Statistics Say Sox Will Weather Yankees’ Hot Streak

What would you sacrifice for Red Sox-Yankees tickets at Fenway Park? A kidney, a 5.0 GPA, an advance copy of Harry Potter?

As it turns out, all I had to do was spend an afternoon sitting in line on Lansdowne Street, waiting to purchase “day of game” tickets. Four hours and $27 later, I was standing inside Fenway with my fellow sports editor Travis L. Johnson ’07, watching the oh-so-intimidating Josh Phelps (yeah, the Yankees are really using their $213 million payroll wisely) at batting practice.

(For those of you planning to try it: Walk or take the Green Line to Kenmore, get in line at Gate E on Lansdowne Street up to five hours before game time, and stare at the scenic parking garage while you wait. The Sox start selling tickets two hours before the first pitch, including obstructed view, standing room, and other unused tickets. An excellent opportunity would be this weekend, when Barry Bonds, his enormous hat size, and the Giants invade Fenway).

Oddly enough, the grandstand tickets were perfect. When it started raining, the roof above protected us from melting. More importantly, we had a sweet view of a pop-up to the Yankees’ third baseman, prompting cries of “Mine!” and “Hah!” from the Fenway faithful and a shake of the head from A-Rod. Also amusing were the chants of “Where is Roger?” when Yankees pitchers Andy Pettitte and Luis Vizcaino allowed five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The only unfortunate part about the whole experience was something I’ll probably still talk about in therapy years later. Yes, I witnessed May-Rod’s ninth-inning home run off Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.

To cheer myself up, however, I’ve done a few things. First, I Googled the infamous picture of Slappy (A-Rod) with a purse, swatting the baseball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in the 2004 American League Championship Series. It’s now set as my desktop background. (Obsessive? What’s obsessive?)

Second, I decided to do an admittedly unorthodox statistical analysis of why the Yankees suck. It’s easy to build a case for the 2007 Evil Empire sucking both literally (hello, barely-above-.500 record) and figuratively (my new favorite T-shirt slogan: “Choke: The official soft drink of the Yankees”). Since I’m writing for an MIT newspaper, however, I’ll stick with a quantitative approach to explain why the Yankees’ hot streak is about to end.

(By the way, the hot streak can be attributed to a few things: a particularly weak stretch of the schedule — really, a four-game series with the White Sox? — and a six-game home stand. In other words, look for it to end against the Mets this weekend.)

0: The number of satisfactory first basemen the Yankees have available. With Jason Giambi hurt and facing suspension for steroid use and Doug Mientkiewicz also on the disabled list after wrist surgery, the Yankees are left to platoon Josh Phelps and Miguel Cairo. Sorry, but that’s not striking fear into the hearts of too many MLB teams. (Meanwhile, Kevin Youkilis is having a breakout year for the Sox — his line is .335/.418/.521.)

.254: The batting average of the Yankees’ designated hitter, Johnny “Looks Like Jesus, Acts Like Judas, Throws Like Mary” Damon. While his weak arm and battered body are faring better in the DH slot than in center field, it doesn’t bode well for the Yankees that his batting average actually rose to .254 after a stretch of nine games when he went 11-for-42 (.262). (By comparison, Sox DH David Ortiz is batting .333, for those of you scoring at home).

3.96: The earned-run average of former lockdown closer Mariano Rivera. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica no longer seems appropriate. “Worn Me Down” by Rachael Yamagata would be a better bet. (In comparison, Jonathan Papelbon’s ERA is a sparkling 1.93.)

4.78, 6.60: The earned-run averages of relief pitchers Kyle Farnsworth and Luis Vizcaino, who have made appearances in 28 and 29 games, respectively. One theme of the 2007 Sox-Yankees games has been the Yankees taking an early lead, and the Sox grabbing the lead right back. The Yankees’ starting pitching either tires after staying in too long, or the relief pitching is ineffective. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle — the more ineffective the relief pitching, the longer Torre wants to leave his starters in. (Boston’s Hideki Okajima has been fabulous in relief, posting an ERA of 1.14.)

44: The age of the would-be savior of the Yankees’ season. To find proof that Clemens is not immortal, look no further than the Yankees’ own injury report: Clemens suffered from a “tired groin.” Sounds more like a weekend warrior than a guy making a pro-rated $28 million, but clearly George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have more common sense than I do.

If these statistics don’t convince you that the Sox are going to win the AL East, you probably fall into one of two categories. You’re either a Yankees fan (in which case, I’m sorry for your poor taste), or you’re Dan Shaughnessy.