Sunday, February 16, 2014

Not Saying I Told You So, But…..

Red Sox pitchers and catchers have reported to Ft. Myers.
Their first workout is tomorrow. Columnists have been wondering whether there will be a championship hangover. But instead of talking about that…

Let's arrow back a year.
Clearly 2013 was a fun year to be a Red Sox fan. By my count even better than 2004, which is hard to top. But what were people saying about the Red Sox year ago? Mostly you heard that they'd be better than in 2012…how could they not be? But did you hear anyone predict a World Series win? If you read this blog you did. Okay, it was not a prediction, it was wishful thinking. But worth another look:

Feb. 12, 2013.

Hope Springs Eternal.

Pitchers and catchers open camp today in Fort Myers...
...and hope springs eternal for a better season in 2013. I mean, could it get any worse than 2012?

Sure it could.
I lived in Baltimore in the late 80's. In 1988 the Orioles were only five years separated from their last World Series win, in 1983. That's the exact same gap as the Red Sox had last year, 2007-2012. The '88 Orioles opened the season by dropping the first 21 games. After the 3rd loss, Bob Rivers, new morning show host on 98 Rock, announced that he'd stay on the air round-the-clock until the team won. And he did. The manager, Cal Ripken, Sr. (father of star shortstop Cal, Jr.) was fired after loss #6. Everyone slumped simultaneously. It was so bad they didn't put batting averages on the scoreboard because they all started with a zero.

The O's finally won a game in Chicago on April 29th, then dropped two more, and returned home for "Fantastic Fans Night" (this was already on the books before the season started) on May 2nd to a sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium. Bob Rivers was given a full Orioles uniform, name on the back and all, and got a standing ovation when he threw out the first pitch, like a girl, as they used to say. (An outdated phrase. I happen to know from experience that girls can throw really well if you show them how.) Baltimore went on to win that game, 9-4. They finished last that year, with a record of 54-107. That's fifteen games worse than the 2012 Red Sox.

So what happened the next year?
In 1989 they improved to 87-75 and finished 2nd, two games behind Toronto and four ahead of the 3rd-place Red Sox. That's a 33-game improvement. If the Red Sox do the same thing in 33 more games than last year...they'll win 102 games, win the AL East and go on to win the World Series. Hopefully, the National League will win the All-Star game, so the Red Sox clinching win in the World Series will come at Fenway Park.

Hope springs eternal.