Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No Fouls

A lot of our readers are basketball guys, but you don't need to be a basketball guy to know that there is a certain point of most basketball games when the trailing team decides to stop fouling. At this point, they aren't looking to get the ball back and they concede that it's over. Sometimes teams are criticized pretty hard by going no-foul too early in a game or in too close a game. It happened during some Celtic elimination game last spring - don't remember if it was the Magic or the Cavs, but someone did.

When the Red Sox decided to place Dustin Pedroia back on the disabled list last Friday, it was like the organization telling them to stop fouling. Sure, you can launch up a bunch of threes and make it close, but there's no bother going balls-out to try to grab one of those playoff spots. Even if Pedroia were going to play two out of three games instead of missing two straight weeks, gimpy Pedroia would have probably been better than Hall or Lowrie (although they are performing quite well).

The team obviously responded well to that on Friday night, as they got croaked by fourteen runs. They won series against the Blue Jays and the Mariners, but at some point they have to stop winning series and start sweeping. With thirty-four games left, they are still five and a half games out. They have to make up a game a week. Even if the Yankees and Rays go .500 from here on in, the Red Sox have to win two out of three. They have to AVERAGE winning a series. And if the Yankees and Rays both win more than they lose (and they're playing some pretty terrible teams), that is STILL not good enough.

The fact that Lester was pushed back to a game where he is not opposite Felix Hernandez and the Red Sox basically threw up the white flag by pitching Wakefield against him is further evidence that they are not throwing together a concerted effort to catching the teams at the top.

It is worth nothing what Tony Massarotti has been saying for a month now: This team won 2/3 of their games through most of May and June, a 68-game stretch. In that stretch, they got overwhelming overperformances from Beltre, McDonald, Pedroia (for the second half of it, at least), Martinez, Ortiz, and many of the pitchers. For the team to do the same thing, they'd have to reprise the same level of overperformance. With games added in against the two leading teams. And with a pre-constructed 5.5-game deficit.

It's not impossible. But it almost is. And the fact that the team pulled Pedroia out of the lineup for an additional two weeks speaks volumes about how much they think the team is in it.


Anonymous said...


That was my boy Lebron who quit at the end of Game Six against the C's.

I don't have much to offer today other than to say that I haven't quit on this team yet. It looks bleak--that much is obvious. But baseball is as crazy a game as there is out there--you just don't know what could happen.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

I'm not sure the Sox have quit yet- the move for Damon, whatever anyone thinks of it, would have required a commitment of cash and possibly compensation to complete. Obviously, making such a move when the team is out of the playoffs would be senseless (and we know Theo is a sensible guy!!!).

I think maybe we can tweak the analogy a bit. It is still a "stop fouling" mindset but I think there is no standing around that LeBron and the Cavs did in Game 6. The Sox are still pressing full-court, still hoisting three with Tony Allen, and still keeping their starters in the game. Like Gunn, I have not given up on the season (although the argument could be made that I gave up long ago- then, I should say I have not increased my level of giving up on the season). A series sweep of the Rays or Yankees could change things drastically. But the finish line is fast approaching...

the gm at work said...

Sure - bottom line is that they're heaving up threes sometimes, missing sometimes (like they did in Game 2 last night), but aren't fouling. The fact that they decided to put the guy with the ERA north of five up against Felix Hernandez last night instead of the regularly-schedule starter is further evidence that they're punting selected games.

Tim's full-court press analogy is absolutely accurate. Good work. I knew I could count on the real basketball guys.

The Damon thing was a bailout of Ace Ticket.

Not over, but very close to being over. I do not anticipate the need to interrupt my Euro-JD to find Red Sox games on TV.

TimC said...

Kind of a side note but I made a comment yesterday about a lack of information plaguing the sports public. Apparently, it is not the only such area.

I'm not here trying to drag politics to this baseball blog. But the general lack of interest in forming one's own opinions after looking for information and weighing, not automatically accepting, the conclusions of others is disappointing- like preferring to eat at McDonalds instead of cooking your own dinner.