Monday, October 08, 2007

There Is None Nerdier

I was scrolling through Kevin Youkilis' blog yesterday, and I noticed this picture:
All the other pics seem to be current, but I quickly noticed this one was older: no right field roof deck, the high wall atop the bleachers that was cut down years ago, etc. I had to know, of course, when did this moment occur?

I knew it had to be at least late-2000, as Fisk's number is up among the retired numbers. And I knew it had to be pre-2003, as that was when they cut down that wall. Look at the home plate area, though. Around the circle, we've got the "1912 FENWAY PARK 2002" logo. So, it's 2002. I only have to glance at this shot to recognize April at Fenway. But the buntings give it away if the long sleeves don't. We also know it's a day game (if that's not obvious enough) because of the batters' eye.

The buntings are usually up for the opening homestand and the playoffs, which we didn't make in 2002. However, they did stay up until at least April 27th that year, as this pic (not mine--although I was at the game, it was Lowe's no-hitter) from kids' opening day 2002 proves.

We have no scoreboards to help us with the opposing team, but looking at them, I'd guess it's the Yanks. The only other teams we played hoe day games against in April '02 were: one vs. Toronto, and one vs. Tampa Bay (the no-hitter). But we played the Yanks three times during the day: the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Patriots' Day weekend. Look at the players: I think that's Soriano at second with the high socks, Jeter at short--and a lefty on the mound.

Look at each of the three possible games:

Saturday, 4/13, Wells did start, and that could almost be him, but Soriano didn't play second at all that day. It was Enrique Wilson. I'm gonna make the call that it can't be this game.

Sunday, 4/14, no lefties pitched for the Yanks.

Monday, 4/15, Pettitte started, and Stanton threw an inning. It has to be one of these two guys. Honestly, it looks more like Stanton to me, but I think it has to be Pettitte. The next step in the research should prove it:

What play is this? Here's the game on retrosheet. I looked at the situation: no one on base, and a ball hit to the left side. You can see the third baseman on his hands and knees. I thought, Okay, double down the line, right? But look at the shortstop. If that ball goes past the third baseman, he'd be running out to left in case the ball hits the boxes and bounces to the right. Or at the very least, he'd be going out to take the throw from the left fielder. And the center fielder wouldn't be just standing there, he'd at least be jogging toward left. Foul ball, you say? I don't think the runner would be that far towards first if it was foul. Plus the fan reaction, plus the ump, obscured by a pole, is at least facing fair territory. Still, I looked for singles or doubles to left, or errors by the third basemen with no men on and Pettitte or Stanton on the mound in the play-by-play, and found a Clark single (didn't say where) off Pettitte, and a Damon single to left off Stanton.

I still couldn't figure this one out, so I went to the New York Times archive from April 16th, (which also, in a different article from that day, called it a "gray Patriot's Day afternoon," which would be correct, looking at the pic) and I found this:

"Clark hit the pitch for an infield single, and Pettitte finished the [third] inning."

That's it! An infield single! That explains why Jeter's not looking or going out toward left, why the first baseman is over at the bag where he had been expecting a throw, why the right fielder is running toward first for a possible back up, why the center fielder is completely uninterested in the play, why the batter is sprinting to first, but has just made the decision to round the bag, leading Soriano to drift toward second just in case, etc. The third baseman, Brosius, probably knocked a hard shot down and it dribbled to his right and behind him. I'd guess the ball is behind the pole in this shot, and Brosius goes and picks it up, as the slow-footed Clark is held to an infield single. I've also included a screen-shot of Clark getting a base hit from the right side (where he would've been against a lefty) to show where he drops his bat--note it matches up with where the bat is in our pic.

Also, take a look at the clock. The game went from 11:05 AM to 2:11 PM. It's very hard to see the clock, but I'd say it's 12-something, which would make sense for the bottom of the third, especially since there was a long bottom of the second.

And look at A. the first base coach, and B. the fan in red down by the dugout. The coach is readying himself for a decision, not casually waving the guy to second, which he would be if the ball was going into the corner. And the fan has already turned away from the play to his buddies, as if he knows the play's pretty much over--the ball bounced off the fielder, and he knows the runner will reach, as opposed to looking down the line and expecting a play at second. Also, the rest of the fans are already standing and cheering, as if a little time's gone by since the ball hit the fielder. If it'd been a line drive past the fielder, the fans wouldn't have had time to already be fully standing and cheering at this point.

Reasons why this could all be wrong:

1. If that's Nick Johnson at first, he's not wearing his high socks. He'd only played a handful of major league games at this point, so maybe he hadn't started doing it yet.

2. Looks like a seven on the back of the runner's jersey. Well, when you blow it up, it does kind of look like a seven, but at that size, I think you're just seeing a smudge, basically, that could be anything, including Clark's 22. Besides, Trot Nixon never did anything in an APril 2002 day game that would look like what we see in this pic.

3. It really could be Damon's single off Stanton. I don't know--if Damon hit a ball that got past the third baseman, he's probably getting two.

4. Isn't Tony Clark taller than that? Yeah, I wouldn't have guessed this was Tony Clark without knowing what we know, but, there's no one standing right next to him for comparison.

So, I'm going with Patriots' Day vs. the Yanks, 4/15/2002, approximately 12:11 PM, bottom of the third, Clark has just singled against Pettitte. All this also leads me to wonder, how does Youk go about doing the blog? Is sitting there looking on Google Images to get these pics and upoading them? Of course not, but at some point, some person chose this random pic for Youk's blog, to show an example of "Sox fans." You'd think they'd have chosen a more recent example, but, hey, I'm probably the only one who noticed.

I love your nerdiness!!!!

My understanding is that Youk talks to someone from MLBlogs (usually via phone) and they 'type' what he writes. So someone from MLB dug up that photo.
Yeah, in fact, now that you mention it, I've seen this done before, can't remember where, where you see a pic and you know they just grabbed it from the team's site. Like, maybe this pic is used on some page on for an article about fans or whatever.

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