By Josh Kramer
After another wild weekend, the sporting world is full of action yet again this week. Here are some of the main items that have caught my attention.
The Mysterious Reds
Sure the Reds found themselves out of fourth place yesterday morning for the first time in a long time. But this largely was not due to their own merit. Sadly, baseball’s story of the year is coming to a rough and destructive end. Pittsburgh had lost 10 games in a row heading into their game on the west coast against the Giants late Monday night. Currently Cincinnati, a team that many, including myself, thought would repeat as NL Central Champions is all but done in their pursuit of a second consecutive playoff berth.
And many can point the finger at the Reds pitching. Or they could point the finger at the Reds horrific production offensively from shortstop. Or they could even point the finger at the Reds inability to reel off consecutive wins, which makes no sense, in that if they were winning strings of games in a row, we would not be having this discussion. But the simple truth of the matter is the Reds have been unable to win close games. Sure they won a one run contest at Wrigley on Sunday to avoid a sweep at the hands of the lowly Cubs. But this hotly contested victory has been a rarity all year long. The Reds currently sport baseball’s worst one run record at 17 and 26 on the year. Their last four losses have come by one run.
Last year’s Reds performed much better in nail-biters and this was a large reason why they made a run to the playoffs. The Reds heading into their matchup with the Rockies on Monday night held a +35 run differential on the year, yet they were four games under 500. Heading into Monday night, 13 teams in all of baseball possessed a positive run differential. 11 of them had over 500 records. Only the Reds and the Mets sport less wins than losses.
Marathon Style Baseball
The Yankees/Red Sox games never disappoint. This is the best rivalry in baseball hands down, and arguably the best rivalry in all of sports. And this year, it is especially sweet in that both of these historic franchises sport extremely talented teams that are at the top of the game. Only one team sports a better record than either of these powerhouses, and that would be the Philadelphia Phillies.
Heading into Monday night, only one game separated these two AL East powers. And the majority of the country tuned in, to take in another outstanding production of baseball’s biggest stage, ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. And sure the game lasted over four hours. But it was still a great game. Many factors led to this game taking what seemed like forever.
First of all, Josh Beckett, who is still a Yankee killer, made sure to take his good old time in between pitchers. Unlike most pitchers, Beckett does not try to “speed pitch.” He tries to “slow pitch.” In other words, he loves to make hitters wait, and wait, and wait. It is just how he goes about business. And really one cannot argue with his 2.17 ERA (2nd best in all of baseball). A while back, an article came out that backed up the fact that Yankees games and Red Sox games tend to take longer than games for other teams. The average MLB game is about 2 hours and 47 minutes. Last night’s duel took four hours and 15 minutes.
And after witnessing last night’s thriller at Fenway, I have a theory on why games for the Yankees and Red Sox take longer than your average game. Outside of the fact both of these teams, whether they are playing against each other or not play more nationally televised games than any other teams in baseball.
Each team has too many good hitters. Six hitters in the Yankees lethal lineup saw over 20 pitches last night at the plate (one saw 19). Five Red Sox hitters saw 20+ pitches while the other four saw 16 or more. The best hitters in baseball tend to be patient. They are extremely confident in their abilities and work the counts until they find a pitch that want to hit. There is no anxiety or thought process to be a first pitch hitter.
Consistently, the Yankees and Red Sox have the best lineups in baseball. And this year is no different. Considering heading into Monday night, the Red Sox led baseball with 617 runs on the year while the Yankees ranked second at 603. Want to know how many runs the third highest scoring team in the MLB had scored? Try 580.
Just some “Food for Thought.”
Let me hear your thoughts though. Please comment below with any questions or insights that you may have or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.