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The Orioles sweeping the Sox is not "humiliating," so just cut it out

May 3, 2010, 9:12 AM EST

Matsusaka hangs head in shame.jpgI’m not gonna say that the Red Sox’ sweep at the hands of the Orioles wasn’t six kinds of bad for Boston because it was, but the level of fretting I’ve read about it since yesterday is getting out of hand. Take this post from WEEI’s Alex Speier. If you didn’t know any better you’d think that the Sox were swept by someone from the Carolina League or something.

Baltimore is described as “the lowly Orioles,” and “easy marks” who everyone thought would provide “three easy wins.”  The article laments the fact that the Red Sox could not “manhandle” or “annihilate” an Orioles team that is on par with a “brutally bad” Royals team from 2006. The sweep is referred to as “an alarming turn of events” and “a humiliating series of games” which provides a “dark commentary” on
the Red Sox’ season.

I’m not trying to pick on Speier here — his is merely representative
of any number of articles I’ve seen and, rhetoric aside, his analysis is spot-on — but isn’t this laying it on a bit thick? Is it not possible that Baltimore isn’t as bad a team as their record thus far indicates and that Boston isn’t as good as their preseason press assumed?

More generally it’s worth noting that this is baseball, and no one “manhandles” or “annihilates” anyone in this game. Even the best teams you tend to see in any given year win less than two out of every three games, and every World Series champ in living memory has dropped a series on the road to a division rival.

Which, by the way, is one of the reasons baseball is cool. Football has popularized the “any given Sunday” thing, but every year there’s a team or two in the NFL that buzzes through the season and for whom a single loss to a lesser team truly does represent some “dark commentary.” It’s in baseball where anything cab happen on a given night — or three given nights in a row — and often does.

Because of this it makes little sense to characterize this weekend’s series in the way I’m seeing it characterized.  A characterization, I may add, that is profoundly disrespectful to an Orioles team that, though it has struggled early, possesses a great deal of talent.

  1. Wooden U. Lykteneau - May 3, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    WEEI is the Boston equivalent of WFAN, but with an extra chromosome.

  2. Adam - May 3, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Hate to break it to you Craig, but it is THAT bad.Dudle

  3. Moses Green - May 3, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    The Orioles are better than 7-18, and the Sox are better than 11-14. A Sox team that struggles early and comes on strong late is better than the other way around, I might add. With the way the Sox’ top hitters have struggled or gotten hurt or both, I’d say 11-14 is like a little April miracle, and tells you just how strong they can be. Nothing’s going right, and they’re only 11-14. It’s a long season and something goes right for everybody sooner or later.

  4. Daniel (CamdenCrazies) - May 3, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    Thanks for that Craig.

  5. MK - May 3, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    Thing is, 2/3 of the Red Sox’ games so far have been against teams also currently at or below .500.
    Their May schedule is much more difficult. Once May is through, we’ll have a much better idea where they stand as a team.

  6. Joey B - May 3, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    “Even the best teams you tend to see in any given year win less than two out of every three games, and every World Series champ in living memory has dropped a series on the road to a division rival.”
    I don’t know if it’s because they don’t teach math in school anymore, or if people think that math only applies to mathematicians, or it’s because (probable) people can learn 2+2=4, but don’t know how to apply it in real life.
    Over the past two seasons, BA has won almost an identical amount at home as the RS have won on the road. That means the RS are not favored by any material amount.
    That doesn’t mean it was at least a little ugly, but true uglines can only be accomplished by getting hammered at home.

  7. MK - May 3, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    “Over the past two seasons, BA has won almost an identical amount at home as the RS have won on the road. That means the RS are not favored by any material amount.”
    The Red Sox won last year’s season series against Baltimore 16-2 and both the 2007 & 2008 series by 12-6. Speaking of math, why would that have less significance than your much broader measure over the same time period?

  8. Andrew - May 3, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    Great article, Craig.

  9. Moses Green - May 3, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    True, the Sox sched was a little soft in April. My point is still that the club has had three months worth of injury and bad performance wrapped up into a one month duration. Two out of three OF’s hurt, VMart, Ortiz and Drew scuffling badly, plus only Clay Bucholz has saved the starting rotation from putridity. A bad team wouldn’t have an 11-14 record through that mess of a month, no matter the opposition.

  10. Big Harold - May 3, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    “– but isn’t this laying it on a bit thick?”
    In a word, .. Nope!
    The red Sox are terrible, at least right now. Are they better than 11-14, yeah but not by much. They’re a third place team that will be really lucky to get to 90 wins. Their rotation is over rated. The pen stinks. The lineup is second rate and their vaunted defense seems to be not so vaunted after all.
    Last year it was low risk and high reward. This year it’s pitching and run prevention. All code for Ol’John Henry Cheapskate is a business man running his team like it’s just one more business, .. it has to make money, PEROID. That would be fine except that he’s a big market owner that runs his team like it’s a small market team and frequently whines about how the Yankees are out of control. If the Yankees didn’t exist every other team would be complaining about the Red Sox’s deep pockets and spendthrift ways.
    All of which comes back to the Nation, which since their WS wins, have morphed from those diehard fans that supported their Red Sox through thick and thin, through every bizaar twist of fate, that usually blew up in their collective faces, (see: Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone), fans that you just had to respect, to a bunch of chest thumping, entitled, obnoxious, overbearing jackasses. Essentially, they’ve become everything they so sanctimoniously and incorrectly accuse the all Yankees fans of being. Granted, like Yankee fans, there is still that core of true believers that will root for their team even when they aren’t in the playoffs for two or three years in a row but they are now in the minority. So the RED Sox deserve the hysterics and hyperbole. They deserve the “sky is falling” mentality. They earned it in 04 and 07. So Nation, enjoy 4th place, .. if the team picks it up a notch the Red Sox should finish in third this year.

  11. YankeesfanLen - May 3, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    Well, they WILL end up in third for the reasons you indicated.
    Not to pile on their woes, your perspective on Sox fans is spot-on.Their faithful should be lauded but in a Cubs fan kind of way.There’s tons of Universe fan who struggled through the 80s and do savor every regular season win, bemoaned losses, and constructively criticized personnel mistakes. Won’t even have to state my hero-goat picks this year. NOT BOOING Craig, just want someone skipped in this weekends series.

  12. indy_ralph - May 3, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    Sample size. Mean reversion.

  13. Ephesius Remsen Hammersley - May 3, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Craig, it is more than humilitating it is a sign that the Red Sux truly suck, Alleluia!

  14. MK - May 3, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    Revert to what mean, though.
    In 2009, the Red Sox won 8 out of 9 at Camden Yards. In 2008, it was more evenly split – 5 wins for Boston vs 4 losses. In 2007, the Sox went 6-3 there.
    If the Red Sox are a worse team than they were the past few years – which appears so far to be a valid argument – then you make the adjustment for that. However, over the past three seasons just looking at the two teams being discussed at the park being discussed…the Sox had a winning percentage of 70%.

  15. Joey B - May 3, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    “The Red Sox won last year’s season series against Baltimore 16-2 and both the 2007 & 2008 series by 12-6. Speaking of math, why would that have less significance than your much broader measure over the same time period?”
    Sample size. In 2009, we had 5 2-run margins with BA, and 4 one-run margins. Games like that are tossups, where a seeing eye hit or a bases-loaded liner to 3rd win or lose the game. We went 8-1 v BA in those games, but you could easily go 4-5.
    The three games in BA were decided by a total of 5 runs. We lost all three. The sweep at TO was decided by 4 runs. It’s the reason why these things are well-tracked on short sample size. We didn’t really play much differently at BA than we did at TO, but one is 3-0 and the other 0-3.

  16. Old Gator - May 3, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    I agree that getting swept by the Boids is not humiliating. Getting swept by the Pirates, now that would be humiliating.
    .
    The above is my entry into the horsemeat and velveeta sandwich sweepstakes for best Pirate joke. I am now in the lead.
    .
    At midseason, we’ll decide if we’re going to have any Beanbag jokes.

  17. Big Harold - May 3, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    “At midseason, we’ll decide if we’re going to have any Beanbag jokes.”
    Why wait?? Beat the summer rush and get a head start on the fun!

  18. Charles Gates - May 3, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    Arrrrrgh you sure that’s the best Pirate joke out there?

  19. Leroy - May 4, 2010 at 12:23 AM

    I think you’ve done too much LSD . Everything about that team is overrated . I won’t be surprised if the Jays beat them out for third place .

  20. Moses Green - May 4, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    A lot, yes, but I wouldn’t say “too much”
    Except for the St. Patrick’s Day uniforms
    Me too neither, since Vernon Wells seems to have hooked up with Popeye’s “spinach vendor”

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