The other side of The Collapse

Rays beat Yanks to tie Sox for AL Wildcard
Cheering on The Collapse for fun and profit
(click to embiggen)

That was Tropicana Field last night, shortly after the Rays beat the Yankees by the score of 5-2. The majority of the 18-something-thousand fans in attendance stayed at their seats after Red Sox-Orioles game was put on the big board, just in time for the final two outs. The fans collectively groaned when Dustin Pedroia drove in a run, then booed when David Ortiz followed that with an infield single. Adrian Gonzalez flew out for the second out of the inning, and that drew a ton of cheers.

While all this was going on in the stands, the Yankees were in their clubhouse without a care in the world. You’d never know they had just lost a game to a division rival, they were too busy poking fun at the rookies for their early-90’s music costumes. Russell Martin told a story about how he asked the home plate ump if he had stretched before the game because he (or his strike zone) was a little tight. Joe Girardi vaguely explained his pitching plans for the next two days. Phil Hughes zipped up Austin Romine‘s Madonna outfit. They were a team with nothing to play for at the moment, and it showed.

Outside though, outside that clubhouse, it was a celebration. Jed Lowrie had swung over a Jim Johnson sinker for strike three, the 27th out in Boston’s latest failure to distance themselves from the Rays. Less than 24 hours earlier, Jacoby Ellsbury was being hailed as the no-doubt MVP for his game-winning, 14th inning homer off Scott Proctor in the Bronx, but now he was a goat. A goat because of this …

The ball was in glove, and then it wasn’t. The result was the first inside-the-park homerun by an Orioles player in Camden Yards history, a three-run number by Robert Andino that turned a 3-2 lead into a 6-2 lead. The Trop exploded when  Lowrie went down swinging, a thunderous combination of cowbell, cheers, and whatever the hell that foghorn thing they play after homeruns and wins is … all combined with great acoustics (hooray for the dome!). The press box was literally shaking, and honestly, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced at a ballpark.

This collapse is just … it’s unthinkable. I mean, 2004 was just completely different. That was a short series where the proverbial “anything can happen” happened. This Red Sox collapse is a month-long stretch of ineptitude, a team beating itself with bad defense, really bad pitching, and just not enough offense to makeup for it. Boston has gone from nine games up with a 99.6% chance of making the postseason on September 3rd to tied in the loss column with a 63.3% chance of making the postseason just 24 days later. Take a second to wrap your head around that.

As Yankees fans, we’re conditioned to hate the Red Sox and laugh at their misfortune. It comes with the territory, so this collapse is right in our wheel house. No sympathy, nothing. But we don’t ever think about the other end of The Collapse (has to be capitalized at this point, right?), the team that did the catching up. I got to experience that firsthand last night, or rather I got to observe fans who experienced that firsthand last night. It wasn’t about the suffering of the Red Sox, it was about the excitement of the Rays. A young, exciting, and likable team that legitimately qualifies as an underdog doing things underdog teams do. It was a very different view of things as a Yankees fan, a view of a world where winning isn’t a birthright. Apparently that way of life can be fun too.

(Ellsbury .gif via @bubbaprog)

Rays beat Yanks to tie Sox for AL Wildcard
Cheering on The Collapse for fun and profit
  • Sarah

    It sounds like the Rays fandom is pretty pumped (and looked that way too). I bet a few more people show up for the next two games. (Like…100 more people, not a sell out.)

  • jsbrendog

    this seems somewhat similar to rocktober

  • DERP

    Robert Andino is such a boss. Had the game winning hit against Papelbon last week as well.

  • mt

    “The Collapse” – I love it.

    Would be great 1) if they actually miss playoffs and 2) the name could somehow get connected to Red Sox (like the Boston Massacre that occurred in 1978 – I will never forget watching one of those games in Fenway asw a Yankee fan)

  • Nick

    Don’t know if it can be called The Collapse (proper noun) until the Sox are officially eliminated from playoff contention.

  • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

    The embedded video is priceless. PRICELESS!

  • Tiny Tim

    This is the greatest collapse in the history of baseball. It ain’t easy to lose a 9 game lead with less than a month to play. We all thought the Rays would have to go on some crazy run to make it but they’re 15-10 in September. Pretty good but not something like 20-5 which is what we thought it would take. Epic collapse.

    • jsbrendog

      2007 mets were worse

      • YanksFan

        No they weren’t. See my response below.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    I know there’s the whole “be careful what you wish for” thing, but this is too fun. I went to the game on sunday night and walking out of the stadium i was so pissed, because i really wanted to see the collapse continue or at least a game 163. and the fact there is no let down quite like seeing proctor run in after you’ve been sitting there for 4+ hours. weird watching the yanks last night and kind of hoping they lose.

    crazy fact: i have been to 14 yankees games this year at the stadium. yankees have gone 4-10 in those games for a .286 winning %, the astros, have a .350 winning % for the season. what are the chances of that?

    • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

      Facts can be very crazy, indeed. I don’t live in NY and only go to 3-4 games a year, and I think I have seen AJ’s best 3 Yankee stadium performances over the last 3 years. What are the odds of that?

    • Darren

      Dear Jinx,

      Don’t go to any playoff games.



      • Bartolo’s Colon

        yea, i was thinking the same thing, but it has to even out here sometime, right?

    • Guns of the Navarone

      I’ve been to over 20 Yankees games (I can’t honestly give an accurate number), and I’ve only been to ONE loss – Phil Hughes’ first start this year against Detroit.

      This dates all the way back to the first game I can remember, the 1998 World Series, Game 1. This also includes the 2007 ALDS Game 3 (the only game they won that series) and the 2009 ALCS Game 1.

      I’ll be at Friday’s game.


      • Bartolo’s Colon

        if i get partial season tickets again next year, i’ll give them to you

    • Zach

      Fact: The Yankees have NEVER lost when I’ve been to the game. Not once. Granted I’ve only been to about 10 games, but still.

  • MattG

    Red Sox and Rays play 4 weeks of desperate baseball, possibly culminating in a 163rd game, and one of them enters the playoffs exhausted. The Yankees, with the best record in the American League, rested and healthy, and rewarded with the opportunity to play this decimated opponent, roll right over them and into the ALCS.

    Oh, wait, that’s not how it works.

    • MannyGeee

      this is the undisputed best case scenario. well, except for the part where this doesnt really happen.

      Sidebar, does anyone notice the striking similarities between this 2011 Red Sox team and the mid-2000s Yankees teams? 2004-2008 in particular…

      a TON of individual talent, but like ZERO cohesion and not enough talent at the plate to cover up the massive black holes in the rest of the team.

      (except of course, we made the playoffs… this Sox team??? text book ‘limp in’ at best)

      • JobaWockeeZ

        a TON of individual talent, but like ZERO cohesion and not enough talent at the plate to cover up the massive black holes in the rest of the team.

        Yeah all of that is just wrong.

        • CP

          Except for the cohesion part, it’s actually fairly accurate.

        • MannyGeee

          what part? line by line they are a talented team (remember, all the ‘experts’ had them as a lock to win the division and @ 105 wins, but I digress). but they have massive defensive holes, streraky offense and their pitching is an abortion.

          every interview with that team sounds super defensive, like you are telling your nephew they are not tall enough to ride a roller coaster…

          sounds an awful lot like the ‘Sheffield/ Big Unit/ Giambi/ Clemens (semi retired version)/ Pavano’ Yankees, don’t it?

          maybe its just me.

          • Ted Nelson

            The cohesion part. It’s subjective and largely speculative unless you are part of the team or very close.

    • Ted Nelson

      I would say the winner of the Wild Card is as likely to be pumped as decimated. They probably will be the weakest AL playoff team between Boston’s pitching and Tampa’s offense, but I don’t know if playing hard will hurt them.

      It’s anecdotal and not proof of anything, but NY Giants chose to play hard against the Patriots in Week 17 before winnings the SB then the next season had a bye in the first round and lost their first playoff game. Again, I’m not saying this is a rule or even a trend… just that rest/playing hard can work for or against you… or just be a narrative.

  • Yank The Frank

    Buck Showalter is Nostradamus.

    • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

      Dead, reclusive, unhirable….yep.

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    ‘The Trop exploded’ – One could only wish…

  • Bavarian Yankee

    you have to watch the gif and listen to this song:–k&list=PL507C8F7C6A5EEADE&index=86

    awesome :D

  • mt

    Underneath the radar is that Rangers may beat out Tigers record and then we have to play Tigers with their all right handed starters – we are not as dynamic an offense against righties and Doug Fister has actually been pitching as well or better than Verlander recently!

    Let’s hope that all turns around when September 30 comes.

    • DERP

      Fister is pretty good, but the last ten teams he has faced are Cleveland (x4), KC (x2), TB, Oakland, Baltimore, and Minnesota.

  • Darren

    Ellsbury shouldn’t be the goat for that play, Andino hit a bomb that Ellsbury almost made a spectacular play on. It wasn’t like the ball that glanced off Crawford’s glove. If there’s a goat last night, it’s Beckett.

    Also, short series or not, the 2004 collapse was WAY worse and 1000 times more unexpected than this collapse. No baseball team had ever lost a 3-0 series lead in the postseason. EVER. This Red Sox collapse (which bring me great joy and delight as a side course to the Yankees Division crown) has some precedent – Phillies, Mets, Angels, etc. It’s scarier to watch because it’s a slow burn that took almsot a full month to finally reach fruition, but it’s happened before.

    • Robby W

      No team in MLB history has ever blown a 9 game lead on September 1st. So no, this hasn’t happened before. A collapse has happened. But of this proportion? No.

    • CP

      No team has ever blown a 9 game lead in September. EVER.

      • Darren

        believe me, I’ll be as happy as anyone if the Sox don’t make it and this becomes known now and forever as The Greatest Collapse of All Time(TM).

        But to try and minimize the brutality of what happened in 2004 is wrong. Watching Varitek’s little kids stomp on home plate after they won Game 7 will haunt my nightmares until I’m an old man.

        • LiterallyFigurative

          Exactly right.

          This collapse is as enjoyable a run as I can remember in a regular season. Even the Mets in 2007 weren’t this horrible.

          But nothing will remove 2004 from my memory. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had as a fan. It made me hate Joe Torre (not bunting and running on Wakefield and Schilling, bringing in Flash Gordon in Game 5 after he couldn’t do the job in Game 4). To watch Damon and Varitek and Pedro and Schilling celebrate in YS darn near made me cry.

          2004 was the visual equivalent of someone shooting a cannon at your crotch, repeatedly.

    • MannyGeee

      Gritty MVPs dont catch the ball on the bounce and play for the double… they go balls out to the wall and risk breaking a wrist.

      and bitch about called strike 3’s.

    • thenamestsam

      It seems hard to me to argue that 2004 was worse. Maybe I ‘m just in denial but I never understood why 2004 was considered such a historic event. Sure it was the first, but that’s more due to a a lack of opportunities. It was devastating because 3-0 up we all assumed the Yanks would win, but those teams were extremely even that year, so the odds of Boston winning four straight weren’t that low, probably about 6.25%(4 coin flips coming up heads in a row). As mentioned above, the probability of this collapse was less than 1%. The reason 2004 has never happened before or since is that teams rarely get a 3-0 lead and even more rarely against teams that are actually not much worse than them. Every race that doesn’t come down to the last few days gives one team a chance to blow seemingly insurmountable leads every year, and so of course we’ve seen it more times, there are thousands more opportunities.
      Also, at the risk of getting too long-winded, I don’t think it’s really clear that the Yankees “choked” in 2004 in the sense of being unable to handle the pressure. They lost 4 straight games to a very good team in which they played poorly, but that happens all the time(say earlier this year against the Sox for example) and while we all usually lose our minds and say the team is “choking” or something similar, often as not they bounce back and beat that team the next time. This, on the other hand, actually seems like a choke. The majority of the team has been performing below their talent level for a month, even against awful teams, and it really does seem like the pressure is getting to them. Just my (obviously biased) .02.

      • TLVP

        2004 was worse to some extent because the Yankees had owned the Red Sox for 80 years. Every Yankee fan at heart knew that in the end we always beat them and every Red Sox fan always knew they lose in the end.

        Your statistics are very correct, but the psychology is not captured by the numbers.

        No one really thought that the 2011 Red Sox would challenge the 1927 Yankees and in reality they should have been considered 50/50 to beat the Yankees this year at best.

        Journalists tend to exaggerate in general and any change in particular. Even after 2004 the Yankees have by and large been superior to the Red Sox (over 7 seasons they are 25 wins ahead).

        • gc

          Psychology when it comes to stuff like this only means something to the fans. It makes a terrific narrative and that’s about it. And as cool as it may be for Yogi Berra to tell Bernie Williams that the Red Sox can’t beat the Yankees because they haven’t been able to do it in 80 years, sooner or later it was bound to happen. The way it happened sure sucked, but it’s not like the players were spooked out about the Red Sox all the sudden. They just got out pitched and out hit in four games, period. It happens. That it never happened before in a seven game series doesn’t mystically attach some sort of psychologic symbolism to it. It’s more a matter of probability. Given a hundred chances, while it may be a 99% improbability that a team down 0-3 can win a seven game series, it’s still going to happen that one time.

          And to Frank below, as bad of a choke as that 2004 series was, and it was indeed a choke, all it does is give Boston fans one moment. And you know what? It really doesn’t make much of a difference in the big picture. They’ll never admit that, of course. I think Yankee fans need to let that 2004 thing go. They won, it sucked, but it doesn’t erase all that happened before. The ESPN commercials with Alec Baldwin may be played for laughs, but what he says is true. This “rivalry” is only a rivalry to the marketing companies and the fans. In reality, it’s not much of a rivalry at all. We’ve got more rings, more pennants, more division titles, and more wins than they’ll ever be able to equal in any of our lifetimes. And in head to head competition, we’re 176 games over .500 against them. As opposed to a REAL baseball rivalry like Dodgers/Giants where the two teams are only separated by 17 games all-time and each franchise has six world titles.

          I know it was cool to be able to say they never could beat us, but all they have is one real moment of glory, and even their fans are starting to acknowledge that it hasn’t really changed things since. It hasn’t turned the fortunes of either franchise around, really. The Yankees are still great, they’ve been able to win another championship, and the Red Sox haven’t owned baseball the way their fans thought they would. You think the diehards up in Boston aren’t feeling those same disgusting pit of the stomach gut wrenching emotions right now? The same ones they thought they would never feel again after finally winning it all in 2004? Well, they are. A friend of mine up there called me last night and told me that after the loss to Baltimore last night, he got so frustrated that he actually broke a window in his house and had to go for a very long walk afterwards to compose himself. The last time he did that, he told me, was after 2003 Game 7 of the ALCS.

          • Darren

            You’re wrong. It changed everything.

            When was the last time we were able to chant 1918?

            • gc

              Only in your mind. Chanting means nothing. Schoolyard games. Rings mean EVERYTHING. We got ’em. They don’t. Period. Their long list of colossal failures dwarfs that of any other team except maybe the Cubs. None of that has been erased. Nor has our long list of colossal successes. Boo hoo, we can’t chant some stupid number at them anymore. Just point to the wall in center field with all the championship seasons listed on it. End of story.

      • Frank

        Nice try, but the 2004 choke by the Yanks was monumental. And considering what was at stake, I believe it was a bigger choke job that what the RS are currently facing. I don’t care what the odds say. A team that blows a 3-0 lead in a best of 7 with the last 2 games at home with a chance to go to the WS, that’s a major, major gag job. Especially, vs. your long time rival, who go on to win it all. No matter what the Yanks do vs. RS moving forward, RS fans will always have that collapse to hang on to. As a Yanks fan, I’m certainly enjoying this RS meltdown. But I’m certainly not poking fun at the RS or their fans.

        • thenamestsam

          Relating to what’s at stake, I think it’s seen as a bigger choke because it was the playoffs, which has the impact that those 4 games took the Yankees from something like a 48% chance of winning the world series to 0%, much larger than the swing due to the sox current collapse which is like a 15% chance to a 0% chance. But if that’s how you evaluate a collapse then losing the 7th game of the world series is always a bigger collapse then even 2004(50% chance to 0% chance).

  • keith

    I don’t like using the playoff odds here with 2 games to go. Pythag record doesn’t have any tangible meaning right now. The Red Sox are no better than a coinflip to win. And that’s not taking into them being on the road with Lester on 3 days tomorrow vs Tampa at home with the Yankees starting AAA Scranton tomorrow.

    • mt

      Agreed – makes no sense that Red Sox are still at 63% odds when they are tied with Rays and Atlanta with a full 1 game lead is only 71% or so.

      Yanks intended use of AAA line-up and “second-class” bullpen usage, especially tomorrow, trumps our Pythagorean record over the year.

    • Thomas

      Actually, it makes a ton of self that the Red Sox have a better chance. They are playing at Baltimore (worst team in the division) and the Rays are home against the Yankees (best team in the league). From that perspective, the Red Sox have a much better chance. It doesn’t take into account things like who is going to play for each team (and shouldn’t since the lineups haven’t come out) or who has the momentum.

      • keith

        The point is that probabilities that are built on season long Pythagorean records are irrelevant when dealing with a sampling of 4 games, especially considering the variables that we all know are in play. It’s not “wrong”, per say, but also not intellectually honest.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        Given the 5 variables

        1)A cruise controlling Yankee team
        2)A fight till the end just to play spoiler Oriole team
        3)A decent September Tampa team with good starting pitching
        4)A gagging Red Sox team with bad starting pitching
        5)Locations of the respective series

        You can’t look at probabilities and give the Red Sox anything better than 50%.

        Had this been a fully motivated, full squad Yankee team, then maybe the Rays would be in worse shape.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    I’m hoping for a one game playoff with Reid “Fucking” Brignac hitting a 3-run shot to put the Rays over the top.

  • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

    Anyone checking out OTM?
    What stage of Grief is teh Nation in?
    1.Denial, 2.Anger, 3.Bargaining, 4.Depression, 5.Acceptance

    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      6. all of the above.

      • Jesse

        Wait, how can they be both deniable and accept it?

        • MattG

          Red Sox nation can do it all.

        • LiterallyFigurative

          Sheer Grit

  • YanksFan

    This collapse is incredible. It is also more on Boston than on Tampa.

    Tampa is 15-10 which is a 97 win pace for a team w/ 89 wins. They are playing slightly better this month. They were also only 5-5 last week. One or two more wins this month & they are in the lead.

    Boston on the other hand has fallen off the grid. 6-19 is totally on them. .500 ball & they would have clinched last week and still pushing the NYY.

    Some of those other collapses were on the 2nd place team playing incredible ball for a whil and catching the opponent. I believe the 2007 Mets were .500 for Sept. & fell apart the last 2 weeks and still had a better winning % than Boston. The Phils played great ball (10-4) to finish.

    • jsbrendog

      the mets had to win 1 game in 10 to make the playoffs. they didnt. their collapse was an epically long losing streak to end the season. that is worse than playing bad for an entire month imo. the sox didnt have a losing dtreak like that did they? no i dont think so

      • jsbrendog

        sorry, the mets won 1 in 7 to finish the season.

        • Foghorn Leghorn

          the Sox started September with a 99.6% chance of making the playoffs. Plus, they have had two series with Baltimore in the final weeks…AND, they didn’t have any west coast travel to deal with.

          This is the worst month in like 60 years for the Sox..its historicly bad and worse than the mets.

          The mets collapse was horrible but its over an 8 game stretch…one week of baseball. But to underperform this way for an entire month? This is epic.

          I feel that its worse than 2004 b/c at some point the Sox were going to overcome the Yanks…it had to happen, just like this collapse.

          Sweeeet Caroline!!

      • jsbrendog

        plus the mets had 2 5 game losing streaks in september, the red sox have had 1

        • YanksFan

          The Mets still played basically .500 ball for the month (1 under). You don’t go 6-19 amd have a defense that I didn’t have a 5 game losing streak. They have played pathetic ball – a 38 win pace for a month.

          If they had gone 8-17 which is a 76 win pace they would have clinched already. I think they are much worse than the Mets.

          Phil had to go 10-4 the final 2 weeks. They just kicked ass to top off the Mets. Yes, the Mets have 1 more win they force a playoff. But they was as much on Philly winning as the Mets losing.

          This collapse is ALL Boston. IMO.

  • Sayid J.

    Great article Mike. Especially loved that closing paragraph. I wished for a moment (only a moment) that I could be a Rays fan and feel what they must be feeling right now.

  • JimIsBored (Jim S)

    Just makes me sad that the Rays only drew 18k for a game of that magnitude. That team deserves better from their fan base, whatever the cause of the low attendance may be.

  • RedRonin

    Rays are fighting for their playoffs life. Best draw in baseball in town. How is it the Trop is less then half full? Are the fans apathetic?

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      don’t understand how this is possible, especially considering they are playing the yankees. even if the rays were playing the blue jays right now, if i lived anywhere near tampa, i would be there just to see this play out

    • Tom Zig

      from what i heard, the Trop isn’t easy to get to.

      • Matt Warden

        Although completely anecdotal, I also wonder if it has to do with a lot of their population perhaps being seasonal (folks from other areas). Whatever the reason though, it is rather depressing.

    • Kiersten

      The Trop is a hell hole. It’s a terrible place itself, it’s in an awful location, and Rays fans are very spread out over the state of Florida. Not so easy to get to a game on a Monday night.

  • Bronx Byte

    I sense some discord in the Socks clubhouse with some bad chemistry amongst players that won’t get reported until their season of misery is over with. They don’t have a clear leader that’s willing to assume the role of stamping out fires. They miss Victor Martinez more than they admit. They should have known that Crawford is a quiet guy that stays within himself like he did with the Rays. Now the Boston fans are all over his ass and he’s not used to being in the spotlight. This amomg other reasons why the team was overhyped and overrated.

  • pudgeworth

    The recent free agent signings of the last couple of years for the red sox have been bad so far. Crawford, Lackey, Jenks, Scutaro. They all haven’t lived up to expectations. Only acquistions that’s worked are Aceves, Gonzalez and victor Martinez and you know there kicking themselves for letting him and belter go

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    the camera angle from the other side of this play is better…when ellsbury hits the wall he bounces off it like a rag doll and then falls on the ground.

    almost a spectactular catch.

  • BK2ATL

    There is no greater feeling as a Yankees fan than watching this Red Sox collapse. I could care less about the Rays. They’re a good team.

    We need to have our A-team on the field in one of these last 2 games, with A-Rod being the exception and on the field or DHing in both final games, to get his timing/power back. The other game, who cares?

    Where’s that 1927 Yankees comparison article again??? I could never get enough of that. Talk about winning the WS in January.

  • Kevin

    2004 doesn’t haunt me as much as 01. 04 was a trainwreck you could see coming.
    01..we had the back to back nights of game tying homers, and had MO on the mound with a lead. That loss haunts me to this day.

  • CMP

    If the Red Sox miss the playoffs, the only thing that could make “The Collapse” better would be if Francona and Theo got fired.

  • Finster

    I think the Redsox are just experiencing regression to where they should be. I thought the Sox would be better than last year but not by much, until I got caught up in the hype. I just remembered that when the Sox first got CC and Agon, that it wasnt such a big deal to me. The reason being, they basically replaced their 2 best players from last year(Vmart and Beltre), with 2 more very good players. They didnt really improve their team, they just changed their best players. Bullpen got a little better with a full year of Bard. They won 89 games last year and are sitting at 89 wins right now.