The Boston Red Sox had a Cinderella season last year but now the defending World Series Champions are mired in last place. However, recently they have shown signs of life and could there be any value in MLB odds on this longshot?
Zeroes to Heroes and Back Again
The Boston Red Sox had been a cursed franchise until John Henry purchased the team back in 2002 with his regime rendering not one but three World Series titles to the long suffering fans of Red Sox Nation after an 86 year drought. But the most improbable of the three and arguably the most impossible of any championship season in Major League Baseball history occurred last season when the Sox rebounded from a disgraceful 2012 campaign under the Titanic like leadership of Bobby Valentine to the euphoria of a World Series title. But now that seems like a misty, water-colored memory, for these Red Sox look nothing like the team that stunned an entire league and intoxicated the city of Boston less than a year ago.
Who Saw This Coming?
Nobody could have predicted the Red Sox precipitous fall from grace but then again nobody should have predicted them to win the 2013 World Series. And of course those that did were rewarded with hefty MLB odds of 40-1. But that team and the team as it is constituted this season is missing a few key elements.
First and foremost, one cannot lose a player of Jacoby Ellsbury's talents and simply expect zero in the way of drop off from a rookie centerfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr. and understanding that most baseball players are well known for being rooted in routine and superstition, with pitchers being the most notorious of all, wouldn't you think that allowing their starting catcher Jerrod Saltalamacchia to walk south to Miami might affect the pitching staff...just a bit?
Of course Shane Victorino has been injured while something bizarre is going on with the previously phenomenal Clay Buchholz. And there is the hangover from a miraculous season with expectations to do it all over again. Well, that certainly hasn't happened. The Red Sox are cellar dwellers and they are ruinin' everyone's summ-ah in Boston - da bastahds!
But Something's Happening - Or Is It?
Red Sox fans know not to get their hopes up. Maybe they don't know it quite as well as they did before the Henry ownership took over but Bostonians are skeptical by nature. However, it is after all Boston and like the jilted lover who keeps pursuing the object of their adoration so too do the diehard fans of Red Sox Nation. Each morning they glance, just for laughs of course, at the MLB standings and read with detached bemusement (or so they delude themselves) at the plight of their hometown team.
But something is happening. It's got the eerie similarity of watching your child eat vegetables for the first time without grimacing. You want to stand and applaud but you rethink that proposition because it just may have the opposite effect. The little bugger will see the light in your eyes, the cavernous smile on your face and feel the warming cockles of your heart. The kid knows that nobody should feel that good and then knocks the plate, along with the spinach, all over the floor. And so it goes with these Boston Red Sox. They're doing something recently that has been as foreign to them as peace in the Middle East - they're winning.
And the Reason Is?
While it would be asinine to believe the unceremonious departure of malcontent catcher AJ Pierzynski is the only reason the Red Sox are now winning, it certainly has to be considered one of the reasons. Since the veteran receiver was DFA'ed (Designated For Assignment), Boston has rolled to five wins in six tries. The rabid Boston media has been quick to report that there is an ease in the clubhouse that was not there when the surly Pierzynski was occupying space. Corporations are always trumpeting a healthy work environment so why should we be surprised that once a malignancy has been removed, the entire team feels better?
Of course the overriding reason, in my estimation, is that this Red Sox team is simply not that bad and it's a case of regression towards the mean. The pitching has been good but the offense has been anemic. If you surf on over to Bet365.com they are currently installing the defending champs at 65-1, however PaddyPower.com has an even more enticing 80-1 in MLB odds on the Boys from Beantown. After watching them rally last night for their 45th victory of the season over the Royals, I recalled that old Monkee's classic, I'm a Believer. Are you?