It is important to remain calm in the midst of the storm, but sometimes the wind can cause a tilt. Boston manager Terry Francona is well aware of both the need and the wind.
Prior to Sunday’s game in New York in which the Yankees swept a four-game series and sent the Sox to their sixth consecutive defeat, Francona displayed both the calm and the slight give to the breeze.
Inside the Sox clubhouse he played cribbage with Dustin Pedroia. Both claimed to have never lost to the other, doing so in the language of the “walk around in your underwear” enclave.
This was pent-up energy and mental tension finding a way out.
Moments later, Francona headed to the large press room where both managers held their pregame meetings with the media.
The Yankee backdrop with its advertisers was moved back a few feet and the Red Sox backdrop was slid into place with the logos and names of those who paid the price.
Francona sat in front of the paid advertising and waited for questions. A couple of inquiries into the briefing, two reporters, from New York by the way, were whispering to one another and Francona heard them.
He turned to face them. “You want to run this?” he asked acerbically.
“You want to run this?” he repeated. “I’ll be happy to let you do it”
There was a stillness in the room that one expects from children in a classroom caught passing notes or text messaging.
No one was upset by the recrimination from the manager, not even the bad-boy whisperers.
This was the breeze of a losing streak and injuries and David Ortiz steroid questions.
The long and wonderful season that is baseball is ruled by the baseball gods. They do not play favorites and they do not like staidness.
The mantra of the gods is, “Here, deal with this.”
Pitcher Justin Masterson is traded and down goes Tim Wakefield. Jason Bay goes out of the lineup and a Gold Glove infielder, Kevin Youkilis (“I am not an outfielder”), is moved to left.
One ball falls out of his glove and another twists him into a pretzel as it flies over his head.
“Whatever goes wrong in left with Youk is my fault,” said Francona. It went wrong.
David Ortiz was out of the lineup Sunday. “He is physically and mentally exhausted,” says Francona.
The Yankees have responded from a slow start to a 6½-game lead as of Monday. In Yankee history they have never missed the postseason with that big a lead this late in the season.
Francona has seen it all with the Sox. He is calm and confident, if also tested.
It’s just that in times like these, whispers can seem like shouts.