Of a dozen Sports Illustrated “experts” who made predictions in the spring, only one, Albert Chen, picked the Yankees. The other 11 selected the Red Sox to win the American League East. (Chen was one of two experts to select the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander for the league’s Cy Young, an award that Verlander certainly deserves to win.)
Over at ESPN, the highly regarded sports network, 45 “experts” made their predictions, and all 45 — that’s right, each and every one — picked the Red Sox to win the A.L. East. Included in that list are experts Tim Kurkjian and Jayson Stark, among the savviest observers of baseball.
CBS.com’s experts did a bit better, I suppose. Only seven of eight picked the Red Sox, with one selecting the Yankees.
Fox’s Ken Rosenthal picked the Red Sox to win the pennant, as did all three of the Baltimore Sun’s baseball experts, all six of the Boston Globe’s columnists (including the always opinionated if rarely correct Bob Ryan) and all three of the handicappers at the New York Times.
Make no mistake about it: The Red Sox deserved to be picked.
I’d like to think that the Red Sox’s disappointing performance is some sort of divine punishment for the team’s history of racism or maybe the arrogance of a city that calls itself the “Hub” (of the universe, that is) and treats everything beyond Route 128 as territory not yet civilized.
Conservatives might see it as a judgment for the state’s partisan bent and its support for liberal politicians, except for that fact that New York City’s politics aren’t much different.
Whatever the reason, the Red Sox’s inability to win the American League East is nothing short of stunning. Yes, the team had significant injuries, but so did the Yankees (Alex Rodriguez, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano, to mention the most obvious.)
Boston will no doubt take the winter as an opportunity to restock. And the team could conceivably win the World Series this year and for the rest of the decade, even with this disappointing regular season.
As for me, I’ll simply smile about the season the underdog Yankees have had and relish yet another tremendous summer by Derek Jeter, who is hitting a robust .295 as the season comes to a close.
Picking baseball teams, much like predicting the political future, is a humbling business.