I took this week's Fanpost Friday prompt as a fun challenge. I often try to look at my Red Sox with a glass-half-full perspective, and while recent events paint a grim picture, I still have encouraging thoughts on where we stand currently.
Sports fans (especially baseball diehards like me) have short memories. We tend to get caught up in the moment. Sometimes we overlook the big picture during the midst of a trade deadline or a playoff race, and often times we seem to forget that expectations are extremely volatile. When the 2021 season began, not many people had Boston pegged as a championship contender. Even yours truly, a typically bullish optimist when it comes to the Red Sox, was predicting a 4th place finish, somewhere around .500, with a Wild Card spot representing our absolute ceiling. Back in March, reaching 90 wins felt like a pipedream; now anything short of that is literally the team's worst case scenario.
Even once the season started and the Red Sox jumped out to a first place lead, there were skeptics. Some of them post on this site routinely. It wasn't until around June, after Boston had maintained a solid win percentage through multiple months, that expectations shifted. It took nearly half the season for much of the MLB community, even Boston fans, to accept the premise that the 2021 Red Sox are legitimately good, much less a playoff contender.
Bottom line: WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE. After trading away Mookie Betts and losing Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery in 2020, the Red Sox were facing an arduous multiyear rebuild, and last season reflected that. Chaim Bloom got to select 4th overall in June's draft for a reason. The 2021 season was supposed to be a bridge year for Boston, one in which the team would be expected to sell off pieces at the trade deadline, while waiting for Dustin Pedroia's salary to come off the books. Once this team spent the first half overachieving, people seemed to forget all of that.
Nobody is happier than me to see this rebuild sped up by savvy moves, Alex Cora's leadership, and the return of the team's ace starting pitcher. This fan base should be very excited to see what the front office does this offseason after a return to relevancy, regardless of how the regular season ends. Of course missing the playoffs (or an early postseason exit) would be a disappointment, but this team took a massive step in the right direction when considering how the franchise was looking less than a year ago. Enjoy this week and take solace in the fact that the Red Sox are BACK, here in the thick of a playoff race, ahead of schedule.