If you look at a box score long enough, you’ll start to see things that don’t exist.
Exhibit A: The 2009 World Series.
Checking out the composite box score of the first four games of the series, you’d think the Phillies are at least tied with the Yankees. They have more homers, have struck out less and have more walks after the four games of the World Series.
All of this is terrific for the Fightin’ Phils.
And all of it is meaningless.
Philadelphia blew a chance to even the series on Sunday night in a wild 9th inning defensive breakdown that leaves New York on the verge of another World Championship.
You don’t have to be a graduate of the Bill James school of advanced baseball-ology to understand the Phillies problem: they can’t hit with runners on base. Philadelphia checks into game five of the Series only driving in 8 runners in scoring position in 31 tries. That won’t put a ring on even Beyonce’s finger. Chase Utley, who’s delivered three memorable blasts off all-world pitcher CC Sabathia, can’t come through in the clutch. All of Utley’s homers were solo shots and he’s only knocked in one run with runners on base.
In the other dugout, a man who didn’t start at least two of the games in the Series looks like he may walk away with the Most Valuable Player award. Hideki Matsui leads the Yankees in batting average and hit an important pinch-hit in Saturday’s Game 3 to sew up a New York win. In a Series where Derek Jeter has stuck out six times and Alex Rodriguez has fanned seven times at the plate, it’s hard to imagine that New York even leads the World Series.
One more spooky coincidence that makes even an ardent baseball observer giggle with glee: the last three games of the World Series had the exact same time of game after nine innings. That is to say, games two through four of the Series were each played in three hours and twenty five minutes. Exactly.