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That sinking feeling

Posted at 10:18 AM on September 21, 2007 by Chris Dall

While we dissect the various reasons for the Twins failures this year, and ponder the uncertain future, fans of the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets are biting nails, pulling out hair, and consuming antacids by the barrel as their respective teams slowly lose their grip on first place.

If things continue to go as they have for the past few days, what's happening in New York and Boston will rank among the biggest September collapses in baseball history. The Mets had a 7 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies on September 17th. They then proceeded to get swept by the Phillies last weekend, and now have lost 6 of their last 7 games and seen their lead shrink to a game-and-a-half. The only other team to see that large a lead shrink at that late a date is the 1964 Phillies, who led their division by 6.5 games on September 20. But losing a 7 game lead with 17 games left would be unprecedented.

Meanwhile, in Boston, Red Sox fans are witnessing a collapse eerily similar to 1978, when they held a 14 game lead over the Yankees in July and still lost the division. This year, their lead over the Yankees stood at 14.5 games in August. Now it has shrunk to a game-and-a-half.

What's going on? Well, there are many theories, some with more credence than others, but perhaps the main reason is that both teams are seeing their bullpens implode. Boston relievers gave up a 6 run lead to the Yankees last Friday night, and then gave up 3 runs and 4 runs on consecutive nights against Toronto. The Mets held 3 separate 4-run leads over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, and blew all three. Then, last night against the Florida Marlins, Met reliever Jorge Sosa lost a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the ninth to the Florida Marlins, in a game the Mets lost 8-7.

Yes, fans of many teams, including the Twins, will say they'd rather see their teams in the thick of a pennant race than playing out the string, but I'm not sure if watching a team fall apart at the absolute worst time is something to be wished for.

For more thoughts on this subject, check ESPN's "Pity Party."

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