As of the end of the day on August 22nd, the Boston Red Sox are 13 games behind the division-leading (and despised) New York Yankees in the AL East. The Sox are also 8½ games back in the AL wild card chase.
For those of you who are not Major League Baseball fans, each league (American and National) sends five teams into the playoffs. The three teams that win their respective divisions (East, Central, West), plus two so-called “wild card” teams...the two with the best win-loss records that didn't win a division.
Prior to this year, only one team from each league could qualify as a wild card team. But in order to increase the drama and excitement (and potential gate and broadcast revenues, I might add) leading up to the post-season, the MLB honchos decided this year to add a second wild card team from each league into the fray.
Of course, if you don’t already know all this, you probably are not a baseball fan, don’t follow the sport (and business) of professional baseball, and aren’t even reading this blog posting.
But for those of you who are still with me, sure, some cynics might argue that such a deficit this late in the season is insurmountable and that the Red Sox can’t possibly make the playoffs this year, even with the addition of a second wild card team in each league.
Sadly, I have to agree that it’s highly improbable that the Sox will make the post-season. But it’s not completely inconceivable or mathematically impossible. And as the ever faithful Red Sox fan that I am, I continue to be cautiously optimistic. Or, as my wife tells me, “totally naïve and irrational.”
Consider this. Last year, on September 3rd, the Red Sox had a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL wild card slot. At the time, no one thought it was conceivable that the Red Sox could blow that kind of lead with only 3½ weeks left in the season. But in a collapse of historic proportions (if anything in baseball can be deemed to be “of historic proportions”), they did blow that nine-game lead and were shut out of post-season play.
Other teams have recently managed to make improbable runs for the post-season and get into the playoffs. In 2007 for example, the Colorado Rockies were 7½ games behind the San Diego Padres in the NL West on August 22nd, but with an extraordinarily strong finish, the Rockies managed to take the NL wild card slot and ultimately made it to the World Series. If memory serves me, the Rockies were swept in four games by none other than my beloved Boston Red Sox.
Last year the St. Louis Cardinals of the NL Central were 10½ games behind the Milwaukee Brewers on August 29th, but managed to capture the NL wild card position and actually went on to win the 2011 World Series.
And so I’m still holding out hope that the 2012 season can yet be salvaged and that the Red Sox can, against all odds, get into the post-season march to the World Series.
Of course, I am also holding out hope that Democrats and Republicans in Congress will be able to agree on a balanced federal budget, come up with a plan for saving Social Security and Medicare, and develop bipartisan solutions to issues such climate change, women’s reproductive rights, gun control, and banking and political financial reforms.
And that a lasting peace in the Middle East is achievable.