Boston Red Sox fans are excited for the upcoming 2019 season. Another 100 wins are expected, but what happens if expected success turns to unexpected failure?
Historically for the Red Sox, this century is that success is followed by failure. Each championship stands alone with no accompaniment. Singular success. In 2005 and 2008 the Red Sox made the playoffs and were dismissed – no World Series follow-up. Will this year maintain that “consistency?”
How do we measure failure? Years ago a friend who was a Yankee fan – I have a few of those – like having a viper for a pet. However, his view was rather pointed based on his team’s history – getting to and not winning a World Series was a failure. No one cares about making the playoffs or even advancing unless the ultimate baseball prize is captured.
The 2019 Red Sox will most certainly be challenged and so are already placing the Yankees – last seen sulking home after a Red Sox thumping – as the favorites for the division. Now a division title is nice and teams get to place a banner or flag to depict ‘success,” but, again, the one that should count is the World Series one.
The Red Sox team has some predictable question marks that circulate around health and replacement of missing parts, but the core is solid. And oh is that core expensive! That will be another issue that will gather headlines in 2019 – pending free agency and its evil twin the luxury tax.
The idea is to get into the playoffs since weakness – especially in pitching – can be minimized with short series. No need to ponder who will be the fifth or even the fourth starter. No worries about an excruciatingly questionable bullpen as someone can always step in such as shown by Nathan Eovaldi. Get into the playoffs and you have a chance.
Just how will the Red Sox fan base respond to failure? Getting knocked out of the playoffs? Or worst case not even making the playoffs. Will Red Sox nation give a big Mulligan with a ‘Wait until next year” mentality? Happened in 2014 when the Red Sox finished last. Less so when they repeated last in 2015. Then they recovered.
The Red Sox recovery was a pair of 93 win seasons and a quick dismissal from the playoffs. The Nation was certainly not all hugs and kisses and neither was management. Back-to-back division titles cost manager John Farrell his job. As noted: Failure was and is not an option.
The restlessness of missing outcome with one caveat and that is acceptable as long as the Yankees are not having a late October parade or have returned serve by beating the Red Sox in the playoffs – preferably at home. Acceptance of defeat can be tolerated based on just who is giving the Red Sox the baseball beatdown.
Where the millions of followers will steadily grow impatient is not 2019 but beyond. Two or three years where October is dedicated to other than the Red Sox will have consequences. Consequences will be seen in declining interest, slipping advertising revenue, and maybe dramatic internal changes to roster and management.
Hopefully, the Red Sox will shatter their latest curse of not winning back-to-back World Series titles this century.