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The most exciting day in baseball history

Posted by Andy on September 29, 2011

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2011 at 2:47 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

79 Responses to “The most exciting day in baseball history”

  1. Fifteen games were played. Eight of them had playoff implications. Wow.

  2. Probably. The only way it could have been more exciting would have been if the Angels were still contending for the WC or the Cardinals made their game close.

  3. I was glued to the TV set. Almost missed Rosh Hashanah services because of it!

  4. Thomas Court Says:

    It might be time to revisit the slow start that the Red Sox had. It was a big topic at the beginning of the season obviously... when we were trying to analyze the implications of such a lauded team stumbling out of the gate.

    When Boston rebounded and siezed first place, there was a small but noticeable backlash by some. I don't remember the specific topic of discussion, but I do remember the poster. He continually ripped anyone who had concluded that Boston's calamitous start had doomed their playoff chances. This poster shouted from the rooftops for anyone who doubted the Red Sox after their slow start to show themselves, and admit their "idiocy."

    Now, clearly a LOT has happened since then. A loss at the start of the season counts just as much as a loss at the end of the season. And while we know that all teams, even historically great ones, are going to suffer rough stretches - it should be noted that suffering one right at the start does not make you immune to them for the rest of the season.

  5. Thomas, agreed, it's a pretty weird scenario. I think there's little debate that May through August, the Red Sox were the best team in baseball. With the smallest of breaks in just any one loss this year, they would have won the WC and their slow start would be moot, in the sense that their great pace afterwards did in fact overcome the April losses. Clearly, to conclude that their April record "doomed" them to missing the playoffs is wrong since they ended up missing by the smallest of margins and, essentially, a coin flip. But at the same time, had they won just one of those many early games that they lost...

  6. As a diehard Cubs fan, it killed me to see the Cards get in. As a longtime Red Sox fan, it saddened me greatly to see the collapse crescendo.

    As a lover of this cruel game, it reminded me why baseball is among the joys we have in life.

  7. I've been a baseball fan since 1982, and I can't remember another day like that one. Incredible! I don't think I've even heard of a day like it anywhere in the history of the game.

    It had a classic Boston letdown... 2 last minute historic collapses... 2 extra inning games with playoff implications... the Tampa "little engine who could" Rays coming back from a 7 run deficit at the start of the 8th... a walk off homer by a possible future HOFer over the "Crawford cutout" minutes after Crawford dropped a ball in Baltimore for his new team.... a rookie closer blowing a save after barely allowing anyone on base all summer...

    Not to mention, it sets up some possible interesting October matches now --

    Philly vs Tampa (rematch of '08)
    Philly vs Yankees (rematch of '09)
    Philly vs Texas (what "might've been in '10")
    Arizona vs NY (rematch of exactly ten years ago!)
    St Louis vs Detroit (rematches of '06, '68, & '34 ...lots O' history)
    St Louis vs NY (rematch of '64 & what was nearly '04)
    St Louis vs Milwaukee (rematch of '82 WS set as the NLCS?)
    Tampa vs Texas (rematch of last year's ALDS)
    Tampa vs Arizona (the '98 expansion teams for the championship!)

  8. #4,

    I know that I posed some research after the 0-6, showing that a 6-game losing streak that starts on day 1 has no more of a playoff implication than a 6-game losing streak starting on any other day of the season. Generally speaking, a team that loses all of a set of six games taken at random is likely to be a bad team, because bad teams lose more games than good teams. The idea that "only x teams who started 0-6 made the playoffs, therefore the Red Sox (AND RAYS!!!) are doomed" WAS lacking in statistical understanding. (I never called it idiotic.)

    I wasn't the poster you're referring to, because I never called anyone out. But let's admit two things:
    - the people who wrote off the Red Sox (AND RAYS!!!) disappeared after both teams rebounded.
    - People like making pronouncements on public forums, because they can be safely ignored if they turn out to be wrong.

    In case you're not picking up my insinuation, Thomas, you're doing the exact same thing that you accuse others of: calling people out because they said something that turned out to be wrong. You probably won't say it as often, for the simple fact that the previous call-outs were mid-season, and now, the Red Sox are done and soon to slip from the radar. Doesn't make your little speech any better.

  9. TC-

    Not sure if you are referring to me, since I did make some comments somewhat along those lines, but if so, I'd like to defend them.

    My point at the time, and one I would contend is still valid, was that so many people went out of their way to lambast the Sox after their rough starts. Once they got past it and rallied to the best record in the AL, many of those people fell silent. I was calling out the hyperbole with which they responded to the beginning of the year and, more to the point, their unwillingness to return to and reflect upon their earlier statements.

  10. Does matt kemp really have a WAR of 10.0?

  11. Since this topic veered off the rails in a record-breaking four posts, let me say:

    Yes, most exciting.

    I am having a hard time thinking of another one that is close, though the day when Dave Stewart and Fernando Valenzuela both pitched no-hitters would be in play, I suppose.

  12. Well, if you listen to Baseball-Reference. If you listen to Fangraphs, he has a WAR of 8.7....which is pretty much my main argument for why you shouldn't put too much stock in WAR.

    But yeah, yesterday was amazing

  13. Thomas Court Says:

    @8

    Indeed you are not the poster I was referring to. I will admit to calling out this particular poster. But not because he said something that turned out to be wrong. I did it because this poster did it in such a vitriolic manner when Boston rebounded - questioning the intelligence of ANYONE who dared comment negatively about Boston's playoff chances. I could not find the original posts, or my original comment would have been more specific.

    I also did it because I think sometimes it is interesting to revisit earlier posts (anyone remember the Ellsbury vs Gardner debate?).

    I think it is OK to call someone out and to even call out yourself when you get something wrong. But you should at least be civil about it.

  14. Asher, that day also popped into my head--but I would say it's a distant second because we knew to be watching all these games yesterday from the start, whereas on the Stewart/Fernando day, for many of us it was simply news we heard about in the evening.

  15. Thomas Court Says:

    Times have certainly changed...

    The MLB Network, ESPN, and NESN allowed me to follow all four of the games very closely. Years ago I would not have found out the totality of excitement until the next morning when I delivered our rather unremarkable local paper.

  16. Don Mattingly's Disembodied Moustache Says:

    Yesterday, was the most amazing MLB day I have ever witnessed. It was one of the few times in my life that I did not mind that the Yankees lost after such a horrendous collapse...Of course, they did not have their regulars in & put out 11 pitchers as well. Just seeing Papelbon walk off the field and all those disheartened & mortified Red Sox players...Francona speedily leaving the dugout...it was worth all of the tea in China!!

    I do give the Sox credit for their May-August turnaround and playing like the best team in baseball for the time span. Yes, they did have a terrible April, however...for those that blame the Sox demise on those games and say...If only they won one of those games in April...I'd like to welcome you to my planet, the planet Earth!! On September 2nd, they were 9 games ahead in the wildcard race and 1/2 game back of the Yanks. They went 7-20 in the month of September. It was their absolutely disgusting play in the last few weeks that prevented them from playing in the post-season, not games played in the beginning of the season.

    Question for thought: Are the Sox going to pick up Francona's '12 & '13 options now?

  17. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Absolutely. I was flipping between YES, ESPN, and ESPN2 for the three big games. It is a vastly different experience than would have once existed. (Except when I kept getting messages about how the cable signal could not be detected, or that the station was not available on my cable service. This happened on all three stations at various times during the night. Very frustrating! Fortunately, all were working down the stretch.)

  18. @12 You shouldn't write off WAR because there are differences. It's like saying, well one thermometer says its 15 degrees C and the other says 59 degrees F so I'm not putting much stock in thermometers. They are measuring the same thing, but on a slightly different scale. WAR is still a very useful statistic that is better than most player evaluation statistics, albeit with some shortcomings.

  19. Been a die-hard Yanks fan since 77. Yesterday was, absolutely and w/out any doubt, the greatest single day in history of the game since I began following baseball. The only day even vaguely close to me recollection was in 78, the 1-game Yanks vs. Red Sox playoff. I was still in public school, and we all ran out early to the nearest kid's house to snap on the TV. It was absolute pandemonium -- and I grew up in Connecticut, so it was a mix of Yanks and Sox fans. That said, that was 1 game that had direct impact on 2 teams. It trails yesterday by a wide margin.

  20. @16: Yeah ... it didn't hurt TOO much the way the Yanks lost. I expected them to lose at least 2 of 3 to the Rays given the situation. Still ... not a great way to go into playoffs.

  21. I should've mentioned this earlier, but I can only think of 1 day that could come close to last night -- October 3, 1982.

    The Giants beat the Dodgers, to give the Braves the NL West.
    The Brewers beat the Orioles, to win the AL East.

    ...but I can't think of any other year offhand where 2 or more playoff slots were decided on the last day of the regular season. I'm probably forgetting something.

  22. Phil Gaskill Says:

    Last day of the 1967 AL season? Or '64 NL?

    Let's do '64 first: after 161 games, the Reds and Cards were tied at 92-69, with the Phils one game back. On the last day, the Phils murdered the Reds, and if the Cards had only lost, there would have been the world's first three-way tie. But the Cards had to go and murder the Mutts--and win the pennant. (The AL had almost as exciting a set of final standings--White Sox 1 game back, Orioles 2--but the Yanks had clinched by going 2 games up with 1 game to go: not quite the same, no tie for first possible going into the final day.)

    In '67, *four* teams had a chance to tie for first with *two* days to go (behind the Twins in first, it was Red Sox and Tigers 1 GB, White Sox 2), but the White Sox lost; so with one day to go, it was Twins and Red Sox tied, Tigers 1/2 GB (they still had 2 games to play), White Sox 2 GB and eliminated. On the last day, Red Sox beat Twins, White Sox lost again to go 3 GB, and Tigers split a doubleheader for a final standing of Red Sox first, Tigers and Twins tied at -1, and White Sox -3.

    These two seasons, for the benefit of those who weren't around yet, were pre-divisions, pre-playoffs, 10-team leagues. Pennant-winners advanced straight to the World Series.

    Oh. And '67 was the year that Yaz led the Sawx to the pennant by going, if I recall correctly, 23 for 44 in the last two weeks or so.

  23. I feel silly now... how could I forget the '64 NL race, or the '67 AL race. Two classics... with '64 maybe even on par with last night. Any old timers here that can tell us what it felt like that day? Are we seeing it through rose colored glasses or no?

  24. Enjoy it while you can folks, because if the 2 wild card team buffoonery existed this year, none of that yesterday would have mattered at all.

  25. I am stunned by the comments against the double wild-card. Yeah, THIS year it would have robbed us of that particular drama, but in other years it would add a ton of drama. Each year, there's drama when there's competition for the last 1 or 2 playoff spots....add playoff spots, it just shifts which teams the drama is focused on. Some years, there will be lots, some years there will be none. Yeah, if there were double WCs this year, there would have been less drama...but last year or the year before, there would have been more. Duh.

  26. Justin Bailey Says:

    @24 - And if there was no Wild Card at all, and still only 2 divisions per league, none of the games yesterday would have mattered either.

    I mean, remember in the '90s when everyone said the WC will destroy baseball? Yesterday was an irrefutable rebuttal to that line of argument. No matter what playoff system is used, exciting things will happen one way or another.

  27. Thank you 26 for a little sanity.

  28. And I'm sure people in 1968 thought the 2 division arrangement would ruin baseball too. We all still love the game. What ruins the game is when owners & players can't agree on terms and there's a strike.

  29. Justin Bailey Says:

    Andy, I've found that baseball fans have a tendency to think that the game is perfect the way it is and that any kind of change will totally ruin it. (Of course they also tend to ignore the fact that MLB has gone through significant changes on a surprisingly regular basis since its inception). I think Bill James wrote about this phenomenon in his Historical Baseball Abstract.

  30. Johnny Twisto, I was just following things on MLB.com until I found out that ESPN was carrying all 4 of the games with implications... meaning I could watch all 4 at the same time on ESPN3.com's split-screen. Seeing the fallout from the O's win at the same time as the Rays were about to was just awesome.

  31. Mike Cushner Says:

    I would bet that the Sox will think about losing 2 of 3 in Pittsburgh in June.

  32. I went to a bar with several friends, was lucky enough to find a seat at the bar, looked up and noticed there were three big-screen TVs directly in front of me, one showing the Yankees-Rays game, the second showing the Orioles-Red Sox game; and the third showing the Braves game. No channel flipping. Every key game I needed right there. I didn't move for hours. It was simply amazing as it unfolded.

    Yes. It was the best day ever in baseball.

  33. For those of you not in the Boston area or from here, there is one important difference in terms of this collapse with others. I have never seen people so disgusted with the absolute lack of urgency, hustle and seriousness that the Red Sox exhibited which led to their demise. There are certain players which are hated on this team, which I have never quite seen before. This was not Terry Francona's fault. He may have lost this team, but the players are the ones who became "me me me" instead of "TEAM". They were out of shape, absolutely not prepared to start the season, and they got what they DESERVED. Yes, I am a Red Sox fan. I wish the Tampa Bay Rays the best, because they deserve it.

  34. I was drinking Johnny Black and water at a bar that had all the games on (not a sports bar just a drinking bar) and I was really in heaven. Once the Rays tied it up I just knew that anything could happen. I just had to keep watching and when Crawford dropped that ball I just went nuts. Good on Tampa Bay, I've been banging their drum all season, you never get any excused from those guys like you do from the Red Sox fans. And I actually did miss Rosh Hashanah services. ;-)

  35. @34

    Crawford did drop that ball. He was a red sox killer with the rays, and with the red sox, he simply killed them.

  36. @33 As a die-hard Yanks fan and 20-year Boston resident (not so much fun in 04/07), I couldn't agree more. I'll tell you one thing, and this is from a super-duper Pinstripes fan: Ellsbury deserves the MVP for his play all year and especially for the heart he showed over the final month. Memo to Cashman: When this guy's on the market, SNAP. HIM. UP.

  37. It had to be satisfying to Buck Showalter beating the Red Sox also. Buck's right that it's easy it is to buy the best players available, that does not make you smart. Yes, the Yankees spend a lot of money, but there appears to be a method to what the Yankees set out to do. Theo Epstein spends like the government.

  38. The last day of '82 was great, but I don't remember the national scope. This was kind of as if '86 WS game six, the '86 ALCS- Donnie Moore-Dave Henderson game, and '88 WS game one were all happening at once, with '85 WS game seven thrown in for balance and a collective breath.

  39. As a 12 year old living in rural North Dakota I can attest that the last few days of the 1967 season had as much or even more at stake than Wednesday. What it didn't have was all of the games on television or even over the radio. I was lucky because I got to read about Yaz's heroic efforts over the last 2 weeks in the papers and then listen to Boston clinch the pennant by beating the Twins on the final 2 days of the season in close games.

    But for sheer over-the-top, get your adrenaline flowing drama plus Hollywood movie timing of events it's pretty tough to top yesterday.

  40. @38 It was a great day, but it has been a great three weeks or so for those of us that have been following it closely. Yesterday doesn't happen unless there was the great play of the Cards and of course the Rays. It reminds me a little of the great run the Rockies had in '07. To me, yesterday was the crescendo of a great month.

  41. Andy-

    I made a similar post regarding the double-WC earlier. My point was not that the double-WC is obviously a fail because what it could have meant this year. Rather, it was to point out that no plan is perfect. As you said, any plan will add drama to some years and steal drama in other years. I don't know if there is an objective way to determine a plan that is more likely to increase drama.

    The main problem I have with the double-WC is that we might end up watching two 85 win teams battling it out down the stretch instead of two 95 win teams as we might have gotten with just two playoff contenders per league. As you add more teams, you might increase the odds of drama, but you also decrease the quality of teams participating in the drama. To me, that is a negative. There are other positives to the plan and until I see all the nitty-gritty details, I'll reserve judgment. But I do think the quality of the teams involved in the late season drama is a part of the conversation I personally haven't seen broached yet.

  42. DoubleDiamond Says:

    @7

    Philly vs Yankees (rematch of '09)
    Philly vs Texas (what "might've been in '10")

    I know that one of these is going to happen. How do I know? Well, earlier this week I heard it said that a New York team is coming to Citizens Bank Park to play Philadelphia after the weather finally turns cold. I also heard some people say that the Rangers are coming to Citizens Bank Park to play Philadelphia after the weather finally turns cold. Some of these folks described it as the "Winter Classic", but I know they were being facetious, and, cold weather or not, it's going to be the "Fall Classic".

    Those poor folks in Atlanta. Not only is there no baseball left for them this year, but with the second coming of the Winnipeg Jets (not to be confused with the Brooklyn Nets), there is not even any hockey for them to look forward to! And maybe one day I'll stop confusing the Clearwater Threshers' nickname with that of the no-longer-in-existence Atlanta Thrashers.

  43. BSK, you're right of course. The implicit part of my argument is that adding two more playoff teams is OK. Adding, say, 6, would be too many clearly. But adding 2 more is OK, especially when it's just for a play-in game.

  44. @36

    Probably the most classy comment I have seen from a Yankees standpoint, and that is not bashing Yankee Fans. Your team deserves to be in the post season as well. What Ellsbury did was incredible, and unfortunatley it will be lost under the nonsense that the Red Sox pulled off in September. I am sick of Theo Epstein, as are many. He has made some very costly moves that have affected past years and 2011 in negative ways. @39. I was not around for 1967 but I wish I was because what transpired over the latter weeks of September that year was amazing. I have seen many clips, videos, etc on it. I get the absolute chills when I see YAZ belt in 2 runs late in the last game of the season with 2 outs to tie the game and eventually win. It is hard to gather that much emotion from something one was not alive for unless it really is something purely special, and I agree 1967 was amazing. Make no mistake about it. People in New England are not depressed like in 2003 or 1978. They are absolutely angry and it is about time because after 2004 there became this sort of entitlement and casual fan entering the picture who wouldnt know Dwight Evans from Ty Cobb. Maybe this is a good market correction.

  45. Phil Gaskill Says:

    Oh, yeah, last day of '82!

    Orioles were 3 behind the Brewers (yes, kiddies, this is back when the Brewers were in the *American* League) with 4 to play against each other (in 3 days).

    Orioles *killed* the Brewers the first 3 games.

    Last game of the season, they go into it tied for first.

    But Palmer just couldn't do it this time (still finished the season 15-5, best winning pct. in the AL), and the Brew Crew went to the Series, where they ultimately succumbed to the Cards.

    There was some final-days excitement in the other 3 divisions, as the Braves beat the Dodgers by one game and the other 2 divisions ended up with 3-game bulges, but nothing to compare with the AL East.

  46. Phil Gaskill Says:

    Clarification: make that say "with 4 to play--against each other"

    That is, add the dash. Makes it clearer.

  47. Re: an extra wild card

    What makes the regular season matter? The fact that a team that could potentially win it all misses out on the postseason. So the discussion when to have 12 playoff teams isn't whether the 11th/12th teams would be worthy, it's whether the 13th/14th teams would be worthy.

  48. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ BSK
    When the strike started in ’94, I think it was the Rangers who would of gone to the playoffs, and they had a loosing record.
    So your doomsday scenario could be even worse, you could see a .500 (or should I dare say it; sub-.500 team) in the hunt.

  49. @44 you are right on the money. I think the mass appeal of the Red Sox to a younger generation since 2004 has really let to a ridiculous level of bandwagon hopping. Not one could tell you about Fred Lynn, let alone Wade Boggs. I am by no stretch a Yankee fan, but for some reason I found the Sox "nation" bandwagoners to be particularly annoying and loudmouthed. I really hope you're right about a market correction.

  50. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ BSK,
    Yeah, just checked, the Rangers were 10 games under .500 and headed for the playoffs if not for the strike. What would be worst of all; is if they had played and won it all.

  51. @49

    If what transpired has no "market correction", nothing will. And that will truely be sad. There is a large fanbase of Sox fans such as myself who were raised on them in mostly bad times, however they are OUR team and we did not and do not give up, no matter how mocked, made fun of, etc. That is the marker of a true fan. I give all the credit in the world to small market teams whose fans have had awful years and stand behind their team without jumping on a winner 2,000 miles from where they grew up or never visited. I am a firm beleiver in you support your local area, your local team, and you do not give up in the hard times. My dad taught me who Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Yaz, Freddy Lynn, etc were. Even Bernie Carbo, who hit the 2nd most important home run in Game 6 of the 1975 world series behind Fisk. This is when the true fans show up, angry as they are, and rightly so. Just for kicks..... They blew the 86 Game 6 World Series game on my birthday. I will never forget that one. Then of course they win it back on nearly the same time in 2004. That was a balance in the universe in my life. Wow am I tired.

  52. Phil Gaskill Says:

    You *always* run the risk of an under-.500 team making the postseason when you have any divisions at all, wild cards or not. It *almost* happened with two divisions and no wild cards in '73 with the Mutts, '87 with the Senators I/Twinkies, and I think once more but I forget who. (In addition to the '94 Senators II/Rangers, of course.)

  53. re: play in game. I don't think moments like last night can be manufactured. Part of what made it special were the days leading up to it. Had there been play in games, nothing would have mattered last night, and ATL-STL, BOS-TB would be playing today. I think that scenario loses a lot! Part of what made it great was the POSSIBILITY that both teams in each instance would win (or lose) to create the play-in game. The twists and turns in the AL in particular, and the tension of the teams not actually playing each other only added to the drama.

  54. Jason @44, since we are returning to the Ellsbury MVP thing, I don't see how the Sox final collapse should have any impact at all on his candidacy-he was great down the stretch. It might actually help him, since voters inclined to favor Red Sox candidates will gravitate to him whereas before they might have spread their votes around among AGon, Pedroia and even Ortiz.
    I've never understood why Sox fans are so ambivalent to hostile towards Theo. That's a smart guy-not every move he's made has been terrific, but I think he's done very well in trades and waiver pickups. He's not as great with the free agents-but who is? The number of free agent busts out there probably exceeds the number of successes.
    Finally, when you win (as you did in 2004 and 2007), it's possible you start taking it for granted a little, and maybe that reflects itself in both player and fan attitudes.
    BTW, as lousy as you feel today, it gets better. After 2004, I refused to read the sports section for a month after the Series was over-why punish myself with the horror? But that's the great thing about baseball-there's always a next year, always another great story, always another rookie who throws 99 or hits the ball 500 feet. There's always something to give you hope.

  55. Thinking about it, one of the stranger things about the Sox collapse is that they probably never had less than a 50% of advancing, at least to the play-in...

    They maintained a lead until the last few days, during which they were tied and playing an inferior opponent than the Rays. During the final game, they fell behind by one run, by which point the Rays were already down multiple runs. In the 9th, they held a lead while the Rays were tied. Even after losing, the Rays remained tied, meaning they were at just about 50% (maybe a hair less accounting for the Yanks' lineup and the Rays' homefield advantage). Amazing that a team can go from 99% to 0% but never be below 50%.

  56. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    For pure excitement, yesterday's games were close; but I am still one who considers Game 7 of the '60 Series {which I watched on television} to be the most exciting single contest I have ever seen, particularly the eighth and ninth innings; with Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" {that one I heard on the radio} a close second. It was only the situation that made yesterday memorable to me.

  57. Richard Chester Says:

    On the "No such thing as a lock" blogs I pointed out that on the last day of the 1949 season both the AL and NL pennants (Yankees and Dodgers) were decided.

  58. @54

    Hi Mike. I agree with you 100 percent on Ellsbury. His numbers are just staggering compared to what was expected of him and his value to the 2011 red sox. I just have a bad feeling that what he has done will be overshadowed, wrong as it is. I think the hostility towards Theo comes from the lack of a reliable shortstop with the disaster that Renteria was, and as of late with the Crawford and Lackey deals which have been just horrible. I am not saying he deserves all the negative feelings, but I feel that many fans, right or wrong, feel he has not peformed well the past few years which has really had a bad effect on the team. Your attitude about hope is a good one. I was raised when the sox were not successful in the post season. 1986, 1988, 1990 to name a few. When they made the post season it was like an early Christmas. There are however many fans post 2004 who have taken it for granted and that is wrong. In baseball, I believe more than in any other sport because of the 162 game schedule, you get what you deserve, and the Red Sox got what they deserved. A 2-10 start and 7-20 September with a 4 month stretch of incredible baseball. Inconsistent. I give all the credit to every team that made it this year because they deserved it. Especially the Rays. What heart they showed, and as I red sox fan I truely do wish every team the best. Mike, you make very good points.

  59. @52
    My guess is that you are thinking about the 05 Padres.

  60. Yesterday was an absolutely amazing evening for all of us who love baseball. I never would have expected to write that heading into yesterday since my beloved Mets were eliminated a long time ago.Here in Long Island, I was trying to make sure that I did not miss anything so I was flipping between ESPN,ESPN2,MLB and YES(NY Yankees station) while texting my brother in St Louis trying to keep up.
    The way the games ended were unbelievable. I never thought I would ever witness a collapse like the '64 Phils. Well we had the Braves who matched it and the RedSox with an even bigger collapse. I feel bad for their fans and happy for the Cards( and my family there who love them!) and the Rays(wow what a year with that payroll).
    Just a great day. I am lucky I witnessed that because this will be talked about forever.

    Amazing

  61. @ 60

    Yesterday was the most exciting last day of the season I think I ever experienced, regardless that my team lost. I thought that Detroit/Minnesota playoff game was something in 2009 but did this blow that away. I had not been that glued to the TV on the last day of the season since my red sox clinched the pennant on a game saving diving catch by Tom Brunansky in 1990 against Chicago. It was a very exciting night.I as well was flipping back and forth between NESN and MLB Network.

  62. *Correction, in 1990 the red sox clinched the AL East in 1990, not the pennant* my fault.

  63. I was at the game at Tampa Bay. I was watching both the Rays game and had the Boston/Baltimore feed going on the computer watching with some other people. And the energy when both teams had their comebacks in the stadium was amazing. Definitely one of the greatest days of my life ever.

  64. There may have been days that where the games were as exciting, like the last day of 1967, but in those days you couldn't watch all of the games like you can now. I got all 4 games on my DirecTV ESPN.

  65. I hope no one will take this the wrong way, because I do think the Rays earned this win almost as much as Boston gave it away, and I don't mean to focus overmuch on the luck involved.

    But just from a broad stat-analytical point of view, it occurs to me that Boston's fate really came down to a poor run distribution in September.

    Their runs and runs allowed for the last month predict a record of about 11-16 -- 4 wins more than they actually got. Most of their wins were blowouts (margin of 5+), but they went 2-7 in one-run games.

    For the rest of the season, Boston hit their expected win total on the head. For the year overall, the expected wins were Boston 94, Tampa 91.

    Again, I do not mean to absolve them of any mistakes, nor am I claiming that Boston was the better team; for one thing, I don't think a 3-win difference in expected wins is conclusive, and for another, Tampa did win the season series decisively, 12-6. And maybe 24 hours is too soon to even think about the topic in this way.

    But the fact remains that if they had won 11 games in September, instead of 7, not only would they have made the playoffs, but they arguably would have had a decent chance to win a round or more. I mean, I'm not aware of any obvious physical reason that Beckett and Lester -- 2 damn fine pitchers much of the time -- slumped so badly in the last weeks; and if Boston were headed to the playoffs with those 2 in good shape, then the lack of rotation depth wouldn't have been as much of a problem.

    But maybe those thoughts are best saved for the hot stove league....

  66. text form the a die hard Sox fan this morning re: early season woes. "Maybe Boston fans will now learn it is never too late to panic." As someone without a rooting interest with any of the teams in play, i was transfixed last night. Amazing.

  67. @37 - Flip the names involved and the exact same thing could have been and indeed was said just a few years ago. Hell, what makes the AJ Burnett signing any different from the John Lackey signing, other than that John was younger, healthier and had pitched better? The Sox have a method, but no method is infallible.

    Theo Epstein is responsible for constructing multiple championship teams, and several others good enough to be championship teams (including this one - let's not forget they won 90 games and had the best offense in baseball). Has he overpaid for some players? Of course, but he has the resources such that cost isn't a high priority, and I can't recall many of his moves being called dumb in anything but hindsight.

  68. MLB did it right this season!!!

    One thing that was very different this year than any year ever is the Final season game was on a Wednesday and not a Sunday like it was all the other years.

    No competition from any Football game had even the most casual fan interested.

    I made a perticular note of the video of the Rays vs Yanks game at the Trop.
    The 2 previous games vs Yanks had the usual low attendance.

    But from what I could see on the videos, they had a pretty good crowd.

    Looking it up: 29,518 that's great for Tampa Bay...

  69. As I've seen it mentioned here (and even by Theo Epstein), the Red Sox were NOT "without a doubt" the best team in baseball prior to the collapse. I imagine the 102 win Phillies give them a run for their money record-wise even if you discount the Red Sox April and September. I'm sure the Red Sox record in those other four months is better, but I really, really doubt it's by much.

  70. Phil Gaskill Says:

    @59: Yep, that was it. Seventh-best record in the league!

  71. It will be negated in the post season by the toxic umpires, including Jerry Meals who ended the Pirates' season.

    Hey Jerry, despite of your help, the Braves didn't make it this time!

    I wish someone crushes an umpire's skull in this postseason.

  72. This year may have been the most exciting single day, but 2007 came down to a tense finish, too. On the last Friday of the regular season (3 games left to play), there were 15 games on the docket. Of those 15, the results of ten of them (two-thirds) had implications for the playoffs. In the National League on that last Friday, NONE of the four playoff teams were known. Nobody had clinched with three to play. The Phillies managed to win their division on the last day of the season (thanks to the Mets historic collapse--well, one of their historic collapses). And the Colorado Rockies and San Diego had to play an additional tie-breaker game to decide the issue.

    It may not have been a single day, but that last weekend of 2007 was pretty awesome.

  73. Andy, this is a great topic for the end of the regular season!

    Phil G., thanks for the great recount of 1964 and 1967.

    And although it's not quite on topic, i am really wondering about the Phillies last day of the season this year, which is a small part of the 'last day excitement'. I can't believe they needed to win their last four in a row, including winning on that epic last day to get 102 wins.

    I haven't looked into NYY 1998 or Seattle Mariners 2001, which the Phillies weren't as close to as I first thought (114 and 116 wins), but does anyone have any ideas about what that kind of swoon say about a good team, beyond the flukes of a 162 game season?

    Are there any other 'game 162s' where team records or individual records competed with the playoffs as part of the excitement?

  74. gotta say watching MLB network was great as they had split screen and showed all the plays. Very enjoyable indeed.

  75. @4 and 5

    Bottom line, there were 72 games that hurt Boston's chances of making the playoffs.

  76. You wonder if managers/GM's will think differently about managing (near) success in the future. Nate Silver in the Times today calculates the astronomical odds of all that just occurred actually happening. It's beyond absurd to expect it. Would any of the teams involved have made any other decisions either at the trading deadline or in September-roster moves, in-game management, rotation, etc? Would the Braves have used their bullpen differently, instead of burning it out like the 64 Phillies. Maybe the Red Sox would have gone bigger for a starter better than Bedard at either of the trading deadlines. Good management usually involves dealing with the probable outcomes and maximizing your chances within that band-with. But nothing probable happened here. John A, Steve, Andy-you are the numbers guys-would anything that you learned in the last couple of weeks change your approach if you were running the Red Sox or Braves?

  77. @ 4,5 & 75: On April 10th the 2-7 Red Sox were 1 game ahead of the 1-8 Rays.

  78. Johnny Twisto Says:

    JA/65, I read somewhere that in September (or over the last X games), Boston actually had an OPS 1 point higher than their opponents.

    It's possible some of those high-scoring games they had, which "skew" their Pythag over a small sample, are due to September call-ups. I haven't looked this.

    And losing every close game, often in part by dumb mistakes, could be due to teamwide "choking." Given the stories trickling out about their dysfunctional clubhouse, it does seem there is more there than the numbers imply.

  79. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Red Sox pitching in September
    in low leverage situations: 740 OPS against
    in high leverage situations: .839 OPS against

    Bad luck? Choking? I dunno. Whatever it was, I'm working to patent the formula.