Red Sox Expectations for 2018: Failure is unacceptable

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: The Houston Astros celebrate in the clubhouse after defeating the Boston Red Sox 5-4 in game four of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park on October 9, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Astros advance to the American League Championship Series. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: The Houston Astros celebrate in the clubhouse after defeating the Boston Red Sox 5-4 in game four of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park on October 9, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Astros advance to the American League Championship Series. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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The Boston Red Sox have started fast but it is a long and treacherous road to the World Series. Anything less than a flag over Fenway Park will be a failure.

Four years is enough! That’s how long we have waited for another World Series flag to be hoisted above Fenway Park. Since 2013, this Boston Red Sox team has buckled like a flag in a windstorm with nothing to show except a few quick and embarrassing exits in the playoffs.

Money? Now the highest and not even anyone close payroll in baseball. A new manager in Alex Cora and getting into the third year of the reign of Dave Dombrowski. The élite minor league system has been scavenged to make way for a win it all now and so far, that has failed. Maybe turning a vampire into a vegan would be quicker?

This is an amazing team with solid veterans and a core of young players on the cusp of going to the next performance level.  Defensively they are very good and offensively have added the supposedly necessary ingredient in J.D. Martinez to ignite a 2017 stagnant – from my Red Sox historical perspective – offense. And pitching? Two Cy Young Award recipients and another who never won and is better than both.

The bullpen has depth and the best closer in the game. In 2017 the ‘pen was ranked among the top in the American League and Carson Smith is back. So, you have it all packaged up. An offense, defense and pitching – and a fan base that takes every game as converts would to a religious revival. But four years is enough!

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Red Sox history is littered with disappointments from teams that never quite lived up to their billing such as 1946-50. Add into that the clever and dramatic ways to lose when the fingers of success were gripping the brass ring. That all ended this century, but four years is just long enough – too long.

Is this the year? According to PECOTA and other baseball savants, the Red Sox are not the clear favorite. They slip behind a few others in the American League and that means the Astros and Yankees. But baseball has a lifeline and that is an ever-expanding playoff system. Boston should be in the playoffs where pitching wins. In this age of bullpen predominance, the Red Sox still have a sturdy collection of starters.

If the Red Sox fall by the wayside once again it is time for a long and hard look at even – for me – tossing money to see a product that does not live up to expectations. I may be a baseball fan and Red Sox fan for many a decade, but I am also not foolish enough to fiscally support failure. And failure it will be without a flag.

So, don’t give me “Bridge Year” or any other excuses. No participation trophies for being in and then put out of the playoffs. This season I expect what New York Yankee fans state: If you don’t win the World Series you have failed. And four years is long enough. This team has it all and the early showing is even the lesser lights have shined and I don’t care if it was against Tampa and Miami.

Next: Is Alex Cora's rest strategy a bit extreme?

This season Red Sox fans should expect our own personal entitlement – another World Series championship.  Four years is a long enough wait.