Are you fed up and ready to bury the 2019 Red Sox? Are their bullpen implosions making you tear your hair out? The feeling around here hasn’t been this dire, with big expectations not being met, since that early to mid summer of 2004.
Just before the nadir of that 2004 season it was the salad days of high drama for the Red Sox. Most noteworthy Nomar Garciaparra got traded, then July 24th 2004 happened. Remember that one? On the NESN DVD for the 2004 team you can see Kevin Millar talking about going 2-0 that day. Bill Mueller hit a walk-off homer against the great Mariano Rivera, after the Sox maybe or maybe not won one of the last true fights in the rivalry. What people don’t talk about is the aftermath of that game.
From being 8.5 games behind the Yankees after that game, through August 6th of 2004, the Red Sox dropped to a season low 10.5 games behind the Yankees. All that momentum from winning two out of three in Fenway against the Yankees vanished. It took until August 16th of 2004 for the Red Sox to finally stay above the 10.5 game drop.
That was a dark time. I personally watched Red Sox stickers being torn off cars in the work parking lot during lunch breaks.
Right now references to the 2018 World Championship team are met with disdain and anger. 2018 World Championship gear? At best it’s in the closet. At worst it’s about to be burned in the upcoming Fourth of July celebrations in Red Sox Nation. This is a very familiar feeling.
More old is new again, including hope
From June 29th to July 1st of 2004 the Red Sox were on the road against the Yankees and got swept. Two of those games were bullpen meltdowns. One each saddled on Curt Leskanic and Mike Timlin. Derek Lowe took the other loss. Sound familiar? Put Eduardo Rodriguez in Derek Lowe’s place and it’s almost a carbon copy of what just happened.
At that time the Red Sox were 42-34. Right now the 2019 team is 44-40. This illustrates that the 2019 has dealt with a compressed schedule, putting even more pressure on the bullpen and team overall. Yes, the 2004 team was eight games over .500, this team is half that. But they’ve also played eight more games than their 2004 counterparts by the same date in the calendar.
That team had Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. This team has Chris Sale and David Price. For every Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz there is J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts. 2019 is seeing the breakout of Rafael Devers and continuing stardom of Xander Bogaerts. We’re seeing Christian Vazquez dominate in the batter’s box in ways we never imagined.
Curt Leskanic and Mike Myers were added in the summer of 2004. With Alex Cora and, more importantly, principal owner John Henry making noise about being disappointed with this team we’re sure to see some bullpen additions between now and July 31st.
Yes, the 2004 team never did close the gap on the Yankees. And the Wild Card is now a play in game in contrast to a five game series. This team has the talent and resources to still make a run, and will be favored in any play in game. Despite the panic there’s still plenty of time. 2004 is the road map.