Since baseball adopted the Wild Card format and sent 8 teams instead of 4 to the post season each year, 90 wins has been a pretty safe goal to play in October.
Gone are the days where the 1993 Giants could win 103 ballgames and be playing golf in October.
If you win 90, chances are you are either taking the division or the Wild Card.
But not every time.
This year’s Red Sox are on pace to win 91 or 92 games. But barring a collapse by the Rays and or Yankees, they will fall short of the post season.
In the 15 post seasons since the Wild Card was added, there have been 10 teams that have won 90 or more games and been sent home come October.
1999 Cincinnati Reds – 96 wins
1 ½ games behind the Astros and lost a 1 game playoff to the Mets for the Wild Card
2000 Cleveland Indians – 90 wins
5 games behind the White Sox and 1 game behind the Mariners for the Wild Card.
2001 San Francisco Giants – 91 wins
2 games behind the Diamondbacks and 3 games behind the Cardinals for the Wild Card.
2002 Boston Red Sox – 93 wins
10 ½ games behind the Yankees and 6 games behind the Angels for the Wild Card.
2002 Seattle Mariners – 93 wins
10 games behind the A’s and 6 games behind the Angels for the Wild Card
2003 Seattle Mariners – 93 wins
3 games behind the A’s and 2 games behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card.
2004 Oakland A’s – 91 wins.
1 game behind the Angels and 7 games behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card.
2004 San Francisco Giants – 91 wins.
2 games behind the Dodgers and 1 game behind the Astros for the Wild Card.
2005 Cleveland Indians – 93 wins.
6 games behind the White Sox and 2 games behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card.
2006 Chicago White Sox – 90 wins
6 games behind the Twins and 5 games behind the Tigers for the Wild Card.
There are a few tortured franchises in there.
Giants fans have been waiting for a World Series title since they arrived in San Francisco.
Could a few extra wins in 2001 and 2004 have sent a winner into the playoff dance?
How about the Indians of 2000 and 2005?
Or the city of Seattle, whose misery is underrated, seeing teams in 2002 AND 2003 fall short?
Could Billy Beane’s A’s have won it in 2004?
How about the Reds missing with 96 wins?
So the Red Sox might not WANT to join this company, but I guess it is better to know you are not alone.
90 can be a magic number… or a painful one.