Wherever it came from, no one has pressed the panic button more than Red Sox fans. Which is fine. That’s their right to do as fans. Unfortunately, though, the panic button in New England has too often been a direct line to their favorite teams’ front office.
That’s part of the price of playing in a city where the fans are so passionate. How often do they push the panic button in Atlanta or San Diego? Chargers fans should have been pounding the panic button the second they hired Norv Turner to replace Marty Schottenheimer as head coach. But no. Everything’s cool in San Diego.
It’s amazing how opposite the extremes are in some of these cities. In Boston, New York, Philadelphia and a handful of other cities, everybody pushes the panic button after each loss, no matter if it’s a 16-game season or a 162-game season. It doesn’t matter how the team has done the last eight games. A loss trumps all that. If you lose, then something needs to be done. A trade needs to be made, the lineup needs to be tweaked, the manager needs to be fired, the defensive coordinator needs to call more blitzes. FOR GOD’S SAKE, DO SOMETHING!!
Sometimes somebody with the ability to do something listens to the panic-stricken masses. Lou Gorman did it in 1990, trading Boston’s best every-day prospect, Jeff Bagwell, for Larry Andersen, a 37-year-old set-up guy to bolster a bullpen on a mediocre team (they ended up winning 88 games) trying to fend off the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL East. The deal is now Example A whenever anyone discusses lopsided trades.
This is panic button season. Today is baseball’s trading deadline, and fans of pennant contenders across the country are putting pressure the pressure on. But sometimes panic deals aren’t made to satisfy the fans. Danny Ainge’s panic threat level must be on orange, based on how he’s rebuilding the Celtics. Ainge’s job is believed to be on the line if the Celtics don’t make the playoffs next season, so he went to the panic button to save his own skin. Bill Belichick has also been accused of making a panic move in trading for Randy Moss. Rumors swirled during the off-season that Belichick is leaving the Patriots after this season and is stock-piling talent to make one last run.
Whatever it is used for, the panic button is most often used to try to get problems addressed for the short-term, even if it means ignoring the overall picture. That’s why some were pushing it when the Yankees crept within seven or eight games of the Red Sox recently. What had happened over the previous 90 or so games suddenly became irrelevant. The lead was shrinking. Somebody had to do something.
That has subsided somewhat following a 5-2 road trip by the Sox and the Yankees’ struggles in Baltimore this past weekend. All media reports have the Red Sox proceeding with caution as the trade deadline approaches today. Although most people agree they could use another big bat, they dropped out of the race for Texas’ Mark Teixeira, who ended up in Atlanta yesterday, because they didn’t want to part with top prospects such as Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz.
It’s nice to see Theo and Co. are staying calm. We need a new term. What would be the opposite of pressing the panic button? Opening the valium bottle, perhaps?