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Soup of This Day #7: How to Win With An Elephant

May 31, 2011

Eye of an Elephant
The eye of an Asian elephant. Spooky, isn’t it? – Photo: Alexander Klink, 2008. Alexander Klink is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Momentum. It’s not just about the motion, it’s about the power inherent in the motion. You want momentum. It gets you over the hill, out of the slump and into a positive streak. You need momentum. It gets you through a pile of tasks that are otherwise overwhelming, gets you out of a 2-10 hole (Yeah, I said I was done mentioning it but it makes a very specific point so stick with me here). What you don’t want or need is anything that breaks the momentum; Rain, snow, power-outs, transport strikes or a fan sticking their glove in the way of a crucial catch. You need all of those things when you don’t have momentum, because they give you a chance to regroup, refocus, break the mountain down step by step, get yourself some grip and some traction so that you can start to climb up again. But when you have the Big Mo you don’t want to see so much as a change in the expression on a mouse’s face at the bottom of your yard.

Heading into yesterday’s forced double-header, Boston had Big Mo. He was out there with them, swinging a bat, getting lucky drops off bloops and miscued doubles. For a time there it looked like he was going to stay with them – He guided them through a tight opener. Sure, they tried to dump him from the game by missing a few opportunities to ice the Tigers early but Papi rode the Big Mo over the fence and it looked like they’d made it up the mountain ok. Nope. Game 2 was totally lacking in momentum. It was totally lacking in traction. Just 4 hits in total and 2 runs to the bad at the bottom of the 1st – Wack some snow chains on those tyres and you wouldn’t have got traction on a road of freshly laid tar. Which brings us to today’s game.

The White Sox at Fenway. Lester on the mound but no sign of the Big Mo. Boston were 2 down in the 1st. Déjà vu again. They crept back to level pegging by the bottom of the 4th tying it at 3-3 but that’s as close as it got, with a 4-spot 6th giving the White Sox the win and Lester the loss. He finished with all 7 White Sox runs against his name, which seemed just about right for his lack of control. He stranded runners in each of his innings and of his 127 pitches he could manage only 72 strikes. He wasn’t helped by some bloop hits dropping in safe (Big Mo, where art thou?) On the positive side of the ledger Gonzalez knocked a solo shot home and Pedroia got another 2 RBIs to maybe build a little bit of form. So May is now done and despite a 19 and 9 month the Red Sox are half a game off sole possession of the Division lead.

Which brings us back to Big Mo. The Red Sox have won 26 of 30 as parts of streaks of 2 or more. They’ve lost 20 of 24 via the same condition. Extend to streaks of 3 or more and the numbers are (still) 26 of 30 for wins and 12 of 24 for losses. To make it slightly more impressive: Since 2 and 10 the Red Sox are 28 and 14 with 26 of those 28 coming in streaks of 3 or more. In essence the Sox are more likely to lose 1 or 2 consecutive games only rather than via a streak of 3 or more. When they do win (and since that horror start they are twice as likely to win as they are to lose) they are most likely to win 3 or more consecutive games. By contrast the Yankees are 22 of 29 for wins with streaks of 2 or more and 13 of 23 for losses. For streaks of 3 or more the Evil Empire has just 9 of 29 wins and 9 of 23 losses. The Yankees are therefore less likely to string together consecutive wins or losses – The most likely outcome for this season for them has been a W-L-W-L pattern. To illustrate this I’ve provided a helpful graphic below:

Elephant crushes car

The Elephant is Big Mo and the car is the Yankees. It doesn’t end well for the car.

It seems that Boston needs Big Mo back on deck. Not sure where he’s gone, last seen outside Comerica Park in Detroit. Maybe he’s still there – The Tigers rallied for a 6-5 win over the Twins for their 2nd. Nice but not that impressive yet as streaks go, so no Big Mo there. Maybe he’s in Toronto, the Blue Jays are humming along nicely, blasting Red Sox-esque numbers around the place this morning for an 11-1 win over Cleveland (who know all about streaks and Boston this season) and a 4 win streak. No wait… Big Mo looks to have a taste for the desert. Arizona, Mo? The D’backs with a 15-4 whooping of the not-too-shabby Marlins and a 7-game hotspot.

Come back Big Mo, Boston wants you.

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