Part II History...
Now how did this impact potential playoff chances?
2003 – The Sox would play by far their best baseball in the second half over the next 10 years this season. However keep in mind the Sox led the Twins by two games with 18 left to play. They’d finish 8-10 over those games including five straight losses to the Twinswhich handed them the division (and got Jerry Manuel fired).
2004 – The Sox played worse in the second half under both scenarios however it’s hard to be to critical of the team that year even though they had a slim lead at the All Star Break. No team in baseball could have withstood the loss of its top two hitters right in the middle of the lineup. The Sox lost both Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas to season ending injuries.
2005 – The Sox had such an incredible start in the first half that it was almost impossible to play any better in the second half. They survived one of the hottest stretches in baseball history (by the Indians over two months) to hold them off, win the division and roar through the playoffs to the World Series title.
2006 – The defending champions looked loaded and ready for a repeat. They were one of the best teams in baseball in the first half, won a 19 inning game with Boston right before the All Star break…and then…fell apart in the second half. They opened the second half losing 10 of 12 and it was downhill from there. If the Sox play .500 baseball in the second half, they finish with 94 wins and are right there for a playoff spot.
2007 – The worst Sox team in almost 20 years had no chance at all regardless of half or how you divided it up.
2008 – Yes the Sox made the playoffs, but it took 163 games to do so and it came to that because the Sox lost eight of 10 including three straight at Minnesota before rebounding to win three in a row against three different opponents to claim the division by one game. And if the Twins hadn’t lost two of three the final weekend to K.C. the Sox never would have gotten the chance for the “black out” game. Even winning the division the way they did came at a price. The starting rotation was completely messed up and gassed in the opening round against Tampa, all because the Sox couldn’t make things easier on themselves by winning a few more games at the end.
2009 – Mark Buehrle had just thrown a perfect game in late July and moved the Sox into first place. The Sox then went to Detroit, lost three in a row and never recovered. Again they finish with worse numbers in the second half. A few more wins, against Detroit or Minnesota in a very mediocre division and who knows what could have happened.
2010 – A late stretch that saw the Sox win nine of the last 11 games gave them a better winning percentage in the second half than in the first; however look closer at some things. On August 8, the Sox had a slim lead in the division…and promptly lost 10 of the next 14. They compounded that by losing eight in a row starting on September 14. They won 88 games even with those terrible stretches…what happens if they play .500 baseball over those 22 games combined? If they win 11 out of 22 instead of four…what happens? You know the answer.
2011 – “All In” was “all out and dead” that season. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more dead team, dead fans and a manager who had already checked out before the season even started in Sox history. They had no chance although matters weren’t helped when the Sox came into a series with Detroit at home having closed the gap with one last chance to make a run…and Ozzie picked that day to complain about his contract and the money he was making. Yes the Sox immediately tanked again, although it was hard to blame the players.
2012 – Perhaps the worst collapse since 1967, certainly right up there with 2003. The Sox had won five straight and led Detroit by three games with 15 to play. The Sox then promptly collapsed…the offense disappeared, clutch hits were non-existent as were wins. They blew the chance to get to the post season again because of a crucial stretch that saw them lose 10 of 12.
So the scorecard shows that three seasons (2003, 2006 and 2012) saw almost guaranteed postseason berths flushed down the toilet because of terrible stretches in the second half. The scorecard also shows had the Sox played better at crucial times in 2009 and 2010 in the second half it was certainly possible they could have gone to the playoffs those years as well.
How much different would this franchise look if they had made the postseason say six or seven times in 13 years instead of three? What if they had, for the first time in franchise history, made the postseason in consecutive years? Think the media and fans would have been talking about “Sox attendance issues”?
Part III Numbers coming right up...