By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
One of the many problems with baseball now is that the old standards don’t apply. The Red Sox, for example, are on an 88-win pace. Once upon a time, that would have been considered a good season in the majors. But for these Red Sox, in 2019, it’s an F.
And before you accuse me of trolling, hear me out.
There are 15 teams in the American League this year, right? Well, yes and no. Four of those are the Orioles, Royals, Tigers and Blue Jays, all of whom are on pace to lose more than 100 games; a fifth team, the Mariners, is on pace to lose 95 despite the fact that they began the year 13-2. Baseball’s adoption of tanking has all but eradicated the middle class, which has made the AL a pass-fail league. You’re either in the playoffs or you’re not.
So if we wipe out the teams that made no attempt to win at all this year, these are the American League standings we are left with – the red line literally separating the playoff teams from the rest:
Now, let’s be honest. When this season began, we all expected the Red Sox to be in the playoffs – and obviously, they still can be. But at the moment, to borrow a phrase, the situation is what it is. The Red Sox have played far closer to the 10th-place level of the Chicago White Sox (42-44, five games behind Boston) than the first-place New York Yankees (57-31, nine games ahead) – and it really isn’t close. The reigning world champions are closer to the bottom of the real AL, not the top, and there is simply no excuse for that.
Think about it: the Sox really haven’t had many injuries. Nathan Eovaldi, Dustin Pedroia and maybe Mitch Moreland have missed significant time, but that’s it. Steve Pearce came into camp out of shape and badly underperformed before going to the disabled list. Everyone else has generally been healthy.
The Red Sox are where they are based entirely of their own doing, from the off-season construction of the team (Dave Dombrowski) to the half-assed approach to spring training (Alex Cora) to the long list of underachieving players (Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Matt Barnes among them).
And we hadn’t even mentioned the major league-leading $240 million payroll yet.
Last year, there were three American League teams (led by the Red Sox) who won at least 100 games and a fourth (Oakland) that won 97. You know who won 89? The Seattle Mariners, who went into tank mode. Now the Red Sox are on pace for 88 and people would have you believe that is a respectable season, all of which fails to acknowledge the most obvious truth to competitive sports.
In the end, the numbers don’t matter.
All that counts is where you finish in relation to everyone else.