A Tale of Two Swings

by Jason Epstein

Take a look at these two cuts from David Ortiz in last night’s 8–1 blowout in Fenway:


Notice how the fans behind the plate initially react with less enthusiasm after Big Papi’s second swing, even though that ball traveled considerably farther and did not land in a defender’s glove? (Carlos Beltran injured his ribs on that great grab and left the game shortly thereafter.)

In fairness, I can think of at least three reasons why this happened:

  1. The first swing was in the second inning on a 1–2 count with the bases loaded. (Ortiz had already clocked a dramatic grand slam in the American League Championship Series.)
  2. The second swing was on a first-pitch fastball from a Cards reliever who had just entered the game with two outs in the seventh inning. Accordingly, some fans’ minds might have been elsewhere. (Last call for alcohol!)
  3. By the time the seventh-inning stretch got underway, the Sox had a 5–0 lead and there was little doubt in the ballpark which team was going to emerge victorious. And with good reason: According to the Fangraphs, Boston entered the bottom half of the seventh with a 98.4 percent win expectancy.

Game Two gets underway at 8:07 p.m. EDT on FOX.

Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.