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Monday, September 13, 2004


Yesterday, I rose from my slumber and as usual needed a beverage from Columbia. Unlike most mornings of pleasant weather, I drove to the coffee shop, Uncommon Grounds, located just five blocks away. The motivation to drive was not to increase the profits of the oligopoly more commonly known as the Mobile, Texaco, BP and Shell. The desire was to purchase the new SI with Big Schil on the cover at the bookstore behemoth, Barnes and Noble. For some reason, B&N's competition, Borders and across the street from Uncommon Grounds, did not have the new SI in yet. Some Borders heads should roll for giving my business to B&N and subjecting me to MFY garbage.

Downtown Burlington is laid out in a way that increases traffic - both pedestrian and auto. The center of the city, Church Street, is not open to cars and even bikes and boards. Hence, I needed to take a round about route to Uncommon. It necessitated a drive by a cheap diner and to my surprise in the window was a picture of the Herman Ruth with language about the c-word.

Older readers know I have argued that Red Sox Nation should no longer believe in any c-word because Ruth is no longer the best ballplayer of all-time. But I have never explained why I have never believed in the c-word.

C-word can be defined as some continuous spiritual power that negatively influences an outcome. Constant bad luck could logically prompt the discussion of a c-word. The Red Sox have not had consistently bad luck. The facts do not support the media’s notion.

Baseball standings, unlike football and other sports, is less influenced by luck. After 162 contests over six months, luck, chance, and hot streaks trend to even out with the best clubs making the postseason. But in a five and seven game series over three weeks, luck and hot streaks do play a part in determining the World Champ.

The best team (i.e. Seattle's 116 win season) does not always equate to winning the playoffs. A good club, defined by making the postseason, also needs to get lucky to win a World Championship. Unfortunately, the Red Sox have not been in enough second seasons to be considered unlucky.

From 1920 - Ruth's first season in New York - to 2003, the Sox have qualified for the post season only nine times. The Sox are nine out of 82 (11%) and zero for nine. Nine appearances is not enough evidence of bad luck to label any franchise as c-word.

Furthermore, the Sox only made the second season once from 1920 to 1969. During those 49 years, the best club in each League fought for the right to be called World Champions. Thus, the team with the best regular season record in each league had a 50% chance of winning it all. Those are certainly better odds than today’s 12.5%.

The Red Sox are not c-word. They have not been consisently unlucky. The franchise has not had enough chances to have bad luck. The Sox have not fielded enough good teams. Inept ownership and questionable front office decisions has hampered the Sox shot for a World Championship more than any c-word.

Times are certainly changing though. New ownership and management are beginning to get out from under the decisions of the past regime. The best indication that the tide is turning is when MFY fans need to cite in their diner window some media drummed up notion of a supernatural hex. The old MFY comeback - we'll win in the end because we are the Yankees – is gone. Confidence in MFY land is diminishing. The Red Sox are turning the corner and I am certainly glad that I got a seat on the bus.


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