A few losses – especially to the Yankees- and panic mode engulfs Boston Red Sox Nation
The Boston Red Sox fandom is in a perpetual state of panic – a panic that may go batter to batter and not series to series. Relax and take a yoga class, Jack Daniels or Paxil since this ingrained generational behavior pattern cannot be treated with logic since it runs off of high octane emotion. Baseball is a sports marathon and there will be the doldrums of a long period of mediocrity with equal periods of a zenith type of all cylinders are clicking spree. Sunday morning the posting boards and sports talk were all afire after two losses to New York – sigh.
Within RSN, the doldrums take on an emotional life of their own that would have the Samaritans hotline approaching meltdown. The unfortunate consequence is a period of astounding success usually has a waiting for the other shoe to drop mentality.
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Possibly the best avenue is to adopt the iconic Alfred E. Neuman approach of “What me worry?” Then again, that rarely works since we Red Sox fans are bombarded with an unrelenting media explosion that one can find nary a hiding place from bad news. Even good news is somehow migrated into bad news. But what is bad news?
Bad news in RSN is rather fluid and there is always something that surfaces to cause unrelenting stress to our otherwise placid lifestyle. Right now prima facie is the sudden implosion of our star – at least he was a star in Tampa, Detroit, and Toronto – pitcher. David Price is now firmly a pitching piñata.
In the real baseball world which is defined as the other twenty-nine baseball teams, this would be viewed as one of those mysterious and unexplainable blips that occasionally surface or “No Big Deal.” Things will eventually work out since Price is in baseball middle age at 30-years-old, is a true professional and can adjust to the sudden loss a few MPH on his heater. However, this is Boston and Price takes on the significance of those nasty British occupiers placing a stamp tax on the humble colonials.
Price is not alone. Pablo Sandoval has since become a closed case for 2016 with a shoulder that is gone thanks to unrelenting shoveling of food at the Golden Corral Buffett. Sandoval thus will possibly join Julio Lugo and about a dozen others as management free agent blunders. Pablo is now officially off the misery table since he is in “recovery” in Florida.
The Red Sox kingdom is unique in baseball as every game takes on the magnitude of a college rivalry or an NFL death match. The difference is this is not a weekly event, but one that happens on a daily basis, so there is no emotional recovery or chance to simply “chill out.” This, of course, does not go unnoticed among the denizens who follow other teams.
Back in 2004 and 2013 St. Louis fans were actually being apologetic for not being more competitive. In the great middle of America, the big news in the morning is the farm report and not how the Cards or Royals or whomever has performed. Baseball is for enjoyment and not for a precursor for cardiac arrest. Sanity seems to be the prevailing wind blowing most places except Boston with a possible notation for New York and Philadelphia.
Benjamin Disraeli – a noted baseball sabermetrician who taught Tom Tango and Nate Silver everything they know – once stated three kinds of lies: “Lies, damn lies and statistics.” Within the Red Sox culture, one must be adept at cherry picking certain stats as clear and undeniable evidence that Chicken Little is correct and the baseball sky is falling. Of course, a reasonable person – I.E. a fan other than that of the Red Sox – could easily point to other stats to clearly demonstrate the team is hotter than Hades during an LNG explosion.
That is, of course, meaningless, since it goes headwinds into an area of logic, common sense and practicality – all attributes that are vacant in RSN. So we naturally return to the latest angst to surface and that usually is something that hovers around failure – real or imagined.
Managers make mistakes and bonehead moves are in the forefront constantly with the perverse sense of hindsight and an over-analytic approach to anything that is Red Sox. Each and every member of RSN would make every move as perfect as the Bolshoi Ballet, giving a command performance with their life depending upon it. There is nothing in nature more perfect than a Red Sox fan discussing what is (A) Wrong with the team and how (B) he or she would have made flawless managerial decisions. The current manager – John Farrell – has been fired numerous times this season before the bell even rang.
The season is long and the roller coaster is part of the ride and I personally enjoy roller coasters. The quick turns that one least expects and the serious drops and the stomach churning that goes with the ride (or a Red Sox loss). Part of the roller coaster is the players and their performances or lack of.
Do fans really and honestly think Clay Buchholz enjoys losing? Buchholz has been in Boston ten seasons and that is a formidable baseball longevity mark in this day and age. Buchholz reads and listens and I am sure some of the comments on his struggles are a Brillo pad for him. Buchholz knows exactly what his performance means and he is not alone.
The simple fact is a certain number of players are going to fail miserably this season while another group will exceed expectations and you can start to see both those situations forming. It is early, but Jackie Bradley may be the real deal and “If he could only hit .240?” may be left in the dust of a flotilla of extra base hits. Rick Porcello has suddenly resuscitated his image. On the downside, Chris Young may have left his game on the lawn at Yankee Stadium and Joe Kelly may have regressed back to early 2015 form.
Other players are in the stages where you can start to seriously expect “numbers” that get attention and that means Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, several bullpen specialists, Dustin Pedroia and the offensive anchor – David Ortiz. And not to leave out Craig Kimbrel who just may be the final piece to complete a pitching jigsaw puzzle. Even Hanley Ramirez has been a refreshing surprise to the most jaded of Red Sox fans.
This is a very good team the Red Sox have and I have been around long enough to know that and my “homer” approach has been verified by other non-Red Sox fans whose opinions I respect. This is a tantalizing blend of youth, experience, and complementary talent, but good does not mean great.
A great team has to produce and production means the playoffs and with a new RSN attitude that failure is not winning the World Series – so Yankee of us. No?
In the meantime, I will attempt to practice my patience and not get into a mental flux over a few setbacks since this baseball thing is a long haul project. Hopefully, it will be better and far more successful than “The Big Dig.”