Has anybody done the math?

With 43 games played, the Red Sox were 23-20 after their series with the Colorado Rockies. Since their horrendous start, when they were 6-13 after 19 games, they had won 17 and lost seven, a .708 winning percentage. If they were to end up with 107 wins and 56 losses, that’s one less than last year, but, certainly, enough to make the playoffs. 

Carl Johnson

Even this writer, the ultimate optimist when it comes to this group of players, doesn’t believe that could happen. There are too many variables to allow any team to win 71 percent of its games over a 119-game stretch. On the other hand, if this team can win for the rest of the season at the same rate last year’s team won all season, a .667 winning percentage, they would win 102 games. The mere fact that the Sox could lose 13 of their first 19 games and then turn around and win 17 of their next 24 makes you think that that might be possible. 

But who knows. Remember 2011, when the Sox were 83-52 on Aug. 31, a .614 winning percentage, and then lost 20 of their last 27, a .259 percentage, to drop out of the playoffs? Strange things happen in a 162-game season. The Sox will probably not win 107 games this year, or even 102, but they have proven that they have the potential to make the playoffs.   

Even ESPN’s Alex Rodriguez, that old Red Sox hater and Hall of Famer, who is now Jessica Mendoza’s “Yes Man,” said last week, “The Red Sox are like an ace pitcher, if you don’t get them early, you’re not going to get them.”

Baseball is changing in so many ways, most of the changes, to my old-fashioned way of thinking, not for the better. But, my prejudices aside, one of the changes is in the construction of top of the lineup. In Lou Gehrig’s and Babe Ruth’s day, the big hitters batted in the third and fourth spots and numbers were assigned according to the player’s slot in the lineup, hence Ruth and Gehrig wore Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. 

Teams generally had a leadoff hitter whose job was to get on and steal a base to get into scoring position, usually a smaller player with a smaller strike zone and good speed. Quite often the No. 2 hitter was a good bunter who could move the runner along with a sacrifice bunt if he couldn’t steal so there would be runners in scoring position for the big hitters in the middle of the lineup to drive in.  

Boston Red Sox’s Mookie Betts at bat during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Boston, Saturday, May 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

How would you like to be a starting pitcher today who finds that the first three batters he will face are Houston’s George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich and Mike Moustakas or the Red Sox’ Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and J. D. Martinez? All power hitters. The shift from a focus on building runs, or “small ball,” to today’s home-run-or-nothing and who cares how many times a batter strikes out mentality is not necessarily a good change for the players or the fans.    

Since I was born the year before television was displayed at the New York World’s Fair and the San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition and television was first experimentally broadcast from the Empire State Building, some of the 21st Century wonders of computers and the internet are mindboggling. When we first got our EZ Pass, we couldn’t believe that the computer could not only identify us flying by at 65 miles an hour but also bill our account simultaneously, miles away. More dazzling was the day this year when my wife left me behind the wheel of her new car, without my key, and a voice told me that, “The key has left the vehicle.”

With 30 teams in the Major Leagues, each having to play 19 games against each of its division opponents, 20 against teams from the other league, either six or seven against each of the 10 teams from the other divisions in their league, for a total of 162 games, in cities, in some cases, thousands of miles apart, taking into consideration things like a morning game in Boston on Patriot’s Day, day games after a night game on get-away day, time restrictions between certain games required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and numerous other requirements, it makes you wonder what kind of a mind wrote the algorithm that makes it all work.

David Price and others, who complained that Jackie Robinson Day was not celebrated with all 30 teams playing on the same day, apparently have no idea of the complexities of managing such a huge schedule to meet all the different requirements, some imposed by the CBA negotiated by their own players’ union

How did they even do it before expansion and before computers, with just eight teams in each league and a 154-game schedule? It’s more amazing how the schedule continued to be constructed when every time a new team was added or relocated, the task, obviously, became more difficult, with no computer to rely upon?

Baseball is so hung up on reducing the length of ball games. Next year we are, supposedly, going to get the much awaited and tested time clock on the pitchers. When the rule was put in requiring batters to remain in the batter’s box between pitches, they couldn’t enforce it and had to abandon it. 

By rule now, a manager must request an instant replay review of a call within 30 seconds or lose the appeal. There is also a two-minute time limit on the review, starting from when the time the official determines what is being challenged, but neither of those are enforced. Why do they think a time clock on the pitchers, which would have little effect on the length of games, if enforced, will work?  By the way, have you noticed that the time limits on mound visits appear to have been forgotten?

It’s been an interesting and exciting year so far and promises to get better. Red Sox fans are back on the bandwagon again after all but counting their heroes out and can’t wait for another Duck Boat Parade.

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