Just For Context

Dan Johnson just saved the Tampa Bay Rays season. This Dan Johnson.

Before tonight, he had a -7 wRC+. As noted in that leaderboard, the only Major Leaguer with a worse offensive season in at least 90 PA was Roy Halladay, who isn’t exactly in the big leagues for his bat. Johnson hit worse than both of the horrible Twins catchers. He hit significantly worse than Jeff Mathis.

And he hit a game-tying home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of the 162nd game of the Rays season. They might not make the playoffs, but that was the kind of moment that will go down in baseball history.

This is why we all love this sport. Dan Johnson.

Update: Holy crap.




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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


163 Responses to “Just For Context”

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  1. josh says:

    awesome

    +30 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Colin says:

    Unlikely hero, or unlikeliest hero?

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  3. Beasy Bee says:

    Amen

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  4. Chris Pratt is already signed on to play Dan Johnson in “The Extra 2%” film. Should be out next year sometime.

    +38 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Richie says:

    2 outs and 2 strikes. When you’re supposed to shorten up your swing, especially if you’re a Dan Johnson. Yep, an incredible moment only found in baseball.

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  6. Jay Stevens says:

    Uh…the 8th and 9th innings in Tampa are challenging my perception of clutch hitting.

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    • Toffer Peak says:

      Clutch hitting obviously exists; it’s just difficult/impossible to predict it beforehand. After all, for his career Longoria is actually unclutch.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=9368&position=3B#winprobability

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      • Sensual Sharting says:

        Uh no it doesn’t “obviously” exist. Your very next sentence; “it’s just difficult/impossible to predict it beforehand”, seems to imply you think clutch hitting is random, therefore not a skill.

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      • Toffer Peak says:

        Did Longoria perform well in a crucial situation? Yes, therefore he was clutch. Can we predict which hitters will perform better than their norm in crucial situations? Not reliably, with precision and certainly not without a very large sample size. Though studies have suggested that players who put the ball in play do outperform their norm in high leverage situations, as measured by WPA.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        See – Book, The – along with any of a million follow posts on The Book Blog.

        From a statistical analysis perspective, clutch might as well not exist since there is all kinds of noise in the data. We can, in retrospect, point out hitters who had statistically significant clutch/unclutch careers. As a predictive tool, it’s usually useless.

        Shifting back to reality, clutch must exist in some form. It’s a matter of human personality types, some people light up under pressure and some get nervous and freeze up. Professional baseball is a self selecting process, so you’re going to have mostly people who tend towards the former rather than the latter, but there will be some who are extremely good under pressure and some that are rather bad.

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      • LTG says:

        I think Toffer’s point is more simple than what Brad is getting at, although what Brad says could be right. T’s point is just that in a given moment a player can do something clutch, even though there is no special MLB talent for being clutch such that some players have it and others don’t. On T’s proto-theory of clutch, clutch is a property of an action, not of a player. So he does not violate the sabermetrically established proposition that clutch is not a skill.

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      • jorgath says:

        Can I offer the hypothesis that while “clutch” itself is not a skill, there is a strong correlation between certain established skills and clutch success? And can someone better at statistical research than I am investigate that hypothesis?

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  7. Absolutely unreal. This is the kind of stuff movies are made of.

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  8. Welp says:

    Amazing night. Just amazing.

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  9. Longoria hits a homer just minutes after Papelbon blows the save and loses the game. Who would have thought this possible?

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    • Welp says:

      Straight out of a movie is exactly right. Unbelievable.

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    • Eric says:

      I love baseball for it’s stats and opportunity for analysis but I love it even more for the drama. I can’t believe this just happened and I’m in schadenfreude heaven!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Blackie says:

        “schadenfreude heaven!”

        I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’m not proud of it. lol

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff says:

        I’m proud of it. It’s hard to feel sorry for Boston fans, who have like 8 major sports titles since 2004.

        +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Welp says:

        ^I think it’s hard to feel bad for Boston because it’s so easy to feel good for the Rays. $42M goes a long way.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JimNYC says:

        Welp — how can you feel good for a fanbase that willfully refuses to show up to see a great team play? I get the schadenfruede, but it’s impossible to be happy for such a useless fanbase.

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      • Jeff says:

        JimNYC: Not every team has the clout to get a billion dollar state of the art facility like your favorite team does. The Rays play in a drab, ugly stadium with terrible, sporadic lighting, and those awful rings. Additionally. the stadium is at least 45 minutes (without any potential traffic delays on I-275) away from the population center of the metro area.

        Every year that they do well and gain a crowd of supporters, they lose half of the stars that the supporters liked after the season. That isn’t happening this year, outside of a probable Upton trade.

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      • B N says:

        As a Red Sox fan, I have to tip my cap to the Rays. They reached out and grabbed it when the Sox were fumbling.

        I’m also tremendously torn about how to feel about this. On the one hand, I wanted my Red Sox in the postseason. Doesn’t everyone want their team to get a shot?

        On the other hand, the way they were playing this is almost like a mercy killing. The Sox have been playing injured and limping along with almost no starting pitching for over a month now. If they moved on to the postseason I’d likely have to watch them botch things into a first round cut. I mean, as it stands, they were making the Orioles look like a World Series caliber team (e.g. hanging on for dear life against them in every contest). At least the Rays are healthy enough to take a stab at something.

        So, donno. I still want there to somehow be a mistake in the scoring and have the Red Sox do a play-in game tomorrow. But the rational part of me thinks this is probably how it had to be.

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      • LTG says:

        Jeff,

        I’m not sure I buy those excuses for the fan-base in TB. 1993 Phillies had a history of losing, badly, coming into the season, a terrible stadium not centrally located in the city with plenty of awful traffic situations around it. Yet, when the team made a run people filled the park.

        On the other hand, I’m not sure it is coherent to hate on fan-bases, as if what the fans do has anything to do with the merit of the teams and we could judge the significance of the team’s performance to the fans from how the fans act. We certainly think we can, but I’m not confident in the reliability of those judgments given the diversity of locality, culture, and history of the MLB teams.

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      • Born in DC says:

        In fact, Tampa lost their 6 highest salaried players from 2010.

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    • JimNYC says:

      It’s strange: as a Yankee fan, this is the only conceivable way a team could have a legendary victory against my team and I could be nothing but happy about it.

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bill says:

        So, you would rather face a surging, healthy Rays team next week than a beat up Sox team? If there were baseball gods, they certainly would punish the Yanks for not bringing in Rivera last night. I’m happy the Sox are out, but the Yanks really should have brought in Rivera.

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      • Colin says:

        Bill,

        Did not realize the Yankees and Rays won both their series already?

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      • Steve says:

        I don’t get it, WHY would the Yankees bring in Rivera?

        The game was completely meaningless to them. They said before the game he wasn’t pitching.

        Just like when they let Romine hit in a key spot against the Red Sox, the Yankees consistently applied the same rule to both foes: rest is more important than winning these games. Which is 100% true.

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      • Drew says:

        I’m guessing you have tried to erase all memory of the last game of the 2001 world series.

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  10. Dave Cameron says:

    Baseball is the best. Case closed.

    +82 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ben says:

      Anyone that accuses fangraphs of abstracting the game too much can shut their trap. In the end, everyone that posts here just fucking loves the game.

      +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Tim_the_Beaver says:

      Agreed. Baseball.
      Scott Van Pelt came close tonight with:
      “Sports are better than anything else. Always.”

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Mike B. says:

    Holy freakin’ cow. One of the most exciting days of this game I’ve ever witnessed. The baseball gods hath spoken!

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  12. Monte says:

    We need a recap of real-time playoff odds for the night. Between the rain delay and the extra innings and the comebacks, it would be crazy.

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Andrew says:

    You just can’t predict baseball.

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  14. Schide says:

    As a Pirates fan, this is the greatest baseball night I have ever experienced.

    +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Kyle says:

    How sad is it that this is the most excited i’ve been for the Os ever?? (only 21 yrs old)

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Blackie says:

      I was really impressed with the O’s the whole series. They seemed to be on a mission to destroy the Red Sox’ dreams. Did you see the look on Andino’s face after the winning run scored? He looked like he’d just scalped someone, or stepped out of a UFC cage. One of the most satisfying examples of playing the spoiler that I’ve ever witnessed.

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff says:

        They’ve been trying to ruin everyone’s shit. They came out swinging and cost Verlander #25 (and ultimately cost the Tigers home-field advantage in the first round). They almost crushed the Rays hopes of coming back earlier this month.

        I gained tons of respect for Showalter over the past week for getting his team to play like hell until the season is over. The complete opposite of the Angels who freaking rolled over when they were eliminated.

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • mbrady16 says:

        Seems pretty ridiculous to me. If he’s somehow getting them to “play harder” for the recent games, why would he not do that for the rest of the games (y’know, before losing 90)? Showalter is just another blowhard do-nothing manager of a bad team that has talent. Moments like this just lend to credit being given to the manager inappropriately.

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  16. Erich says:

    Everyone will blame Crawford in Boston’s game for not picking the single, but Boston could have pitched around both hitters. Instead they threw hittable pitches. Dumb. Way to go Rays!

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    • Patricio says:

      The game tying hit, where Papelbon threw a fastball down the middle, I was calling for a splitter down and in. I have no idea why they gambled with a fifth fastball in a row. And then to throw inside to Andino? After he killed you the other day? Wow, that was some bone-headed pitch selection.

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    • John says:

      Why on earth should Papelbon have been pitching around Andino and his 86 OPS+?

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  17. Eric says:

    Well the rain delay makes perfect sense. A higher power intervened to align the timing of these blissful events.

    +28 Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Mr. Red says:

    I’m sure other people have already looked at this, but the Red Sox had a win expectancy of 95.3% with Papelbon on the hill in the bottom of the 9th with 1 out and nobody on, and they lost. The Rays had a 0.3% win expectancy in various points during the 7th and 8th innings, and they won. The Red Sox had a 99.6% of winning the division on September 3rd, blew that lead, then had a 95.3% chance of winning the division tonight, and blew that. Throw in Dan Johnson and Carl Crawford missing the game-saving catch, and you have a baseball movie in the making.

    +25 Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. reillocity says:

    What a strange season for Scott Proctor. He gets the game-winning excuse RBI groundout as a Brave in the 19th of the Jerry Meals’ game, then serves up the AL wild-card-winning walk-off HR as a Yankee (from the looks of things I’m guessing Proctor would have pitched until the 19th if neither the Yankees or Rays would have scored until then).

    Wouldn’t it be spectactular now if the Rays beat the Yankees in the ALCS, especially since the Yankees chose not to pitch Robertson and Rivera in the 8th and 9th. Sure, the Rays would have had to play the Red Sox probably on Thursday (and possibly may have lost that game) but it would still be an an even more incredible turn of events if the Rays went through the Yankees to get to the World Series.

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  20. RJW says:

    Fill in the blank: This is the most exciting day / night of baseball since ….. for me, maybe 1986, when the Mets and Astros went at it for 16 innings.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JimNYC says:

      As a Yankee fan, since game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, which left me buzzing so much I couldn’t sleep that night.

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    • Frank says:

      As a baseball fan: 2007 when Colorado came back from down 8-6 to SD in the one game playoff in the 13th inning to win 9-8 during their Rocktober run. The final run came on a controversial play at the plate too.

      As a Jays fan: Last year, Roy Halladay’s postseason no-hitter. Also Brandon Morrow’s 17K almost no-hitter.

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      • Spiggy says:

        As a Jays fan, I see what you’re saying, but there’s no way those moments were better. Nothing since 1993’s been this incredible to watch.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      1985 – Game 6 NLCS

      Just the game after Ozzie’s walk-off HR from the left side of the plate (1st of his career), jack Clark blasts a 2-run HR in LA that’s essentially a series-ender. Back to back nights of game winning homers … from the 1980s Cardinals. Unheard of. Both homers were off the same guy Tom “Home Run” Neidenfuer.

      or

      1982 – WS

      Willie McGee as a light hitting rookie hits 2 home runs and takes one away in the field. That’s like so Kirby Puckett and stuff.

      Wainwright freezing Beltran with a deuce to end the 2006 series is 3rd … following Yadi’s go ahead HR off Heilman which following Endy Chavez’s robbing Scott Rolen of a potential go ahead homer. The back and forth in this game was just nerve-racking. Literally.

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  21. fergie348 says:

    I’m beyond belief at this evening’s events. Who’s pulling the strings up there, anyway? I hope that the Rays end up playing the Yankees in the ALCS – that would be sweet..

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. Omar says:

    The Boston Red Sox were thought to be better than the 1927 Yankees, yep those Boston Red Sox.

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    • Welp says:

      That’s what’s on your mind after what happened tonight? Do you even like baseball?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        Well that’s definitely the first thought I had, I’m not going to lie or try to hide my assholeish behavior. That being said it was a huge collapse, the Rays had to be as perfect as you can be in baseball. They’re the story tonight, and they deserve all the attention they’re getting.

        Starting with tonight:

        We saw Chris Carpenter, one of my very favorite pitchers, go balls out to pitch his team to the playoffs. Also ost here, I don’t see how Pujols leaves after going through this? That was the fifth biggest collapse in baseball history by the Braves and he was on the good end of it.

        We saw two walk off hits, a young player Robert Andino endear himself to the Os fanbase. The Orioles had two 30 HR guys this season, yeah, THOSE baltimore Orioles.

        Evan Longoria…wow, what a night for him…two HRs in the last game of the season coming back from seven runs down to make the playoffs.

        The Rays had a triple play yesterday and came back from down 0-7 tonight to make the playoffs. That’s right a team with a 50M dollar pay roll can compete with the Yankees and the Red Sox, that’s what makes baseball so fucking awesome.

        Of course you can’t talk about huge comebacks without a collapse, wow…we’ll talk about those later but it was a great night. What about the rest of the season?

        Verlander’s Triple Crown year? My god, he sure was something to watch this season, Kershaw almost did it in the NL too. Matt Kemp almost won the first NL TC since Joe Medwick, that’s pretty amazing too. Playoffs in Milwaukee and Arizona again? Yes, please. The seasons that Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano had…when was the last time two second basemen had seasons that good? Not to mention Strassburg came back for some heat at the end of the year.

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      • Everett says:

        Speaking of AL 2Bs, don’t forget Ian Kinsler…

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      • Danny says:

        @Omar: Kershaw did get the Triple Crown, he led in K’s and ERA and tied Kennedy in W’s.

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    • B N says:

      Well, anyone who thought that was some kind of a moron. I’m a Red Sox fan, and I would never subject myself to such pre-season delusions. The Red Sox are the perpetual underdog. As soon as you think of them any other way, it’s bad karma.

      Once again, my Sox have proven they can always make a race of it. No matter how far back they are, they can make it up- no matter how far up they are, they can blow it. That’s my experience at least. It’s also why I never stop watching a game, even if it’s a slaughter.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Injuries killed this team. It happens.

        In regards to talent, they’re about as good as it gets.

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      • Steve says:

        I agree, the Red Sox are the “perpetual underdog” and it was only fitting that they eventually succombed to the $42M goliath, the Tampa Bay Rays by way of the last place Orioles.

        Wait, what?

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      • Steve says:

        The sox had injuries, but so did every other team.

        The “#2 org” in baseball put themselves in this position by having ZERO depth. The Yankees had injuries, but they either used the cheap vets they signed for depth (Chavez, Jones, Ayala, Wade) or brought kids up from the farm and plugged holes (Nunez, Noesi, Nova, etc).

        The pitchers the Sox brought up from their system were awful. Then they traded for Bedard, who couldn’t give any innings.

        Also, maybe moving Youkilis to 3B wasn’t that great of an idea?

        Lackey? Crawford??

        There was more to this collapse than just injuries. Some of it was pure roster construction.

        Theo has now missed the playoffs with a gigantic payroll 3 times in the last 6 seasons. At what point is it OK to question his genius?

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      • Welp says:

        ^So delusional. The “depth” consisted of unpredictably good full seasons from Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. Without them, they’re in a similar no-depth downward spiral.

        Cashman himself acknowledged the Sox had more depth than the Yanks at seasons’s start, but the usual fans will invent whatever retrospective story it takes to boost their bias.

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      • Omar says:

        It sure is a good thing that us fans have the standings on our side…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bill says:

      I believe their hitting when healthy was likened to that of the ’27 Yankees. It was not their offense that let them down this month.

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  23. JRM says:

    Wow.

    Wow.

    Wow.

    Let’s go Rays! I bet Jonah Keri is smiling.

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  24. Jeff says:

    Rays-Yankees tonight was probably the most exciting game I’ve seen since Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. The only other games that come close for me are Tigers-Twins Game 163 in 2009 and the Steve Bartman game.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Was this collapse worse than the ’07 Mets?

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    • Patricio says:

      The combination of both collapses definitely are!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Welp says:

      By the numbers, yup.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        Not really though, as the Red Sox had massive slews of injuries also. The Mets were relatively healthy, which makes their collapse a bit less understandable.

        I mean, no offense, but the Red Sox were looking into trading for Capuano to make one start. I mean… that’s when you know your rotation is shredded.

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      • D says:

        Not entirely shredded, but entirely ineffective. A rotation full of guys that failed time after time.

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      • phoenix2042 says:

        remember, their best pitcher, lester, went last night and the walk off was off their best reliever, pap. they have no excuse this game.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        Oh, I’m not trying to make any excuses for this game- nor for the others. They lost those games like it was hot. But I would still say the Mets one was worse because it was more improbable as it was happening. I was in Philly at the time, and it was like “Philly is seriously going to have a shot? What if the Mets start playing again?”

        On the other hand, the Red Sox collapse was one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen. They were collapsing to the tune of about 5.5 runs scored a game. Like… losing games when they’re still scoring 6 runs, consistently. I’ve never seen anything like it. But it was pretty clear to look at the rotation and see where the problems were. I guess in my book, the worst collapse involves everyone collapsing together- not just one third of the team.

        So I guess that’s why I feel the Mets collapse was still worse- they were playing bad top to bottom almost. The Red Sox were just playing REALLY bad on one side of the ball. And I hate to say “I told you so” to Theo, but I knew Lackey was a bad signing- I just never knew he could possible be THIS bad. We would have actually been better off sticking with Wakefield over him the whole year and using the extra cash to build a library or something.

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  26. JG says:

    So guys… There might not be a book about it, but if Moneyball is a huge success in theaters, this Rays season will be the subject of Moneyball 2.

    That sounds tacky as hell and I want to see it.

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    • Kyle says:

      not to bust balls but it lost to an 18 yr old movie in opening weekend. i always felt like the movie should have been the rays, as they constantly do what beane did for a little

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Justin Bailey says:

        By “constantly” you mean “for the last 3 or 4-ish years.” You’re right that the Rays are more relevant than the A’s now, but let’s not get carried away here. Beane’s A’s were competitive for longer than the Rays have been competitive thus far.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Justin Bailey says:

        And I can’t do math, the Rays have been competitive for 4 or 5-ish years. Is what I meant.

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  27. Patricio says:

    Which actor plays Longo? Or does he just play himself?

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    • JG says:

      Scott Hatteberg?

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • SC2GG says:

      It could have a love story side theme like top gun where Evan Longoria’s inadvertent acquaintance who unknowingly provides inspiration to him to overcome the obstacles of injury and poor early on hitting thus allowing him to succeed as a superstar and who is played by Eva Longoria.

      Anyway, I was flabbergasted, I had 2 ESPN gamecast windows open at work here, and it was like, BAM BAM done, just absolutely shocked. I hope this leads to a Rays/Cards WS, and the downfall of this iteration of the Sox in general.

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  28. Black_Rose says:

    At least a PhD (in Organic Chemistry at Duke University) would not be a starting pitcher during the post-season since Kimbrel blew the save of his life.

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    • Bill says:

      And Kimbrel wasn’t burned by bad hop singles or bloops; he choked in classic fashion by walking three guys. I wonder if this one doesn’t have a lasting effect on him. Like maybe a Mark Wohlers kind of lasting effect. As a baseball fan, I hope not.

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  29. Ben says:

    It’s nights like this that everyone becomes a kid again.

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  30. Patrick Martin says:

    “Holy crap” is right. I am in shock and awe. This was one of the most exciting and incredible nights in baseball history!

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  31. Black_Rose says:

    “I am in shock and awe. ”

    Don’t use that phrase in the presence of a Maoist woman. You sound like an imperialist bastard.

    -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. Os Fan says:

    I studies for an exam and didn’t watch the game.

    The A I’m getting tomorrow won’t be worth it.

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  33. William says:

    I was watching the Sox on the computer with the Rays on the tv. This was the most epic thing I’ve ever seen, and I’m a Yankee fan. It’s been really weird rooting against them these last 3 games.

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    • Patrick Martin says:

      Only the cunning and diabolical Yankees could find a way to lose after having a 7-run lead and STILL break the hearts of Red Sox fans. Haha. They must have been laughing in the clubhouse, shrugging their shoulders and saying “Oops!”

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Black_Rose says:

        rolling on the floor laughing. Mariano must be glad that he didn’t shut the Rays down.

        I don’t think any of the Yankee hitters choked intentionally at the plate. Proctor was pitching to the best of his ability, and it wasn’t enough. I find the game to be somewhat of a travesty since Rivera, Soriano, or Robertson didn’t pitch.

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      • William says:

        I mean, all the regulars were out after the first few innings except for Gardner. They didn’t choke, they just didn’t play. Plus, Girardi wasn’t gonna use any of his high leverage relievers.

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      • Steve says:

        Why on earth would the Yankees use their top 3 relievers 2 days before the playoffs start to seal up a meaningless game?

        Just makes no sense.

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  34. Tim_the_Beaver says:

    Did somebody say

    Dan
    Johnson
    ?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlTvSUCCqPo

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  35. Principal Joel Skinner says:

    Let us all raise a toast to the baseball gods!!!

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  36. McExpos says:

    To be in a room full of baseball fans, not a single Rays, Red Sox, Orioles, or Yankees enthusiast in the bunch, and to have them all react like THEIR team had just won the World Series… there is nothing like this game. Tonight, baseball is perfect.

    +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Black_Rose says:

      This makes me ask why is this such a great night of baseball. What if the Red Sox win and the Rays lost? Or it didn’t matter the outcome because the Rays/Yanks, Phillies/Braves, and Red Sox/Orioles game were decided during the 9th or beyond, which implicitly means high leverage?

      I consider myself a connoisseur of pitching, and I simply find it somewhat lamentable that Carpenter’s shutout (11K, 1 BB) would be the least remembered and celebrated part of today. His gem was certainly a supererogatory effort when your offense yields 7 runs of support, but I love the aesthetics of the complete-game shutout.

      Do people like huge probability shifts, over the course of the season and during a game and high leverage situations, or do people simply dislike the Red Sox (and Braves)? Do people like blown saves by premier closers (Pappy and Kimbrel)? I dislike the Red Sox too.

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      • Black_Rose says:

        I guess this is why I am opposed to a playoff expansion. There is simply no need to add more playoff teams, as the Division races and the Wild Card races usually make every day of the baseball regular season meaningful for general baseball fans.

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      • B N says:

        Carpenter’s start will at least be well remembered by anyone who plays fantasy baseball. You just don’t forget 11K’s and a shutout on the last day of the season- not in a competitive league.

        I think it’s definitely about the high leverage, plus that a whole season of 161 games all rides on the 162nd one in not one but TWO situations.

        And I’m also strongly against playoff expansion. Particularly since in the current AL East, it would be just stupid. If we had expanded playoffs, today’s games wouldn’t have mattered- either way the Red Sox and Rays would be having a play-in game. Sheesh, talk about what a huge let down that would be: “Well okay, you had a better record Rays, but you’ve still got to do a play-in with the Sox. Have at it.”

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      • JimNYC says:

        BN — people said the exact same thing at the dawn of division play in 1969.

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      • Black_Rose says:

        I like the status quo simply because I like the notion that an above-average team can simply defeat the best team in the post-season. Remember, I don’t believe that World Series should necessarily be won by the best team of either the AL or NL; the identity of the best team can be known through sabermetrics. I find it satisfactory that the best teams, along with teams that were above-average and lucky, merely have an opportunity, and perhaps slightly better odds, to [lay in the World Series.

        Besides eight is two to the third power, which is perfect for a single-elimination post-season. Ten is not a power of two.

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      • Newcomer says:

        @B N: This. I was hoping these races would end as dramatically as possible so maybe people in charge see how 2 wild cards and a play-in could reduce the drama at the end of the season. Maybe they won’t do it.

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      • Newcomer says:

        Also, that’s not why I don’t want the wild card. The main reason I don’t want the second wild card is that I don’t like the idea of the 2nd best team having to play the 5th best team in 1 game to decide if they get to compete for the title.

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    • B N says:

      @Jim I’m well aware of the cognitive issues of some people always being conservative about change, but on the other hand I see the numbers in this change and they’re bad.

      The reason why wildcard is actually pretty good is that it generally allows the team with the 2nd or 3rd best record in baseball into the postseason. The old divisional format basically double-penalized you for being in a hard division: you had to play the best teams more, plus you had to have the best record in that division. In the end, you could have a record 10 games better than the guy who’s leading the next division and still not make the cut. This lead to cutting some VERY good teams from postseason play, while letting crappy teams with .500 records in because they were “division leaders” in bad divisions.

      But adding an extra wild card doesn’t do that. I’ve seen what people have done for analysis, and a 2nd wildcard would generally be worse than all the division leaders (and obviously worse than the first wildcard team). So what is the point of giving that team a shot?

      On the converse, I probably would have argued against divisions for a similar reason- and I’m still not so sure if they’re all that great. The current 3-division format at least seems to generally let a bad team sneak into the post-season with some frequency. So I donno, I’m okay with 2 wildcards I guess.. if we go down to 2 divisions. ;) But the 3 division leaders, 2 WC system has nothing to do about making baseball more exciting or getting the best teams into the post-season. It’s just about milking out a few more bucks.

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  37. Breadbaker says:

    Yes, it’s not about stats, but the graphs of the games, plus the graphs of the Rays, Red Sox, Braves and Cardinals on Cool Standings all tell a story in an eyeful.

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  38. kwyjibo says:

    Great drama though both those Rays home runs looked so cheap.

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    • Michael says:

      That was an integral part of the irony and the drama. Both homers were just about the shortest possible, especially with that low fence in left field.

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      • BIP says:

        I never knew both foul poles had those low walls next to them until tonight.

        I also never knew the Rays had cheerleaders, either.

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      • SC2GG says:

        At some point in the past, you could make jokes that the Rays were paying at least half their fans to show up and act cheery.

        Hopefully this sort of thing can give them some supporters for upcoming years.

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  39. Pop Tones says:

    Even in the depths of their misery, Braves fans should be able to appreciate that it was no one other than Scott Proctor who gave up the GWHR to Longoria.

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  40. Eric M. Van says:

    If you were writing a novel, you would make the final day of the season a microcosm of the whole season. So of course you’d have the Rays come back from an 0.3% Win Probability and the Sox blow a 95.3%. Figuring the Rays would have a 60% chance of winning the play-in game, that works out be about a 97% playoff odds for the Sox.

    Of course, when you synch them up in real time, it wasn’t as extreme. During their rain delay the Sox peaked at about a 78% chance of making the playoffs, and sometime during the Yankees’ top of the 12th and Sox top of the 9th it was in the 80% to 85% range.

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    • Eric M. Van says:

      Oh, and of course the blown 95.3% was the worst game collapse by WPA of the Sox season, and I’m willing to bet that the Rays’ 0.3% was their best comeback of the year (if not in franchise history).

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  41. DodgersKings323 says:

    Hip Hip! Hip Hip! To all of us haters who did say they were done when they had that bad start in April :D

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  42. Romodonkulous says:

    Absolutely amazing night in MLB.

    Congrats to both the Rays and Cards.

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  43. kampfer says:

    I think the rain that paused the O’s v. Sox game is the greatest thing ever happened to my entire baseball fan life. WOW!!!!!! It aligned the endings of the two game so well that it almost HAVE to be controlled by some higher power. I was watching on MLB tv and have both game on simultaneously. This two games ALONE is worth all the money I paid.

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  44. T-Car says:

    Having just seen Moneyball, the Rays getting the best of the Red Sox was particularly satisfying.

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    • Bill says:

      The ’11 Rays and ’02 A’s have similar stories. Although, the Rays’ is actually more amazing. The ’02 A’s lost Giambi, Isringhausen, and Damon; a combined 13.1 WAR. The ’11 Rays lost Crawford, Pena, Soriano, Bartlett, Benoit, and Garza; a combined 14.6 WAR. And this was split over twice as many players meaning they had to replace twice as many players. And, they had to do this in the AL East.

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  45. Jeff says:

    Dave,

    Sorry if this is already mentioned (couldn’t read all the comments) but is there any way to sort win expectancy by time instead of play-by-play, or somehow tie play-by-play to real time? If so, by making a simplifying assumption like the Rays had a 52% likelihood of winning a one game playoff (small home field advantage) one could presumably construct a graph for the Red Sox(Rays) Playoff Expectancy for the night that would sum (the probability of Red Sox win + Rays Win + Red Sox win playoff game) + (the probability of Red Sox Lose + Rays Lose + Red Sox win playoff game) + (the probability of Red Sox Win + Rays Lose).

    How awesome would that be? Talk about the anatomy of a great night.

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  46. Disco says:

    Dan Johnson getting that hit was no surprise. As a Yankees fan, it was too predictable. Even against BOS, it’s ALWAYS Dan Johnson getting that hit.

    When he came up, me and my roommate looked at each other and knew it was a tie game already.

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  47. Person says:

    Would anyone else spend some money for a DVD that just goes from game to game in real time starting around 10:20, and ending at 12:10 or so (after the various celebrations)?

    http://proxy.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7033428/breakdown-wednesday-games

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  48. Eminor3rd says:

    THE GREAT PUMPKIN

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