The best feature of this past season on Getting Blanked was the Annotated Boxscore. No one denies this. We were very fortunate to have Sam Miller doing the Lord’s work each and every Sunday of the season. With the Sunday night schedule done for another year, our lives are that much poorer until he
holds out for a massive raise, eventually taking his concept to a deep-pocketed competitor brings it back next April.
With his spirit of annotation in mind, let us examine the Red Sox rollercoaster season which crashed in spectacular fashion last night. The fire still burns, fuelled by enough schadenfruede to end the world three times over. Using Coolstandings.com’s playoff probability numbers, we can pinpoint great moments of leverage as the odds-on World Series favorites of the offseason waged a war on reason and narratives everywhere.
The Red Sox season is unlike any I can remember. It isn’t often a team can start so slowly only to completely destroy their competition for four months before completely going into the tank once again. Looking at the season up to September 1st, a few dates stand out.
- The Low Point The Red Sox fall 7-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays thanks to a Bobby Jenks 7th inning blowup. The promise of a 100-win season and an easy stroll to the World Series are destroying. Fingers are pointed, precedents are sited. An ugly time for Red Sox fans, for sure.
- The Good Ship Red Sock finally seems on the right track The Red Sox go out of their way to prove this point by absolutely destroying the Blue Jays in a three game Rogers Centre series. The Sox outscore the Jays by a 35-6 margin. This sweep marks the culmination of a nine-game winning streak (their third winning streak of more than five games in the span of a month), vaulting the Red Sox from two games back of the division lead to a two game cushion. The Red Sox Nation is riding high!
- Plan the Parade. The Sox smash the Royals for the second consecutive day, moving their record to 64-38, a season-best .627 winning percentage. The team which was once on pace to win 71 games is now on a 101 win pace. The three-game divisional lead is the highest of the season. What could possibly go wrong?
From that point, just about everything. Dustin Pedroia’s bat cooled as the Sox held it together through August. As soon as September started, it all went to Hell, where it will reside in infamy forever.
Wow, that escalated quickly. Swapping out the divisional odds in favor of the overall playoff odds gives a much more chilling vision of the Sox precipitous dropoff. The highlighted games are Lackey starts because, well, we’re just piling on here, why not go all out?
- Nothing to See Here. The Sox start the month with a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs, according to our favorite Cool Standings site. They remain a half game up on the Yankees though they trail the Bronx Bombers in run differential. The Sox still boast a very, very impressive +162 on this date. What could possibly go wrong?
- A Good Scare Can Be Healthy Sometimes.
- Oh My.
- A Glimmer of Hope!
- The Unthinkable.
The Sox stagger through a particularly rough patch, winning only two of ten games before a pivotal series against the Rays. The Sox are now 3.5 games behind the Yankees for the division lead but Josh Beckett and the heart of the Sox bullpen combine to strike out 15 Rays en route to a 4-3 win. The Sox re-establish a four-game lead in the Wild Card race with only twelve games to play.
The Sox drop a tough one to the Baltimore Orioles while the Yankees defeat the Rays to clinch the AL East. Welp, looks like it’s Wild Card or bust at this point. Things are not looking good in New England.
A brief glimmer of hope as rain keeps the Sox off the field, meaning they were unable to lose on their own. Meanwhile, in Tampa, a young upstart named Brandon Morrow mows the Rays down for seven innings. The Rays can only curse their fate as they cannot gain ground on the idle Sox. Or so they think. With just five games remaining, the Sox still have a 95% chance of making the playoffs thanks to their two-game lead and significant run differential advantage.
Somehow, the Sox conspire to lose to two of three to the Fightin’ Showalters while the Rays sweep the Yankees in Tampa. If you zoomed in on the final day of the season, it looked a lot like this. It was incredible.
So there you have it. A monumental collapse by one of the best teams I can remember watching. As has been covered over and again – these Red Sox won nearly seventy percent of their games between the start of May and the end of August. Whatever they did to deserve such a cruel fate, I hope it was worth it.