It has been said that the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn. The Red Sox fell to the O’s last night 4-1, failing to get above the .500 mark. And as I awoke this morning I wondered how long it has been since the occupants of Fenway Park had been this deep (43 games) into the season without having been above the .500 mark. We must harken all the way back to 1987 to find a Red Sox team that was under .500 this late in the season.
The 1987 Red Sox finished 78-84 in fifth place (out of seven) in the AL East, one year after coming within one strike of winning the World Series.
That team spent exactly one day above the .500 mark and that was after Bob Stanley shutout the Kansas City Royals 1-0 on the 15th game of the season putting his team at the 8-7 mark. At this juncture in the 87 season, they were 18-25 and were 10 1/2 games out of first place.
“Oil Can” Boyd led the 1985 staff with a 15-13 mark.
The 1985 team was five games under .500 (19-24) after 43 games of their season in which they finished right at the even mark, 81-81 and in fifth place in the AL East.
The 1983 season was the last for Red Sox captain and Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.
The 1983 rendition of the Red Sox were the first team since 1966 to not finish above .500 yet at this juncture they were actually 25-18 and were in first place by a game. That team hovered around .500 throughout the summer before falling below the mark in mid-August and stumbled to the finish line finishing 78-84, in sixth place, 20 games behind Baltimore.
Now comes the scary part. The last Red Sox team to be 43 games into a season and NEVER above the .500 mark was the, gulp, 1966 team!
That Fenway Park rendition dropped the first five games of the season, went 3-10 for the month of April and was 17-26 forty-three games into their season. They were 10-21 for the month of June and started July an abysmal 27-47. They crawled out of the abyss a bit in July going 18-14 and actually went 45-43 from July 1st until the end of the season. The hope of 1967 was born in July, August and September of 1966. None the less, 1966 ended with the Sox in ninth place at 72-90, 26 games out of first place and a half game ahead of the cellar dwelling Yankees.
Red Sox rookie first baseman George Scott hit 27 home runs and knocked in 90 in 1966, making the all-star team and finishing third in the race for American League Rookie of the Year.
Conversely, let’s take a look at the Red Sox Fenway Park pennant winning teams to see where they were at the 43 game spot in the season. The best of them all was the 1946 team who after 43 games were 34-9 and seven games ahead in first place. The 2007 team was the only other club to notch 30 wins in the first 43 games going 30-13, they had the biggest lead, 10 1/2 games up in the standings.
The 1946 team lost to the Cardinals in seven games in the World Series.
The 2007 team swept the Rockies in the 07 World Series.
The pennant winning team with the worst record after 43 games was the 1967 squad who were but a game above .500 at 22-21. They were in fourth place and they were four and a half games out of first. Of the 10 pennants that Red Sox have won since Fenway’s birth in 1912, six of them were in first place after 43 games, they were the 1918, ’46’, ’75’, ’86’, ’04’, and ’07’ clubs. The 1912, ’15’ and ’16’ teams were all three games behind and the aforementioned 1967 team was four and a half out.
So what does all this mean? After extensive study I have concluded, not a damn thing! However, the 1978 team was 28-15 after 43 games and they were a game and half ahead in first place. And last year they had righted the ship and were 23-20 and only a game and half behind.
It is said that the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn. And history tells us that a Red Sox team that has reached the 43 game mark in a season without getting over .500 has never played in a World Series. But I remember a whole lot of people chirping in the fall of 2004 after they went down 3-0 to the Yankees!
Thank God for the rest of the summer. Bring it on!
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, May 23, 2012, 43 games in.