks in AL West history.
Have you ever had a particular song lyric or verse stick in your head for not merely days or weeks, but years? I have. Most of us have. Maybe all of us have? Regardless, it has been at least five or six years since I first heard the hip-hop masterpiece that is Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star, but there’s a part on the track “RE:Definition” that has been rattling around within the confines of my consciousness since the very first listen: “We Die Hard like the battery done in the back of me by the mad MC who thinks imitation’s the highest form of flattery/Actually, don’t be mad at me …” Imitation’s the highest form of flattery. I didn’t know where it came from (turns out it was a bastardization of the more famous quote from 19th century author C.C. Colton), but I liked it, and figured the day would eventually arrive when I could constructively apply it.
Fast forward to this past Monday, when the intrepid Geoff Young opened his fascinating NL West history thusly: “As Yogi Berra might say, we'll have all year to discuss the season.” And as hyped as I may be for the impending season, Geoff’s right. Not long thereafter, I stumbled upon this not-so-prescient scan of the June 1, 2005 Houston Chronicle sports section, and my creative direction was sealed. There is little more emotionally stirring in the sports world than the comeback against tremendous odds, and little that I can believe to be more appropriate for this emotionally stirring week than a look back at the greatest in-season comeback by each AL West ballclub en route to a division title since the Great Realignment of 1994 (with a little help from CoolStandings.com’s historical playoff odds snapshots):
Does history offer any reason to believe that Bartolo Colon is the solution to the Yankees' dire fifth-starter straits?
The Yankees’ signing of Bartolo Colon to a minor-league deal in late January was greeted by a chorus of jeers that didn't begin to subside until his successful first outing of the exhibition season. It wasn't that Colon didn’t have a Yankee-caliber pedigree: the Dominican's resume includes two All-Star appearances and three top-ten showings in the Cy Young voting, including a 2005 first-place finish fueled by an AL-leading 21 wins (though that year's award probably should have gone to Johan Santana, who had earned the honors for the first time in 2004 and would return to the winner's circle in 2006). However, while Colon is hardly the first hurler with a history of acehood to be lured to the Bronx, his more recent track record pales in comparison to those of the team’s previous high-profile pitching imports.
By the time Colon was fitted for a supersized set of pinstripes, he’d left his greatest on-field achievements far behind. Since his Cy Young victory, the right-hander has gone 14-21 with a 5.18 ERA in 48 appearances, and his conditioning—the hurler is listed at 5’11”, 265, which might undersell where he'd actually tip the scales—makes him an easy target for the tabloids. Even more damning, Colon sat out the entirety of the 2010 season following a string of injury-plagued campaigns, and he'll turn 38 in May. Considering the question marks associated with the portly pitcher, one can’t blame New York Magazine for crowing, “With Mark Prior and Bartolo Colon on board, Brian Cashman has finally filled out his rotation, provided he can get his hands on that time machine.”
With both League Championship Series at 3-1, what are the chances, and how often has it happened?
With both the Dodgers and Red Sox facing 3-1 deficits in their respective League Championship Series, the inevitable question being asked by advertisers and network executives desperate for a marquee World Series matchup-not to mention any fan who's decided they'd like to hear Tim McCarver, Joe Buck, and a chorus of moralizing pundits tell us even more about the Manny Ramirez saga-is, "Can they come back?" The answer is, probably not, as just 11 teams have come from down 3-1 to win a seven-game post-season series. Still, the legendary comebacks and heartbreaking collapses in those 11 series have stocked baseball lore with a memorable cast of heroes and villains, including Mickey Lolich, Willie Stargell, Don Denkinger, Donnie Moore, Steve Bartman, and Dave Roberts.