The MLB season is four days old at the time of this column’s writing, 12 if you count the 20 innings played overseas by the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics, which only about half the country does at this point, because it was ridiculous.
The point is that four days is nary too little time to start panicking. So let’s turn on the talk radio stations, hitch up our collective fan pants – trademarked Fants will be available in retail stores shortly – and fire up the Panic-O-Meter to see which fans should truly be worried about how their teams have started the 2012 campaign.
Boston Red Sox
Bring out the ghost of Paul Revere for another midnight ride through Beantown. The Red Sox are winless at 0-3, which in Boston of course extrapolates to a harbinger for a dismal season, one ripe with blown saves and internal strife between GM Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine.
As bad as what the Fenway Faithful went through in 2011 was, with a delicious, original recipe collapse served on a national platter with a family-sized side of shame, the Sox’s opening series at Detroit might have been worse. A walk-off ended Opening Day, followed by a 10-0 blowout in Game 2. With the series already lost, Boston blew a three-run lead in the ninth and a two-run margin in the 11th, the coup de grace coming on, yes, another walk-off and another late-inning collapse from new face Mark Melancon.
Yesterday, Boston Globe columnist and Tufts alum Tony Massarotti wrote a piece titled, “Who is to blame for the Red Sox’ many failures?” Answers included the players, they of the infamous beer-and-chicken incident of late 2011, the exiled Theo Epstein and former manager Terry Francona. I could write for pages about how fans and the media implement the scapegoat mechanism to centralize blame and alleviate personal pain. Is it too early to play the blame game in Boston? Panic Level: Roughly equivalent to finding a rat tail in your bucket of extra crispy breasts. Or drinking Budweiser.
A new alliterative name brought a literally disastrous opening series in South Beach. More so than the club’s 2-3 start was when manager Ozzie Guillen came under fire over comments published last week when he expressed admiration for Fidel Castro. Not exactly the best move for the traditionally outspoken Guillen, especially in Miami.
In an article published last week for Time, Guillen told the magazine that he loves Castro and respects him for remaining in power. During his first news conference as the Marlins’ new manager last fall, he was asked a question about supporting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, so there’s a historical connection here between Guillen and controversial world leaders.
Of course, the logical connection between comments that were likely taken out of context – either by the article itself or by the public in the ensuing backlash that Guillen’s words caused – and the Marlins’ future is that Miami employs a Communist-backing manager in a city with a substantial Cuban population. This is the obvious conclusion. Any other is simply irrational.
Panic Level: 4 out of 5 Communist dictators, Sacha Baron Cohen notwithstanding.
New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles
Things are weird these days in New York and Baltimore. The Yankees are winless, the Pinstripe Panic Level is hovering somewhere between “Full-blown” and “Steinbrenner grave-rolling,” and the Mets and Orioles are undefeated. Granted, the Orioles swept a hapless Twins squad that made a lackluster Baltimore staff look like Cy Young contenders, and the Mets squeaked out three wins by an aggregate of five runs against the Braves. The overarching question: How long will it take for optimism to turn into dread?
Panic Level: 3.5 out of five confused Mets and Orioles fans, who will inevitably hurt themselves in their confusion.