I still break out in a cold sweat when I think of September, 2011, and the parallel collapse of the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves. Maybe I was the jinx behind those two teams, for I am a New York Mets fan, who after becoming disgusted with the mismanagement inflicted upon the Mets by their ownership, decided to protest by supporting another team. I have always liked the Red Sox as a franchise and have admired the Atlanta Braves, even though they have always appeared to kill my Mets. It was very easy for me to get the Red Sox games on TV since NESN is part of my basic package and TBS provided access to the Braves.
As the season unfolded, I could see that the Philadelphia Phillies would walk away with the National League East, but my Braves were firmly entrenched in second place and seemed to have a lock on the fourth best record in the National League. In the American League, for much of the season, my Red Sox and the hated New York Yankees shared first place, and with the performance of all the other divisions, the team that would finish second in the American League East, should win the wild card spot. I was blissfully ignorant in my belief that both of my new found teams would be play-off bound.
On August 31, after the Red Sox beat the Yankees 9-5, their record was 83-52; ahead of everyone with only 27 games left. They appeared ply-off bound, but then proceeded to win only 7 of 27 of their remaining games, while Tampa Bay, perhaps having nothing to play for, surged ahead with a record of 17-10. It was pitiful. Sure, the Sox had injuries, but champions play through them. After the collapse, reports about discord in the clubhouse became more widespread and it seemed the Red Sox Manager, Terry Francona, may have lost the team. However, the Red Sox playing so poorly and the Tampa Bay Rays playing like champions made history.
Adding to my anguish was watching a similar fate befelling my National League team. The Braves had a very comfortable lead, and the future World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, seemed unlikely to overcome the 10 ½ game deficit. Who knew! The Braves went 9-18 during September while the Cardinals were 18-8 during the same run. Clearly, the Cardinals played with inspiration and heart while the Braves faltered.
There was no one pitch, one game or play that caused both the Red Sox and Braves to basically give away the play-off berth. They each were victim to having another team catch on fire and credit does have to go to both the Rays and Cards. However, for this Mets fan, still reeling from the 2007 collapse of the New York Mets and their 7 game lead with 17 games to play, the pain and memory were almost unbearable.
I know that I am not the jinx and to test my theory, in 2012, I am rooting for the hated New York Yankees!