The Red Sox Teach Us a Lot About Defeat

This is not a political post. I’m not here to discuss politics. However, the election made me think about surprise victories and harsh defeats. I then reflected on the Red Sox vast history of victories and defeats. So what can the Red Sox teach us about the two? In many cases, it comes down to luck.

The Red Sox Teach Us About Humility

Let’s start with Ted Williams. In 1946 the Red Sox clinched the pennant and faced the St.Red Sox Teach Louis Cardinals in the World Series. A cocky Ted Williams looked forward to adding a championship title to his list of accolades. Williams, along with the rest of the Red Sox, did not consider what the Cardinals had up their sleeve. The Cardinals instituted The Williams Shift where most of their infield shifted to the right of second base making it awfully difficult for Williams to hit a ball to right field. It worked. Hitting only .200 for the series, Williams called it “the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me.” After the Sox lost, Williams locked himself in his train compartment headed back to Boston. “I just broke down and started crying, and I looked up and there was a whole crowd of people watching me through the window.”

The Red Sox Teach Us That Defeat Can Be Snatched From Victory

The 1946 World Series loss marked the beginning of a string of bad luck for the Red Sox. Favored to win again in 1967, the Red Sox didn’t count on the phenomenal pitching of Bob Gibson, who recorded a 1.12 ERA the following season. The Red Sox gave it their all in 1975 but a victorious and memorable Game 6 left the team too worn to win Game 7. The 1986 World Series, however, is a different story.

Every Red Sox fan knows what happened in Game 6. The words “Behind the bag!” echo harshly in the ear drums of those who dare to remember. While Bill Buckner’s error didn’t exactly blow it for the Red Sox, it’s what everyone remembers. Fortunately, fans have since forgiven Buckner, but not before enduring one more boner before finally clinching victory in 2004.

The Red Sox Teach Us It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Yankee Stadium. The 2003 American League Championship Series. After eight innings, a worn Pedro Martinez said he felt good. So despite manager Grady Little’s concerns, Martinez stayed in Game 7. Their 5-2 lead gave Little the confidence that the game was in the bag. Unfortunately, Martinez quickly went south and the Yankees won. Stunned Red Sox fans could only shake their heads and wait.

A year later, despite being down three games to the Yankees, the Red Sox won four straight to proceed to the World Series. This time they got revenge for the ghosts of 1946 by beating the St. Louis Cardinals. The Curse of the Bambino was finally dead.

When I look at all this history, there’s something Bill Buckner once said that is important to remember, “Baseball is a game of averages, but over a short period of time, to have a little luck going is not a bad thing.” Why is this quote important? Because it shows us that when we feel like we’re just average, there’s nothing keeping us from taking advantage of a little luck. Many of us are trying to move on from recent events, but if the Red Sox teach us one thing, it’s that no matter how dark things look, we’ll always have a chance to take advantage of a little luck when it presents itself.

Red Sox Playing Strongly After Rough April

For the first few weeks in April, fans in the Red Sox Nation feared that 2016 was shaping up to be a repeat of the last two seasons. Price gave up 8 runs to Tampa Bay, Clay Buchholz continued to struggle (and still does), strong leads were being blown in later innings, and Farrell’s job seemed on the line (probably still is). In the last week, though, fans are now seeing the Red Sox playing strongly, much like the team they were in 2013.

The Red Sox won four straight in the last week of April, highlighted by a multiple home runRed Sox playing strongly game for Dustin Pedrioa that included a grand slam off Pesky’s Pole. Only 1 game behind the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox find themselves within striking distance of taking first place in the American League East. While Thursday night’s loss to the Atlanta Braves was a small setback, the Red Sox should have no problem sweeping the New York Yankees, who are currently in last place, as the Red Sox go into May.

While it has lost much of its steam in recent years, the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees is still strong. The rivalry started in 1912 when the Red Sox beat New York, who back then were named the Highlanders, 7-6 in 11 innings when Fenway Park first opened. After Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees in 1920, the Red Sox went without a World Series title for 86 years, which many attributed to the Ruth’s departure. Since then, the Yankees have broken the hearts of the Red Sox Nation multiple times, whether it was stealing a pennant in 1949, or Bucky Dent’s home run in the 1978 ALCS at Fenway. Since winning the World Series in 2004, the conflict between the two teams has died down somewhat, now that Yankee fans can’t hold The Curse of the Bambino above Sox fans’ heads anymore. Nevertheless, it’s always a thrill to be in the stands when the Yankees come to town because there’s almost as much drama in the seats as there is on the field.

While the Red Sox winning streak was snapped by Atlanta Thursday night, they’re still in second place. If we continue to see the Red Sox playing strongly going into May, then the team should snatch first place by the end of the first week of the month.

UPDATE: As of May 1st at 11:27pm, the Boston Red Sox have swept the New York Yankees and are now in first place in the American League East!