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Saturday, October 8, 2011

When's a Swoon (Giants) a Choke (Braves)?

Much has been made of the late season collapse of the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox. The Braves kissed away an 8 1/2 game lead in the National League Wild Card race, while the Red Sox managed to waste a 9 game lead in the American Wild Card race. Both collapses are being referred to in the media as some of the worst examples of teams choking under pressure.

But how much different is a choke from a swoon? The SF Giants finished 11-18 in August 2011, while the Braves were 9-18 in September of 2011, only two worse than the Giants.  The Giants led the Arizona Diamondbacks by 4 games at the All Star break and finished 8 games back. That's a 12 game swing, which in terms of raw numbers was certainly as "bad" as what the Braves did.

So, why is it that no one is  talking about the Giant's collapse as a choke? As they say, timing is everything. Do it in April through August, its a swoon, a slump, etc. Do it in September, it's a choke. If the Braves (and the Red Sox) had given back their wild card leads in August and then fought valiantly in September but still lost on the last day (and finished with the same records), no one would have referred to their August collapse as a choke. But the end result would have been the same.

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