How many games do you think the Red Sox will win this season?

It’s the new Boston sports craze. No matter where you go — bars, water coolers, the local coffee house, a visit out to Cousin Margaret’s house — most sports conversations inevitably meander to a point-counterpoint in which Fan A asks Fan B how many games he/she thinks the Red Sox will win this season. And then Fan A, having absorbed Fan B’s take on the matter, will weigh in with his/her own win calculation.

It used to be: Do you think the Red Sox will win the World Series? Do you think the Red Sox will win their division? Do you think the Red Sox will nab a wild card? The exact win total was not germane to the discussion. Either the Red Sox were going to the playoffs or they were not. Nobody much cared about how many victories would be needed to get the job done.

The reason many Red Sox fans are talking win totals, not postseason forecasts, is that they have made their peace with the upcoming season. The days of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz combining for 250 RBI are gone, and there is no Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling to shiver the timbers of opposing batters. Years of passionately following baseball have turned Red Sox fans into sharp-eyed scouts, and, as such, they know there are question marks aplenty with this year’s team.