Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Lupica: Francona saw lack of intangibles in Red Sox collapse, not lack of ‘Moneyball’ statistics

The Million-Dollar Throw-Up Challenge.

Terry Francona didn’t talk about OPS numbers on Friday after he was fired in Boston. He didn’t talk about Pythagorean winning percentages or range factors or runs created or win shares. He didn’t talk about Bill James or Billy Beane or sabermetrics, the cult that now runs baseball. Francona essentially spoke of how the men on the field playing the game for the Red Sox this past September weren’t enough of a team when their season exploded all over the American League East.

...All the numbers-crunching, numbers-loving general managers and boy wonders of the sport, all of the disciples of the Bills James and Beane must have pushed back from their laptops and had a pretty good laugh when Torre said it in his book, and when Francona echoed it Friday in Boston, when he was the World Series manager on his way out the door.

Of course if you even question the way the numbers-crunchers and numbers-lovers run baseball now you worry that you sound like the scouts turned into such dim bulbs in the movie “Moneyball.” As if you are locked hopelessly in the past.

And the numbers guys win again. And guess what? It will only get worse now that “Moneyball” is a hit and Brad Pitt is going to get an Oscar nomination. If you are a manager, you put the computer on the desk the way Francona did and go along or you lose in the end.

 

 

Repoz Posted: October 02, 2011 at 10:45 AM | 85 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: books, fantasy baseball, red sox, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. 'Spos Posted: October 02, 2011 at 12:22 PM (#3948302)
That jpeg makes the page look fat.
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 02, 2011 at 12:31 PM (#3948305)
That jpeg makes the page look fat.

Not as fat as the pinata.
   3. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 02, 2011 at 01:01 PM (#3948313)
All this "Moneyball," intangibles, clubhouse discord stuff is just chatter. The Red Sox season really isn't that complicated. If you told us at the start of the season that Youkilis would miss 42 games, and Buchholz would miss 60% of the season, we'd have pegged them at around 90 wins.

If anything, that would be optimistic. Tito got better than expected years out of Beckett, Ortiz, and Ellsbury; without those, you'd probably peg the team at a sub-90-win team. It's not my dog and not my fight, but I don't see how you evaluate the roster and everything that happened over a complete 162 game schedule, and conclude that 90 wins is grounds for the manager to go. If you think his expiration date has come and gone, that makes sense but that has nothing to do with what Lupica's babbling about or babbling against.
   4. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: October 02, 2011 at 01:04 PM (#3948314)
All the numbers-crunching, numbers-loving general managers and boy wonders of the sport, all of the disciples of the Bills James and Beane must have pushed back from their laptops and had a pretty good laugh when Torre said it in his book, and when Francona echoed it Friday in Boston, when he was the World Series manager on his way out the door.


Theo Epstein was not available for comment, as he was too busy polishing his two WS trophies.

In all seriousness, it never ceases to amaze me, how easily people confuse cause and effect. Show me a team that's been winning, and I'll show you some happy people, show me a team that's been kicked in the nuts, and I will show you some grumpy clubhouse cancers. It's not magic. Yet people seem to believe that the team won because they were happy, or lost because they aren't, instead of the other way around.

Winning breads chemistry. The best way to build a good clubhouse, is to build a winner.
   5. Textbook Editor Posted: October 02, 2011 at 01:07 PM (#3948315)
...because what the FO will listen to more than anything is Mike Lupica...
   6. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: October 02, 2011 at 01:09 PM (#3948316)
All this "Moneyball," intangibles, clubhouse discord stuff is just chatter. The Red Sox season really isn't that complicated. If you told us at the start of the season that Youkilis would miss 42 games, and Buchholz would miss 60% of the season, we'd have pegged them at around 90 wins.


Well no, because we should expect every team to have some injuries and bad luck. And if that were the extent of the misfortune, they would have won 105 games. Throw in big fat zeroes (and worse) from Crawford, Drew, Lackey, Dice-K and Wakefield, and some terrible hitting with RISP, and you're in the ballpark.
   7. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 02, 2011 at 01:23 PM (#3948326)
The Red Sox component numbers - hits, hits allowed, homers, homers allowed, etc - project the club to win 99 games. That's including September. The talent was there to win a lot more games than they did. The pitching and defense were unspeakably bad in the clutch down the stretch. I think that the "this was a 90-win team on talent" thing can stem only from not looking closely enough at the underlying data.

FPH - Tito identified clubhouse problems before the unpleasantness. He called a clubhouse meeting in early September after a win in Toronto. So this isn't simply after-the-fact. The club didn't just lose games, they lost ugly, with lots of fielding errors, mental mistakes, outs on the bases, and so on. (They committed fielding errors in September at a rate between double and triple their numbers before September, for instance.) This was a club that was playing poorly, playing tight, and coming up small in the clutch, and we have people on the inside saying that there were interpersonal problems in the clubhouse which were identifiable before the collapse.

Now, I think the primary causes of the collapse were bad luck, injuries, and lack of SP depth. I think, though, that the magnitude of the collapse is such that a fourth cause - choking stemming from a messed up clubhouse that wouldn't listen to Terry Francona - can be reasonably identified.
   8. Banta Posted: October 02, 2011 at 01:29 PM (#3948334)
Throw in big fat zeroes (and worse) from Crawford, Drew, Lackey, Dice-K and Wakefield, and some terrible hitting with RISP, and you're in the ballpark.

I tend to agree with Sugarbear. I don't see a team that should have exceeded much beyond what it achieved given the roster (of course, you show me the Yankees starting rotation before the season and I'm probably guessing they finish third). I mean, what about Ortiz? No one could have predicted he'd put up a 154 OPS+ after years of 123, 101, and 137. Also, Ellsbury's massive improvement wasn't something that was projectable. And Beckett put up the best ERA+ of his career! A lot of that has to offset the dual debacles of Crawford and Lackey.

I went into this thinking that one shouldn't have expected much from Drew, but its true that the Red Sox probably could have reasonably expected to get a bit more out of him, although it's not surprising that a 35 year old, frequently injured player fell off the map. Dice-K though, I don't see how he could have been expected to contribute much (although even a 85 ERA+ would have looked nice by the end of the season, I suppose).
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 02, 2011 at 01:41 PM (#3948337)
and we have people on the inside saying that there were interpersonal problems in the clubhouse which were identifiable before the collapse.

Now, I think the primary causes of the collapse were bad luck, injuries, and lack of SP depth. I think, though, that the magnitude of the collapse is such that a fourth cause - choking stemming from a messed up clubhouse that wouldn't listen to Terry Francona - can be reasonably identified.


Okay, now that they've gotten rid of the manager who couldn't control those "interpersonal problems", how is the new manager going to do it? Is the mere appearance of a new face supposed to do the trick, or do they have to hire a known disciplinarian to replace the mild-mannered Francona?

And what if they don't listen to the new guy? What if the Dick Williams style doesn't play well with this particular roster? Then what?

And BTW, is it known exactly which players were causing those "interpersonal problems", and is anything likely to be done about them? Or are some players too productive ever to have their attitudes questioned? To draw an analogy that may or may not apply to the Red Sox (probably not), what does a team do in a Bonds/Leyland type situation, humor the player and bring charges of favoritism, or confront him about his behavior and risk even further disruption? This is why even though what you've said about Francona may well be true, I'm not so sure if changing the manager is likely to do all that much good, if the underlying "interpersonal" problems aren't addressed.
   10. Darren Posted: October 02, 2011 at 01:46 PM (#3948340)
I think it all comes down to this: nobody could have predicted 9/11.
   11. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: October 02, 2011 at 01:52 PM (#3948343)
I tend to agree with Sugarbear. I don't see a team that should have exceeded much beyond what it achieved given the roster (of course, you show me the Yankees starting rotation before the season and I'm probably guessing they finish third). I mean, what about Ortiz? No one could have predicted he'd put up a 154 OPS+ after years of 123, 101, and 137. Also, Ellsbury's massive improvement wasn't something that was projectable. And Beckett put up the best ERA+ of his career! A lot of that has to offset the dual debacles of Crawford and Lackey.


Should you have expected those performances in particular? No of course not. But it's the flip side of expecting injuries and bad luck I mentioned above. You should absolutely expect somebody to outperform their projection/ have a breakout year/ career year type season.

The team had the best offense in baseball, a very good defense, a 1-3 front of the rotation that can stack up too anybody this side of Philly, even with a typical Beckett season, and 2 guys at the end of the pen that can close out games. If you look at that and say "90 wins on average", you don't know baseball.
   12. ray james Posted: October 02, 2011 at 02:32 PM (#3948362)
But when it was all over, a good, tough baseball man from a baseball family named Terry Francona, who managed this season with an officer son with the Marines in Afghanistan,...


Holy sentence structure nightmare, Batman! Could someone teach Lupica how to write a sentence in intelligible English, please?
   13. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: October 02, 2011 at 02:45 PM (#3948366)
This drip was on WEEI the morning after the Orioles lost. He is the most clueless, grating, self-promoting douche in all sports media. I'd rather listen to Jim Rome, who at least has a sense of humor.
   14. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: October 02, 2011 at 02:46 PM (#3948367)
The Red Sox season really isn't that complicated. If you told us at the start of the season that Youkilis would miss 42 games, and Buchholz would miss 60% of the season, we'd have pegged them at around 90 wins.

Well, you have to counter that with the totally unexpected MVP caliber performance from Ellsbury.
   15. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 02, 2011 at 02:48 PM (#3948368)
that has nothing to do with what Lupica's babbling about or babbling against


Lupica's babbling never has anything to do with anything.

what does a team do in a Bonds/Leyland type situation


I thought Leyland handled Bonds pretty well. Got him to jog out grounders and everything.
   16. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 02, 2011 at 02:57 PM (#3948380)
And sometimes a change of managers is just plain good for everyone.

This may or may not be relevant, when I was managing in IT, I was given 2 programmers who had just been put on probation. Company policy dictated a change of managers at that point, if feasible. Both had had decent track records in the past, both had run into problems with their managers, which both individuals felt were the source of the problem. IMO, one of these was ego (not getting assigned the best work) and the other got personal (old friends, now one was managing). My starting off point with them was the past was past (other than that little probation thingee which could go away); if I ended up having problems with them then the finger would point to them. Both seemingly took that advice to heart and worked out pretty well from then on.

Sometimes having the same discussions with a new voice matters; the message sinks in the second time.
   17. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 02, 2011 at 02:57 PM (#3948381)
Holy sentence structure nightmare, Batman! Could someone teach Lupica how to write a sentence in intelligible English, please?


It's very simple. There's a baseball man, whose baseball family is named Terry Francona, who managed in Afghanistan with the Marines this season with somebody's officer son.
   18. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: October 02, 2011 at 03:18 PM (#3948392)
The club didn't just lose games, they lost ugly, with lots of fielding errors, mental mistakes, outs on the bases, and so on. (They committed fielding errors in September at a rate between double and triple their numbers before September, for instance.) This was a club that was playing poorly, playing tight, and coming up small in the clutch, and we have people on the inside saying that there were interpersonal problems in the clubhouse which were identifiable before the collapse.

Now, I think the primary causes of the collapse were bad luck, injuries, and lack of SP depth. I think, though, that the magnitude of the collapse is such that a fourth cause - choking stemming from a messed up clubhouse that wouldn't listen to Terry Francona - can be reasonably identified.


You're making a big assumption that the two things are causally connected: i.e., that interpersonal problems in the clubhouse/not listening to Tito somehow causes fielding errors, baserunning mistakes, poor hitting in the clutch, etc. This isn't necessarily a crazy idea -- a player who is unhappy for some reason might lose focus and become more prone to mental mistakes. But it isn't completely self-evident.

Further, it seems to me that many of the specific things people have been trotting out in the wake of the collapse as evidence of a dysfunctional clubhouse don't plausibly translate to poor on-field performance. For example, much is being made of the stories that Beckett/Lackey/Lester formed a little clique and didn't hang out with the position players, and that some pitchers drank beer in the clubhouse during games on their non-pitching days. Are we to infer that this upset the position players so much that they started making mental errors on the field? How plausible is that, really?
   19. Poster Nutbag Posted: October 02, 2011 at 03:41 PM (#3948405)
All the chatter, and ironically, I think NOT trading for Harden may have actually hurt them. If they picked up both Bedard & Harden, then there's at least 1 extra arm that could've helped. Things MAY have played out differently.
   20. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: October 02, 2011 at 03:51 PM (#3948410)
I thought Leyland handled Bonds pretty well. Got him to jog out grounders and everything.
The only thing Jim Leyland could have done better with Barry Bonds was have him throw Sid Bream out at home.
   21. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 02, 2011 at 03:54 PM (#3948418)
All the chatter, and ironically, I think NOT trading for Harden may have actually hurt them. If they picked up both Bedard & Harden, then there's at least 1 extra arm that could've helped. Things MAY have played out differently.
Almost certainly, really. They needed another arm.

Hell, they probably make the playoffs if they don't give Millwood his walking papers.
   22. AROM Posted: October 02, 2011 at 04:05 PM (#3948429)
Well, you have to counter that with the totally unexpected MVP caliber performance from Ellsbury.


Add up Ellsbury and Crawford and you get a 292/339/488 line in 1267 plate appearances, 130 extra base hits and 57 steals. I can't imagine anyone associated with the Red Sox would be disappointed with that if you told them the combined numbers before the season.

I certainly would have put money on Crawford instead of Ellsbury though, as the one more likely to hit 30 homers.
   23. Dale Sams Posted: October 02, 2011 at 04:08 PM (#3948432)
How plausible is that, really?


The direct effects of bad chemistry upon the 2011 protomatter Red Sox was that you had 9 guys going up to the plate doing things their way instead of the 'Red Sox way' because they didn't trust their teammates.

You've got a roster with too many pinheads and very little leadership who came out of ST out of shape, played themselves into shape but then got complacent again after feasting on the weaker part of their schedule and then fell apart when they had to rely upon a pitcher who gained 20 pounds over the season, and another who just got tired.

Also there was the whole 'played without a sense of urgency in September'. Why should they? They had a 99.4% of making it remember?
   24. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 02, 2011 at 04:25 PM (#3948438)
The Sox played like a very undisciplined team in September. Whether that's chemistry or accountability or testing it seems like it should be laid at the feet of the manager. I'd bet they gave away half a dozen runs due to missed cutoff men alone.
   25. TomH Posted: October 02, 2011 at 04:34 PM (#3948444)
re 23: the bad chemistry SUDDENLY manifested itself on Sept 1st? Before that the 9 guys trusted their teammates, or at least they continued to pitch and hit anyway?
   26. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: October 02, 2011 at 04:40 PM (#3948449)
The direct effects of bad chemistry upon the 2011 protomatter Red Sox was that you had 9 guys going up to the plate doing things their way instead of the 'Red Sox way' because they didn't trust their teammates.

Really? If the hitters changed their approach at the plate, this should be measurable. Even if they did, how do we know that this was because they "didn't trust their teammates"? Why didn't this affect their performances in July and August, but only in September? Would the hitters really have worked the count better if Beckett and Lackey (or whoever) had been sitting in the dugout cheering rather than in the clubhouse drinking beer?

The argument that some players were complacent, got lazy and fell out of shape, if true, at least makes sense as a causal explanation about the team's performance. But how does this connect to the specific examples of clubhouse problems I referred to? Why should we assume that Beckett slacked off and got fat and that Lackey and Lester stunk because they formed a little clique and didn't hang out with the hitters?
   27. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 02, 2011 at 04:40 PM (#3948450)
My theory is that the bad chemistry is offset by playing well but exacerbates a problem. Go back to the 2-10 start, as that progressed they made some bad mistakes, some great pitching performances pulled them out and they got rolling. Once they hiccuped again things snowballed.

I don't think they suddenly hated each other come September 1st, but I think the issues that already existed raced to the surface when things went badly.
   28. Dale Sams Posted: October 02, 2011 at 04:41 PM (#3948452)
I knew the SABR-glossing of recent events was inevitable but didn't think it would be this quick.

Oh...and anyone who didn't actually watch this team the last 30 days can Gfysd

I dealt with your #### enough every time you said "Oh please, the Sox are too good not to make it."
   29. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 02, 2011 at 04:47 PM (#3948457)
To put 27 in simpler terms; good play overwhelms bad chemistry but bad chemistry reinforces bad play. In my opinion anyway.
   30. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 05:37 PM (#3948495)
I live in San Diego, so I guess I should get into this now.

I saw Boston play about ten times in September, and Matt's stat about the errors carries some weight. Boston was almost certainly a little tight down the stretch. But I don't buy the argument about component stats. At one point late in September Boston SPs, according to someone here, I think Matt, had allowed 94 earned runs in 103 innings. That happens, you are going to lose a lot, even if you have Derek Jeter and Darin Erstad as your team chemists. They also has two huge FA signings that played far below projections. Defense contributed some to those numbers, but Boston's problems IMO were about 80% bad SPs and maybe 20% defensive mistakes, "chemistry" and "choking."

Entitled fan bases in all sports (Lakers fans are just awful about this) have a hard time getting to, \"#### happens. We just lost." It is very understandable in this case, given that most of the Boston fanbase seemed to think they had a World Series team and how badly September went. But Boston was 83-52 on September 1, bad chemistry or no, and it took some incredibly unlikely events in Games 162 to keep them out of postseason in spite of how they played in September.
   31. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 02, 2011 at 05:55 PM (#3948510)
but Boston's problems IMO were about 80% bad SPs and maybe 20% defensive mistakes, "chemistry" and "choking."


I agree with that but when you lose by one game, hell by two pitches (both Tampa and Boston were down to a final strike for the "right" result on Wednesday) that 20% matters. I don't think anyone disagrees that the pitching was the driving factor but they also did a lot of little things that really mattered.
   32. Ron J Posted: October 02, 2011 at 05:57 PM (#3948513)
#30 (add to my list of things to check) I wonder what Boston's support neutral starting pitching stats were down the stretch. Also what the team defensive numbers for that period only are like.
   33. The District Attorney Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:05 PM (#3948517)
I knew the SABR-glossing of recent events was inevitable but didn't think it would be this quick.
Kinda funny how this works. Lupica writes an article about how the stathead Red Sox front office doesn't understand that a dysfunctional clubhouse can cause a team to underperform. Naturally, this makes absolutely no sense, because if Theo and the gang did believe that the "mood in the clubhouse" is meaningless, then why the heck would they have gotten rid of Francona? (Perhaps they could eliminate the managerial position altogether, since it apparently would be useless, but there would be no reason to change managers.)

However, the comments to the article then proceed to prove that there are people who think that it is impossible for a manager or other interpersonal relations to affect a player's performance. (Note that none of them, however, run major league teams.)
   34. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:09 PM (#3948519)
@ Ron J

Excellent point.

@ Jose

Good point as well. I would suggest, though, that there was strong random element to many of these events, particularly those that occurred late going in Games 162.
   35. ray james Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:15 PM (#3948523)
Defense contributed some to those numbers, but Boston's problems IMO were about 80% bad SPs and maybe 20% defensive mistakes, "chemistry" and "choking."


You write this as though the bad starting pitching and the bad chemistry are not linked. If you read the recent stories about some of the starters not being disciplined about conditioning, and annoying their teammates by fatiguing the bullpen and putting too much pressure on the offense, then it's not at all hard to understand what happened based on "chemistry".
   36. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:19 PM (#3948524)
Oh I don't dispute there was a \"#### happens" element here. I'll leave it to others to run the numbers but when a 95-100 win talent team plays SO poorly for such a lengthy period I think there is reason to believe there was more at work than sample size variance. I realize 27 games is not a big sample, but it's not like they got swept over 3 games or lost 4 out of 5.

Like I said, I may be wrong and the numbers guys here can tell me that but I would expect that even the worst case scenario for such a good team to play so poorly over 27 games is better than 7-20. and I think the variance between that worst case and 7-20 is probably assigned in part to some of the non-calculable issues we've been discussing.
   37. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:35 PM (#3948533)
If you read the recent stories about some of the starters not being disciplined about conditioning,


Well, I don't see that as a "chemistry" issue. Barry Bonds was always known as a chemistry-killer and was also, shall we say, a guy who cared just a bit about conditioning. If that is actually the case, then that IS on Francona as well as the players involved. Also, were people writing those articles in July? If so, fair enough.

and annoying their teammates by fatiguing the bullpen and putting too much pressure on the offense, then it's not at all hard to understand what happened based on "chemistry".


This just goes back to what someone said earlier. The MSM narrative is always that "bad chemistry = cause of losing." But I think it is just as true to say that "losing = cause of bad chemistry."

To riff on Earl Weaver: Chemistry is tomorrow's starting pitcher.
   38. ray james Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:37 PM (#3948535)
Well, I don't see that as a "chemistry" issue.


Well, it is. You're too narrowly defining what chemistry means.
   39. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:46 PM (#3948538)
To riff on Earl Weaver: Chemistry is tomorrow's starting pitcher.

That's true, but what if bad chemistry is affecting tomorrow's starting pitcher? Then what?
   40. ray james Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:49 PM (#3948540)
Exactly.

Or even worse, what if bad chemistry is being caused by tomorrow's starting pitcher?
   41. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:50 PM (#3948541)
Well, it is.


Hard to argue with that.

You're too narrowly defining what chemistry means.


I take it to mean "How the people on the team (or in the office, etc.) interact with each other and how or if that affects their ability to perform." It is quite possible to be a known as a giant a-hole and be in great shape (Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant, Jim Palmer) or to be a great guy that everyone loves and not be serious about conditioning (Charles Barkley, Frig Perry, Mickey Lolich).

If Beckett let himself get fat, then, yeah, that will piss people off if the they think the team starts to lose because of it. But Beckett could be a huge dickweed to everyone from John Henry to the clubhouse attendants and still get his conditioning work in and be ready to pitch.

Conditioning is a tangible, measurable, observable thing.
   42. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:57 PM (#3948545)
That's true, but what if bad chemistry is affecting tomorrow's starting pitcher? Then what?


How do you know it's affecting him? What is bad chemistry? He's pissed off at another guy, so he can't concentrate and grooves a fastball? How do you know being pissed at the other guy was the root cause? Maybe it was being twenty pounds overweight. Maybe it was an arm-slot problem the pitching coach missed and could have corrected, no matter how pissed off the pitcher was at the third baseman.

These things certainly go on, but as people have talked about going back to James in the early 1980s:

1. You can't prove it and you probably can't measure it.
2. Cause and effect are very hard, if not impossible, to identify in these cases.

I do think the mental aspects of the game probably affected Boston down the stretch. But how much and at what moments is mostly unknowable.
   43. ray james Posted: October 02, 2011 at 06:59 PM (#3948546)
Conditioning is a tangible, measurable, observable thing.


It also requires effort- something that's missing on teams that lack chemistry.

And we're talking about more people than Beckett. Lackey doesn't look like he's in the best of shape either. What would you think if you were an outfielder who got ugly stares from the mound after barely missing a laser roped into the gap and you had the previous pleasure of observing some of these guys at the buffet table? And Bedard's and Lackey's separation proceedings probably didn't help either. And when you're feeling like crap, you're going to play like crap.

That's not too hard to understand.
   44. Dale Sams Posted: October 02, 2011 at 07:04 PM (#3948549)
Oh bloody period.

Dale Sams exitus stage left
   45. Ebessan Posted: October 02, 2011 at 07:11 PM (#3948562)
The least of John Lackey's issues are chemistry concerns.
   46. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3948563)
It also requires effort- something that's missing on teams that lack chemistry.


This is just an assertion. If you were in the clubhouse all the time, maybe. And again, was this an issue in July? Or it just became one in September? If so, why was it an issue in September? They weren't trying hard enough all along, but they stopped getting away with it on 9/1?

And when you're feeling like crap, you're going to play like crap.


Perhaps, but I think that depends on the individual. Some people in all fields are better than others at putting aside personal distractions and fousing on the job at hand. Doing so doesn't make anyone better than anyone else; people are wired differently. And I would be willing to bet that some guys on the Rays have some personal issues of various types in their lives as well. Probably not as intense as Lackey's, but we really don't know much about these guys' lives. And, again, there is no way to prove that Lackey's personal problems affected his pitching. I am sure he thinks so, and he may be right. I am not as sure.

It sounds to me like you are making a case that Francona was right to leave because he didn't do his part as manager to keep the team focused. MCOA seems to think that, and fair enough. If you want to put that, as well as conditioning, all under the "chemistry" label, then I think you are defining chemistry in a way that can make it an explanation for almost anything--which is what the MSM guys do.
   47. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 02, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3948566)
I think robin's 80/20 split is very reasonable. 20% of a collapse in which the Red Sox lost about 10 games more than they should have is a significant effect. Two games is the same effect that you get from exchanging a replacement level player with an average one - the same effect as if you replaced Tim Wakefield's starts with a healthy Matsuzaka's.
   48. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 07:20 PM (#3948585)
@ MCOA

I wil be interested to see how Epstein (or Cherington?) approaches the Boston SP situation. Big-ticket items (Matsuzaka, Lackey) and bargain-hunting have not worked well. Not to say their next decisions won't work out, but I would assume they will have to look internally at process, at the conditioning program and the pitching coach.

Of course, all the sturm and drang aside, I think they'd be playing this week if Buchholz had not gotten hurt, choking and chemistry included. One question is whether they think that was just bad luck.
   49. ray james Posted: October 02, 2011 at 07:21 PM (#3948586)
This is just an assertion.


Well, it's an assertion that is drawn from numerous newspaper articles, so unless several reporters close to the situation are conspiring to construct a misinformation campaign, I think there's quite a bit of truth to it.

Some people in all fields are better than others at putting aside personal distractions and focusing on the job at hand.


But it's more than that. It's about conditioning too and I've yet to hear an athlete say "Yeah, I had a great year. I think the key was to slack off on my conditioning program".

And I would be willing to bet that some guys on the Rays have some personal issues of various types in their lives as well.


Haven't heard any stories about any Rays players going through bitter divorces just as the September stretch commenced.
   50. Walt Davis Posted: October 02, 2011 at 07:27 PM (#3948597)
But we're agreed the Braves just suck right? Or was Randall Delgado sleeping with David Ross's wife or something?
   51. ray james Posted: October 02, 2011 at 07:28 PM (#3948599)
It sounds to me like you are making a case that Francona was right to leave because he didn't do his part as manager to keep the team focused.


All I'm doing is supporting the notion that the September failure had a lot to do with some key players not being ready to play. Whether that has anything to do with Francona or not and by how much, I'm not prepared to say. I'm of the school that a professional athlete should take his conditioning seriously and be responsible for himself and come ready to play. There was a mention in the paper a couple of days ago about how the strength and conditioning coach is an underutilized resource. That has to change.
   52. aleskel Posted: October 02, 2011 at 07:36 PM (#3948615)
ahem, I believe momentum is tomorrow's starter; chemistry is a three-game winning streak
   53. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 02, 2011 at 08:08 PM (#3948646)
robin (#42),

You admit that chemistry can probably affect performance,** and I've never said that its effects are something we can quantify with any precision.

Put those two statements together, and we agree that the negative effect of bad chemistry lies somewhere between zero and X. So what, exactly, are we arguing about?

**"I do think the mental aspects of the game probably affected Boston down the stretch."
   54. Dale Sams Posted: October 02, 2011 at 08:12 PM (#3948649)
ahem, I believe momentum is tomorrow's starter


Momentum is knowing you have no chance with tomorrow's starter on the mound.
   55. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 02, 2011 at 08:18 PM (#3948658)
Robin - buchholz, hell, I think they could be playing tomorrow if they hadn't dumped Millwood. It was everything. The choking didn't make losing the wild card inevitable any more than the injuries did. I'm just saying all those things played a significant part.
   56. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: October 02, 2011 at 08:24 PM (#3948664)
So what, exactly, are we arguing about?


The notion that chemistry can turn a team that was chugging along at a .660 pace for over 4 months into something worse than the Houston Astros.
   57. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 02, 2011 at 09:14 PM (#3948756)
So what, exactly, are we arguing about?

The notion that chemistry can turn a team that was chugging along at a .660 pace for over 4 months into something worse than the Houston Astros.


Perhaps that's what someone else is arguing, but I'm not sure who.
   58. Ebessan Posted: October 02, 2011 at 09:32 PM (#3948784)
I think that it's Mike Lupica.
   59. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 09:47 PM (#3948812)

Well, it's an assertion that is drawn from numerous newspaper articles, so unless several reporters close to the situation are conspiring to construct a misinformation campaign, I think there's quite a bit of truth to it.


Not quite. If you are saying, "the Red Sox slacked off on conditioning" that is different from a generalization about chemistry and effort. Also, I notice you didn't answer the question about effort and July.

Haven't heard any stories about any Rays players going through bitter divorces just as the September stretch commenced.


Again, we don't know what's up with the Rays players. Probably nothing like Lackey's situation, but everybody has personal problems. I doubt that all issues players are dealing with make the media, particularly in a place like TB.


Put those two statements together, and we agree that the negative effect of bad chemistry lies somewhere between zero and X. So what, exactly, are we arguing about?


Degree of certainty, ability to measure and identify, and as FP says in 56, degree of effect.
   60. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 09:50 PM (#3948815)
But we're agreed the Braves just suck right? Or was Randall Delgado sleeping with David Ross's wife or something?


Heh. Indeed. Are Braves bloggers and Atlanta media guys saying letting St.Louis get by them was a choke job? Or was it mostly having too many games with the Phillies?
   61. ray james Posted: October 02, 2011 at 10:03 PM (#3948834)
If you are saying, "the Red Sox slacked off on conditioning" that is different from a generalization about chemistry and effort.


This is why I said you have a very narrow definition of the term "chemistry". Teams with chemistry don't allow themselves to slack off on training and conditioning and preparation. Chemistry isn't being all happy and touchy-feely with one another. It's about leadership and commitment and sacrifice. And when players know they are doing these things, they feel good about themselves and each other and good things happen because of that.

Again, we don't know what's up with the Rays players.


I think we can assume nothing much since Maddon is pleased with his team, they are doing fine and there have been no rumblings from the clubhouse.
   62. Downtown Bookie Posted: October 02, 2011 at 10:06 PM (#3948837)
I think that it's Mike Lupica.


To be honest, I'm not really sure I understand what Mike Lupica is arguing.

Quoting from the article:

Of course if you even question the way the numbers-crunchers and numbers-lovers run baseball now you worry that you sound like the scouts turned into such dim bulbs in the movie "Moneyball." As if you are locked hopelessly in the past.

Are the numbers and the spreadsheets more important than ever? Sure. It all started with Bill James' books and then everything changed with Beane in Oakland, even though he hasn't come close to winning anything in a decade. Then Theo Epstein was the general manager, as a kid, who helped the Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918. Somehow another kid, Andrew Friedman, got the Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series after the Rays had been one of the lost-boy franchises of baseball since their inception.

Now the Rays are making another run with a payroll about the size of the left side of the Yankee infield, and you know how old Friedman is now? Thirty-four.

These new boy wonders of summer know what they're doing, you bet. And it is one of the reasons why we drown in numbers now....

And the numbers guys win again. And guess what? It will only get worse now that "Moneyball" is a hit and Brad Pitt is going to get an Oscar nomination. If you are a manager, you put the computer on the desk the way Francona did and go along or you lose in the end.


If I'm reading Lupica right, baseball is being ruined because it's being run by young men who are using strategies that work. And it will only get worse because Brad Pitt is getting good reviews in a movie. Or something.

DB
   63. ray james Posted: October 02, 2011 at 10:11 PM (#3948843)
I don't know what he's saying. He seems to be not so much arguing against the numbers approach as lamenting the fact it seems to be working and is now here to stay.
   64. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 02, 2011 at 10:20 PM (#3948857)
Put those two statements together, and we agree that the negative effect of bad chemistry lies somewhere between zero and X. So what, exactly, are we arguing about?

Degree of certainty, ability to measure and identify, and as FP says in 56, degree of effect.


Well, I've never claimed any ability to measure the effects of chemistry, or the degree of effect. I am certain that bad chemistry can sometimes affect a team's performance, whether or not it can always be identified, and when a team exhibits the extreme degree of underperformance that the Red Sox did in September, I feel comfortable in saying that bad chemistry fed into it and reinforced it. You've said as much yourself, but you want to qualify it with "probably", and AFAICT that's the extent of your difference.

We all agree that starting pitching was the main cause of the collapse, and we can all remember the counterexample of The Bronx Zoo if we're ever tempted to say that bad chemistry always leads to bad play. But when a team collapses the way the Red Sox did for as long as they did, then I don't think that the search for explanations should be limited to numbers you can find on BB-Reference. Bad chemistry's effects are not "predictive", but that doesn't mean they often aren't real, and that a smart team shouldn't rely on The Bronx Zoo experience as a reason not to proactively address the problem.
   65. Jittery McFrog Posted: October 02, 2011 at 10:43 PM (#3948921)
The Red Sox component numbers - hits, hits allowed, homers, homers allowed, etc - project the club to win 99 games. That's including September. The talent was there to win a lot more games than they did. The pitching and defense were unspeakably bad in the clutch down the stretch. I think that the "this was a 90-win team on talent" thing can stem only from not looking closely enough at the underlying data.


When I read this comment my first thought was that a Jeckyl & Hyde team (e.g. a team that plays some very good starters on some days and some very bad ones on other days) should be closer to 0.500 than pythag predicts.

So I ran some simulations. In particular:

1) I made (well, imported from b-ref) lists of the Red Sox actual runs scored and runs allowed on a game-to-game basis. e.g. they scored 5 runs in their first game, so I add a 5 to the runs_scored list. Ditto for the runs_allowed list. So each list is 162 numbers.

2) Made a function that randomly permutes the two lists, then computes the Sox record had their runs and runs allowed been scored in that order. Ties were decided randomly according to a fixed winning percentage for the Sox (I used 99/162, since that's what you mention above).

3) Ran this function 100000 times.

The mean was 90.18 wins. The median was 90 wins. (Win % on tiebreaks was 0.6115, so nothing funny there.)

Tried it again. Again, mean of 90.17 wins and median of 90 wins. (Win % on tiebreaks was 0.6111)

This is the sort of thing that should be independently checked, of course, but I think it's a very reasonable approach. And it says that this is the sort of season you should expect with this sort of run distribution, and that it's hard to win more than 90 games when you get as many really bad starts as the Red Sox had.

EDIT: Also, feel free to tell me to get out of my mom's basement, etc.
EDIT2: This still leaves room for unclutchiness in converting component numbers into runs. Should mention that.
   66. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 02, 2011 at 10:51 PM (#3948942)
Interesting Frog.

So, the run ditribution cost them about 4 wins off their Pythag, and their event distribution cost them about 4-5 wins off their component stats.

Sounds reasonable.
   67. AROM Posted: October 02, 2011 at 11:07 PM (#3948947)
Does sound reasonable. Some of the games I remember during the collapse were scoring 18 off Baltimore and 15 off Toronto. The last few runs there don't really add much to win expectancy.
   68. Jittery McFrog Posted: October 02, 2011 at 11:10 PM (#3948949)
In case anyone is curious:

Lowering the winning% for tiebreaks to 90/162 moves the mean to 89.39 wins and the median to 89.

Lowering the winning% for tiebreaks to a pessimistic 81/162 moves the mean to 88.55 and the median to 89.

The point being, the effect of that assumption is no more than ~1 win for reasonable choices.

EDIT: 110/162 tiebreak winning% moves the mean to 91.17 wins and median to 91. So there's a reasonable upper bound.
OK, I'll stop now.
   69. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 11:34 PM (#3948990)
It's about leadership and commitment and sacrifice. And when players know they are doing these things, they feel good about themselves and each other and good things happen because of that.


Like I said, the way you are defining chemistry it covers essentially everything not directly measured by the stats and could be used to explain basically any result. And one more time: did the Red Sox have chemistry issues all year that manifested in Septmeber? Were they dogging it all year and it bit them in the ass in September? Real questions, not a gotcha.

Good work by McFrog, and it adds a bit to what I and SBB and others said.

Davis brought up the Braves; the BTF Braves fans that commented that I saw mostly said they thought the Braves were a 90-win team that got bit late by injuries and regression.
   70. robinred Posted: October 02, 2011 at 11:52 PM (#3949006)
and when a team exhibits the extreme degree of underperformance that the Red Sox did in September, I feel comfortable in saying that bad chemistry fed into it and reinforced it. You've said as much yourself, but you want to qualify it with "probably", and AFAICT that's the extent of your difference.


Well, I think I said "mental aspects of the game" and while I have my own definition as I typed above, I have never been sure what chemistry is, exactly, in the minds of others. MSM guys write about it in terms of guys talking to each other in positive ways and getting along; ray james in this thread seems to think it covers basically everything that guys do in the clubhouse and off the field that relates to baseball in any way.

Your Bronx Zoo example...I read that book, and as Lyle tells it, a lot of the issues were Martin and Steinbrenner, not the players. And injuries played a big role for both BOS and NYY as well.

I guess my basic opinion is that people sometimes talk about chemistry as if it were the elephant in the room, or maybe a really big raccoon. I think it is usually more the size of a roach, particularly in baseball, given the nature of the sport. I buy chemistry narratives more in football and basketball, but I am skeptical of those as well.

If the argument is that Boston was mostly done by SP issues, I think everyone can agree. It is the extent to which "chemistry" F'd up the SP and the idea that "chemistry" might have pushed Boston over the edge that I am not sure about, and that includes my 80/20 thing earlier. Choking because of chemistry issues might be less than 1% of that 20.
   71. The Wilpons Must Go (Tom D) Posted: October 02, 2011 at 11:59 PM (#3949009)
I've played in roto leagues for a number of years. One thing that has always struck me is how a group of players selected from numerous teams can go on extreme hot and cold streaks as a team. When a fantasy team collapses (like mine did in June), it obvuiously has nothing to do with chemistry. If the exact same thing happens in real baseball, there is never a shortage of explanations based around bad intangibles.
   72. Dale Sams Posted: October 03, 2011 at 12:42 AM (#3949036)
Choking because of chemistry issues might be less than 1% of that 20


When you have good chemistry, you don't try and do everything yourself. You trust your teammates to do their parts, even if the plan isn't bearing fruition yet. You stick to the plan. You don't go up there trying to hit 5 run HR's. You don't steal third with 2 outs and an MVP candidate at bat. You don't get picked off when you know how precious outs are. When someone makes a mistake you support them.

Now when the GM and the manager say that chemistry has created problems, and that jibes with everything I saw and commented on for a month. I have a tendency to believe them.

And this injury thing is way overblown. A 5th starter that no one was surprised that was injured and probably would have given a 4.8-5.0 ERA if lucky. Drew who exceeded by Reddick. Youk who was replaced *fairly* well by Aviles, and half a season of Clay. That's nothing compared what happened in 2010. And they won one whole less game.

At the end of the day, I guess I'm just saying it's a lot bigger than people who didn't actually watch every game, think. IMHO
   73. ray james Posted: October 03, 2011 at 12:43 AM (#3949037)
And one more time: did the Red Sox have chemistry issues all year that manifested in Septmeber? Were they dogging it all year and it bit them in the ass in September?


There were issues, yes, that came to a head in September.

I guess my basic opinion is that people sometimes talk about chemistry as if it were the elephant in the room, or maybe a really big raccoon. I think it is usually more the size of a roach, particularly in baseball, given the nature of the sport.


Completely disagree.
   74. Dale Sams Posted: October 03, 2011 at 12:52 AM (#3949041)
As someone commented in an article that Craig C. wrote:

Craig, I would submit that “chemistry” is the wrong term to be debating here. I like “accountability” better. Accountability is everyone on the team being accountable for being at their best and getting the most out of their abilities. Conditioning is part of it. Being a good teammate is part of it. Helping out the cause in ways beyond your own at-bats and pitches and on-field play is part of it.

If you can’t see that guys getting drunk in the clubhouse during games, bickering about the team bus, playing with their iPads while others are preparing for games, could all contribute to losing games, then I think you are missing a key dimension. These are people and they perform in conditions like other people do. Lots of factors lead to success and to failure.



I like the above. You all are building strawmen making 'chemistry' sound like some mystical force that binds the clubhouse, where no one who is 'pro-chemistry' has suggested that.
   75. ray james Posted: October 03, 2011 at 01:03 AM (#3949047)
Let me expand.

A baseball team is like any other organization. Led well, with identified goals and appropriate allocation of resources, organizations usually produce better results than a group of individuals acting independently.

But the converse can be true as well. Led poorly, so that morale declines and individuals in the group withdraw into cliques, a degree of dis-functionality sets in, where goals are impossible to attain.

We see this all the time- in businesses, civic groups, cities and towns, even whole countries. Baseball teams are not immune to the laws of human nature.
   76. The Lovesong of J. Alfredo Griffin Posted: October 03, 2011 at 02:19 AM (#3949119)
I knew the SABR-glossing of recent events was inevitable but didn't think it would be this quick.

Oh...and anyone who didn't actually watch this team the last 30 days can Gfysd

I dealt with your #### enough every time you said "Oh please, the Sox are too good not to make it."


So you put stuff out of your arse and everyone else is being ridiculous?
   77. Greg Schuler Posted: October 03, 2011 at 02:56 PM (#3949466)
Now when the GM and the manager say that chemistry has created problems, and that jibes with everything I saw and commented on for a month. I have a tendency to believe them.


Or it could be the Desert Fox redux - build up the factors outside of their control to take the criticism away from things they could control and failed miserably to control. (The overblown history of Rommel's mediocre success in North Africa was a propaganda campaign driven by the British to protect reputations and was and is largely successful. While Manstein weeps...)

Or not, frankly, doesn't interest me in the least.
   78. Greg K Posted: October 03, 2011 at 03:19 PM (#3949489)
Or it could be the Desert Fox redux - build up the factors outside of their control to take the criticism away from things they could control and failed miserably to control.

Or for those who despair to hear of the monotony that is military history and are instead drawn to the thrilling roller-coaster world of diplomatic history...

Sir Edward Grey's constant harping on grand impersonal historical forces like militarism, imperalism, and nationalism driving Europe into war in 1914 rather than any individuals in control of foreign policy taking any blame.
   79. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: October 03, 2011 at 04:46 PM (#3949571)
I'm as curious as robin is about a response to this question:

And one more time: did the Red Sox have chemistry issues all year that manifested in Septmeber? Were they dogging it all year and it bit them in the ass in September? Real questions, not a gotcha.


And an answer such as:

There were issues, yes, that came to a head in September.

seems simplistic. Why September? Was there a particular event that triggered it? If there were such serious chemistry issues, surely Boston couldn't and shouldn't have played such great baseball for the majority of the season, right?

It's not that I doubt that 'clubhouse chemistry' exists. It's just that I doubt our ability to hammer out its causes and effects. In the end it comes off as ex-post story telling.
   80. JJ1986 Posted: October 03, 2011 at 04:53 PM (#3949572)
seems simplistic. Why September? Was there a particular event that triggered it? If there were such serious chemistry issues, surely Boston couldn't and shouldn't have played such great baseball for the majority of the season, right?


Maybe what happens is they start losing and some of the players (call them Bosh Jeckett and Lohn Jackey) don't appear to care at all and keep drinking beer and being fat. Then the other players get upset both that there is no urgency from those pitchers and that the management doesn't enforce anything on those pitchers. Then...chemistry issues.
   81. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 03, 2011 at 04:59 PM (#3949575)
seems simplistic. Why September? Was there a particular event that triggered it? If there were such serious chemistry issues, surely Boston couldn't and shouldn't have played such great baseball for the majority of the season, right?

It's not that I doubt that 'clubhouse chemistry' exists. It's just that I doubt our ability to hammer out its causes and effects. In the end it comes off as ex-post story telling.


My feeling, and I think I mentioned this somewhere along the line is that playing well offsets bad chemistry but that bad chemistry manifests itself when things go poorly. The fact is that once the Sox got rolling there were almost no moments of crisis. The team played great baseball so the chemistry was a non-factor but when they hit a bump in the road, they did not handle it well. Why'd they get past 2-10 you may ask? Because they pitched great. They got some fantastic performances that first week after the 2-10 start or I think they could have spiraled right then and there.

I think you are right about the cause/effect relationship. I'm not saying that the chemistry caused the bad start to September, but I do think it was part of the problem as the month progressed that kept a talented team from pulling itself out of the tailspin.

Don't misunderstand me. Performance, especially that of the pitching staff, was the problem here. However, I think the Sox could have found a couple of more wins had they not made some mistakes that they simply did not make during the season. This was a very good defensive team most of the year then a bad one in September with both physical and mental errors playing a role (missed cutoff men was a delightful recurring theme in September). Also, the base running was appallingly bad. Aviles was comically inept on the bases and even the final game of the season featured two players thrown out on the bases (Scutaro and Ortiz).

Call that chemistry or focus or whatever you want, I think the "intangibles" hurt this club. Not to the extent that the pitching fiascos did but when you lose by one game, everything matters.
   82. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 03, 2011 at 05:05 PM (#3949581)
It sounds like people are assigning about 5 non-wins to chemistry problems. Which implies they would have been indifferent between Carl Crawford at flat WAR and good (replacment-level?) chemistry, and Carl Crawford at 5 WAR and the actual chemistry that obtained.

That can't be right.
   83. AROM Posted: October 03, 2011 at 05:28 PM (#3949609)
When a fantasy team collapses (like mine did in June), it obvuiously has nothing to do with chemistry.


Obviously? When that happens to me I just assume I've done something terrible to lose my players.
   84. Ron J Posted: October 03, 2011 at 06:45 PM (#3949684)
Robin (and others),

Initial look at the last 27 games. Team offensive stats look normal (particularly in light of Youk's absence. Wasn't a great month by the standards of the team, but any team with a big lead would sign for .280/.342/.462 for the month. That translates to 5.41 runs per game.

The way I'd look for evidence of pressing is in the walks and strikeouts. Non-intentional walks were down a bit and Ks were up a bit. Nothing major, and without adjusting for who was playing, I doubt it tells any kind of story.

The only thing clearly off for the month was base stealing. 9SB, 10CS.

All in all a first look shows roughly zero that can be attributed to the offensive side. Worth drilling deeper of course as people have mentioned an unhelpful distribution of runs.

But:
Role               W  L  era  BABIP K/9 BB/9
Starting pitching
4 13 7.08  .343  7.9 4.8
Relief pitching
:   3  7 4.45  .284  8.8 3.9
Overall            7 20 5.84  .318  8.3 4.3 


So: Evidence of very bad defense independent of errors. (24 unearned runs too), but there is reason to think that the starting pitching contributed heavily to the poor BABIP. Note that it's more or less normal (a tad high, but far from the worst month) while the relievers were in. I'll bet that digging deeper shows an ungodly number of hitter's counts and line drives.

I'm intending to do a more detailed look, but this should do for a first cut.
   85. Greg Schuler Posted: October 03, 2011 at 09:25 PM (#3949847)
Or for those who despair to hear of the monotony that is military history and are instead drawn to the thrilling roller-coaster world of diplomatic history...

Sir Edward Grey's constant harping on grand impersonal historical forces like militarism, imperalism, and nationalism driving Europe into war in 1914 rather than any individuals in control of foreign policy taking any blame.


Touche.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
danielj
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOMNICHATTER for April 17, 2014
(7 - 11:33am, Apr 17)
Last: Rickey! In a van on 95 south...

NewsblogOTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments
(1437 - 11:30am, Apr 17)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogHartlaub: For the love of the snot rocket: Why Bumgarner’s Farmer John is good for baseball
(4 - 11:30am, Apr 17)
Last: just plain joe

NewsblogOT: NBA Monthly Thread - April 2014
(265 - 11:28am, Apr 17)
Last: Spivey

NewsblogDoug Glanville: I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
(196 - 11:27am, Apr 17)
Last: DJS and the Infinite Sadness

NewsblogPaine: Advanced Stats Love Jackie Robinson
(13 - 11:26am, Apr 17)
Last: SoCalDemon

NewsblogGleeman: Mets minor league team is hosting “Seinfeld night”
(78 - 11:25am, Apr 17)
Last: Gonfalon B.

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-17-2014
(8 - 11:23am, Apr 17)
Last: Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014
(879 - 11:09am, Apr 17)
Last: Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14!

NewsblogChris Resop - The Most Interesting Reliever in the World
(2 - 10:57am, Apr 17)
Last: salvomania

NewsblogExposition:The Jonah Keri Mega Q&A
(9 - 10:32am, Apr 17)
Last: SoSHially Unacceptable

NewsblogNightengale: Pujols nears 500 home runs...and no one seems to care
(72 - 10:01am, Apr 17)
Last: You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR)

NewsblogMinuteman News Center: Giandurco: This means WAR
(62 - 9:44am, Apr 17)
Last: Ron J2

NewsblogVerducci: Overuse of young pitchers fueling MLB's Tommy John surgery problem
(44 - 9:39am, Apr 17)
Last: Arbitol Dijaler

NewsblogDaniel Bryan's 'YES!' chant has spread to the Pirates' dugout
(54 - 9:03am, Apr 17)
Last: My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.9069 seconds
52 querie(s) executed