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Soup of This Day #368: Waking Up To Fantasy

March 31, 2013

Galaxy Explorer (928)
My beloved 1979 Galaxy Explorer (928) is surely the template for the transport of the future. And maybe it will even be capable of time-travel – Photo: Longworth72, 2013. Lego is not affiliated with Longworth72.

Hullo and welcome to Soup #368. Time surely flies when I’m writing these things – It seems like it was just a couple of days ago that I was tapping out Soup #304.

Mostly it seems that way because it was actually just a couple of days ago.

Yeah, I’ve gone and jumped straight from Soup #304 to Soup #368, leapfrogging over Soups #305 to #367 in around 48 hours. Don’t be stressed by this if you were hanging out for 1 of those posts, maybe figuring that I’d reach my peak as a writer around Soup #327, because those Soups will be here soon and regular numerically correct service will be restored. It’s just that this had to happen this way for a good reason. It’s not so that I can rapidly establish 20% more credibility either, although I won’t be fighting it if that’s how it projects. Instead I’ve taken this unusual step in the name of circumventing a spring training ritual.

The pre-season prediction.

This hasn’t gone as well as I would have liked in recent years. It starts ok – It’s easy to come up with a number of wins – You just take 162 games and knock off a fairly reasonable amount of losses and then you end up with 92.

Every year, in March, I predict a 92 win season.

The problem is that the Red Sox almost never end up with exactly 92 wins – They haven’t since 1998, and prior to that season they only managed the feat once before (1967). Which is a pretty ordinary strike rate across 113 seasons. If I was smart about this I’d probably go for 95, 84 or 78 wins – They’ve achieved those 7, 6 and 6 times respectively, each being at least 3 times more frequent than a 92-win season.

But I’ve not gone with the numbers and so I’m usually wrong. This is ok if I’ve underestimated the number of wins. You know, when I’ve gone with my standard 92 and they win 104 (1946).

Technically that’s a bad example because my Dad wasn’t even born in 1946, so I was not around and/or capable of making a call on the projected wins column for the Boston Red Sox. If I had been I’d have said 92 though and I would have been wrong but happy at the 104 wins they did get, particularly given that it was a 138 game season.

Thank you Ted Williams.

The flipside of this is when you call a 92-win season because you think Bobby Valentine might just be bat@#$% crazy brilliant enough to make alchemy a real thing. And then they win just 69 after it becomes apparent that Bobby Valentine is just bat@#$% crazy and the only real alchemy is a brilliant live Dire Straits album of that name.

That hurt and not even a Mark Knopfler solo on Sultans of Swing from the Hammersmith Odeon makes it better.

Anyway, it’s fair to say that me just previewing a 92 win season isn’t gonna cut it this time out. So, just a couple of days away from the start of season 2013, I’ve decided to scrap the preview in favour of something a little more real.

I’m doing a review of season 2013.

Before it starts.

Yep, @#$% that preview stuff, trying to guess how it’s all going to play out. Instead I’m going to jump ahead to the end of October, which I have estimated is around when Soup #368 will get published, and just go over what happened.

Jump on board. Longworth72 just got real loco.

Monday April 1st saw the Red Sox open the regular season and a 3 game away stand at the new Yankee Stadium. Given that the Red Sox haven’t won on Opening Day for the past 2 years you could have forgiven them a stumble here. That’s not how it happened though – Jon Lester was on it from the 1st pitch while CC Sabathia struggled with his control against a Red Sox offence that was full of youth and vitality. The Sox then with 1st blood and they capitalised on that to take the series 2-1.

There followed a series loss to the big money Blue Jays, before home series wins against the Orioles and Rays. Then a 3-game series at the Indians saw Tito master a sweep against his old club and the Sox looked rattled as they dropped 2 of 3 at home against the visiting Royals. Lost ground was made up though with a series win against the A’s and then a 4-game home sweep of the hapless Astros.

The last day of April then saw Boston get a measure of revenge against Toronto and so the Red Sox finished the 1st month of the 2013 campaign at a credible 16 and 11.

On to May with confidence then and the Sox finished the 2nd series against the Jays with the edge, 2 games to 1. The Rangers then fell to the Red Sox by the same margin followed by a surprise as the underdog Twins managed to split a 4-game stand at Fenway. R.A. Dickey then pitched a knuckleball masterclass to give the Blue Jays a game at Fenway, with Tim Wakefield watching on. Fortunately there is only 1 R.A. Dickey and the Red Sox take the next 2 and the series.

An away sweep of the Rays at the Tropicana provides some momentum but those upstart Twins return the favour at Target Field before the White Sox take the 1st Sox battle of 2013. Tito then brings his Indians to Fenway and amongst much adulation suffers a sweep as the apprentice Farrell becomes the master. The Phillies split the Sox over 4 and the Yankees close out May with another series-opening loss to a smug Red Sox outfit.

And so we head into June with the Red Sox at 34 and 23. They extend that by completing a sweep of the Yankees and taking out the Rangers and the Angels. There’s another series win against the Rays under the dome but then there’s a bit of a bumpy patch as the Orioles sweep the Sox, the Rays split a 2-game stand and then Detroit mauls Boston in The Motor City. Some stability is restored with a split 2-gamer with the visiting Rockies and then a 3-1 series win against the struggling Jays to round out the month.

47 and 37 after 3 months is a solid platform and that is what John Farrell has been all about – Laying a foundation to build on. This ethos is reinforced in early July with a steady home-sweep of the Padres and then a narrow series loss away to the Angels. There’s then a split 4-game stand in Seattle and a surprise 2-1 series triumph over a typically gritty A’s outfit.

Thus the Red Sox enter the All-Star break with a 55 and 42 record. Just 3 Sox players get the All-Star call, but Lester, Clay Buchholz and surprise call-up Will Middlebrooks all decline the honour as they are fully focused on the resurgence of New England baseball.

This dedication pays off as regular play resumes and the Yankees are swept at Fenway and the Rays suffer a 3-1 series loss thereafter. The Orioles do force a reality check as they sweep the by-now-cocky Red Sox but that just fires up the latter and they take the last 2 games of July against the M’s at Fenway to move to 63 and 46.

August, and the Sox finish off Seattle and then snare the Diamondbacks with a 2-1 home series win. The Astros prove to be cannon fodder later in the season, even in Houston, but the Royals prove tougher in Kansas City as they sweep the Red Sox over 4. The Blue Jays then take over the broom and dust off a reeling Sox in Toronto but thankfully it’s then back to Fenway where the Yankees continued to struggle and handed over 3 precious wins.

That respite is crucial as the reigning World Series champs San Francisco are next and they dish out a 3-game belting before a 2-1 series win over the Dodgers completes a West Coast swing. It’s then back to Fenway for another 2-1 series win and the final 2 games of August, in which the White Sox cause the colours to run via a double victory.

And so we enter September with the Boston Red Sox at 76 and 61 and in danger of succumbing to the history of 2011 and another collapse. Worryingly there’s nothing but powerful foes until the close, except the Yankees, and Farrell has his hands full calming the nerves. Fortunately they’re big pitching hands and he guides the Sox to take a game off those other Sox and then series wins against the Tigers and a Yankees side that is admittedly on the ropes.

The Rays then plunder a sweep down Florida way to start some Fenway twitching but the Yankees slink in to Fenway to restore confidence to the Red Sox down the stretch. There’s a narrow series loss to the O’s that is immediately cancelled out by the reverse versus the Jays. The season then winds up with a 2-game sweep of the Rockies and a 2-1 series win at the Orioles’ Camden Yards home.

All of this means that the Red Sox ease into the post-season but I won’t spoil it by saying what happens next. All we need to know is that the Red Sox season finishes as a winning 1 with a decent line.

92 and 70.

Yeah, I know, but here’s the thing: They’re due a 92-win season and I reckon it’s this 1.

Or the next.

Or maybe the 1 after that…

Happy Opening Day.

Waking Up To Fantasy

  1. If nothing else…the Red Sox should finish ahead of the Yankees. That in itself will be some reward after that “Valentine” sent Boston’s way last season.

    • Yeah, early days but those Yankees look old, tired and with an over-bloated payroll. Kind of like the Sox last year actually, only minus the bat@#$% crazy manager.

      Speaking of whom, I was slow on that guy – Blind faith in the team meant I took a while to learn that lesson. I got it in the end though and I’ll be restricting my Valentine’s gifts to cards for my wife from now on.

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  1. Soup of This Day #369: ‘Cos I Ain’t The Way You Found Me | Longworth72

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