Author Archives: timmyg

Highway to Fulham’s Danger Zone

By Tim

The fact that Fulham stink, that we’re terrible on both ends, that we can’t control the game anywhere, isn’t news.

But what’s worth exploring is just how bad we are.

Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) of Cartilage Free Captain has some great shot statistics that I highly recommend you check out. But what I want to focus on here is how he divvied up the one half of a football field into several Shot Matrix Zones. The word “matrix” makes even my head spin so bear with me.

Here’s the map:


(courtesy of Michael Caley)

And here’s why divvying the offensive zone is important: conceding shots closer to the net are easier for the offense to score. Shots further away are more difficult to score. This is a very simplistic maxim exists in most other ball/net games.

So, if a defense concedes a higher amount of shots closer to the net than they do the further away, it’s representative of bad defense.

Michael took Zones 1-3 and placed them into what he dubbed the Danger Zone (cue the Kenny Loggins!). Basically, if you’re conceding a high amount of shots from there your defense stin–

OH, OH MY, THAT’S FULHAM FC’S MUSIC!

Fulham are leading the league with 241 shots in the DZ. Next to them is Cardiff with 232, followed by West Ham at 184. If you take the total of all DZ shots (3040) and average it out per club we’re nearly 100 over the average.

Of that total, 92–NINETY FREAKING TWO– are what’s considered on DZSoT, or shots actually target (what Bent is incapable of doing; also somehow Cardiff are one worse than us). We all know how we are repeatedly getting outshot, but this takes that figure to a whole new level.

What about the Wide Shots? Fulham aren’t as bad in that category–17th!–but second worst when it comes to Wide Shots on Target.

What we can glean from this is our opponents don’t need to shoot from odd angles inside the 18-yard box. No, they just can pass or dribble to a better location! (Cue 2nd half highlights from that home Southampton game)

Next up is Shots from outside the 18 yards box, or Zones 6-8.

Fulham are 2nd worst behind West Ham, and just 3 above Cardiff and Sunderland with 242 shots conceded from outside the 18 yard box. 34 of those are on target.

So not only are teams literally dribbling down our throats, we’re affording them time and space from outside the box. Think Mucha at home in September. Or both times Shelvey scored for Swansea. Or or I’ll stop now.

What does this mean? It means we literally cannot defend in any facet of the game. The 5-0 loss on Saturday wasn’t an anomaly, down to some refereeing decision, or because we were playing a team who exponentially outspent us. There is empirical precedent for losses of that magnitude to happen; and will probably happen again this season.

In fact, it might even happen this Sunday!

Although not particularly notable in one specific facet, Everton are still in the Top 8 in Offensive DZS, WS, and SoB. Hopefully the spectre of catching Arsenal/4th place will be a bridge too far for them and they’ll bottle it. Otherwise it’s going to be a long, long day.

So what about our offense?

We’re currently 19th, tied with Crystal Palace on just 117 shots in the Danger Zone. Let me repeat: We are tied with Pulis-ball. Let me repeat again: we are tied with Pulis-ball. For DZ shots on target, we’re tied for 18th with CP, Cardiff, and Swansea at 45. Moving away from the net, we’re not as awful in the wide areas or outside the box, but still in the bottom half of the league.

But our offensive futility is a chicken/egg thing: is it bad because our defense is awful, or is it bad for other reasons? In January we shipped off our moody but still very talented forward, and only mercurial play-maker, and thus have been left with starting highschoolers and the-footballer-formerly-known-as-Darren-Bent. Hence since the start of 2014 we’ve scored 11 goals in 12 games.

What’s the point of all this?

I suppose if this was a business, lawyers would recommend we file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy (or whatever equivalent you guys in England have) and reorganize everything.

(Kenny Loggins cued!)

[Quick tangent: Kenny Loggins looks so 80s in this video but I'm fairly certain the barista that served me coffee this morning looked just like him. Everything old is new again..]

Esteemed Company

By Tim

DID YOU KNOW

Yaya Toure’s hat-trick on Saturday was the 3rd hat-trick conceded by Fulham this season. This stat now ties them with 1994/95 Ipswich, 1995/96 Coventry City, and 1997/98 Bolton Wanderers for conceding the most hat-tricks in one EPL season with 3. (This paragraph has a hat-trick of hat-trick mentions).

All three of said hat-tricks have come in past two months, since Adam Johnson netted his in mid-January. This is worse than Bolton and Coventry who each conceded their hat-tricks over a 3 month span, yet better than Ipswich who conceded their three hat-tricks in just a month. (Ouch. And another paragraph with three hat-trick mentions!)

Ultimately, Ipswich finished bottom (22nd at the time), Coventry 16th (survived on GD, somehow), and Bolton 18th (relegated on GD). We’re probably going to finish somewhere thereabouts.

We could nuance the point away and look at who scored each of the hat-tricks:

  • Yaya Toure (cost City £24m–double our transfer fee record–and arguably Ivory Coast’s best player)
  • André Schürrle (cost Chelsea £18m, wunderkind)
  • Adam Johnson (doesn’t live up to hype/ego, but still cost Sunderland £10m)

Or look at the following chart from Sporting Intelligence (based on 12/13 and even 11/12 accounts) and somehow be surprised this hasn’t happened more often against the bigger teams (blue is transfer fees/yellow is wages):

wages and fees

But if there’s one silver lining to this turd: we’re not as bad as 2007/08 Derby County. And here’s how:

  • Fewest points in a season (11, we’re at 24)
  • They only won once (we’re at 7)
  • Kept just 3 clean sheets all season (we have 4!)
  • Had the worst GD in EPL history (-69; we’re at -40)
  • Conceded the most in 38 game season (89; we’re at 70)

Yet Derby DOES have a better TSR than us, as they posted .377 in 2007-08 and as of last week we had .3747–which may go down considering Saturday’s result.

A Statistical Look at Rene’s Reign

As to be expected, there is much gnashing of teeth over Rene’s sacking. The performances in the past 6 days suggested that maybe a corner had been turned, that maybe this “toilet bowl” of a season was finally getting some draino. Or, *gasp*, the bathroom was finally getting remodeled.

What’s also expectedly absent from so much of the writings are any form of research or analysis of Rene’s reign. But hey it sounds good to say Fulham are the next QPR or Cardiff or Leeds United. And that “madness” has taken over and we hit the “panic button” and that our “absentee owner has no idea who Felix Magath is”. I rarely assume anything different from the sport’s fans.

But pop open the hood and you’ll find Rene’s reign has been a bit of a dumpster fire to put it bluntly. Let’s look at some advanced stats from when Jol got canned to the current day.

{Warning, I’m going to use some of those newfangled things known as statistics. If you’re one of those “stats are bad” types, then just jump to the bottom where I discuss goals. You know, another type of statistic.}

TSR SV% Sh% PDO
Jol 0.316 70.5 27.9 984
Rene 0.371 65.1 25.7 908

In case you don’t know, TSR means Total Shots Ratio, SV% is Save Percentage, SH% equals Shot Percentage, and PDO is Scoring % + Save %. Read full definitions here. These are important because they, especially TSR, usually have a strong correlation to goal difference and points. Also, all stats are from James Grayson’s blog.

The only positive you can really deduct from the above is that Fulham are no longer getting outshot as exponentially as they were before. Each of the remaining metrics were down. It’s not good enough, it’s not sustainable, and the “moral victories” of the past week simply cannot paper over that fact.

For context, let’s look at Tony Pulis and compare what he’s accomplished, arguably with far less than what Rene has had to work with, to his predecessor.

TSR SV% Sh% PDO
Holloway 0.429 58.7 23.1 818
Pulis 0.461 67.9 20.2 881

His god-forsaken style aside, we see that Pulis has increased the teams TSR, SV%, and PDO. In layman’s terms, he’s shored up the defense despite the slight downtick in shot conversion (which is mainly due to his god-forsaken set piece/long-ball system). This is a sign of progress beyond what the current table shows, as standings can occasionally be disguised by smoke and mirrors (HI THERE WEST HAM IN 11TH!). This is why Crystal Palace have gone from regulation certainties to a steady lower/mid table finish.

If you don’t want to read or acknowledge all those fancy stats, here are some more basic ones:

One tenet of Rene’s reign was to go into the half tied at 0-0 or something thereabouts and have it fall apart. In fact, Fulham have been drawing at halftime a league-leading 15 times this season. Of that, 8 were under Rene.

Not bad on the surface, but only twice did Fulham get a result of any capacity in those matches: both wins, both in his first four games, both solitary goals. In total, when drawing, the club conceded 17 goals while scoring only 4 after halftime. Take those two victories away and it’s 2 GF and 17 GA.

Plus plus plus only in one game, his *second*, did Fulham take a lead into halftime and see out the result. Need I remind you we’re currently 20th?

Regardless of how you slice it, regardless of what disaster* of a squad you have, regardless of all the feel-good-emotions we’ve accrued in the past week…that’s beyond terrible.

It was a bungled removal from office. But Kahn really had no choice.

{*Okay, fine, it was a disaster before he got here. Martin Jol should have been fired last spring and we’re reaping that now. Also, MAF should have sold the club earlier or at least attempted to have *some* liabilities for the future owner, and we’re reaping that now. Also, until Mitroglou’s record fee, we’re also reaping not spending more than £500,000 on a striker for nearly 5 seasons (and that was on David Elm!) UPDATE: Since Berbatov, not Mitroglou, which was officially “undisclosed”. And on and on.}

Examining our central midfielders

Apologies if you hated my past post but I want to revist the +/- stat with regards to our four main central midfielders. Again, this stat isn’t a great indicator of causation, but correlation. It also doesn’t occur in a vacuum, as the entire team and certain dynamics of the sport play a hand in the metric. But, along with other indicators, I found it to be quite instructive, as seen below. So consider it more an idea board then a didactic study.

I left out wingers as I wanted to keep the scope on what we’re all in agreement is our main problem area: the center of midfield; particularly the Parker/Sidwell axis. StatsBomb recently did an amazing (and horrifying) job at comparing those two and Kasami to Barca’s Xavi, Busquets, and Iniesta. This is very much like comparing a Hank Williams or George Jones song to a Blake Shelton tune, but what can you do. I also broke up the stats by each manager to see if there’s any differences.

Sidwell

GF GA +/- +/- pG Apps
Jol 10 22 -12 -0.92 13
Rene 10 29 -19 -1.73 11
Total 20 51 -31 -1.29 24

It may seem like Sidwell has regressed under Rene (if “Sidwell” and “regressing” is somehow possible), but 6 of the 29 GA came in that Hull City match. Nonetheless our opponents have scored >3 goals a whopping FIVE times since Rene has taken over and Sidwell is on the pitch.

Parker

GF GA +/- +/- pG Apps
Jol 8 22 -14 -1.27 11
Rene 12 21 -9 -0.90 10
Total 20 43 -23 -1.10 21

Very similar to Sidwell, with the only visible difference is he was fortunate enough to escape that 6-0 Hull City thrashing. Like with Sascha Reither, there certainly seems to be a visceral notion that Parker belongs in the side. But beyond high interception and tackling rates, which as StatsBomb said is most likely down to the oppositions always with the ball/running at him…what are the justifications exactly?

Kasami

GF GA +/- +/- pG Apps
Jol 12 22 -10 -0.83 12
Rene 5 18 -13 -1.30 10
Total 17 40 -23 -1.05 22

This is where it starts to get interesting. Rene’s been using Kasami as a sub for the majority of his league reign–only 3 starts in his 10 games under Rene compared to 11 starts under Jol. This explains why the GF is way down but the GA still quite high. But, considering Fulham scored three goals in the entire month of January, it’s perplexing why he only averaged 15 minutes last month.

Karagounis

GF GA +/- +/- pG Apps
Jol 3 4 -1 -0.17 6
Rene 6 10 -4 -0.80 5
Total 9 14 -5 -0.45 11

I didn’t include Boateng because he had such a small sample size, but thought it would be interesting to see what Karagounis has done with ever-so-slightly more play time. Each manager has treated Karagounis differently: Jol used him as a sub for 5 of his 6 appearances; Rene started him in all his 5 appearances (albeit none since Hull City in December). But if we were to take away that Hull City game, we’d see his +/- to be fairly respectable, despite the small sample size–unlike if we subtracted result from Sidwell’s stats, they’d still be terrible. I’m not sure why Kara hasn’t been playing (hooray opaqueness!), but like Kasami, it’s clear he’s a necessary dynamic that’s being under-utilized.

No one needs to opine how the Parker/Sidwell duo has proved to be detrimental. But the idea behind these stats further reinforce such a notion, and that stems from the fact the two are always playing. Whether it’s down to them or other factors, it certainly feels like we’re at the point where, when we see both in the starting XI, much like seeing a bad #5 pitcher start, we’re going to lose.

I’d argue it’s not one part of the combination that needs to be replaced, it’s the entire recipe. Curious to know your thoughts as well.

Fulham’s record when scoring, and not scoring. Also just how bad are our defenders?

Thanks to Rich for graciously letting me guest post.

Of all the issues plaguing Fulham this season, two have stood out the most for me. First is Fulham’s knack for getting a result when scoring 2 or more goals (and lack of results when scoring 1 or less), second is which defenders have been privy to the various shellackings we’ve received so far.

Fulham’s inability to get a result when scoring less than 2 goals is no secret considering our terrible defense. Chances are we’re not scoring a lot is because we’re chasing games, and it’s often more difficult to score when a team is having to chase. Additionally, something I’ve been saying all season is that a club of our aptitude can’t expect to get a result when we’re not scoring. We could under Roy, we can’t now.

Our record when scoring less than 2 goals:

Team Pld GF<2 W D L F A GD GFA GAA   PpG Pts
Fulham 20 15 2 1 12 9 35 -26 0.6 2.33   0.46 7

For context, the league average for this is .811 PpG; and 9.45 Pts. So we’re 16th in Total Pts, but third worst (Swansea and WestHam are T-1st) in PpG. Taking a step back, we’re T-13th in amount of games when scoring 1 or less goals, but our terrible PpG shows our inability to “keep it close” and “grind out” draws: in 2008/09 we had 10 draws when scoring less than 2; in 2010/11 we had 12. This season we have 1.

Now here’s our record when we score more than 1 goal:

Team Pld GF>1 W D L F A GD GFA GAA   PpG Pts
Fulham 20 5 4 0 1 12 7 5 2.4 1.4   2.4 12

Again for context, the League average is 2.4 Ppg and 12 Pts. Right on par considering we’re also T-13th in this category. This stat also shows how terribly our defense has been regressing: in 2008/09 our GAA when scoring more than 1 was .75; under Sparky it was 1.08; even Jol’s first season was a .75(!) Last season was an atrocious 1.66, highest since the Coleman days.

So basically if we score more than 1 goal, there’s like an 80% chance we’ll win. If we score less than 2 goals that drops to 15%. (Now this is when the likes of StatsBomb and James Grayson stumble upon the site and rightfully lambaste me for my terrible arithmetic…)

Second is the Plus−minus (+/-) of the club’s Defenders. This stat is widely used in hockey, and even stretching to sports like Basketball and Ultimate Frisbee. It’s a bit incongruent in footy because of the numerous variables that don’t exist in the former sports (main being the lack of timeouts/substitutions, which can create wide variances). But there have been moments this season when we’ve thought to ourselves “Boy, Richardson is always playing when we’re losing a lot” or “Actually, Senderos might be better than we think”. Both are actually true.

Player Appearances +/- +/- pG
Briggs 2 0 0.0
Hangeland 8 -4 -0.5
Reither 16 -6 -0.4
Senderos 11 -6 -0.5
Riise 9 -12 -1.3
Zverotic 4 -14 -3.5
Richardson 15 -15 -1.0
Hughes 13 -15 -1.2
Amorebieta 14 -18 -1.3

Players like Amorebieta, Hughes, and Richardson have been on the field when the opposition is scoring a lot. Hangeland, Reither, and Senderos haven’t. Again, this is quite imperfect considering how awful the team was up until about a month ago, and the symbiotic nature of the game: defense is really only as good as the midfield, which is only as good as the forwards. Also, if we don’t ever see Zverotic again this might be why.

At some point I’ll crunch the numbers for our midfield, and our defenders of past seasons. But this is still quite telling: Hangeland and Senderos need to get healthy ASAP; and boy oh boy do we need a good Left Back.

there_will_be_blood1

Following The Money

City had 71% possession on Saturday. They attempted 23 shots to Fulham’s 7. They completed 646 of their 726 passes. Fulham attempted just 276. If those stats aren’t enough, the passing charts bear out the notion that this really was a match between the haves and the have-nots.

And so it is. Like Chelsea before them, and Leeds before them, and whoever else before them; City resembles everything that is wrong with current economics of football.

No, it’s not about wealthy owners coming in, “splashing the cash” (dear lord that cliche is awful), and buying whomever they wish. And it’s not it the media touting bullshit narratives like Mancini didn’t get all the transfers in he wanted; despite dropping nearly £90m over the summer.

Nor is it having loads of depth off the bench; that’s what good teams always have.

What’s so maddening is how they, like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, et al, are freely able to amass talent and own not just the best players, but all the not-so-best-but-still-damn-good players too. And just pay them to basically do nothing in the reserves, or make an occasional cup appearance.

Honestly, what the heck is Victor Moses doing at Chelsea (anyone remember Steve Sidwell in a Chelsea shirt?) Or Nuri Şahin at Real Madrid? I’m sure we could flood the comments with other examples.

For all the chatter about how a salary cap will fix this issue; it won’t. It’s the fact that players get new contracts whenever they sign for a different club that spurs on the stratification. The wealthy owners will just continue to spend, spend, spend and ultimately kill the game not just because they can, but because the players are all willing accomplices.

Take a look at City’s bench. I won’t list the names, but how much they cost: £1m, £22m, £16m, £24m, £25m, £27m, £22.5m. Nearly £140m just sitting there; and that’s not including their annual salary. Most of them are bonafide stars, but several aren’t. And lets look at the players who didn’t even feature because of injury or whatever else: Jack Rodwell (£12m), Sinclair (£6.2m), Maicon (£3.5m), Kolo Toure (£16.m).

No wonder the likes of Wayne Bridge and Roque Santa Cruz are still on City’s payroll; and Adam Johnson and Jô were for so long.

I’ve written about this before, but how can any sporting system that allows this to happen even consider itself legitimate?

Take baseball in America: a sport that everyone loves to hate because the New York Yankees always have the highest payroll and  it’s the least socialistic in its share of revenue and payroll. “The Yankees buy everyone” is often the refrain; as the masses turn their attention to the NFL. Yet what limits the Yankees literally buying everyone like the big European clubs do is that they can only give good players BIG contracts when they are free agents. And so they often have to make do with the likes of Eric Chavez and Raul freaking Ibanez.

Players like Matt Weiters and Manny Machado from my local Baltimore Orioles, who will probably someday play for the Yankees, are going to remain an Oriole until their contracts run out. There’s little incentive for them to join a better team and possibly not play much if they’re going to get paid the same. It behooves them to play out their contract, and hopefully do really well in their contract year.

Yet if this was footy, they would be Yankees by this time next month when the season’s over, mainly because they’d see a huge increase in their salary. And the fans wouldn’t bother come watch the sport anymore.

This isn’t sour grapes, just something that annoys me. And I wish we didn’t have to play these type of teams as I get no enjoyment from  it; win, lose, or draw.

(Okay, I enjoy the win. But we all know the narrative won’t be about us winning, but them losing).

wigan win

Where will the goals come from?

Sunday’s match at Wigan will be the first since March, 2007 that Clint Dempsey will not feature for Fulham against that club.

That’s not notable in and of itself, but consider that in 10 games he scored 6 goals and that tally accounts for 42% of our 14 goals against them. Which is nearly half. (Go here for a full account of his feats.)

Sure, we have the Berba. Plus Ruiz and Petric should be coming back.

But it’s instances like this where the reality sets in. I sure don’t hope we miss our talisman.

***

As the prior two posts have mentioned, Sascha Riether had a great game on Saturday. Of the top six pass combinations, 5 include Riether either receiving or passing the ball. His dashboard is below.

4

The Best Sporting Event

Last Thursday I went to what could be considered the best sporting event I’ve ever attended. Here are some photos.

But first, some context: For those unaware, the Baltimore Orioles are on par for their first winning season since 1997, back when Fulham was in League One and Mohammed Al-Fayed just purchased the club. Not only that, they’re in a pennant  race with the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays. Going into Thursdays game, the Orioles were just one game back from the Yankees for the division, and clinging onto a wild card spot. A win and they’d be tied for the AL East.

Going into the season, the Orioles were projected by pretty much every pundit to lose about 90 games. During the offseason they hired a GM who last held a job in George W. Bush’s first term. I couldn’t name their starting lineup heading into opening day. Anticipation was quite low. So, no one saw this season coming.

Thursday was also a night to commemorate the greatest Oriole ever and my childhood hero: Cal Ripken Jr. All season the Orioles organization has been unveiling bronze statues of its greatest players and managers: Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, and Cal. Imagine if Johnny Haynes had been alive for his statue unveiling; it would have been a similar raucous atmosphere. Take one part unbelievable pennant race and one part celebration of a player who breaking Lou Gehrig’s 56 year old record for consecutive games played, and you had a sold out Camden Yards.

(I should note that whereas weeks prior it was barely managing 12,000 attendance, Thursday had a capacity crowd of 46,298. And a majority were actually Orioles fans; Camden Yards often has capacity crowds when the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, and other come to town. But it’s often filled with those fans. Sort of like a Wigan-United match).

So on Wednesday evening when my friend calls me, offering a ticket four rows back from the Orioles dugout, I hopped on it. I had to. Enough of my typing, here are the photos:

Say, did I mention how great these seats were?

Cal’s giving a speech where his statue is unveiled. Images of his playing days scrolled across the top screen. I was hoping a poster I have of him eating Esskay hotdogs would appear. It didn’t.

Cal threw out the first pitch from the actual pitcher’s mound, not at the front of the dirt where most people do. We celebrated. Also note the only man sitting down: that’s legendary Orioles manager Earl Weaver. When we walked onto the field, he kicked dirt over the pristine home plate, like he used to so many times before. We celebrated.

Game time! Beer time! That’s “Fancy” Clancy Haskett. He’s such a storied presence at Camden Yards a documentary was made about him. He usually sells around the higher priced sections, so I don’t seem him around often. Needless to say I had to a buy that $8 Natty Boh.

The Orioles raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, thanks to some wonderful hitting and a balk (hah!) by the starting Yankees pitcher. It was only the first inning, the stadium was unlike anything I had seen before. There were so many people I couldn’t get any cell phone reception; my buddy missed a text from a friend that was waiting outside for his ticket.

Also, ace pitcher Jason Hammel was returning from a lengthy leg injury just in time for the playoff run. That’s him pitching to Alex Rodriguez (and look at all the fans!!!)


Here’s the Oriole bird hugging his dancing partner after the 7th inning stretch. The Orioles always play John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy“, which really makes zero sense as Baltimore is not the “country”, nor does it have a rural history like the rest of the state (it was a big port and factory town). Nonetheless, a football club should adopt this.

Anyway, my point is that the stadium was still electric. The O’s were taking a 6-1 lead into the 8th. Confidence was high. But then the Yankees played like THE YANKEES, and scored a run in the top of the 8th. Manager Buck Showalter left reliever Randy Wolf, who had been filling in quite well for the prior two innings, in too long. Despite there being two out, there runners were on first and second, and the score only 6-2.


Here is Wolf walking sadly to the dugout, unable to get that final out.

And so out came releiver Pedro Strop: a talented player but also a headcase and a stress inducer. He could strike out the side but he’d still give you a heart attack.

Strop proceeded to give up a single, throw a wild pitch, walk a batter, walk another batter (and thus the 4th Yankees run), and then give up a single that would score two more Yankees. So, after leading 6-1 in the top of the 8th with two out, the game was now tied 6-6. Balls.


Like he had with Wolf, Buck left Strop in for far too long. The mood, a little on edge when Wolf was relieved too late, turned quite sour when Strop was finally taken out. This is him walking to the dugout, dejected.

Thankfully rhe very next batter popped out to end the Yankee rally. But the damage had been done. What was shaping up to be a historical night was going to be a historic collapse.

The stadium was still in a rather negative mood, and next Oriole batter Adam Jones, the team MVP, quickly found himself down two strikes. Oh brother. Here we go again.

But then things changed with the next pitch: Jones crushed a solo homer to left field. Just like that, the Orioles were back on top, 7-6. Hooray!

The next batter, Matt Weiters, singled to left. After him Mark Reynolds, a player that was so maddeningly inconsistent and error prone that he was just days away from being traded in July, continued his miraculous form and hit a homer to left field: his second home run of the evening and eighth in seven games. O’s up 9-6. Jubilation!

The Yankees changed pitchers, but it made no difference. The very next pitch, the first by Yankee reliever Boone Logan, was hit to right field by designated hitter Chris Davis (who had a rather poor night up to this point). Back it went until it was gone. Home Run. 10-6 Orioles and zero outs. Pandemonium!

There’s no photos of this particular part of the narrative as I was too busy celebrating and high fiving and screaming in joy. I did manage to take this shot though: the scoreboard read “O-Mazing”. It truly was.

The Orioles would cling to the 10-6 lead and win the game. They were tied for first. It was well after 10pm. The stadium was still full. What the heck is happening?!?

Here’s Adam Jones giving an interview about his game winning home run.

Moments later, he was pied in the face.

And so concluded the greatest game I’ve ever been to. It had it all: drama, home runs, blown leads, emphatic play, hereos honored, dancing Orioles, Natty Boh…

The Orioles would go on to split the weekend series with Yankees: they lost on Friday, won on a blown call Saturday (WHO CARES!), and got shelled on Sunday. They’be now 1 GB behind New York for the AL East, back to where they were on Thursday morning. There’s still 22 games left.

And this is the magic, and also the problem, of baseball: how one game, often lost in the marathon that is the 162 game season, can become so memorable yet be quickly forgotten.

We’ll always remember and discuss a football result because they only happen once a week. Baseball? Barely enough time before the next one begins.


Timmy Gelles is a writer for Craven Cottage Newsround. A Fulham fan since 2006, he’s caught up in this Oriole MagicE-mail him or follow him on twitter.