Baseball is a weird game. It's one where statistics and trends make up the bulk of conversation, while at the same time proving that trends don't mean a thing. It builds itself on who is better in what situation, then uses one game to destroy the notion that situations even remotely matter. It uses years upon years of history to tell us to do things one way, then lights it on fire by reinventing the wheel time and time again.
Heading into the seventh inning of yesterday's game against Utah, Boston College was 1-17 when trailing after six innings. Utah was 17-0. Over the course of a season, these two teams built themselves up on the notion that they either could or couldn't come back late in a game.
In addition, Utah's seventh inning exploits bordered on legendary. They were +24 in run differential, having outscored opponents 55-31 over the course of the entire season. They knew how to put games away if they could make it through the middle innings, and they had done that with just one run allowed when they pitched out of two jams in the fifth innings, the same fifth inning where they were -17 in run differential.
If you're keeping track of the trends, BC shouldn't have won in that regard, especially since baseball is built on statistical trends. But if baseball is built on statistical trends, the Eagles have made a living off of bucking them. They started a rally with the bottom of the order - the area of the lineup that baseball has spent years telling people is where the worst hitters reside.
Then they tied the game using, in part, of all things, a bunt from a pinch hitter. Bunting is a hot topic among followers, the one discussion that tends to draw the loudest, most passionate talk. People either love it or hate it, and they feel incredibly passionate about it. It's an old school mentality to lay down a bunt, something that's been used over years of baseball. At the same time, Moneyball diminished the notion that the bunt is effective, and I can't count the number of times someone's tossed an article at me telling me that bunting is dead.
This entire game destroyed any thought that trends can amount to anything. Both BC and Utah had history telling them one thing, and they went out and killed it. Utah lost in a situation where they didn't lose, and BC won in a situation where they didn't win, right?
Wrong. When leading or tied after eight innings, the Eagles entered the weekend 30-1. They avoided having to do something they'd never done before (0-19 when trailing after eight), and they did it in a situation where Utah usually failed (2-27 when tied or trailing after eight innings). After bucking the trends from earlier, both teams played right into the trends in the late innings.
It was also a one-run game, an area where BC improved to 13-3. Utah, meanwhile, hadn't played in nearly that many one-run games, entering the weekend at 5-5. It was a statistical trend that the Eagles would be able to play the role of Dalton from Roadhouse at Swayze Field and be a cooler since they succeeded in winning in those situations all year; Utah did not.
And since the game was played on neutral ground, couldn't we have predicted this would happen anyways? BC improved to 12-3 in games played neither home nor away, and Utah fell to 2-7.
What about run scoring support? Utah fell to 5-13 when scoring between three and five runs, a combined 7-26 when they don't score at least five.
So it followed a trend. Except BC won only for the eighth time when being out-hit by their opponent (now 8-14), while Utah fell to 19-7 in that same situation.
Baseball. It's a game of trends and stat breakdowns used to chart performance. Then again, it really isn't.