After 2018’s record-setting season in which our Red Sox won the most regular-season games (108) in their history and then vanquished the Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers in the post-season by a combined 11-3 en route to winning the World Series, it seemed that the sky was the limit for 2019.
We had the “best” manager in Alex Cora, guiding a group of young and exciting players — led by Mookie, J.D., Xander, Andrew, and Rafael — as well as a pitching staff — paced by the “unhitttable” Chris Sale — that seemed destined to repeat as world champions.
But a funny thing happened from the end of 2018 to the beginning of 2019: Our Sox came down to earth.
When they did not re-sign their closer, Craig Kimbrel, perhaps the most essential position in baseball today, and then opened the season with a 2-8 start, it was evident that 2019 was not going to be a repeat of 2018.
Injuries piled up, pitchers went on and off the IL, and the magic of 2018 never reappeared. Mookie’s ever-beaming smile had been replaced with the grimace of defeat.
As we write this, the Sox stand at 67-59, six games behind Tampa Bay in the extra wild-card spot, with Oakland in between.
In addition, they have a killer schedule in their final 36 games. And with Chris Sale essentially out for the rest of the season, the Sox’ chances (which stand at 2.8 percent) of making the playoffs are shortening every day as surely as summer’s fading sun. And even if they do make it, will they really be any match for any of the other playoff teams?
For young Red Sox fans, the disappointment of 2019 offers a life lesson: When you’re on top, everybody wants to take you down.
For those of us who have seen this all before, the saga of the 2019 Red Sox brings to mind the line from the Impossible Dream record of the 1967 season (and yes, we still have our well-worn, vinyl album, as well as a CD of it) that has summed up so many Red Sox seasons both before and since:
When April’s high aspirations,
Turned to September’s tears.
Let’s go, Patriots!