"The Great Man: theory has some credence in Red Sox history, but, as you say, either the current Yankees have several of them, or they don’t need one. Will the analysis work with other teams? I think it stands to reason that (generally) the team that wins the pennant has players having career years, and one or more of those “career year” players will be one of the aforementioned “Great Men.” I think of Bob Gibson for the 67 Cardinals, Denny McClain, 68 Tigers, etc. But there are team efforts that win pennants and world series too.
Changing the subject, here is some more evidence to prove my anal retentive mundane point that comparing the Red Sox to the Cubs as fans of teams that somehow “suffer” together, take note:
From 1945-99, the Red Sox had 38 years in which they finished the season with more wins than losses. In that time, they also won 4 pennants and made several other playoff appearances.
The Cubs, in the same time period, have had 14 years in which they have had winning seasons. 1945 is the only pennant, with 3 mostly eventless playoff appearances.
In recent history (since 1969, the year the majors split into divisions) the record is just as disparate, if not more so. The Red Sox have had 25 winning seasons, the Cubs 9. The Cubs had most of theirs at the outset of that time frame, during the Billy Willimas/Ron Santo years, while 4 of the 6 Red Sox losing seasons came in the last 6 to 7 years or so.
The Red Sox have been highly competitive and in real contention for most of the time periods I mentioned. Except for the early 1960s, you could count on the Red Sox to be a solid, contending ball club year in year out.
Except for the early 70s, the Cubs have been doormats.
Red Sox fans may be hungry for reaching that ultimate Valhalla of a world seres win, but they have not had to endure the misery of total failure year after year after year, like Cubs fans have.
The Cubs are an incredibly unique sports phenomenon. For over half a century, they have totally sucked. Other teams haven’t won the pennant, or the series, or have had long dry spells, but even the White Sox have had a winning record in 30 of those 55 years (most of the losers in the 70s), and the Indians have 23 winning years (with most coming in the 50s and the recent past).
Which is why the marketers for the Cubs are such geniuses. Wrigley Field, WGN, and Harry Carrey (or his ghost) are what draws people to see the Cubs. The product on the field has been DOA for decades.
So, Red Sox fans, don’t let yourselves be compared to Cubs fans. At least your team has given its fans something to cheer for.
“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”