There are so many reasons to hate the annual west coast trips, not the least of which being the need to deal with the Pacific Time Zone. The college version of me would be ashamed to know how much it takes out of me these days to stay up for the entirety of a west coast game. For Red Sox fans, though, it’s not just the late nights that are annoying. There’s a narrative that’s been built over the last few years that this trip is the death sentence for every Red Sox team. Just going off memory, it sounds right. But is it really what happened? I took a very quick and rough look at whether or not it’s true.
Before we dive into the validity of the narrative, I have just a few qualifiers. For one thing, I looked strictly at the games against the A’s, Mariners and Angels. Texas, and more recently Houston, are also in the AL West, but Texas is barely west. There have also been some trips to play the NL West, but those aren’t really the games we think of when we think of “The West Coast Trip.” So, with those arbitrary guidelines set, let’s dive into the results from the last five seasons.
|Year||Total Win% Before Trip||Win% During Trip||Total Win% After Trip||Final Win%|
So, we see that the numbers support the narrative to a small extent, especially for the last three seasons. The team was hovering right around .500 heading into the trip last season, then fell flat on their face out west and never fully recovered. Even in the magical 2013 season, the Red Sox played well below their typical record when they traveled across the country, although they were able to recover from that one.
Then we have 2012, the Nickelback of Red Sox seasons. The year of Bobby Valentine, Daniel Bard’s demise and Alfredo Aceves: closer. It’s hard to remember now, but that team went through most of the first part of that year hovering around .500, never really diving into that horrible squad we remember. This is the best example of the west coast trip ruining the season, and it happened twice! On two separate west coast trips they won less than a third of their games, and then played significantly worse from that point forward than they had previously.
The narrative of the west coast trip will never die, and it’s refreshing to know there is some merit to it. Obviously, this isn’t a sample large enough to take any meaningful conclusions from, but rather to conserve a little bit of sanity. We all feel like the west coast trip ruins seasons, and we see that it happened first-hand in 2012. We also see that the team’s performance has fallen off after they return to the friendly confines of the east coast. This year the Sox are 3-1 on the west coast so far, but they still have time to get to .500 or worse.
There is only one solution to this problem: Ban the west coast.
Photo by Ed Szczepanski/USA Today Sports Images