Found September 25, 2013 on Boston's Bettah:
Raise your hands if you thought at the beginning of the season that the Boston Red Sox would be sitting here in the final week of the regular season, a post-season trip already assured through a division championship and an opportunity to clinch the best record in all of baseball. I’ll wait. (Sits there) (Checks a couple of e-mails…oh nice craft-beer special at Total Wine) (Looks-up) Maybe one of you? Two? Not many I see. That is about what I thought I would see. Remember, at the beginning of the season, not many people expected the Boston Red Sox to contend for the playoffs, let alone a division title. This season came off of one that saw perhaps the most frustrating and disappointing season in the franchise’s recent history. Plus, their off-seasons signings did not really scream “Hey fans! We are trying to win now! Like this year now!” They seemed more like “Hey fans! We are sort of punting on this year to set up for the next era of Red Sox players that you will love, but enjoy Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli until then!” I don’t even know if the Red Sox were trying to win now. Obviously given the reputation of the guys that the Red Sox brought into the team during the off-season, the plan was to simply trim the bad character fat from last-seasons clubhouse. Guys like Napoli and Victorino and Jonny Gomes were high character guys that worked hard and could lead by example. None of them were exactly “win now guys”. Now it’s September and the Boston Red Sox have won the American League East and are getting ready for the playoffs starting next week. It was unexpected, it was exhilarating, and it has now put Boston Red Sox fans into a somewhat uncomfortable situation. How do we react in the likely event of a playoff loss? Now, don’t yell at me for using the word “likely”. When the Red Sox begin play in the divisional round, eight teams will be remaining which means eight teams have the opportunity to compete for and win the World Series at the end of October. That’s a one in eight chance or 12.5% chance at winning the World Series, all things being equal of course. Of course, all things are not equal and the Boston Red Sox are a very good baseball team, but the odds that the Red Sox will win the World Series is not that good. Chances are, they will lose and they will not be World Series Champions. What will the reaction be then? The question comes down to whether or not the Red Sox fans see the playoffs as the delicious Thanksgiving turkey plopped onto the dinner table or whether the playoffs are simply the gravy on what has been a magical worst to first season. One thing that could give us a clue is the recent run by another playoff team from the Boston area. Take a look at the Boston Bruins this past spring. For all intents and purposes, the Bruins playoff run all the way to the Stanley Cup was gravy. They had an incredibly disappointing regular season where they could not hold a third-period lead if their salaries depended on it. Then, with a three games to one lead against Toronto, they blew that and then trailed 4-1 in game seven at home. The incredibly disappointing season was coming to an end. Then this happened. After that, everything was gravy. The four game sweep of Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Final was totally unexpected to everyone. My biggest memory of that series was sitting in a sports bar after going up 4-1 in game two, being incredibly happy, but also having no idea what was going on. Had the Bruins simply gone into the Finals at that point and had lost in six games trailing for most of the series, it probably would not have been a big deal. Remember, everything from the moment they were down 4-1 against Toronto until the Stanley Cup Final was gravy. It was extras on the season that probably should have ended a while ago. Then they led two games to one with a game four at home. They blew that. Then they had a one goal lead in game six with a chance to force game seven. We aren’t going to talk about what happened next. After that aforementioned “thing that happened next”, the only feeling was disappointment even though everything was gravy. I would not be sad or disappointed on Thanksgiving if there was not gravy because ultimately I care about the meat on the table. At that time, I cared, mostly because the circumstances leading to that moment caused me to expect more. Which is probably what will happen with the Red Sox. This post-season is gravy, an unexpected tasty sauce that only enhances the flavor of what this season was. If they go down easily in the championship round or even the World Series, then ultimately we will – at least we should be – still be happy with the season. The Red Sox have won multiple World Series, the fan-base no longer carries the baggage of 86 years without a championship. The World Series is not life or death. But… say the Red Sox are up three games to one in the World Series. Say they hold a lead going into the eighth inning of game five, and let’s allow ourselves to imagine the Red Sox losing that game in a heart-breaking fashion. Let’s try not to, but let’s imagine a world where the Red Sox blow a three games to one in the World Series and lose. Suddenly, the delicious post-season gravy will become over-cooked and cold turkey, a disappointing end to a season that should have little ill will directed towards it. As long as the Red Sox don’t rip our hearts out, this post-season will rightly be considered gravy. Please don’t rip our hearts out Red Sox.
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