Via the Providence Journal -
The New York Yankees are famously held to the highest standard in baseball, that of “World Series or bust.” The perception is that every season that does not end in a World Series trophy is considered a failure by the Steinbrenner family.
After a decade of consistent winning, Boston’s ownership group — John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino — sat side by side and mulled over an interesting question; with all the recent success, and the outcry that begins when the Sox bow out early in the playoffs, have they, too, reached that point?
Henry paused — then shot that idea down.
“I think that our goal every year is to make the playoffs. If we make the playoffs, we’re going to win at some point in the postseason. We’ve been fortunate to do that twice,” Henry said.
Moments later, he turned to Lucchino. “Do we have a stated goal of number of wins?”
Lucchino had that answer at the ready.
“We always kind of get fixated on 95. That’s a nice round number that we like and we achieved last year, of course,” Lucchino said.
By that standard, they’ve done pretty darn well. Only in 2006, when they won 83 games and missed the playoffs, and 2002, the first year of the Henry-Werner-Lucchino team, did they win fewer than 95 games. Not coincidentally, those were also the only two years the Sox missed the playoffs under this ownership group.
In the last 12 years, the Red Sox have reached the post-season 8 times. However, only one time in the last 12 years have the Red Sox reached the post-season as a result of winning their division.
In total, the Boston Red Sox have been the “wildcard” team in the post-season seven times. The Colorado Rockies have been a wildcard three times – as have the Yankees. No other team in baseball has ever been the wildcard three or more times. In fact, no American League team, outside of New York and Boston, has been the wildcard more than once since the berth was born.
It’s not a reach to say that “the wildcard” has been the Red Sox favorite toy. And, without baseball going to the six-division alignment, the Red Sox’ “goal” would have not been met outside of one year (2007).
Former Red Sox CEO John Harrington was the chairman of the schedule format committee back in 1993 who championed the six-division format. Perhaps John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino should thank Harrington for setting up things in a manner that would make meeting their goals a lot easier?