This spring, sometime around May, a good friend of mine and I had a conversation, and we made a few decisions. The Bruins and Patriots are expected to reach the Stanley Cup and Super Bowl, respectively. Right now, they’re supposed to be excellent. We agreed that the 2013 Red Sox would be deemed a success if they competed for a playoff spot this summer. They didn’t even need to qualify for the postseason. The Red Sox have a solid foundation, but the idea of expecting them to reach the World Series would be a bit silly, even farfetched.
Things have changed.
The Red Sox will end the 2013 regular season with no less than 97 wins. Folks around baseball believe the Red Sox are the team to beat in the American League. They’re deep as hell. They have Jon Lester throwing like the guy we saw from 2008-most of 2011. Their lineup has virtually no holes, and Koji Uehara is arguably the best closer in baseball.
So have expectations for this team changed? It’s a difficult question that lacks absolute answers. There is an undeniable grey area that exists. Let’s take a closer look.
My early season goals for this team have been met and surpassed. As a fan who lives and dies with this organization, I couldn’t be more satisfied. They’re going to win close to 100 games. They are the best team in the best division in baseball. This 2013 squad has simply had one of the greatest seasons in team history. They’ve provided me with memories that have forever buried themselves deep into my soul. This version of the Red Sox will always hold a special place in my heart. They’ve been so damn good.
That doesn’t mean that everything from here on out is gravy. But it’s close.
This scenario is admittedly unlikely, but for argument’s sake, let’s say the Red Sox are swept in the ALDS and aren’t competitive, losing each game by at least three runs. It’s true that I would be disappointed. But i would not be angry. There would be no outrage. The pitchforks would remain in the shed, and the torches would stay unlit.
Some sports talk radio hosts — and fans — contend that if the Red Sox get bounced from the postseason in the ALDS, the season will be labeled an utter disappointment. Some believe that anything short of reaching (or winning) the World Series would be a failure. I can understand that point of view. It’s a testament to exactly how good this team has performed. It’s a compliment, really.
If you’re someone that believes it’s World Series or bust, I don’t think you’re in the wrong. You should have high expectations of this team. They’re very, very good. Conversely, if you think the Red Sox have met and exceeded expectations, and they’re playing with house money, I can’t disagree with you. Maybe I’m riding the fence. I don’t know. You decide.
Because of the turmoil of 2011 and the unmitigated disaster of 2012, this year’s Red Sox club has not carried the same bulging fanbase of year’s past. I was at the park a lot this spring and summer, and there were almost always pockets of empty seats. Some of you have not bought in. I understand why.
But I expect that many of you wish that you did. That’s something I know for sure.