My team is in the World Series, but not due to 'small ball'

Oct 22, 2013 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Chicks dig the long ball. I like small ball. Turns out the chicks know more than I do.

So when the Boston Red Sox, the American League's top-scoring team, host the St. Louis Cardinals, the National League's top scoring team, in the first game of the 2013 World Series on Wednesday, don't look for either team to use the sacrifice bunt to move runners in scoring position very often. Neither team ranks in baseball's top 10 this season in sacrifices.

More and more, baseball at the professional level turns to "sabermetrics," made famous in the 2011 movie 'Moneyball." The run expectancy matrix from Major League Baseball backs what Mike Matheny from the Cardinals and John Farrell from the Red Sox must already know.

The chicks have been doing their homework. We'll call them sabermetricians.

If you love numbers, you can get lost in sabermetrics. Small-ball proponents have lived by the idea that if a runner gets to first with no outs, he can be bunted over to second, and then teams will have two chances to get a base hit to score the run.

The chicks would tell you that the runner is more likely to score from first with no outs than from second with one out.

OK. At least we know that if a team gets runners on first and second with no outs, we should drop a bunt down to get them to second and and third, so a fly ball or a base hit can score them.

Nope. The chicks are shaking their heads. It's more likely that the runners will score from first and second with no outs than from second and third with one out.

The chicks will let you know that the win expectancy for a home team trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth is higher with a runner on first and nobody out than it is with a runner on second and one out.

Since the early 1970s, the chart that counts the number of sacrifices in Major League Baseball looks more like the chart that tries to explain the stock market crash in 1929. Down, down, down.

And sacrifice bunt trends are not the only thing that is changing in baseball.

Next year, managers will be able to challenge umpire calls in Major League Baseball via instant replay.

A review will be initiated when a manager informs the umpire that he wants to challenge a play.

He will be allowed one challenge in the first six innings and two more from the seventh through the end of the game. Challenges won't carry over, and only certain plays can be challenged.

The chicks probably know that reviewable play scenarios will cover 89 percent of those incorrect calls that were made in the past, according to MLB.

Remember when umpire Don Denkinger blew a crucial call at first base in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series between the Royals and Cardinals, helping the Royals to rally and go on to win game seven?

This could be the last World Series when when that could happen.

Here's to hoping "my" Cardinals don't get screwed one final time.

Have a great sports week. Two "Go Big Reds" this week!

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