Consolation

by Russ Roberts on October 22, 2007

in Sports

I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan and I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s victory over the Indians. But here’s a confession and consolation for Indian fans: We didn’t deserve to win. I know. That sounds more like confession than consolation. But hear me out.

We didn’t deserve to win. Last night, everything went our way. We got the call on Lofton that was clearly wrong. Your third base coach blew it on sending Lofton home later. You hit 400 foot outs that if they’d gone a foot or two farther would have broken the game open. We had infield singles that could have been outs. We killed rallies with double plays that should have cost us more than it did. You had a double that hit so high off the wall it could have been a home run if it had been hit almost anywhere else. So many what-ifs and all in one game? It’s hard to bear. You can even say we didn’t deserve to win because we spent about twice as much as you did and it just isn’t fair.

So where’s the consolation?

The consolation is that we’ve been where you are now. The Red Sox until 2004 had all the same complaints. We could point to so many what-ifs in 1975 and1978 and 1986 and 2003. Why did every crucial call (from the interference that made Fisk throw wildly, to Reggie Jackson’s hip check of the ball in the basepath) have to go against us? I know, you have no idea what I’m talking about, but every Red Sox fan knows. Why did Dent’s home run have to clear the wall? Why did Little leave Pedro in? Why was Buckner in the game instead of Stapleton? So many what-ifs. Why did they all seem to go against us? And besides, the Yankees spend so much more than us.

But when it ends, when all the breaks go your way, when Dave Roberts just beats the throw and when the umps reverse the call on Rodriguez knocking the ball out of Arroyos glove and a thousand other things happen along the way, the sweetness is so sweet because of all the sadness that came before. Your day will come. And I hope it happens sooner than later. And I hope it happens against the Yankees not us.

What does this have to do with Cafe Hayek? Not much. But I’m sure there’s some neuroeconomics in the dopamine rush that comes from winning over so much losing. It has something to do with why we keep getting up when the world knocks us down, something to do with risk-taking and perseverance.

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{ 19 comments }

Ted October 22, 2007 at 11:26 am

The Reggie Jackson hip check was in the 1978 World Series against the Dodgers, no?

The Indians had their share of luck, including two Julio Lugo botched plays that almost turned him into the next Buckner. And, though Tim McCarver is too terrible an announcer to point it out, Lofton was out–while he beat the tag to the base, a half-second later, his sloppy slide left the base while he was still being tagged.

Syphax October 22, 2007 at 11:34 am

Heh, I logged onto Cafe Hayek just now thinking I would get away from baseball for a couple minutes and I find this!

I think it comes down to Hafner striking out 12 times and CC and Carmona getting FOUR chances to pitch a good game and failing every time. But you have to credit the Sox for these things too.

That being said, I hope our front office continues to be one of the best in baseball… because if it isn't, unlike the Red Sox, we are a small/medium market team and won't have very many chances to win it all.

Ross Williams October 22, 2007 at 11:36 am

Blasphemy!

John Pertz October 22, 2007 at 11:40 am

Russ come on. The life of a Cleveland sports fan is just plain misery. The city has not won a title since 64'. There is the drive, the fumble, Jordan's heroics on several occasions, the 97'world series, the sweep by the Spurs in the Finals. A Boston sports fan lives in a nirvana that a Cleveland fan could never dream of tasting. The Patriots have 3 titles in six years and are odds on favorites for a fourth this season. The Celtics have their best team since the 80's and the Red Sox are likely favorites for a second title in four years. Im sorry but I just can stomach the fact that another Cleveland sports team has had their title dreams flushed away, in a brutal manner to boot.

Joe Grossberg October 22, 2007 at 11:49 am

That's ridiculous.

Even if Lofton had been called safe at second and had been sent home by the idiotic third-base coach, the Red Sox would have won 11-3, 11-4 *maybe* 11-5.

Throw in those balls that careened off the Green Monster, and Boston still wins, handily.

The Cleveland pitching was downright atrocious; that's why they lost.

David Pinto October 22, 2007 at 11:49 am

Of course Boston deserved to win. They played Cleveland even over the first four games, but luck had them down 3-1. Fortunately for Boston, regression to the mean happened over the last three games and the Red Sox superior OBA won out.

John Pertz October 22, 2007 at 11:56 am

I was extremely surprised that the series went 7 games. Carmona, Sabathia, and Hafner are three of their best players and they had a miserable series. This should of been a sweep when you look at how poorly so many of Cleveland's key players performed. Who would of thought that Sabathia and Carmona would come down with such a wicked case of the overthrows.

Rob Dawg October 22, 2007 at 12:05 pm

We didn't deserve to win. Last night, everything went our way. We got the call on Lofton that was clearly wrong. Your third base coach blew it on sending Lofton home later.

I was all set to cut n' paste the horror of the Fisk interference call as justification but you beat me to it. Pudge is in the Hall of Fame and Barney Barnett should by all rights burn in hell.

That said I disagree with your interpretation of the third bas coaches call. There were four major plays in that same third base corner. A Red Sox fielding error on a pop fly, a Cleveland felding error on a pop fly, a Boston infield hit and a Cleveland third base line grounder bouncing fair over the bag. That lst is your complaint. The grass was clearly exceptionally slow and the corner bounce was very tepid. based on what should have happened as the ball careened off the boards it would have been an easy out at home. The coach didn't have time to watch the slow rebound and trickle of a a rebound.

Why all this blather? Because Fisk was responsible for modern day free agency. I would think you, of all people, would be sure to mention that as his highest achievement.

Jared October 22, 2007 at 12:11 pm

I'm a little surprised that the result of any fair and competitive process would be labeled "undeserved" by as clear a thinker as Rus Roberts. Are we really going to override an objective result with a subjective label like "undeserved?"

In the absence of any cheating, I think you have to consider those "lucky breaks" a random variable that has equal expected value for each team. Especially over the course of a 7 game series, or even more so a 162 game regular season, the number of bounces or calls that go your way is bound to be close to the number that go against you.

Yeah, the Sox caught more breaks in the particular subset of nine innings that was ALCS Game 7, but sometimes that's just the way the variance works out. A good team needs to be able to capitalize on those opportunities, and Boston was playing well enough to do so.

Russ Roberts October 22, 2007 at 12:30 pm

John Pertz,

This is the golden age of Boston sports. It didn't look so golden seven years ago. We had an eight decade drought in baseball and our football team had been in two Super Bowls and done very poorly. One of the losses was the worst of all time at that point (the 46-10 loss to the Bears.)

Now our football team is one of the great dynasties of all time (still second to the 49ers so far and maybe third to the Steelers) and our baseball team has a chance to take another WS and we're at least perennial contenders. That's how quick it can turn around.

Go LeBron!

Jared,

This isn't a rational discussion about "deserve." Anytime a sports fans says "we" you know he's in an other-worldly place.

caveat bettor October 22, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Russ: I think you may have a point, but the Indians got outscored 30-5 in the last 3 games. So there might be a little bit of noise, but I don't think it's as unjust as say, 2001's Tuck Rule.

I just posted this in the Tradesports Forum:

I've been Manny (in some foggy semi-coma) all through these playoffs. If the Bosox pitch well and hit well, they win. If not, they lose. Never really been like this before.

Anyways, I am still super relaxed, but note that, after Beckett, our pitching staff looks very suspect pitching in the Rocky Mtns. Schill's career stats there are below mediocre, Wake's knuckler will not dance up there, and DiceK has yet another adjustment period, and a short porch.

Do we see Wake pitch Game 2? And if so, do we see the rotation afterwards go Schill::3, DiceK::4, Beckett::5, Wake::6?

Not exactly inspiring. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if they sweep, especially if Pap, Okajima, Delcarmen, Ellsbury and Pedroia playing to their max.

Miles to go before we sleep.

Ted October 22, 2007 at 2:50 pm

I fail to understand why the Coors effect is so adverse to the Red Sox. Yes, the pitchers have to pitch there, but the hitters also get to hit there–and the pitchers also get the bonus of not having to face a dh (though this also means that the hitters lose either Youkilis or Ortiz or Lowell).

Dan Croak October 22, 2007 at 2:53 pm

I agree with Ted ~ I'm not so sure that Lofton wasn't out because he bounced off the second base bag.

Momentum is huge in baseball, but I believe Pedroia's and Youk's hitting at the end combined with fantastic relief performances by Okie and Pap would have carried the day regardless of the outcomes of earlier 50/50 events.

The Red Sox deserved to win and I hope they take home the World Series! :)

BC October 22, 2007 at 7:27 pm

The Lofton call was clearly blown? Clearly?

Interesting you should say that, because all the televised replays of the play were from a camera angle looking from the first base side of the infield as Lofton slid in towards second, a view which naturally tends to exaggerate Lofton's reach. Not one replay showed the opposite angle — the view that second base umpire Brian Gorman had, from the other side of Lofton's body, which wouldn't exaggerate his reach.

Admittedly, it's a close play that Gorman may well have gotten wrong. But without that opposite-angle view, I don't see how anybody can say that the call clearly should have gone the other way. Certainly Eric Wedge didn't think it was so fubar that it was worth arguing over.

Richard October 23, 2007 at 12:46 am

But Buckner didn't blow the game in 1986. Stanley and/ or Schiraldi lost the three run lead before the ball went through Buckner's legs to let the winning run score.

Charles Rostkowski October 23, 2007 at 9:24 am

Don't forget Dom Dimaggio pulling a hamstring in 46 so he wasn't in centerfield when Slaughter scored from first on a single. And the Indians winning the playoff in Fenway in 48. And McCarthy holding back his best pitcher in the last game in 49 against the Yanlees. and Williams breaking his elbow in the 1950 allstar game in Chicago, thus out for the season. And then out for two more years because of the Korean War. And then those million ground balls through two million legs throughout the '50s. Oh, I'm sure someone older than me remembers the 20's and 30's when the Red Sox really stank. The legacy of bad breaks goes back a lot further than Fisk.

Craig October 23, 2007 at 1:36 pm

After watching the 7 games between the Indians and Red Sox, all I can say is I'm proud to be a Rockies fan. I thought the palying between the two teams was very poor and momentum enough is not going to get past the skill and passion the Rockies possess. Right now the Rockies are playing baseball the way it was ment to be played. Boston, watch out!

SaulOhio October 23, 2007 at 3:00 pm

I don't follow basketball very much. What city do the Indians play for?

Saul in Cleveland

Chris M. October 24, 2007 at 12:31 pm

If we're talking about bad breaks and the improbability of blowing a multiple game lead (and the reverse for the benefactor), the best story of this baseball season is the one describing the last few weeks of the seasons of the Mets and Phillies. Thanks to the Rockies for keeping the national sports media from reporting on THAT one all the way to the end of October.

Chris from NORTH Jersey

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