It's hard to point to one single thing as the cause of these assorted second-half flops. Every year is different.
2004, Frank and Maggs went down and it killed the Sox. 2006, Contreras and Buehrle showed signs of fatigue after doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the run to the World Series the previous year. 2008, we lost Quentin that last month, and he might have won the MVP if he had stayed healthy. When your best players get hurt or fail you, it's hard to get across that finish line.
I can't say there's necessarily a mental thing about second halves with this organization. This season reminds me of 2003, but what correlation could there be between now and something that happened nine years ago? Konerko is the only player left from that team. It's a totally different cast of people.
Like Lip said at the start of the thread, lack of depth has been my theory for these second-half slides. The Sox always, and I mean always, have a number of solid ballplayers on their roster. Aside from the disaster of 2007, this is a competitive club every year, and that shows that we've got some people here who can play. The question is, do we have enough people who can play? This year, I'd say no. Hell, Dewayne Wise, a journeyman outfielder, is head and shoulders above some of the other bench bums who have come through here this year. (Olmedo, Lopez, Hudson, Fukudome, Lillibridge, the list goes on and on.) You ride your top players hard, there's physical fatigue that can lead to mental fatigue over the course of a long year.
The other thing I'd point out is the Sox don't have that one really standout player who is looked upon as being among the best in the league at his position. We don't have a Cabrera. We don't have a Robinson Cano. We don't have a Josh Hamilton. We don't have a Joey Votto. We don't have that guy with an OPS over .900 who scares the piss out of the other team and just makes everyone around him better.
Now, I don't think you necessarily have to have that guy. There are plenty of examples of teams that have success without a transcendent star, but I do think it helps. There's really no question Cabrera and Fielder were more productive than Dunn and Konerko coming down the stretch this year. Cabrera and Fielder are simply better players than Dunn and Konerko. And while Chris Sale had a fine year and Jake Peavy is a solid guy, Verlander and Scherzer were simply better the second half. I do feel the star power of Detroit was a factor in this year's race.
JB's attendance record:
2004: 14-5; 2005: 16-8; 2006: 19-10; 2007: 8-12; 2008: 15-7; 2009: 6-13; 2010: 12-11; 2011: 9-8; 2012: 11-7; 2013: 8-9; Total: 118-90.
Next game: Spring 2014
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