NYT/FiveThirtyEight numbers guru Nate Silver today applies his usual methodical approach to a burning question in these parts: Will the Red Sox’s September collapse be the worst in baseball history?
Quite possibly, says Silver:
There are different ways to measure the magnitude of pennant race collapses. One approach, which I’ve used in the past, is to calculate a team’s playoff probability after every game of the season, and to see which team had the highest probability of making the playoffs but failed to do so.
By that standard, the Red Sox collapse — if it comes to fruition — might rank as high as the second or third worst of all time, rivaling that of the 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 2007 New York Mets. It wouldn’t be quite as bad, however, as that of the 1995 California Angels, who had in excess of a 99.9 percent chance of making the playoffs on Aug. 20, 1995, when they held a 9-and-a-half-game lead over the Texas Rangers in the A.L. West, and were 12 games ahead of the Yankees for the wild card, but missed the playoffs after finishing their year 12-26. …
So here’s another question: has any team played so well over the first five months of the season — and then so poorly in the last one? …
[E]ven if the Red Sox win their final two games, they will still match the 1969 Cubs for late-season futility — the team that, prior to the Bartman Ball, had been most closely associated with the franchise’s alleged curse.
It’s not looking great for the Bruins as they get set for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Boston tonight, but we’re keeping the faith here at Nesi’s Notes. The Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont caught my eye with these chart-ready stats about the NHL in his column on Sunday:
According to league data, the average household income (HHI) for NHL fans is $104,000, highest of the four major sports with Major League Baseball ($96,200), the NBA ($96,000), and the NFL ($94,500). Sixty-eight percent of NHL fans have attended college, more than the other three sports (ranging 60.4 percent to 63.6 percent). And 64 percent of NHL fans hold full-time jobs, also more than the others (57-58.1 percent).
All in all, hockey fans are a well-educated, well-heeled, Internet-savvy bunch, no matter what the perception. Not surprisingly, they also like their beer. According to Latimer, Bruins fans buy upward of 30 percent more brew at the Garden than Celtics fans.
I find that interesting and, as Dupont notes, somewhat counterintuitive. What do you think explains it?
It’s been more than 15 years now since Dan Barry left The Providence Journal for The New York Times, but he’s never lost his love for telling stories about Rhode Island.
Since 2007, Barry has used his “This Land” column to tell readers about a graveyard in Narragansett; Buddy Cianci’s radio career; Nicky Pari’s deathbed confession; the Camp Runamuck tent city under I-195; and North Providence’s corruption scandal. He stopped by Fall River in 2009, too.
Barry’s latest Rhode Island tale in The Times recalls the legendary longest game in pro baseball history, the 1981 PawSox-Red Wings matchup immortalized on those plastic soda cups McCoy Stadium used to sell (and perhaps still does).
Here’s how Barry begins:
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Our planning went no further than to meet at the ballpark. Simple in theory but madness in practice, given the thousands of others with similar plans. My only hope was to find a white-haired man exuding boyish wonder; who looked as if he was about to see a baseball game for the 10,000th time — and for the first.
There! In the red shirt and sunglasses: Joe Morgan, the former Boston Red Sox manager, whose baseball credentials date to the 1940s, when wily pitchers in New England’s old Blackstone Valley League would snap off 12-to-6 curves to teach the college kid not to be too impressed with himself.
And just like that, our continuing baseball conversation picked up where it left off, as naturally as if we had been interrupted by a cough and not a year. No time for idle banter; just instant ruminations about the rules of the game, the historical data, the personalities come and gone.
Read the rest here.
Apparently Barry has a lot more to say about this bit of sports history, too – he has a new book about it, “The Bottom of The 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game,” coming out April 12. I bet he’ll be making his way here for a book signing at some point soon.
Update: Had my Joe Morgans mixed up earlier; thanks to Steve Kumins for very politely setting me straight.
(logo: Pawtucket Red Sox)