Saturday, May 08, 2010

Will This Be An "Inconsequential" Season?

Folks, we maybe looking at the first "inconsequential" Red Sox season in a long time.

Since 1997 to be exact.

I use the word "inconsequential" to describe a season where the Red Sox were no factor at all in a pennant race. You may remember many years like that in the 1980s and 1990s.

Doing a little research today, back in 1997, the Red Sox were never in first place after Opening Day, and by May 1st they began their serious fall. (You may remember that their ace starting pitcher that year was Aaron Sele. Or maybe you don't.) By May 13th they were in double digits behind the division leader, and wound up 20 games out on the final day of the season. A thoroughly rotten year.

It was a lost year, they finished 78-84, and the last year they played before trading for Pedro Martinez. It was also the last year the Red Sox have ever had a losing record.

The Sox won the Wild Card the next two years, and in 2000, they were in first place as late as June 22nd. On September 13th they were 9 games back, the furthest they were behind all season, and actually began cutting into New York's lead, as they were faltering down the stretch (remember they had lost 16 of 19 to end the season?), but the Sox ran out of games and finished second, 2 1/2 games back. (New York still ended up winning the Series, with the second worst record ever at the time for a World Series winner.)

2001 may have been an infamous season, but the Sox actually spent 62 days in first that year, and as late as July 21. But Dan Duquette made the move of getting rid of Jimy Williams for Joe Kerrigan in mid-August, and the Sox went right into the tank and wound up 13 games out.

2002 was the first year of new ownership group of John Henry and company, and by coincidence, they spent the same number of days in first as 2001: 62. They built a lead of 5 games by May 8th, but they spent their last day in first on June 26th. They were three games under .500 for August and that basically sealed their fate for 2002.

The Red Sox made the playoffs the next three seasons, and in 2006, they spent the first four months in first place, but a knee injury to Jason Varitek on August 1st began an absolute rash of injuries that sent the Sox hurdling out of first on August 3rd. They went an absymal 9-21 in August and finished 11 games out.

Of course the Red Sox have been in the postseason the last three years. There has been an incredible run of success for the Red Sox in recent years. Every year since '97 there has been some pennant race the team has been involved in at some point in the year.

I sincerely hope that this is not the first "thoroughly rotten" year in Boston in a long, long time.


Rick said...

I certainly understand these sentiments. In a strange way it is almost hard to believe we are only 1 game under .500 but the problem is we have had a lot of games at Fenway.

If the Rays were not playing that well honestly I would not be that concerned as I would feel we are 1 hot streak away from a wild card run.

I sometimes take faith in the fact that sometimes in baseball good seasons (like 2004 Red Sox) can be built on playing .500 ball but then throwing in 1 to 2 torrid streaks.

I don't want a boring summer

The Omnipotent Q said...

If it was just one team to get by, Rick, I'd feel a lot better about things too.

Let's hope this horrid streak ends, and now.