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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pitching duel or slugfest?

In order to show their baseball knowledge many baseball fans will say: pitching duel, pretending that a game with little action is preferable to a game with lots of action.  Let's consider game seven of two World Series each of which was decided by one run in the bottom of the ninth: 1960 and 2001.

Thursday, October 13, 1960, Forbes Field
Attendance: 36,683, Time of Game: 2:36 (156 minutes)
Pittsburgh 10, Yankees 9  Pirates led by 4 after 2, Yanks by 3 mid 8th, Pirates by 2 top 9th.

Sunday, November 4, 2001, Bank One Ballpark
Attendance: 49,589, Time of Game: 3:20 (200 minutes)
Arizona 3, Yankees 2.  Neither team led by more than one.

Right off the slugfest has an edge: time.  Forty-four fewer minutes to score four times as many runs:
1960 8.2 minutes per run
2001 40 minutes per run

Number of pitchers, pitches, batters faced:
1960 9, 254, 77
2001 6, 267, 71

Yikes.  More pitches in the pitching duel and almost as many batters faced.

Strike outs and walks:
1960 0, 5
2001 23, 1

Bobby Richardson 1960 WS MVP set RBI records
via Wikimedia Commons
OK, this is a bit loaded, given the 41 year gap between the games and devolution of baseball into a slow motion mess culminating with the regime of Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, commissioner of the Major Baseball League (MBL).  It's also a bit unfair to compare a game played by Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and one played by ...

The 1960 game ended when Ralph Terry, who had gotten the last out in the 8th inning, gave up a home run to Bill Mazeroski leading off the bottom of the 9th breaking a 9-9 tie.  Left fielder Yogi Berra was the closest fielder to the ball as it landed in the stands.  It was the 24th hit of the game.

The 2001 game ended when Mariano Rivera was asked to pitch a second inning, having already pitched the 8th.  Rivera retired only one batter in the 9th and that was on an unsuccessful attempt at a sacrifice bunt.  In the 8th and 9th innings Rivera wound up throwing a whopping 28 pitches!  No wonder he got tired.  The winning hit was a bloop single by Luis Gonzalez (57 homers in 609 at bats that season) over the drawn in infield.  Shortstop Derek Jeter was the closest fielder as the ball floated into very short center field.  It was the 15th hit of the game.

Rivera blew both the save and the game in the same inning.  That may be the only time that ever happened in a World Series game seven.  It's certainly the biggest blown save in baseball history.  You live by the 9th inning, you die by the 9th inning.

So which game would you have preferred attending?  That should be a rhetorical question.


philbruin said...

fans prefer close games... fewer runs mean a better chance of a close game.

Kenneth Matinale said...

So what, hockey is more interesting than basketball?