I phrased it that way to eliminate teams like that '77 and '78 teams that won 97 and 99 games respectively and the '88 and '90 teams that won less than 90 games but won the division.
It's easy to like the very good teams. But teams are going to have mediocre seasons and to me, fans should be able to find reasons to like some of those teams.
For me, my favorite team that fits that category is the 1971 team. I was just seven years old, but it's the first team that I have a lot of memories about. I remember earlier teams because I remember when Tony C. was still playing for the Sox.
1971 is the first year that I have strong memories of the season. I remember Yaz starting strong and hurting his wrist and struggling to the finish. I remember players like Ray Culp and Sonny Siebert. Duane Josephson being the catcher. Players like Joe Lahoud and John Kennedy.
Those players also played in 1972, but why I can seperate the two seasons is that I remember Billy Conigliaro playing for the Sox and knowing that Tony C. was gone by Billy C. was here in '71 but gone in '72. I remember Ray Culp being good then struggling in 1972 because of an injury. I remember Lonborg still being a part of the Sox (1971) then being traded (1972). And I remember George Scott before the Brewers trade ('71) and that was the first trade that I remember not liking.
I also can seperate '71 and '72 because I remember Josephson being starting catcher in 1971 then seeing Fisk in 1972. Fisk was the first great Sox player whom I remember following in his rookie year.
So the 1971 team remains one of my favorite teams. I can look back on that team and remember that's when my passion for the team really took hold. (Can't say it began because I remember always being a fan.) I remember playing in the back yard listing to those players on the radio and watching the games with my dad.
So even though Yaz was my favorite player but had a down year and the Sox were just 85-77 and finished a distance third, that team and those players will always be special. Any time I see the names of a lot of those players, I'm instantly a kid and seeing the game through those eyes.