I suspect many of you are asking yourselves right now: 'Has there ever been a 95-win team that seemed more of a long shot coming into the playoffs?' Maybe it's some combination of finishing second to a 103 game-winning Yankee team, the severely lackadaisical turn the team seemed to take after losing those first two games to the Royals, and how many of Boston's positions seemed to be filled by a combination of tape, glue, and odd luck, but going into this ALDS - whenever it starts - I'm more nervous about Boston's chances against Anaheim than I've been in the past - and that's not just because the Angels have so much to prove. I mean, if you'd told me in April that Boston's solid group of options in the field and on the mound would be rife with injuries and missing major pieces by mid-season, or that Francona would be juggling a combination of Lowell, Youkilis, Varitek, and Martinez across three positions by August to keep Lowell and Varitek in playing shape for October, I would have been quite surprised.
Actually, I suppose I wouldn't have been surprised about either Lowell or Varitek: they're a combined age of 10,000 years old and have one good hip between the two of them. But the rest was a surprise.
Adding to my feelings of uncertainty is a little fun with small sample sizes: for whatever reason, it's taken 95 or more wins to get to the playoffs this decade. Boston has six 95+ win teams since the 2000 season. Two of those teams won it all; three teams met the agony of defeat, including two edge-of-the-seat ALCS losses; and one team is still in the process of writing its own history. Here's where it gets a little odd: the teams that won it all had more than 95 wins. The teams that did not had 95 wins.
See how I've already psyched myself out? I'm drawing patterns from meaningless data. I may not feel better until the Sox have exacted another sweep from the Angels.