Twenty percent of the 936 Massachusetts residents recently polled (PDF) by an outfit called Public Policy Polling believe that the Boston Red Sox will win the 2012 World Series.
Let us establish at the outset that this fact has no bearing on what many regard as reality. According to a fairly recent Gallup Poll, 25 percent of this country’s population does not believe in evolution, and another 36 percent hedged their bets by checking the box labeled “no opinion,” just in case the poll results might be leaked to a creator in whom they might or might not believe.
One of the most intriguing results of the PPP poll is that nearly 70 percent of the respondents have a positive opinion of Terry Francona. This suggests that lots of people don’t blame the ex-manager for the collapse in September. Neither do I. I also don’t blame chicken or beer. In fact, 78 percent of me is in favor of both chicken and beer, though 97 percent of me regards take-out chicken as a bad way to go, unless it’s in an enchilada.
The PPP poll indicates that a robust 83 percent of those polled believe Boston will make the playoffs. There are several possible explanations for the extraordinary level of confidence this result bespeaks. The most likely is that many among the 83 percent probably have misunderstood the new playoff system. Henceforth, one more so-called “Wild Card” team in each league will reach the post-season. One. Not all of them.
My favorite response to the question about whether the Red Sox will make the post-season is “not sure.” Six percent of the respondents said they were “not sure” whether the Red Sox would play in October. I’ll bet they will be paying very close attention to lots of baseball games over the next six months, whereas the 94 percent who are sure can relax and concern themselves with something else.
Here’s a speculative addendum to the Public Policy Poll:
If the Red Sox lose, say, eight of their first 10 games, 87 percent of those threatening to stop watching will call for manager Bobby Valentine’s ouster, and 69 percent will call general manager Ben Cherington an idiot for acquiring a closer who everybody knows gets hurt all the time.
On the other hand, if Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, they of the fraternity of chicken and beer, throw back-to-back shutouts, 91 percent will conclude that both pitchers have redeemed themselves.