Spring games still important as summer looms

By Gary Thorne, Special to the News
Posted May 13, 2011, at 8:55 p.m.

It is not early — not in the sense of a baseball season.

The repeated refrain from those on the diamond who have not had good starts, both teams and players, is that there is plenty of time left to turn things around. Well, not really.

Teams are reaching the 20 percent mark of the season in games played.  Players, those who start, in the coming week will reach the quarter mark in at-bats.

Yes, there will be some dramatic turnarounds for both some teams and players, and that is what sports fans live for, but they will not be the norm.

The Red Sox need to win, roughly, 59 percent of their remaining games to reach the 90-win mark this year. They are playing at a 47 percent win clip right now.

Ninety wins will not guarantee a postseason, but you’ve got to get there and probably a little beyond if the start of the Indians, Yankees, and Angels is any indication.

Reaching that mark is very doable, but each passing game in the loss column is one you don’t get back.

For players, they like to say the 150 at-bat mark is where they get a sign of what their season is going to be like. Players will close in on that number this week.

For now, one big game can up the average significantly, but with each passing at-bat, that changes.

While every athlete likes to say they only worry about themselves and their team, not the opponents, the fact is what opponents do is essential to defining the success of every other team.

That is why the teams you are chasing have to come back to the pack. That number we read every day called GB, games behind, is misleading.

If a team is five games behind the leader, that actually means there are 10 games that have to be made up.

The real number to look at is how many games a team is over or under .500. That tells you just what the makeup ground really is.

This season has been one of pitching, defense and parity.  Last Thursday, the average record in the MLB was 17-17. Fifteen teams were above .500, and most not by much.

That is the hope for all teams. If the season is to be one of parity, the chance of making up ground is that much easier.

That is also the hope for the better teams. They have a chance to run away from the pack.

Adages generally exit because there is at least a kernel of truth involved.

In baseball it is said you can’t win a pennant in April, but you can lose it.

Another is that games in April and May are just as important as the ones in September.

Summer has yet to arrive, there are lots of games left and many an at-bat is still to be had, but this game today is just as important as the one that will be played under the summer sun.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/05/13/sports/spring-games-still-important-as-summer-looms/ printed on July 22, 2014