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Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Yankees, the Red Sox ... and luck

By Andrew Marchand

Sox Celebration
The 2013 Boston Red Sox got lucky. Let's hope the 2014 Yankees get lucky, too.
Using the word "luck" seems disparaging when we talk about winning championships. It appears to insinuate there wasn't much skill involved. So let's get this out of the way:

The Boston Red Sox earned their title in 2013. They tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in the regular season and then beat them in the World Series. They deserved their glory.

Still, the Sawx were very fortunate. Nearly every single thing went right for them. Yes, this was a product of smart planning -- but they also got some lucky breaks.

Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz pitched largely like themselves again, even if Buchholz had trouble making it to the finish line. John Lackey came back strong. They found a closer out of nowhere in Koji Uehara, who didn't begin the season finishing games but ended it as arguably the best closer in baseball.

The Red Sox hit the jackpot on every one of their free-agent signings, from Mike Napoli to Jonny Gomes to David Ross and beyond. Everything worked.

The 2013 Yankees, on the other hand, were ravaged by injuries, using the most players in franchise history. You could argue this stemmed from poor design and old age. The Red Sox dealt with a similar plague in 2012.

As we all try to forecast 2014 -- and we will be doing that a lot over the next week or so -- luck is a major factor, one that often leaves the experts scratching their heads by season's end.

Will Brian McCann and Kelly Johnson add an extra 10 homers in the Bronx as the Yankees think they can? Will they end up on the DL? Will Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter return to some semblance of their All-Star prowess, or will they be just broken-down older players?

Can Brian Roberts stay healthy? How about Jacoby Ellsbury? Or Carlos Beltran?

Will David Robertson be able to handle the ninth inning in place of Mariano Rivera? Will someone replace Robertson at the setup guy?

And will the Red Sox continue to be as fortunate in '14 as they were in '13?

We can all make our guesses, but no one really knows. The Yankees spent around a half-billion dollars to try to become as good as the Red Sox again; now they have to be as lucky, too.

(The Yankees and Red Sox meet tonight in Fort Myers on ESPN.)