Date: Monday April 1, 2002
In 1999, for the first two weeks after I read Tuesdays with Morrie, I was a courteous driver and all-around mellow fellow.
But that momentary equanimity didn't stand a chance against Jose Offerman. For three years, the oft-hobbling, rarely-hitting, never-turning-the-DP Awfulman has gotten the better of me. Time and time again, he has provoked my bitter rage. Over those three years no Red Sox player has strode to the plate more frequently. Sure, he had that 100+ at-bat string without an extra-base hit last year. Sure, he just missed joining a select group of ballplayers with 100 strikeouts and single-digit homers and steals. Sure, he is one of the worst middle infielders of all time, having led the NL in errors four times as a shortstop. Sure, he's a complainer and a whiner.
And, sure, he is back - for now - to complete the final year of his four-year, $26-million deal, which, amazingly, looks even worse in retrospect than it did at the time.
And you know what? I'm okay with it. Because this is the new me. I will not pop any blood vessels this year. I will not throw any chairs across my apartment. I will not mistreat people just because I'm in a funk after a Red Sox loss. I will not lose consciousness when I hear "Pedro" and "rotator" in the same sentence. I will not call for the head of Grady Little the first time he fails to move the runner on a 3-2 pitch with a contact hitter at the plate.
Why the sudden sanity? There are a few reasons, I
suppose, but mostly it's simply that I reached a level of sustained misery last
year that I had never experienced in any season in any sport. From March to
September I was alternately anxious and furious. Every day seemed to bring
By the bitter end, I found myself rooting for things like Mike Musina not pitching a perfect game against us; shutting down Pedro for the season; David Cone reaching double figures in wins, Jose Offerman retiring.
The season felt like 162 trips to the proctologist. Will I ever be the same after watching Mike Lansing play 100 games at shortstop? After watching Scott Hatteberg - the rainbow warrior - make those helium-balloon throws down to second? After Carl Everett got thrown out at third to end a game, grabbed his crotch after a home run and called his manager a racist in the days after 9/11. For his part, Carl believes radio-controlled dinosaurs flew those planes.
And just when you think all the worst is behind us - and all the malingering stiffs exiled - Rickey opens his mouth.
Still, it's a new year and I'm a new man. Garciaparra to Sanchez to Clark. The thrill of the grass. Enjoying the episodic ebb-and-flow. No more psychosis.
We'll win more than we lose, but we won't win more than the Yankees, A's or Mariners, which is a simple way to figure out that we won't make the playoffs.
No, the Boston Red Sox will not win the World Series this year.
And I'm okay with that. Really. Seriously. Baseball can be fun again, right?
Or, is it possible that what got broken last year doesn't go back together again? That once the toxicity levels reach PG&E levels baseball is forever poisoned for those of us who gulped down the hexavalent chromium of Team Turmoil.
I'm afraid to look. Happy Opening Day. Hardball