When the Boston Red Sox missed the playoffs in 2006 after winning it all in 2004, you know some things had to change. Our Fenway Frauds miniseries continues today as we look at the return of the BoSox to the Promised Land, albeit by crooked methods. After all, the Red Sox organization already had gotten away with cheating for one title, so why would it stop there? Welcome to 2007.
As we have stated, without severe punishment, an entity will not change its bad behavior. Boston won 97 games to win the American League East for the first time since 1995, which is telling, as even in 2004, the Red Sox only made the postseason as a wild card. Winning the division title was something still on the to-do list for the Fenway Frauds. This is how they did it, with several repeat offenders …
Exhibit A: Mike Lowell
Yes, we just analyzed his shit in our last column. But age 33, Lowell improved his batting average 40 points from the season before, while seeing his RBI total increase by 40, as well. Of course, his OPS also jumped 65 points, too. This was the only season of his career that Lowell hit over .300, and he did it at an age when average players are in decline, historically.
Exhibit B: David Ortiz
We first analyzed his initial season in Boston (2003), but he’s worth revisiting here again, sadly. At age 31, his batting average jumped 45 points from the prior season, and Ortiz set career highs in doubles (52), OBP (.445) and OPS (1.066), too. Maybe that’s not so surprising, if we didn’t know that positive test from 2003 existed. He wasn’t legging out singles and doubles at this age, either, folks.
Exhibit C: Curt Schilling
His 2006 revival continued into this season, as he posted a 3.87 ERA at age 40 over 150-plus innings. That in itself is not out of the realm of possibility, but with his 2005 physical breakdown, his subsequent “recovery”—and eventual admission the team wanted him to dope? Definitely lead us to conclude even more than the big-mouthed Schilling would ever care to admit.
Exhibit D: Mike Timlin
This is his third appearance here (2003, 2005), because his numbers are so ridiculously unlikely. He was terrible in 2006, too, with a 4.36 ERA, but he was able to shave almost a whole run off his ERA at age 41 in 2007. Again, his 3.42 ERA this season in itself is not a red flag, but his age makes this fishy, especially when you consider he made 50 appearances still—which doesn’t include warmups when he didn’t pitch.
Exhibit E: Javier López
As we discussed last week, this guy who was absolutely terrible until coming to Boston somehow figured it all out in a hitter’s ballpark, and he kept his good deeds going into this season (3.10 ERA—still lower than his career mark of 3.48). The distinct demarcation line in his numbers between his pre-Red Sox life and then after his Boston association began are just stunning, especially for a nondescript LOOGY.
Conclusion: When you fail at cheating, you merely just double down and come back harder, right?
These five guys are repeat offenders, of course, but combined with an age-35 Manny Ramírez (and others who we’ve already commented on here), the team was able to scratch out another World Series title—complete with yet another “historic” playoff comeback. Sense a theme here? With extended playoffs these days, playoff performances that defy logic probably are fueled by something … unique.
Either way, the mythos of Red Sox Nation was secured here, as Boston was able to embark on a home sellout streak that set records, starting from 2003 and going through to 2013. For a franchise that was dead in the water in the late 1990s, the turnaround was complete, in terms of financial gain wrought through illicit means. Sound familiar?