Even if the Boston Red Sox lose the ALCS, this season is a success

Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by J.D. Martinez #28 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by J.D. Martinez #28 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Things certainly are not looking good for the Boston Red Sox. They have found themselves down 3-2 in the ALCS against the Houston Astros, and now have to make a trip out to Houston to try to prolong their season to see a Game 7.

It’s an amazing turnaround from where things were just a couple days ago. The Red Sox lineup was on fire, their pitching was superb, and they seemed to be well on their way to clinching their fifth World Series berth in the 21st century. Instead, everything unraveled in a crucial Game 4, and the Sox find themselves on the brink as a result.

It’s a bit of a demoralizing revelation for a Boston team that had taken the city by storm. Fans and players alike were actually beginning to believe that this team could not only make it to the World Series, but come out on top too. Now a pair of blowout losses have taken the air out of Boston, and leaves the team facing what looks to be an insurmountable challenge in Game 6.

Yet regardless of how things play out in the now pivotal Game 6, it’s important for Red Sox fans to consider the silver lining. After all, this team wasn’t even expected to be a playoff team, let alone one that is seriously contending for the World Series. For that and a multitude of other reasons, the 2021 season has to be considered a success for the Boston Red Sox, regardless of what happens the rest of the way out.

The Boston Red Sox 2021 season is a success no matter what happens in the ALCS

If you have the strength to rewind all the way back to the 2020 season, you will remember that this team wasn’t very good. Fresh off losing manager Alex Cora due to his involvement in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, and trading away their top player in Mookie Betts, the Sox never seemed to find their footing in the shortened 60 game season, and were one of the worst teams in baseball.

This season is only worth mentioning because there aren’t too many drastic differences between the 2020 team and the 2021 team. The core of the lineup was basically the same, with the only real offseason additions being Kike Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe, and Kyle Schwarber being added at the trade deadline.

And the starting rotation and bullpen are largely unchanged. All that’s changed is players like Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez returned to the fold after missing the entire 2020 season. And aside from seeing a star like Garrett Whitlock be born, the bullpen is pretty much the same as it was last season.

And yet this team finds themselves as one of the final four teams (potentially three, depending on if the Los Angeles Dodgers lose tonight) playing baseball this season. Last season, this team simply couldn’t wait to get off the field, and now they have no intent on ever stopping this season. It’s been a drastic turnaround in a relatively short period of time, and even if this team ends up falling short to the Astros, you have to be encouraged with how the season went.

They dealt with the second half collapse of sorts to somehow hold onto the top wild card spot in the American League. They pretty easily dispatched the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card game and ALDS, respectively. And while they still might come out on top against Houston, they seemed pretty intent on canceling their trip back to Houston for a point in time too.

It seemed like this team was headed towards a lengthy rebuild after last season, but the narrative after this season is that Boston has reestablished themselves as one of the top teams in the American League. They proved as much by taking down the Yankees and Rays in short order. The scary thing is they are in position to get even better for next season.

The expectations for this team limited what they were able to accomplish during the previous offseason. There wasn’t really any sense in spending heavy in free agency for a team that probably wasn’t going to contend. This offseason should prove to be different.

Boston knows they are a World Series contender now, and they should be able to build their team like one whenever the offseason approaches. That’s why this season has to be considered a win. The Red Sox are pulling this off in a season where they weren’t expected to be successful. That begs the question of what they can do now that they have championship expectations surrounding their team.

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Who knows, maybe this ends up being a premature thought, and the Boston Red Sox storm back and take two games from Houston while in Houston. We know it’s possible considering the Washington Nationals pulled it off just two years ago in the 2019 World Series. Once you force a Game 7, anything can happen, and that should be Boston’s primary goal right now.

But even if it doesn’t end up going their way, and Game 6 ends up being the final straw of their unexpected playoff push, this season has to be considered an unexpected victory. The Boston Red Sox weren’t on anyone’s radar coming into this season. Now with a strong offseason, this team could turn themselves into one of the front runners for the 2022 season. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to worry about that for the next couple weeks though.