Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Right Back Into It

Sometimes the beginning of the season can be a mental struggle. Everyone is looking to get any number of monkeys off their back. The first win. The first hit. The first homerun. Whatever you need so that when you look out at the scoreboard, it’s not a horribly depressing number staring back at you. The Sox did that for themselves this weekend. They brought the number on the scoreboard to the point where it’s not scary.

They started the series against the Rays with a lone win on the season. The winning percentage stood at 0.166. That’s just depressing. It was even more depressing with the Rays coming to town. If you believed the hype, this was a quality team. For some reason, the pitching staff was considered the best in the league. Would that already sad number look even worse once the marathon was over?

But, the Sox took care of that. By taking three of four from the Rays, they brought that win total up to something that didn’t stare back at you. 4-6 doesn’t yell out like 1-9 does. The Sox have won about half their games. Considering who they’ve been playing, and where they’ve been playing them, that really seems about right.

How do I know that the Sox have crossed that threshold? Because the media didn’t talk about their slow start yesterday. Instead, they had to invent some controversy with Youkilis. Let’s take a random quote from the manager, and ask a bunch of players about it before talking to the source. So, let’s ask Dustin Pedroia why Bobby Valentine was bashing Kevin Youkilis. We won’t ask Valentine what he was talking about. This way is more fun. Obviously, Pedroia defended his teammate. Boom. Instantly the manager doesn’t have the respect of the team, and the media can fill a void that was left by the lack of the “slow start” stories. It’s really amazing. Once everyone actually talked to the people with all the information, everything went away. But, they got a news cycle out of it. Even more important, they can fall back on that story whenever they need to invent another story in the future. If Youkilis gets a day off in June, the story can just write itself. “Kevin Youkilis wasn’t happy about sitting out last night. With the incident between him and Valentine from April fresh in our minds, we have to wonder how this will affect the team.” Then they can ask every member of the team if they think this pattern of conflict is a distraction. Which, of course it will be because every member of the media is distracting them by asking them if it’s a distraction. Bingo. A third cycle from the same overblown story.

But, at least if the media has to invent things, it means the team is playing well. I guess I’ll take that over the alternative.

Besides, Youkilis is a little annoying anyway.

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