Something Is Definitely Over in Boston

The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Boston Red Sox this afternoon at Fenway Park. They won 4-3, with a late game contribution from Omar Vizquel to seal the deal. That says something about the resurgent Blue Jays, who have shown that, with more bodies on the field than in the infirmary, they are a competitive baseball team.

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New-fan week: Baseball is boring. Baseball is not boring.

Editor’s note: A recent reddit post — this one to be exact — really stuck with me. The author is an Irishman who’s looking to get into baseball and, not knowing where to start, he asked for help. Well, this week at Infield Fly, we aim to help everybody’s who’s just getting into the game. If you’re a new fan, if you’re interested in becoming a fan or if you know somebody who think would love the game and you want to point them our way, hopefully this week will have something for you. We plan to cover the how and the why for new fans.

Read the first instalment, a basic stats primer, here. The second instalment, a quick guide on how to get the most out of watching the game, is here.

Today, we have a guest post from Ruhee Dewji of Double Switching. She’s been a ball fan for just over a year now and she’s sharing what she loves about the game and why she’s hooked. If you’re on the Twitter, give her a follow. She’s cool beans. Continue reading

What does blowing a lead look like?

Couple of quick thoughts on the Red Sox/Yankees tilt today. The one in which the Sox could not protect a 9 run lead. I’m not going to try to get the proper adjective for that kind of thing. I don’t think that word exists. I’m just going to show you two pictures.

The following are win probability graphs, from Fangraphs.com, they illustrate the level of certainty that one team has of winning the game. The first inning begins with the home team at a little better than 50% chance, and eventually the graph ends at one team’s side, top for the home team, bottom for the visitors. The sharper and more frequent the spikes, the more varied and exciting the game action.

The first graph is from a Blue Jays game last year, a game in which they scored seven runs against Felix Hernandez, and then allowed eight unanswered to lose in the bottom of the 9th.

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Note that, until the very last two plays of the game, the Blue Jays still had a better than 50% chance of pulling that one out of the fire. The bar graph on the bottom indicates how much impact each subsequent at-bat has in the game. Red bars are game-changing at bats, little bumps are low stress situations. The last five Seattle batters all came up with the game in their hands.  It was a crushing defeat, and a failure in the final moment that left a bit of an empty feeling in my gut.

This is from today’s game, NYY at BOS:

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It is just a crazy line. The Red Sox are hovering at near 99% certainty of winning, and then the 6th and 7th innings completely destroy their chances, swinging the odds the Yankee’s way in just as extreme a fashion. The leverage bars at the bottom of the graph blip only once after the 7-run 7th. Boston went down to the mat, hard, and stayed there.

I doubt that I’ll see anything quite like that reversal any time soon. I bet Bobby V. is hoping exactly the same thing.

Employee relations

Choose your own adventure: You own a business in a competitive field. You want to, one day, be the absolute best in your field, but you know you’ve got a lot of work to do to get there. You’re striving to create a great working environment so that the top minds in your chosen industry will be attracted to your organization — not only by the potential your company shows, but also because they know they’ll be treated better working for you than if they worked for anybody else.

Now let’s say you’ve managed to hire someone from a rival. This someone is a little lacking in experience at the position you hire him for, but there’s a consensus in the industry that he’s going to be great once he gets some practice.

A year passes. The guy you’ve hired has made some questionable moves, but damn it, he’s showing the potential everybody knows he has.

Meanwhile, the rival from which you hired the employee suddenly has an opening and they want your man. They’ve got a chance to conquer the industry as early as next year and they want him to help lead them to the top.

If he wants to leave, do you stop him?

Keep in mind that if he wants to go, and you don’t let him, the atmosphere in your workplace is going to take a dive. The guy doesn’t want to be there — and everybody knows it.

What do you do?

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Is John Farrell going to leave the Blue Jays to manage the Red Sox? Only John Farrell knows.

If I’m Alex Anthopoulos, and if Farrell wants to go, I absolutely let him. Why poison the clubhouse like that? Why risk a big, big dent in the reputation of being a great place to work?

It’d definitely be tempting to prevent Boston from poaching the manager, if the Red Sox do indeed want to do that, but that’s an urge that’s got to be resisted.

Maybe offering Farrell some more money would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Maybe improving the team would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Those moves would be fine. Simply saying “you can’t go because I say so”? That’s not good enough. Not if you’re trying to build something real.

Jose Bautisa: Jaw dropper

There are a lot of fun things about watching the Blue Jays, but my favourite by far is watching pitchers pitch to Jose Bautista. Dingers are fun, chicks love the long ball and all that, but Bautista does it like no other.

Seriously, when Bautista connects, it’s almost always a jaw dropper. Boston Red Sox fans who didn’t already know this learned it the hard way Tuesday night when Bautista smashed a ball so hard it ended up hitting the top of the foul pole above the Green Monster. Check it out.

The dinger’s impressive, but the reaction of the people behind the plate are almost as entertaining:

The girl in the middle is in complete awe.

The guy on the right, I like him. He’s probably a die-hard Sox fan, but he can’t hide his excitement at watching such a moonshot.

Dude on the left? Well, I had to highlight a pissed off Sox fan.

Jose Bautista: Dropping jaws and aggravating Massholes. Gotta love it.