We have dealt with far worse situations than this, and somehow kept our heads. In fact, we sometimes accepted those situations as merely our sad lot in life.
It was a bad three games, I agree. Sunday's game was particularly horrific. The two relief pitchers in competition for the role of shutting down the opposition in the ninth inning have utterly failed. Mark Melancon allowed two hits in the ninth inning of a 2-2 tie on Opening Day and one of them scored when Alfredo Aceves allowed a ground ball single down the left field line. Melancon could not put away Alex Avila on Sunday evening and the resulting two-run home run in the 11th inning crushed the hopes of fans hoping to salvage something from this season-opening series. And Aceves left his mark on G3 also. Entrusted with a three-run lead in the ninth, he allowed two singles and a home run to flush what could have been a 10-7 win.
This has many fans demanding that Daniel Bard be yanked from the rotation before he has made even one start and plugged back into the bullpen. But that would be a mistake and a clear sign that the front office has abandoned the philosophy that brought them two World Series championships after an 86-year drought. It would show that the team is taking the short view and looking at only the recent games when making important decisions. You don't base team decisions on two games worth of data.
Reacting impulsively to the most recent thing that happened - that's exactly what the sports media does. And it's one of the things we hate about them. They need attention, they need web clicks, so they go for the most sensationalist, attention-grabbing angle. Quick to stir up controversy, create gloom and doom where there is none, put fans on edge - it is their raison d'être. However, I expect a more mature attitude from a multi-million dollar business like the Red Sox. I trust them not to measure their success by water cooler talk or angry calls to sports radio.
When George Steinbrenner let his emotional outbursts drive the direction of the Yankees during the 1980s, he was the laughingstock of baseball, and the team suffered accordingly. In contrast, the front office that Theo Epstein ran from 2003-11 prided itself at taking the long view, of not getting its cues from sports columnists or the impatient fans on sports radio. There was a clear reason why we said: "In Theo We Trust". The front office explained its five-year plan, it sounded ambitious and logical, and they executed it with as much precision as you can in the unpredictable world of professional baseball. And it worked. It goddamn worked. They won two titles in those five years.
Bobby Valentine committed an error when he announced that Aceves would be the team's closer. Aceves was angry at not being chosen for the rotation and perhaps Valentine's designation was made to boost his ego. I don't know. But I do know that without that pronouncement, Valentine could have used Aceves or Melancon or Vicente Padilla or Franklin Morales as each ninth-inning situation and different opponent arose. One size does not fit all. Now, if (when?) Valentine changes anything, it will be spun as a panicking manager of a rudderless team giving up on a player after only a handful of appearances.
I want the management of my team to understand that shit happens. (I want overwrought and misplaced panic to be the exclusive domain of the CHBs of the world.) Bad teams beat good teams, and good teams lose games. Sometimes those good teams lose two or three games in a row. The 1998 Yankees began the season 0-3 (and 1-4), and ended up with a 114-48 record and a World Series trophy. The 2011 Red Sox started out 2-10, then started winning like gangbusters, going 80-41, including 36-15 in June and July. (What happened in September does not erase the previous four months of excellence.)
After Sunday's game, Adrian Gonzalez told Mark Melancon: "Keep your head up. Keep grinding. A couple of weeks from now you're not even going to remember it."
A bad three-game start to a six-month baseball season is like grinding your gears at the start of a long drive. It's annoying, but it won't affect your journey.