It was a season of ups and downs. The boys made it to the playoffs, but no one was expecting them to go all they way. The history books suggested a victory at the beginning of the playoffs was all but guaranteed. They put the ball into the hands of the man with the proven track record in the playoffs. Sadly, he was but human and the streak was snapped and the season is over.
Oh yeah, and the same thing happened to the Patriots.
It’s just a coincidence, obviously, but it’s a darn spooky one.
The Patriots and Red Sox had uneven seasons. After starting 2-6, the Sox had an 11 game winning streak. The offense set a record with 12 runs in an inning and then scored only 1 run in the first two playoff games combined. The Pats had 3 separate 3-game winning streaks, but lost a game where they lead by 17 points in the fourth quarter. They were 6-4 against teams that finished over .500, but on Sunday they didn’t have a first down until over 6 minutes into their first-round playoff loss to Baltimore.
The Sox officially clinched a playoff spot on a day they lost a game to Toronto (and would go on to be swept at home). Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote that New England should be happy they made the playoffs since they won’t win more than just the first game. The mood around both teams wasn’t that of a championship-bound club. Everyone just seemed glad to be playing in the post-season.
Going into the American League Divisional Series, the Red Sox hadn’t lost a playoff series to the Angels. The Patriots hadn’t lost a home playoff game in about three decades. Neither team was resting on its laurels, but nothing suggested that this year had to be the year those streaks would end. They were wrong.
Who is more trusted in big games than Jonathan Papelbon and Tom Brady? The Sox closer had a 0.00 postseason ERA! Terrific Tom was 14-3 in the playoffs! It doesn’t get much better than that, but past successes just weren’t enough as Papelbon gave up 3 runs in the 9th (not to mention the hits that lead to the 2 runs charged to Billy Wagner in the 8th) and Brady had 3 picks on Sunday. The Sox were down 2 games to none when Papelbon took the mound and Brady was not helped by the injury to Wes Welker or a defense that allowed 33 points. Neither man was singularly to blame, of course, but in times of struggle they had always been the ones you could look to.
Is there some cosmic significance to sports? Of course not. That’s not why we watch. We watch because we don’t know what’s going to happen. We know what we want to happen or what we think will happen, but none of us has been to 2015 and brought back Gray’s Sports Almanac so we just don’t know. After disappointments this year are going to give up on our teams? No way! We’ll be watching the offseason moves and counting down to the new season. By the way, baseball’s Opening Day is coming up in just 84 short days and football is only 244 days away! Can’t wait!