Friday, November 27, 2009

Are the Boston Red Sox overrated?

Hope all of our readers had a happy Thanksgiving. I enjoyed seeing my Texas Longhorns hold on to beat Texas A & M, and continue their undefeated season.

Not much going on in the baseball world right now, other than the retirement of Yankee announcer Bob Sheppard. And this tidbit: New York Post sports columnist Kevin Kernan stirred up a hornet's nest when he included the Boston Red Sox in his list of the most overrated teams in sports (Hat tip: Baseball Think Factory and Can't Stop the Bleeding for alerting me to this story.) Kernan ranked the Sox at No. 10, writing:
Model franchise for stat geeks, but seems they can’t win a World Series without Manny.
Red Sox Nation wasn't exactly pleased with their team being on this list. So, when called on it, Kernan explained himself further in his "Where's Kernan" blog:
They have only two championships over the last billion years, and both came with Manny on the team. They’ve gone nowhere since he left, yet through the ages, trillions of books and postings and articles and twitters and Bill James’ ravings have been written about the brilliance of the Red Sox. It was a beefed up Manny that made the difference for that team that finally enabled them to win some championships. Without Manny they would have missed out. That's all I'm saying.
Yuck. I'm going to have to defend the Red Sox here, even though it's painful to do so. Somebody pass me some Tums, please. Here I go:

* Boston didn't win "only two championships over the last billion years"; they've won seven championships, which ranks them fourth in MLB after the Yankees, Cardinals, and Athletics. That number is nothing to sneeze at, especially given that they went 86 years without winning it all.

* You can't say that a team that has won two of the last six World Series played, with the last title coming just two years ago, is overrated. Annoying and insufferable, yes. Overrated, no.

* And you can't say that a team that made the playoffs twice since trading Manny Ramirez in July 2008 has "gone nowhere since he left." While they stumbled a lot this year and got swept by the Angels in the playoffs, they still won 95 games in the toughest division in baseball without Ramirez. Calling them "a model franchise for stat geeks" for doing so doesn't even make any sense.

* "Without Manny they would have missed out," Kernan writes. "That's all I'm saying." I agree. Without Ramirez, Boston would never have won in 2004 and 2007. But you could say the same thing about Mickey Mantle with the 1950s Yankees, Reggie Jackson with the 1977-78 Yanks, Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter with the late '90s Bombers, and Alex Rodriguez with the 2009 Yankees. What's the point, exactly, of noting this?

* If Kernan is implying, with the "beefed up Manny" description, that steroids were the reason the Sox won those years, then he should just come out and say it. It's a fair point. But Kernan ought to be prepared for people to note that the Yankees had nine players from the 2000 Yankees listed in the Mitchell Report.

* The rest of Kernan's list also leaves something to be desired. He did the list twice, moving up Notre Dame and adding the New York Rangers, and ended up with eleven teams:
1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Notre Dame Football
3. New York Knicks
4. New York Mets
5. Cleveland Indians
6. LA Clippers
7. Montreal Canadiens
8. Detroit Lions
9. Oakland Raiders
10. Boston Red Sox
11. New York Rangers
After reading this list, I have to wonder how Kernan defines the word "overrated." Because who the heck is overrating the likes of the LA Clippers and the Detroit Lions, to name just two examples? Or the Knicks? Those are all really bad teams that nobody expects anything out of. They're not overrated; just awful.

Okay, I'm done arguing this. I have to go take some Pepto-Bismol, as I'm sick to my stomach after defending the Red Sox on something.  Then I'm going to lie down and think happy thoughts!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

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