For months, the Boston Red Sox’ elimination from the postseason has felt written in ink. From the All-Star break through mid-September, Boston had taken their June surge, messed around with it, subtracted beloved players from their chemical concoction (Christian Vázquez out, Tommy Pham IN?!), and swooned about 30 days behind schedule.
By Aug. 15, they’d gone from a heavy favorite to capture a Wild Card berth (one of three available!) to six games out behind the Mariners, Rays and Jays. A few weeks later, things were even bleaker, with the deficit licking 10 and 11 games as core pieces fell off the roster into injury purgatory (Garrett Whitlock? Trevor Story?), pulling up adjoining hospital beds next to Chris Sale in a noose saying, “First time?”
Whitlock, of course, retorted, “Why’d you bring a noose to the hospital?”
Entering the season, the Red Sox were thought to be fringe contenders, due for some regression from their ALCS run without Kyle Schwarber and Hunter Renfroe, but maybe not much. By midsummer, they were an afterthought. Nobody in their right mind would’ve picked them to jumpstart midseason and make a World Series run.
I was not in my right mind. I thought it could still happen, ’till the bitter end. All because of the flags in the World Series logo, which have predicted a Sox championship with 100% accuracy since 2004.
And now, thankfully, after the universe gave it one last fight Sunday night, the flags went out whimpering with a wave of Rob Manfred’s finger and a canceled ESPN broadcast.
Red Sox eliminated from playoffs, despite flags in World Series logo. Go Yankees.
Yes, that’s me in the video above. It’s hard to explain how the flags make me feel. On the one hand, I’m fully aware of the absurdity of this idea, and to call it a “theory” ignores the fact that there isn’t any reality involved. MLB isn’t rigging entire seasons for the Red Sox and giving the game away by printing out playoff merchandise with an embedded wink. God isn’t looking down upon MLB offices and smiling when he sees a new World Series logo get released, whistling “Dirty Water” as he ignores devastation in Puerto Rico. There was no causation here.
But there certainly was correlation. Perfect correlation. Until Sunday night’s washout in the Bronx.
In 2004, 2007, and 2013, the Red Sox won the World Series with the two flags perched in the logo. In no other seasons did these exact flags appear. The 2018 logo featured flags perched side-by-side; that counts, too, though it looked a bit more like the 2009 Yankees’ title-winning logo.
Regardless, pair of flags? Three for three. In 2021, the flags appeared in the ALDS and ALCS logos, but were removed from the World Series logo; the Red Sox made an ALCS run and lost steam before the Fall Classic.
And, on Sunday, as the Sox sat 11 games out of the Wild Card with 11 games remaining, the flags made one last-ditch attempt to stave off elimination, like the town of Derry, Maine’s infrastructure fighting back against a main character in a Stephen King novel.
All it would’ve taken to end Boston’s misery was a Mariners win in a game they led 11-2 in the sixth inning. By the seventh, it was 13-11 Royals. Even now, I’m half expecting MLB to un-call Sunday night’s game to give Judge (and the flags) another shot at this.
But, after a few hours of beading sweat and consternation, the gale-force winds and sheets of rain in the Bronx put an end to 18 years of misery. An act of God. Coincidence?
And so, this is my mea culpa. The flags were a lie. A coincidence, five times running. There was no handshake deal between Rob Manfred and Alex Cora (except for the one that allowed him to return to Boston after what should’ve been a lifetime ban).
Or … maybe it was true all along, and I publicized it too much last fall when the league made it too obvious. Maybe … maybe I caused this. Maybe I need to stay safe and double-lock my doors. Maybe I need to cross state lines — but, like, not to Massachusetts.
Never mind. Forget about raising my hand and admitting I was at fault. Turns out, I’m in deeper than ever, picking pins off the cork board and trying to crack the name “Doug Mientkiewicz” like it’s an ancient secret code. The conspiracy rests. For now.