Boston Red Sox

By Matt McCarthy,

There have been plenty of efforts to discredit the accomplishments of the 2018 edition of the Boston Red Sox.

Pundits will be quick to point out that their bullpen is a mess, that none of their starters have won a game in October, and that essentially the same teams in 2016 and 2017 flamed out spectacularly in the playoffs. All of those criticisms are warranted.

But there’s nothing to discredit about winning the American League East. That is a legitimate accomplishment this year.

The Red Sox turned what should have been a great race with the Yankees into a laugher. They lapped a team that was one win away from the World Series last year and will come close to 100 wins this year. Many picked the Yankees, not the Red Sox, to finish first in the East.

No matter who you picked to win the division, you wouldn’t have found a single person before the season that thought either team was going to run away with the AL East.

The Red Sox did, and they did it easily.

That’s not worth celebrating?

In the 118-year history of the Red Sox, they have never won the division (or pennant before the age of divisions) three years in a row until now.

Go ahead, raise a small toast to that.

Baseball places a premium on winning your division, perhaps more so than any other major sport. The second Wild Card has dramatically changed the makeup of the postseason.

The Yankees, the team with the third best record in baseball, will now be punished for failing to win the division by playing a do-or-die game against an inferior Oakland A’s team. Their October could be over in 9 innings simply because they didn’t win the American League East.

The Red Sox get to sit back and watch it all unfold, all because they won the division.

Who doesn’t want to celebrate that?

Make no mistake about it: winning the division won’t define success or failure for the Red Sox this season. Nobody will care if they are the AL East champions if they fall flat on their faces in October. They will be mocked, deservedly so, if they don’t deliver when it actually counts.

But for now, pop the champagne. The Red Sox have earned the right to celebrate.

Pour me a glass while you’re at it.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.