Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
At Last We Meet Again, My Old Nemesis
2007-10-22 00:38
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I can't believe it's going to be the Red Sox.

No, wait. That's not true. I wanted to tell myself for days it wasn't going to be Boston meeting the Rockies in the World Series, but I knew, somewhere inside, that it had to be the case. This remarkable season certainly could not come to a close without me personally facing perhaps my greatest demon when it comes to Rockies baseball.

The Rockies have a nickname -- no, wait, scratch that. Certain people, who are fools, or running low on column width, or both, have long referred to the Colorado major league franchise by a stupid, lame-sounding and ugly-looking diminutive that happens to share two letters with the second word in "Red Sox." In two years of Bad Altitude and the one on the MLBlogs site before that, I have never used this horrible term. I'm certainly not about to use it now. Suffice it to say that it seems like the name of a crummy low-level minor league team that isn't even in a large enough town to have a single city name, instead using a directional (West Tennessee), a region (Tri-City), or heaven help us, a slash (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, yikes). Denver is not a minor league city (anymore), and among the 90's expansion franchises their given name is by far the most reasonable and classy. Colorado Rockies: Sure, a team named that could win the World Series and Ban Johnson wouldn't roll over in his grave. But Colorado R**? Please. It sounds like the name of an ill-conceived state tourism campaign. Or a shoddy Fort Collins KISS tribute band.

And now we're going to have what headline writers are going to be completely unable to resist referring to in shorthand as the "Sox-R**" World Series. And the notion is even now some time before the fact preventing me from sleeping. Josh Beckett? Beckett we can handle. Big Papi? We have two nasty southpaws in the bullpen and three starters with no fear of lefty sluggers. Manny Ramirez? I would not be in the least surprised to hear tomorrow that Man-Ram is terrified of being eaten by mountain lions and is refusing to make the trip west for Games 3, 4, and 5. And even if he does, I don't fear him.

But boy, I freaking hate "R**." I hope this doesn't spoil the whole World Series for me.

2007-10-22 01:44:45
1.   joejoejoe
Big Papi will be Big Iffy in the field in the games in Denver. I wonder how Boston plays it with the LH Ortiz and RH Youkilis at first base. Ortiz only played 7 games at 1B all season.
2007-10-22 03:47:08
2.   Mark T.R. Donohue
5:44 AM CDT: Mike Greenberg utters the phrase "R**-Sox" World Series for the first time, scant moments after describing Boston as "prohibitive favorites" in this series. I might have to go into full media blackout mode until Wednesday.
2007-10-22 05:56:52
3.   Mark T.R. Donohue
You know how I can tell we've arrived? Normally the two Google ads at the bottom of my posts are both completely unrelated to the Rockies. If I mention two other baseball teams, those two other teams will get the link, unless I type "Cubs" or "Red Sox" or "Yankees" in which case there will be TWO ads related to that team.

Today, both ads were Rockies-linked. Hooray!

2007-10-22 06:54:25
4.   Sebastian S
Their given name is so nice the city used it twice.
2007-10-22 07:03:21
5.   Bob Timmermann
There's a car insurance Google ad now.
2007-10-22 07:11:06
6.   Mark T.R. Donohue
5 Well, it was nice while it lasted.
2007-10-22 08:13:40
7.   Vishal
how about... "rocks", with no x? :)

i highly doubt that yankees fans get flustered if someone refers to their team as the "yanks". though i guess it would be understandable that they might not like "yanx". and think of it this way: at least you don't have to deal with all the various interpretations of your team's name that fans of the padres (a.k.a. pads, pods, dads, fathers, friars, etc...) must contend with.

2007-10-22 08:16:46
8.   Mark T.R. Donohue
7 Still sounds like a minor league team. When people say "Yanks," you know what they mean. Whenever I hear "R**," I think, "Woo, they must have a homestand against the Javelinas and the Diamond Jaxx after their road trip through Bakersfield and Modesto!"

I know that's not geographically or league-ly correct, but that is what I think.

2007-10-22 08:29:45
9.   RIYank
Greenberg may think the Sox are 'prohibitive favorites', but Baseball Prospectus gives the, uh, that Colorado team (flustered!) a 56.3% chance of winning the Series.

Just sayin.

2007-10-22 08:34:03
10.   Bob Timmermann
But the sports book I checked have the Red Sox at -240 to win the whole thing.

(Betting lines are for entertainment purposes only.)

2007-10-22 08:40:31
11.   Mark T.R. Donohue
Personally the idea of "prohibitive favorites" in a baseball series offends me. This isn't the NBA, where it's pretty hard for a clearly inferior team to win 4 out of 7. Even if the worst team in the league played the best team in an infinite number of seven-game series, the better team would win, what, like a little over 60% of the time? If even? So it's silly to call any team a lock, ever. At least until they're up 3-0.
2007-10-22 08:52:10
12.   Bluebleeder87

That reminds me, I hope Manny Ramirez delivers some comic relief out in LF'd. As far defense goes the Rockies have the upper hand & there pitching will be very very well rested the only thing I'm worried about is the Colorado hitters being rusty but we'll see on Wed.

2007-10-22 08:53:01
13.   RIYank
11 Hm, I think the best vs worst in a 7-game series would be better than just 60%. (They'd be more than 60% to win a one-game play-off, so surely more likely than that in a 7-game series.) Still, I agree about 'prohibitive favorites', especially since bad teams rarely get to the post-season at all.
As to the 3-0 thing, ugh. It's your blog, but man, talking about how 3-0 is a 'lock' is really repulsive to Yankee fans... especially right now. Ugh.
2007-10-22 09:13:16
14.   Josh Wilker
9 : That sounds about right.

10 : I don't understand baseball betting lines, but if that line points toward the Red Sox winning, it is more likely a reflection of a ton of "action" on the Red Sox rather than on who the bookies actually think will win.

11 : I totally, totally agree that there are no locks in a baseball playoff series. It's exasperating to me that thoughts contrary to that clog the airwaves. Sometimes I feel like I can sort of size up a series by comparing the starting pitchers of each team, but even then I can only come up with a very hazy guess, and then only if one team seems to have a pronounced advantage on the mound.

2007-10-22 09:21:07
15.   Mark T.R. Donohue
13 First I thought your math was just bad, but then I thought about it for a bit and I think we're just using different parameters... the chance for the best team to win in my estimation is based on their average performance for the whole season, leaving aside the fact that the #1 starter for the best team in the bigs is probably way better than the #1 starter for the worst. Going simply by probability based on past performance and ignoring actual lineups (second-order versus third-order? help me out here), I don't think the chance for any team to win just one game ever gets more than maybe 54-55% under normal major league conditions.

The research department reports that for a seven-game series about the longest odds an underdog can realistically face is about 2-1... or 66% for the favorite. So my rough estimate was pretty close.

2007-10-22 09:24:12
16.   RIYank
Mark, since the worst teams win 40% of their games and the best teams win 60% of their games, how could the chance of a Best Team (Indians or Sox, say) beating a Worst Team (D-Rays, maybe) be lower than 55%?

I would have thought that a team that wins 60% of its games would have just about a 60% chance of beating a league-average team. No? (Like you, I'm ignoring specifics of starting pitchers.)

2007-10-22 09:36:40
17.   Bob Timmermann
-240 means that you have to bet $240 on Boston to get $100 back.

I only bet with Arnold Rothstein & Sons.

2007-10-22 09:38:46
18.   Bob Timmermann
So this Seussian rhyme will not amuse Mark

2007-10-22 10:23:23
19.   Woden325
17 Nice reference, Bob. But I'd expect no less.
Oh, and would everybody please unplug their computers for an hour or so? I can't even see the Rockies ticket site.
2007-10-22 10:37:53
20.   Josh Wilker
If the Indians had made it to the series the ensuing matchup would have prompted plenty of wordplay on the title of the ubiquitous "Cleveland Rocks" song (so this nickname phenomenon is not necessarily due to the team name of the actual opponent of the Rockies).
2007-10-22 10:52:12
21.   Yankee Fan In Boston
8 there is indeed a minor league team outside of boston called the brockton **x.

my apologies in advance for the inevitable **x saturation, but most importantly best of luck.

don't let the lazy hacks ruin this for you.

2007-10-22 11:21:07
22.   Linkmeister
At the risk of having my IP banned forever from this space, I suggest that if the Rockies win a game 13-2 a headline somewhere will be "Roxy Music!"
2007-10-22 12:26:41
23.   bhsportsguy
I think the system was hijacked by Red Sox Nation.

2007-10-22 12:38:26
24.   Woden325
23 Judging by the reports on the radio, I expect villagers with torches and pitchforks to converge at 20th and Blake before long.
2007-10-22 13:41:34
25.   StolenMonkey86
Easy Prediction:
Tulowitzki will outperform Lugo
2007-10-22 14:39:11
26.   JL25and3
16 First off, I'd figure that the odds of the best team beating the worst in one game would be considerably greater than .55. Otherwise, how would the best team be able to get to .600?

Second, I think you're confusing the probability of winning one game with the probability of winning 4 of 7.

2007-10-22 14:40:46
27.   JimBilly4
16 To be filed under fun with numbers:

The Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, and Angels all won at .580 clip or better.

The Pirates, Devil Rays, Orioles, and Royals all lost at a .426 clip or worse.

The record of the better teams against the worse teams: 100-54 for a 65% win rate.

2007-10-22 16:06:33
28.   JimBilly4
Forgive me if I have somehow messed up the statistics, as I just self-derived the formula, but if there is not a big mistake in my math:

A team with a 55% chance of winning each game has a 61% of winning a 7-game series.

A 65% per game chance makes that an 80% chance for a series win.

Even a vastly inferior team can win a 7-game series 20% of the time. Of course all standard warnings about pitching matchups apply, as certain pitchers on certain days could have very high win expectancies.

In a 5-game series those numbers are 59% and 76%.

2007-10-23 11:04:55
29.   Ali Nagib
28 - The math was done roughly, but the idea was that IN THE PLAYOFFS, you're not going to find teams with odds outside of the 2-1 range, because there aren't any .350 teams in the playoffs, or .400 teams or even .485 teams, and this year there aren't really any .600 teams either. So if the best and worst teams in the majors played a 7 game series, you would see odds of greater than 2-1 for the favored team, but that would never happen in real life.

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