Saturday, March 10, 2012

JoS Contest/Detective Work

Joy of Sox' annual W-L contest is up and running. Go read the rules and e-mail Allan your guesses.

I was looking at the cover of the book he's giving away to the winner, and decided I had to know the date the photo was taken. (Better picture here.) Actually, the first thing that struck me was that they were using an older (pre-2011) picture, since the old pitch-count scoreboard is visible at right. Seemed to me that if you're gonna use a modern-era picture of Fenway for a book coming out purposely in 1912, you might as well use one from the the current year, since it would have the most current version of the park. The hi-def scoreboards were a huge change, and in my view very quickly make the old ones look dated. But in an ironic twist, having the edge of that board visible is the key to being able to figure out which game this is....

You've got Dice-K on the mound, and we know his pitch count and up-to-the-out ERA. We can also barely tell from the Monster scoreboard that it's the top of the 4th, with one out and a 3-1 count. The Red Sox are in their red alternate jerseys.

I went right to Dice-K's game logs. We know 2011 is out of the question because of the scoreboards. We know it's not 2007 since the far-left above-Monster billboard (AAA) didn't appear until 2008. So it's '08, '09, or '10.

I looked for a time when his ERA would have been near 9. In 2008, after his first start, which was in Japan, it never got higher than the 3's. In 2010, it only would have crossed through the 9s in his first two home starts, but they most likely wouldn't be wearing red jerseys on a Tuesday or Thursday night, and the ball-strike count/ERAs don't match up in those games. (Also, see later note about the other games visible on the Monster scoreboard.) So it's a 2009 Dice-K game.

Going into the Mets game on May 22nd, 2009 (a Friday night, which makes red jerseys possible), his ERA was 12.79. With only two games under his belt, that ERA would be fluctuating wildly.

After his 46th pitch, he indeed had thrown 30 strikes. RIght there I knew this pretty much had to be the game. It was the top of the 4th. Sheffield up, and a 3-1 count with one out, just like the Monster board says. (It also appears to be a 1-1 score, also correct.) As for the ERA, he'd given up 10 earned runs in 9 and 2/3rds up to that very batte: A 9.31 ERA, just as the board says.

In the hi-res picture I linked, you can pretty much tell all the other games going on from the Monster scoreboard (which shows that Interleague play is going on). Looking at those games, they make sense in the May 22, 2009 scenario. So that's definitely the night. Dice has just thrown ball 3 to Sheffield. He would walk him on the pitch after this photo was taken. The Mets would score three that inning and go on to a 5-3 win. And no, I wasn't there. But I was there the night before (sitting in the front row in dead center--I was one day off from being on the cover of this book!) and two days later.

Sox vs. Rays on TV tonight at 7:05. Bard starts.

I don't know which is more amazing...your detective work, or that Dice had 30 strikes out of 46 pitches.
I was thnking of trying to figure out the game but I see you beat me to it.
But couldn't they have chosen a great shot of the sky with a not-so-bloated ERA on the board?!?
I'm starting to think someone who doesn't know that much about baseball picked the cover shot and did it based on prettiest. Not that it isn't a great sky in that shot....

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Location: Rhode Island, United States