The Atlanta Braves won their division 14 straight seasons from 1991 - 2005 (excluding 1994 which never really existed, thanks Bud/Players). This is a tremendous achievement that remains in conversation to this day in Atlanta sports talk radio. It remains a topic because the Braves converted this amazing run to ONLY a single World Series title. They averaged 97.4 wins in that span.
The RedSox have made it to the postseason in 6 of the last 7 years, averaging 95.5 wins in those playoff years.
So all the pundits are racing around with columns, blogs, podcasts, you name it, telling anybody that will listen how Theo Epstein should work this magic or that magic and retool the Sox in a few hours time. We've heard Terry Francona and Theo Epstein both mention the franchise goal of winning 95 games and getting to the postseason each year.
Is that vision setting the bar high enough?
Lets fast forward to the 2016 offseason and listen in to "Blmeanie and the Bouncing Balls and Pucks" virtual sports broadcast :
blmeanie: "welcome to the show today, hope everybody realizes how amazing it is to be a Sox fan. While the loss yesterday to the Kansas City Royals ended their postseason run, they have given us a lot to enjoy this year again." We welcome into the show one of our favorite virtualizers, Mikey from Dorchester. Welcome Mikey."
Mikey from Dorchester (MFD) : "Yo Blue, sup? What's with the happy face on another postseason loss? It's eat'n me up, ya know? Every freak'n year it's another disappointing loss to some loser franchise. KC this year, Washington last year, Texas the year before that. I'm tired of losing."
blmeanie: "Hey slow down Mikey, when you say losing, don't you mean losing in the postseason? I know most of the other 39 teams around baseball would love to make it to the postseason 13 out of the last 14 years. So we only have 2004 and 2007 for championships, isn't it about the chase?"
MFD: "Ever since the average ticket price went above $150 back in 2013 it doesn't feel the same no more. I mean, I went to a game in August, took my brother and his kid Manny, yep, named for that Manny, anyway, we went down to Fenwa…geesh, sorry, BP Field and there weren't nothin' but suits everywhere. Geesh, I mean, I used to go to games and there was wicked excitement on every pitch, the fans were true fans and the game was the show. Now everybody is playing with their virtual conversation devices (VCD's) and not watchin' the game. Whats up with that?"
blmeanie: "Of course winning so much gave the Sox the power to increase ticket prices each year but there is a price to be paid for winning year in and year out, right Mikey?" Which would you rather be a fan of the Sox and their amazing streak of playoff appearances or the Washington Nationals that won the Series in 2015 in only their first postseason appearance since moving to Washington? Maybe you'd like to be a fan of the Fremont A's? They make a run every 7 years like clockwork and fans have to suffer while they trade away maturing players every other year in between."
MFD: "Ya know, getting into the postseason used to mean more, remember when it was only 4 teams that made it in? Even afta Bud added wildcard teams it was something to get in. Those were the days, getting in meant something back then, I mean, the Pirates are the only team that you can count on never making the playoffs."
blmeanie: "Ancient history Mikey, sure you can dream back to before Commissioner Wendy Selig changed the rules in 2012 to add automatic playoff inclusion for any team with a ballpark at least 100 years old and then the more significant change in 2013 when any team above .500 winning percentage getting into the postseason. These were changes to make the game better, more profitable."
MFD: "I can't believe youse are selling out Meanie! How can it be better when 22 teams made it to the playoffs this year? Is it freak'n hockey?"
blmeanie: "You have to keep up with the times Mikey, some good points, thanks for virtually connecting in today, now we go to Sal in Sommerville, Sal?"
Back to reality -sorry I went as long as I did, I really was enjoying myself though. Those conversations have taken place in Atlanta for the last 10 years or so, really since 1995 when the Braves won. Is getting to the playoffs enough for the fans? I agree the mentality of "you have to make it to the playoffs to ever have a chance at winning it all" makes sense. If a franchise focuses on that goal though, don't they sacrifice a little bit of the gambler's mentality of the "roll the dice" moments that could pay off with titles vs. postseason disappointments?
If you are in a market that can be top 10 in payroll year in year out, shouldn't the goal be all about championships?
Read that statement again…and again. If you are shelling out the money anyway, should you pull a “Yankee” and go for it all the time?
I'd take a year or two now and again of missing the playoffs if the moves being made were to elevate the next year to the point that winning a Championship became significantly more likely. Winning a title every fifth year would be great. Unfortunately somewhere in the back of my mind is the fear that 2007 will be it for a while and the claim to fame becomes the run of postseason appearances... sure hope I am wrong.
My Favorite Posts—The Pink Elephant - THURSDAY, JANUARY 15, 2009 The Pink Elephant It's the gigantic pink elephant in the room. It's what everyone who watches sports has thought about at one ti...