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Bad omen for Red Sox? Not necessarily

Sep 30, 2009, 1:23 AM EDT

youkilis_090929.jpgAs bad as they’ve looked over the past five games, the Boston Red Sox are once again back in the playoffs, thanks to the Los Angeles Angels, who eliminated the Texas Rangers from contention on Tuesday night.

That’s a record seventh wild card berth for Boston, as well as its sixth playoff appearance in the last seven seasons. But after two championships since 2004, simply making the postseason is no longer good enough for Red Sox fans.

So after five straight losses – including a weekend sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees – there has got to be plenty of handwringing going on over at Red Sox Nation headquarters. The good feelings of a hot September start have faded during a 5-8 run that could have been even worse if not for a three-game sweep of the pathetic Orioles.

In light of the current losing streak, is there reason for worry in Boston? Is the recent swoon a sign of terrible things to come?

Not necessarily.

According to some research by blogger Lisa Swan at The Faster Times, a hot run in September has little bearing on what happens in October. Also, a fade at the end of the regular season does not spell doom in the postseason.

Ever since three Wild Card teams in a row – the 2002 Angels, the 2003 Marlins, and the 2004 Red Sox – won the World Series after sizzling Septembers, people have thought that ending the season on a hot streak is the key to postseason success. Only thing is, it’s not often the case.

True, going on a run down the stretch – like the 2007 Rockies did, when they went 21-8 over the last month of the regular season – will frequently catapult a team into the playoffs. But it doesn’t necessarily increase the likelihood of postseason success.

Swan looked at the results of all 72 playoff teams from 2000-08, and found that of the 10 teams that won more than 70 percent of their regular season games in September and October, only the 2007 Rockies made it was far as the World Series, and they were swept by the Red Sox. Only four of the 10 even made it past the first round.

On the other hand, during the same stretch there were six playoff teams that finished with a losing record down the stretch. Four of those teams made it the World Series, and the 2006 Cardinals and 2000 Yankees took home the big trophy.

After Tuesday night’s loss, the Red Sox are 15-12 in September, a perfectly fine .555 winning percentage. Sure, there are concerns, primarily on the pitching side of things. Josh Beckett’s back might be ailing him, Jon Lester is recovering from taking a liner off his knee, Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden don’t appear to be ready for prime time, and Dice-K is – well, who knows what you’ll get from Dice-K.

But now is not the time to be worried, Red Sox fans, as a September swoon has little bearing on what happens in October. Just take a cue from your ever-calm manager:

“We don’t really look at it like that,” Francona said. “Whatever happened nine days ago is not going to affect tomorrow. What we’re thinking about is today.”

  1. ladyfan - Sep 30, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Thank you for that correction, Harry, yes I did mean the pennant. But please do note that I did say “if the Red Sox make it past the excellent Angels” . . . which certainly does not assume a given. I also made no reference to anyone “buying” their team . . did part of your response perhaps apply to another blogger?
    I agree that a team’s job is to win. I don’t think anyone here disagrees with that. So perhaps I missed your point? Or perhaps you missed mine?

  2. fanamine - Sep 30, 2009 at 4:18 PM

    “And yes, I realize I have made an enemy of every Yankee fan reading this, but we lifetime members of Red Sox Nation are used to that . . .we can take it.”
    You say you do not want to offend, then make a statement you guarantee will offend. You can see the contradiction in that, right? What is it you are used to getting? You are throwing boomerangs and act dumbfounded when someone tells you you are the instigator. I have not attacked you and am confused at what it is you have to ‘take.’ You must believe you can offend and expect nothing in return. Where are the Twins and Tiger fans who see this woman is looking down her nose and pitying them? Since when does the Series have to be determined by economic needs? Of course you will rationalize the WC when your team has finished second nine out of ten years. There is wildcard. There is an Al Qaida, also. Does that make either of them right?

  3. Judy J - Sep 30, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    How do the Steinbrenners have a lot of money from Cablevision? Cablevision is owned by the Dolans – huh? who were laughed out of Steinbrenner’s office a few years ago when they offered to buy the Yankees. HUH?

  4. Jake Doppler - Sep 30, 2009 at 5:00 PM

    Of course it’s not what Red Sox fans want to see happen. This year’s Sox make it hard to be a true blue fan. On paper, the Yankees win the World Series. But, of course, playoffs aren’t played on paper.

  5. Corey Kendall - Sep 30, 2009 at 5:25 PM

    The Red Sox-Angels could turn out to be a pretty exciting series, since the two teams know each other well. I wonder if Angels fans are thinking “Oh not AGAIN, the Red Sox again??” Maybe though, this year might be different. The Sawx’ pitching, up until recently, has been pretty solid, but the last 2 games vs the Jays haven’t been positive. One thing though is that the Red Sox’ wealth of playoff experience the last several years cannot be denied, & it could help them again this year. But maybe the Angels are finally due this time, they have a terrific team yet hardly get any attention from the East Coast media( gee, I wonder why? )& maybe this is their time this year.

  6. fanamine - Sep 30, 2009 at 6:49 PM

    I was curious as to how much the east coast teams are given attention from the west coast media? I may not be as informed as others, but I hear very little.

  7. Michael B Pasternack - Oct 1, 2009 at 5:33 AM

    I posted about 6 weeks ago that the Red Sox, who were then 6and 1/2 games behind that as far as the division goes you could stick a fork in them, and was called an idiot who knew nothing about baseball. I also stated that even though I am a Yankee fan there is no other team a true Yankee fan would rather face in the playoffs. It is a Love/Hate relationship that transcends many lifetimes and generations. There is nothing that would make me happier than a Yankee-Red Sox ALCS. I know there are cities that could use the economic input of such a series and wish them well but I want to see a pit bull fight. It must be the Michael Vick in me. Please forgive me as apparently The NFL forgives Michael.

  8. leo j - Oct 1, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    10.5 games behind is embarssing

  9. Sox Fan - Oct 2, 2009 at 1:03 PM

    Pat, Get real,Get rid of Kevin Youkilis…You are insane,Get another team to cheer for, you are no Red Sox Fan.He is a Great player.Boston has all great players. You must be a little pansy..root for another team PLEASE

  10. PimP JuicE MaN - Oct 2, 2009 at 1:23 PM

    NO STEROIDS THIS TIME, CAN THEY EVER WIN AGAIN WITHOUT IT, NO!
    GEORGE STEINBRENNER

  11. PimP JuicE MaN - Oct 2, 2009 at 1:26 PM

    U R A FUNNY GUY, I WILL CALL U A JOKER, I like the new
    Boston Commercial, GOT STEROIDS ??

  12. PimP JuicE MaN - Oct 2, 2009 at 1:29 PM

    IT’S A SPANKIN

  13. PimP JuicE MaN - Oct 2, 2009 at 1:32 PM

    Thanks for letting the Yanks win all those games against you as well, I guess that was a part of th plan.

  14. Joey B - Oct 2, 2009 at 5:51 PM

    “10.5 games behind is embarssing”
    Perhaps, but oddly enough, we’re both in the same spot, that is, in the ALDS.
    Only our ticket only cost $121M, and your ticket cost $205M. So the NYY basically paid $84,000,000 for home field advantage, right???

  15. JudyJ - Oct 2, 2009 at 6:46 PM

    The Steinbrenner family does not own CABLEVISION – it is owned by the Dolan family – and when the Dolans wanted to buy the Yankees about three years ago they were laughed out of the building by the steinbrenner family. HUH

  16. Michael B Pasternack - Oct 2, 2009 at 10:21 PM

    I will be watching it all on TV which costs me nothing more than watching Gene Autry on the Western channel. Gene wore a white hat and called his horse “Champ”. The Yankee’s will be wearing blue hats but will still be called “Champs” despite how the series turns out. What I meant in my earlier comment was a Red Sox-Yankees ALDS matchup. The ticket prices are whatever the traffic will bear. If you don’t want to pay them just watch TV. I know how great it is to be at the game but in todays age we don’t miss much with the great coverage technology has provided us at a reasonable price. The bottom line is the choices made by the General managers of the teams. I like my Yankee’s chances.

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