Congratulations, Red Sox. Now go away

10/31/2013 2:32 pm
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I've heard too much hype already about the Red Sox. Like a lot of impartial fans, I was happy for them when they won the World Series in 2004. Then I realized how annoying Red Sox fans can be. I mean come one, for all their hatred for the Yankees, they pretty much are the Yankees. The most annoying thing about this year's Red Sox is the whole "worst to first" mantra coming from pretty much everyone. Yes, factually you were last in your division last year and now you were first and won the World Series. However, the Red Sox claim to "worst to first" is rather insulting to not only other teams that have done it before, but also to those teams that have spent extended periods of time being the "worst", but under much much different conditions.

One thing Red Sox fans don't quite seem to understand (and for that matter, most fans of teams who are regularly in the top 5-7 teams in terms of team payroll) is that about 1/3 of the league (with a few anecdotal exceptions) are playing a different game by a different set of rules as the rest of the league. I won't go into details about how the payroll discrepency plays a big part into who is regularly good and who is regularly bad. And I've read all the articles about how money doesn't guarantee success (the 2013 Yankees). However, all of this misses the point: money doesn't guarantee you success, but recent history suggests that you stand a much much higher chance at success if you have the ability to spend money. In other words, teams that end up in the top 10 in payroll (and those teams are usually pretty much the same teams) are usually the teams that end up in the playoffs. There might be a few teams here and there that break that mold (the Tampa Bay Rays), but it would be a very low risk bet to predict which teams are going to the playoffs based on their payroll.

Here's a more direct way to put it. Not spending equals not winning. In other words, teams that don't spend (and most teams that don't spend don't not spend because they don't want to, but rather, they don't have the luxary of pulling off a season of $150+ Million payroll) don't win.

So that's why I find the celebrating of the "worst to first" a little insulting. I have lived through being the worst. 14 straight years of sub .500 baseball in fact. You know what? It sucks. But I lived through the worst when my team had a $40 million payroll. The 2012 Red Sox had the third highest payroll in the majors at $173 million and yet found a way to lose nearly 100 games. (I don't want to hear the "see, money doesn't guarantee winning" comments; I believe I addressed that already. Any team can waste their money, but let's not pretend that every team has that liberty) From 2002 through 2011, the lowest win total the Red Sox finished a season with was 86 (and that included 2 World Series titles). Then in 2012, they somehow managed to putter away a season and finish with 95 losses. Whoa, then miraculously, a team with the 4th highest payroll in baseball (yes, I know they shed some payroll from the previous season, but that's not relevant to my point), finished with the best record in baseball. Excuse me for not being too impressed.

As far as "worst to first" goes, one team in particular comes to mind, the 1991 Atlanta Braves. They didn't win the world Series that year, but they broke a string of 7 consecutive losing seasons, 6 of which they finished last or 2nd to last in their division, by making it to the World Series. They returned the following year too. And then they had one of the most impressive runs of division titles in recent baseball history. But their 7 years of utter disappointment prior to 1991 is worthy of celebrating their "worst to first" accomplishment. The Red Sox run of 14 straight winning seasons, including 2 World Series titles, while having one of the higest payrolls in baseball, followed by a chicken/beer filled embarrasment in 2012, resulting in a World Series in 2013, all aided by playing in one of the sports largest markets and having one of sports highest payrolls, while still an accomplishment, isn't exactly my idea of David defeating any sort of Goliath. It's more like David merely annoyed Goliath with the rock and Goliath went on to pulverize David and the rest of army.

So congratulations, Red Sox and Red Sox fans. I truly am excited for you, because I one day hope to watch my team achieve what you did. But let's not pretend that the 2013 Red Sox are any different than any other high payroll team that regularly wins the World Series. And let's also stop pretending that 1 bad season in a run of 15 winning seasons and 3 World Series titles should inspire anyone as a "little guy rising up" moment.
jeremy.jpgJeremy - Cube Phenomenoligist
11/03/2013 @ 12:33:28 PM
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Yeah, their worst to first was way more about a spectacular failure last year than something about this year.
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