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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer of 69 -- and beyond -- as Sox continue record pace

Another one in the books. (Bob Levey)

The Red Sox won their 69th game last night, a total that not only leads the majors (with Atlanta) but also marks the same number of victories they captured all of last season. This in itself is an impressive accomplishment.

Amid all the talk of walk-offs and comebacks, however, an even more monumental feat has managed to thus far fly under the radar: 

Statistically, this could be the greatest one-season turnaround in modern team history.

Many Sox fans are familiar with the most famous such season in franchise annals -- the Carl Yastrzemski-led 1967 "Impossible Dream" team which leaped from ninth place the year before to an American League pennant. That club reversed its record, from 70-92 to 92-70, and rejuvenated Boston baseball in the process. 

In '67, Yaz and the Sox filled Fenway.

Numerically, that was a  22-game improvement -- the best one-year bump for a Sox squad since the advent of the 162-game schedule in 1961. Manager Dick Williams, like John Farrell this year, surpassed all expectations in his first season at the helm for Boston  

The 2013 Walk-Off Wizards, with a mark of 69-46, have a winning percentage of .600. If they were to continue at that same clip over their remaining 47 games they will finish with 97 victories -- and a one-year improvement of 28 games.

"I hope we pass last year," Farrell joked after last night's game, referring to the 69-win mark the current club now shares with its predecessors. 

John Farrell: Dick Williams redux?

If Farrell's overachievers can capture 23 more victories, and get to 92, they will topple the Impossible Dreamers as Boston's greatest "rebounders" of the 162-game era. 

Of course it will likely take more wins than 92 to assure a playoff berth out of the challenging AL East, and the record would be a hallow one if Boston finishes out of the postseason for a fourth straight year. 

Nothing should ever dim the importance of the 1967 team in franchise history, but this club deserves its full due -- and fans hope that a wild celebration like Yaz and his teammates enjoyed after clinching the '67 pennant is coming this fall. 

More "pandemonium on the field" to come?

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