Monday, February 17, 2014

Bob Lobel: Spring Brings New Expectations for the Sox

 By Bob Lobel  @boblobel

After endless days and nights filled with snow, cold and frozen pipes, I can only offer the following: When you walk into a room and it is full of horse s—t and smells like horse s—t, look long and hard for the pony. 

A simple remedy to keep in mind until spring shows up. And it will. Always has. Just like the Red Sox showing up for spring training. A year makes quite a difference. Last year, the spring training Sox walked into that room and smelled all the horse s—t that was left behind, then found the pony. 

Clearly, the best things are surprises that you least expect. Thank you Boston Red Sox for that surprise last year. Now, go do it again! Not such an easy task when there are expectations complicating matters. Expectations always complicate things for the simple reason they inevitably out pace reality. Don’t expect a full blow race horse when all you need is a pony. 

This is such a different group. We know what most of them accomplished last year, yet it would be foolhardy to expect the same. Not foolhardy to expect success, just unrealistic to expect the same success. The problem is, of course, that we can’t help ourselves. 

Nothing short of another parade will suffice. That’s the price all these teams face for playing to this audience known as Red Sox Nation. We put the pressure on them to succeed. We expect it, and actually, we demand it. 

Why shouldn’t we? 

High ticket prices, high cable prices, high ball park food prices and blah, blah, blah. So it is time to recalculate our attitude about looking for that pony. 

Soon we will notice the sun setting later and the clocks will be springing ahead. Soon the starting rotation will matter, and the closer will matter, and the new centerfielder, who ever it is, will matter. But this is John Farrell’s team now, and we have an abiding faith and confidence that success will come with him.  

This is also the year where teams can challenge umpire decisions. While it may go smoothly at first, there will be a whole new strategy as to when to throw a flag and when to leave things alone. A new bench position just for play reviewing will evolve. The better teams will be better at it, and a new science will be born. 

The science of complaining, and when to or not to will become new fodder for sports talk shows over and over again. Does this take out the argument part of the game when confrontation between manager and umpire disappear? I hope not.

Hey, always know where that pony is parked, and ride it all the way to November. 

Play ball! 

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