I’m a life-long Red Sox fan, though I have some fair weather tendencies. I even admit to some fair weather anxieties. The major one is that, if the Red Sox are in first place at the All Star break, I take it as a bad sign. It’s the idea that the boys of summer simply won’t make it to fall. Fall they will.
My husband recently unearthed some statistics that buttress my skepticism. Looking back over the last couple of decades, I see something of a pattern. In 2005, the Red Sox were in first place at the All Star break, up by two, but ended in a tie for the wild card spot. In 2006, they were in first at the break, up by three, but finished in third place in the division, 11 behind, and thus out of post-season play. In 2009, they were in first place, up by 3, but finished eight games out. In 2011, they were in first and finished in third place, behind by 7. In 2012, that disastrous year, they were in 4th place at the all star break, 9 1/2 games out, and you know the rest. They finished last in the Eastern division, 26 big ones out. The All Star game is on July 16. Right now, the Sox are in first, up 3 and 1/2 games. Can they hold on?
To be sure, every pattern has its variations. Back in 1995, in first place at the All Star break, they held on and finished first in the division, up by seven (but lost in the postseason). And it’s true that in the great year of 2007, they were in first and ended up first (but their lead had dropped from 9 to 2 games).
In a perverse way, I’m more comfortable with come from behind years like 1998, 1999 and 2003, when the Red Sox were not in first place at the All Star break but still managed to secure a wild card slot. My favorite year was 2004, when they were in second place, down by seven, but turned it on, and ended the season 3 back with the wild card and then went on to come back again dramatically in the playoffs. The World Series victory was almost anti-climactic.
Call me Cassandra, but I look at the standings and I
can’t help being pessimistic. I worry about David Ortiz’ heels. I worry about Ellsbury’s left wrist and Victorino’s and Drew’s hamstrings. I worry about Clay Buchholz’s neck. The AL East is better balanced now and the strongest in the league, but with Oakland and Texas having good years, second place in the East could mean no wild card, no playoffs.
Is this any way for a grown, presumably mature, woman to obsess? Of course. Baseball is about more than numbers. It includes skills, luck, heart and head, and a good manager this year surely helps. But I am someone who holds onto patterns in credit card numbers and remembers phone numbers better than people’s names or faces, so the All Star break Red Sox numbers are particularly worrisome.
Can someone out there recommend a good therapist?
I welcome your comments in the section below.