The Ghosts of Pennant Races Past

The Red Sox head into the final nineteen games of the season with a 3-game lead over the New York Yankees, who also have 19 games left.

Despite the Red Sox having a winning record both at (44-27) home and on the road (37-35), the Yankees ( 40-27 & 38-38) schedule is much more favorable.

The Sox will play ten at home and nine on the road, all on one ten-day trip. They start off hosting Oakland for three before traveling to Tampa – or some neutral site like Camden Yards or PNC Park (3), Baltimore (3), and Cincinnati (3). They finish up the season at home facing Toronto (3) and Houston (4).

The Yankees play 14 of their final 19 at home. One could even argue that they will play 16 at home because the “away” series they’re currently playing against the Rays has been relocated to Citi Field because of Hurricane Irma. Call it what you want, but the Yankees are sleeping in their own beds and the Rays are in a hotel.

Fangraphs.com currently have the chance of the Red Sox making the playoffs at 100% with the Yankees at 98%. They give the Red Sox an 87.5% chance of winning the Division while giving the Yankees an 85.5% chance of being a Wild Card team. I hope that you, like I, can sleep better at night knowing that…

…and then a long-suppressed memory kicks in and I start to have visions of The Great Collapse of 2011.

Heading into the final month of the season, the Sox were in first in the AL East with a half-game lead over the Yankees and a nine-game lead over the Rays. Everyone was confident that the team would at least make the Wild Card.

One day later, they were in second by a half game, and the situation deteriorated from there. It’s not often a team with 90 wins doesn’t make the playoffs, but when you lose 20 out of your last 27, it can happen.

The odds of this type of collapse occurring with the 2017 edition of the Sox are very low. They have Chris Sale, who showed his first-half dominant form in his most recent game, Drew Pomeranz, the surprising Doug Fister, along with Eduardo Rodriguez and a serviceable Rick Porcello in the rotation. The bullpen, anchored by Craig Kimbrel, should be helped by the recent addition of Carson Smith from the disabled list. They have an offense that doesn’t rely on the home run to score. In addition, they have winning records against four of the six teams left on their schedule: Tampa, Houston, Cincinnati, and Toronto.

I don’t know about you, but I will be sleeping well tonight as that painful memory fades once again into the recesses of my mind, never to be heard from again.

Featured image courtesy of bostonherald.com

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Like all little boys who grew up in Little Rock, Rick became a fan of the Red Sox and continues to be one to this day. He is the proud parent to two kids in college and currently lives in Metro Atlanta and is not a member of any known cult. Rick likes to cook for friends and enemies, and his favorite band remains The Clash! Member of the IBWAA because, well, we all need to belong somewhere.

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