As we enter the final two weeks of the regular season, warning lights are flashing all over Boston. The Red Sox are reeling from an awful stretch of eight losses in ten games. The Yankees are doing a tad better and managing to keep the Sox 4 games behind them. As I write, Boston is starting a four-game series against Tampa Bay, who is coming up to fight for the Wild Card spot at the last possible moment. Sox fans are nervous; panic has set in with swirling questions about their starting pitching, their set-up man, their hitting slump, their clubhouse meal selections, their favorite colors, their almost-full DVR, etc. Hit the Panic Button, Red Sox Nation!
The ol’ Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel was famous in the 1990s for getting out the Panic Button on air and, well, panicking. He used that button so much that it should have been renamed the Business-As-Usual Button. David “Big
Papi Mouth” Ortiz said the other day, “Hell, yeah, you’ve got to panic.” At least everybody is in agreement.
In 2004, when the Red Sox came back from an 0-3 deficit in the ALCS and beat the Yankees in four straight games (and then went on to win the World Series), the Yankee universe was crushed. But Bronx Bomber fans all had the same thought: “Wow, that was bad, but it will never happen again.” Yet, when the Red Sox were in first place in July of 1978 by 14 games and ended up blowing that lead (culminating with a one-game playoff loss to Bucky Dent and the Yankees), Red Sox Nation thought “Wow, that was bad, and it will probably happen again and again.” So the mindset of each group of fans is different and leads to different reactions to losing streaks. Yankee fans during a losing streak: “We’ve just got to play better and win the next game.” Red Sox fans during a losing streak: “We’ll continue to play poorly and we may never win again.”
Hmmmm…the Red Sox are losing 4–1 to the Rays right now….maybe they will never win again.
It gets late early out there.