The Fall Classic is a baseball series unlike any other. The World Series brings the champions from the American League and National League together in a best-of-seven series to crown a world champion. As with basically every other sport on the planet, emotions can run high among spectators, especially the entrenched fan bases of either team. It's no surprise then that expletives tend to fly – both in the real world and online – when certain events take place.
It's widely known that "f---" is one of the stronger curse words in the English language. While you may utter it at home or use it while out with friends, you don't see people throwing it around. On that note, we looked at overall fan sentiment on Reddit to see how frequently the word "f---" appeared as the MLB Playoffs and World Series played out.
The Los Angeles Dodgers hadn't met the Boston Red Sox in the World Series in over 100 years – not since 1916 when the Boston Red Sox played the Brooklyn Robins (the Sox won the series 4-1). The Robins were renamed the Dodgers by 1932 and eventually left New York for the sunny climate of Los Angeles in 1958, which is where they remain today.
Game 1 of the World Series had a surge in the expletives when the Dodgers' Matt Kemp homered during the top of the second inning, followed by a similar spike when Boston's J. D. Martinez hit an RBI double in the bottom of the third inning. The biggest surge of all, though, was when Boston's Eduardo Núñez hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, which wound up sealing the win for the Sox.
Game 2 also went in favor of the Red Sox, who won 4-2. One of the first bouts of "f---" came on a nifty Andrew Benintendi leaping catch in the fifth inning for Boston. This was followed by his teammate J. D. Martinez hitting a single that scored two runs. Also, don't forget about the mid-inning advertisements from Fox that appeared in last year's World Series. They appeared late in the game, which spiked a few "f----" all by itself.
Game 3 was the Dodgers' sole win of the series. It was a long game too, going 18 innings and lasting over seven hours. According to our "f---" meter, it got interesting during the later innings. "F---" seemed to spike around midnight (EST) when Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers threw Ian Kinsler out at home. There was another surge of "f----" when Yasiel Puig helped bring in a run with a single in the 13th that tied the game, and the final "f---s" were given when the game finally ended after the 18th inning with a walk-off homer off the bat of Max Muncy.
The Red Sox put a stranglehold on the Dodgers with a Game 4 win. Mitch Moreland's homer in the seventh inning for the Sox roused some "f---s" on Reddit, while Steve Pearce's homer in the eighth (also for the Sox) tied the game and generated a few "f----." The biggest spike, however, was at the end when the Red Sox put the game to bed after giving up two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Game 5 heralded the end of the 2018 World Series with a Red Sox win in a 5-1 rout of the home team. This is their ninth World Series title and their fourth in the last 15 years. Boston got out to an early lead and added to it later in the game. "F---" use spiked on Reddit when Joe Kelly came into the game in relief of starter David Price, who, himself, came into the game with a man on base. He rose to the challenge, struck out the side, and exited the mound with a "f--- yeah" of his own on the way to the dugout. The biggest spike, though, was when the Red Sox clinched the World Series.
Baseball's playoffs are not a short affair. Aside from the wild-card games, each meeting is a series of either five or seven games. That wild-card action, though, is your typical sudden death playoff game – there is only one chance to advance to the next series. For one league, at least, this led to the most mentions of the word "f---" on Reddit: the National League Wild Card Game featuring the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs. The total "f---s" given during this game was a whopping 1,941.
It's no surprise this game generated tons of emotion – the Cubs had the best record in the National League, and the game was an extremely long event. It went on for 13 innings and wound up being the longest win-or-go-home game in MLB history. There were a few key moments when f-bombs seemed to surge, the biggest of which came as a result of Javy Báez's double in the bottom of the eighth inning that tied the game.
With 1,353 "f----," Game 4 of the ALCS between Boston and Houston is next on our list. This game put the Red Sox up three games to one. There were a few moments where the f-word seemed to shine. One of the first "f---"-generating moments was probably one of the most discussed things that happened during the ALCS: A fan interfered with Mookie Betts' ability to catch a would-be home run in the bottom of the first inning. However, the biggest surge came with Andrew Benintendi's diving catch at the bottom of the ninth to seal the win.
Third on the list with 1,103 "f---s" uttered comes from Game 4 of the NLCS, where the Dodgers knotted the series up with two wins each with a victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. This was another 13-inning game with a total of only three runs (two for the Dodgers and one for the Brewers). The biggest "f---" moment was when Manny Machado kicked the leg of Jesus Aguilar in the 10th inning, and finally, the game ended at nearly 2:30 a.m. EST with a few more "f----" thrown in for good measure.
The incident that generated the most "f----" on Reddit during the 2018 MLB postseason was when Machado kicked Aguilar during that 13-inning Game 4 of the NLCS. During the game, the benches briefly cleared as the two players exchanged words, and online, the "f----" certainly flew – 67 of them, in fact. Here's a perfect example posted on Reddit: "That's true, it just takes one idiot pitcher too pissed to think about the game. Or a blowout, if the Brewers are down by 10, I could easily see them pegging Machado cause f--- that guy."
The second most "f---worthy" moment was when Benintendi made that diving catch to end Game 4 of the ALCS, garnering a nifty 63 "f----" on Reddit. In true celebratory style, a Reddit post was titled, "WAKE THE F--- UP, ANDREW BENINTENDI IS YOUR GOD NOW!!!" Third on our list was that Báez homer from the NL wild-card game (48 "f----"), followed by a grand slam off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. during the third game of the ALCS (39 "f----"). Redditors honed in on the pitcher of that particular grand slam, Roberto Osuna. "Get f----- Osuna," someone wrote.
Finally, when Red Sox pitcher Craig Kimbrel nailed Yankees batter Neil Walker with a pitch during the bottom of the ninth inning during Game 4 of the ALDS, Redditors sprang forth with 38 "f----."
Looking over the postseason, Cubs fans said "f---" the most on Reddit, which is impressive as their favorite team had an unfortunate early exit from the playoffs after losing their wild-card game at Wrigley Field. However, competing in (and ultimately losing) a winner-take-all game generates heaps of emotion, so it's really not surprising (and perhaps some of those f-bombs were typed out because the game went on so long).
Next on the list, you'll find the Red Sox fan base had plenty of "f----" to give. Some were directed at Manny Machado, but Red Sox fans delighted in popping off an f-bomb on the regular on Reddit, both for emotionally charged events as well as game day threads.
The Yankees were also pretty up there in "f----," which may also be relevant as they didn't make it past the divisional round. Hopes were high for the Bronx Bombers in 2018, despite a setback earlier in the season when they lost slugger Aaron Judge for several weeks after a wrist fracture. It was not meant to be, however, as the Yankees eventually fell to the future AL champs three games to one when the ALDS was over.
Finally, we looked at not only who was saying "f---" but also to whom it was directed. The New York Yankees win in this department. Once the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs with an ALDS loss to the Red Sox (the eventual champions), there were plenty of profanity-laced celebratory posts (as well as posts of despair) on Reddit. For example, a self-proclaimed Boston fan wrote, "F--- the Yankees, but f--- Angel Hernandez even more. He pretty much guaranteed his crew to not be in the World Series."
The Yankees were followed by the Red Sox in terms of "f--- you." This could be due to their eventual win, or it could also be due to the heated (and long-standing) rivalry between these two AL East teams.
As far as individual players go, it's probably not a huge surprise that Machado ranks No. 1 in this regard. There are tons and tons of results that come up on Reddit when the term "f--- Machado" is entered into the search bar.
All Reddit data was sourced from Pushshift.io's archive of comments posted to the baseball subreddit between Oct. 1, 2018, and Oct. 31, 2018. The comments were collected from Pushshift.io using the PRAW and PSRAW python libraries. Approximately 270,000 comments were collected.
Comments were then filtered for the word "f*ck," along with variations, like "f********ck" or "fa*k."
Usage of the word was then grouped on a per-minute basis before being placed on a line chart.
Spikes in usage were checked to see what commenters were saying and cross-referenced with baseball-reference.com and news articles.
"Saying F--- as a Team" was calculated by dividing the number of times self-identified fans of each postseason team used the word "f---" by the number of times those teams played in the postseason.
"F--- You" was determined by performing an n-gram analysis on every comment. For teams, tri-grams were used to see who completed the pattern "F--- the ____" the most. For players, it was "F--- ____."
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