April Could Set The Tone For Red Sox Season
The Boston Red Sox are entering the 2023 season with a whole lot to prove. After losing Xander Bogaerts in the offseason and having a 2022 season that fell well below expectations, public perception of the team is at an all-time low. However, the Red Sox can turn the conversation around and prove the doubters wrong by coming out of the gates hot. The importance of a strong start cannot be overstated – it can set the tone for the entire season.
Importance of Public Perception
Public perception in sports matters, especially in a city like Boston where the fans demand a lot from their teams. When a team wins, they’re more likely to attend games, buy merchandise, and tune into the games on TV. Conversely, when fans lose interest in a team because they are losing, boring to watch, or just plain unlikeable, it can be challenging to reverse that over the course of a season.
And with the loss of Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox and their management are already on thin ice with the fan base. A slow start in April would only add to the negativity and put more pressure on the team to perform as they play catch up.
The Bruins & Celtics Success
The Bruins and Celtics are two of the hottest tickets in Boston at the moment, holding aspirations for a championship. If both teams perform to expectation, they could be playing into mid-June. The Red Sox will be there waiting, but the pressure will be on them to perform to a standard that will gain fan interest. If they struggle early on, the media and the fans will be quick to distance themselves and wait things out until Patriots Training Camp.
The Difficulty of Overcoming a Poor Start
In baseball, a fast start can be a huge advantage. Teams that establish a winning culture early on are likelier to ride that momentum throughout the season. Conversely, teams that start slow can find themselves in a difficult hole to climb out of. The Red Sox experienced this firsthand in 2022 when they stumbled out of the gates and never quite recovered. If they repeat that performance in 2023, it could be another long season at Fenway Park.
Good News: Early Schedule Will Be Favorable
The good news is that the first two weeks of the schedule present an excellent opportunity for the Red Sox to gain some early wins. They play three games at home against the Baltimore Orioles, three games at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and then travel to Detroit for a three-game series at Comerica Park. Let’s say they get off to a 6-3 or 7-2 record to start the season; that would go a long way toward washing the bad taste of 2022 out of their mouth.
Good News: Fewer Division Games
Starting this season, teams will only play 13 games against each of their divisional opponents, down from the previous 19. With fewer games against division rivals, all major league clubs will face off against each other at least once per season, regardless of the league.
In 2022, the Red Sox went a dreadful 26-50 against the AL East but still managed a 78-84 record. Think about it this way, if the Red Sox were even halfway decent against their division in 2022, they would have been competing for a playoff spot. More games against the National League is a good thing, as since 2000, Boston has gone 267-167, an unbelievable winning percentage of .615.
This doesn’t even include their 16-3 record against NL teams in World Series play since the turn of the century. While the addition of the designated hitter in the NL has leveled the playing field a bit, you’re still better off playing those clubs rather than the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Tampa Rays.
Important: Overcoming Early Injuries To Rotation
The team is still dealing with minor injuries to Garrett Whitlock, Brayan Bello, and James Paxton to start the season, leaving the rotation in a rough spot for about 2-3 weeks. Because of that, you will need guys like Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford to give you innings out of the gate.
Personally, I’m less worried about Crawford and more concerned about Houck, given his rough Spring Training where he struggled with his command. But hopefully, with a rested bullpen, they will only have him go twice through a batting order. And once that trio returns healthy, you will have depth pieces stretched out when injuries crop up throughout the season. So maybe it could end up being a good thing in the end.
I get it; baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. However, the first few weeks in April can set the pace for the rest of the season. The Red Sox will have a chance to reignite some of the publics trust and put the dreadful 2022 season behind them for good.
Conversely, a slow start would do the exact opposite, especially with the Celtics & Bruins having the opportunity to bring Boston its first championship since 2019. The fact is the Red Sox have a lot riding on the first month of the season, and we can only hope they will be able to rise to the occasion. Fingers crossed.