Musings: Calm Down

 By Dick Flavin

   Boston Red Sox Poet Laureate

     and New York Times Best Selling Author

CALM DOWN

My instinct is to tell you to just calm down – except that telling someone who is already upset to calm down usually has the opposite effect. My guess is that when DonaldTrump goes off on one of his twitter rants it’s right after someone has said to him, “For crying out loud, Donald, calm down.”

I’m aware that things are bad enough as it is, that for more than a week now you’ve been wandering through your days in a fog, mumbling to yourself, “All is lost, all is lost.” I know that you’ve been crying yourself to sleep every night. All because Giancarlo Stanton has fallen into the clutches of the dreaded New York Yankees.

But, well, calm down.

Think about the last time such a disasterous thing happened. It was fourteen years ago when the Yankees signed up a player who was considered the best of his generation; a player the Boston Red Sox wanted desperately and in fact thought they had landed, a player who everyone knew was a sure-fire hall of famer. But Alex Rodriguez ended up as a Yankee, and the Red Sox went on to win the World Series that year. In fact the Sox went on to win the Series three times in the next decade while A-Rod got caught up in the steroid scandal, then got caught lying about it and became baseball’s highest profile (and highest paid) pariah, and the Yankees had to foot the bill. In retrospect the Red Sox dodged a bullet when they missed out on him.

There is no evidence that Stanton is headed in the same direction that A-Rod took, but neither is there any evidence that he will thrive in the pressure cooker of the Big Apple. Miami is a great city but in baseball terms it’s a third world country. It’s one thing to perform in front of half-empty stands, but that’s not the same as being in the full glare of the spotlight in which he’ll soon find himself. Did the Yankees get the guy who in 2017 hit 59 home runs, drove in 132, and batted .281? Or did they get the 2016 version, who hit just 27 dingers, drove in only 74, and batted a measly .240? Granted, Stanton played in only 119 games in ’16, but that’s about what he averaged in his eight years with the Marlins. He has always been injury-prone – will that continue? Maybe he’s like some breeds of big dogs – imposing in apperance but delicate.

Here’s another thing to take into account - good pitching beats good hitting. That’s something the Red Sox have learned the hard way over and over again through the years. If Chris Sale can be as effective as he was last year, and if the Sox can find a way to keep him sharp for the entire season (the season runs through the end of September, remember; it doesn’t end on Labor Day); and if Drew Pomeranz can be as good as he was last year; and if  Rick Porcello can be as good as he was the year before last; and if David Price returns to form; and if Eduardo Rodriguez ever fulfills his potential (God, that’s a lot of “ifs”), then the Red Sox should be all right, provided, of course, that they add a power bat or two to the lineup.

Don’t you wish that we could return to those innocent days of two weeks ago, when everyone was okay with the fact that the Red Sox were not in on the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes? That’s because we thought that the Yankees were not in on it either. Then the Evil Empire suddenly swooped in and grabbed him. Oh, the weeping and gnashing of teeth that has ensued. We can only pray that we’ll survive this dastardly deed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to cry myself to sleep.

A RED SOX PRAYER

Oh Dominic, Pesky, Williams and Stephens

Dear Lord, protect us from Damn Yankee heathens.

They torture and beat us, and that’s just for starters,

And we’re sick of being the Damn Yankee martyrs.

They’re devils in pinstripes, dear Lord, even worse,

So to you we pray in this poor, humble verse.

You’ve performed miracles, done it before;

Just think what you did in two thousand four.

Then once again in two thousand seven

You answered our prayers up in baseball heaven.

Then you brought back the act in twenty thirteen,

What a crowd pleaser, dear Lord, really keen.

For that we thank you and we praise you greatly,

But, God, you haven’t done much for us lately.