"You can't triple stamp a double stamp, Lloyd!"
Finally, we have landed the breakfast-cereal guy. We lost Marte, Kelly Shoppach (Sam referred to him as "poor Kelly Shoppach", which seems an incredibly apt way of putting it), and a PTBNL--pleasedon'tbeMannyDelcarmenpleasedon'tbeMannyDelcarmenpleasedon'tbeMannyDelcarmen...
But finally! Miracle of miracles! The Red Sox HAVE A CENTERFIELDER AND A LEAD-OFF HITTER. Let's fucking rejoice, goddamnit. Because if you listened to, oh, every third person around here for the last several months, there was a VERY REAL possibility that, on opening day, there would be an actual empty space in center and the Red Sox were going to go with a highly-unorthodox eight-man lineup (hey, more at-bats for Ortiz!).
In other news, we're revisiting the Marlins garage sale and signing free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Another crisis averted! I, for one, was apprehensive they'd be calling upon me to play short this season. Or, perhaps, they would be using a donkey. I don't know why a donkey, it just seems like a cool idea.
So basically, while I fail to understand those not surprised or nonplussed by the Theo saga, I equally fail to understand those with their knickers in a Boy Scout knot over "the Red Sox STILL have no shortstop or center fielder," as if the Sox will actually leave about an acre of empty space in the outfield and have some barnyard animal patrolling between second and third. I fail even further to understand the fact that most of this collective freak-out over those empty positions HAPPENED IN DECEMBER AND JANUARY as if we were preparing for the home opener and Tito had come out and admitted he had no fucking clue who was leading off.
And hey, who's gonna be the first to complain about how long it took them to sign Crisp and Gonzalez? I'm sure there'll be a stampede and possibly a catfight to claim that distinction.
PEOPLE. THIS IS WHY THE REST OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL THINKS WE ARE INSANE.
So. Now that that's settled, let's do a thing here, shall we, an exercise, if you will. Let's do what the big corporate marketing representatives I often deal with at work call "setting expectations."
Close your eyes. Relax. Breathe deeply, in...and out. In...and out. Good. Find your happy place. Go there in your mind--is it a bright, sandy beach? Is it a darkened theater? Find your chi. Find your center. Relax your aura. Good.
Now let me tell you something, sugars.
Theo's return (and apparent string-pulling all along) means, without a doubt, that the 2006 Red Sox just may suck. Let's prepare ourselves for that eventuality right now, so that when they're seven games out and even behind the Blue Jays by June, we don't have the OMG THE 2006 RED SOX SUCK collective freakout, because really people, that might finally force me to found my own separatist colony of Fellow Red Sox Fans I Can Stand (population: about a dozen) on an island somewhere.
The 2006 Red Sox might suck. In fact, they are probably going to suck. Let's gird our loins for that tribulation starting now, how about it?
Because here's what I don't know if people are just deliberately being short-sighted about, or what, but now that the ownership achieved the first championship, the goals are different. The goals are more about the next decade as opposed to next year. If you concede this context, then, the 2006 Red Sox sucking might mean that the 2007 Red Sox and beyond will be very good. As a matter of fact, the inverse also applies: loading up the 2006 Red Sox like the 2004 squad would probably cripple the long-term competitiveness of the team.
Let me say that again, because it bears repeating: Our goals are different now. And loading up the 2006 Red Sox like the 2004 squad would probably cripple the long-term competitiveness of the team.
Now, I'm not saying it's gonna be easy. I'm not saying it's gonna be pretty. I'm not saying we're not going to have to deal ALL SEASON with Yankees fans and their friends in the national media telling us that our ownership are idiots, our championship was a fluke, and our manager is just this side of functionally retarded. We're going to have to deal with our local media echoing same, although more frequently and more in the tone of Jim Carrey's immortal "Most Annoying Sound In the World" from the classic film Dumb and Dumber.
So let's establish right now: Theo has not lost his touch. Terry Francona is not a moron and no, he should not be fired. The Red Sox will--I repeat, will--rise again. No matter what happens once the curtain goes up on 2006 at Fenway.
And I'm begging you, I'm begging my fellow fans right now: let's be smart. Let's be calm. Let's make 2006 the year we shake off the Shaughnessy on our back, and stop getting played for fools like we did with Mannygate 2005. Let's make 2006 the year we can take a long view of the team in its historical context, instead of cursing the Gods that brought us whichever player it turns out is a dud on this year's squad. Let's be strong and patient and satisfied the way a fan base denied gratification for so long should be.
And also? Someone remind me of this post come June.