The Power of Positive Thinking

So we decided to try something new last night. Rather than the usual, “Remember how we said we weren’t going to be sucking here, boys? Remember that? You must have heard wrong because what you appear to being doing is the exact opposite of that and SUCKING MIGHTILY!” that we usually throw at the Red Sox when faced with mediocrity, Marianne suggested that perhaps they just needed some positive reinforcement.

She reminded me of how well that had worked for Mark Loretta on Patriots Day when we offered him a shiny, green beetle if he would somehow get on base and let Papi have a shot at winning the game for us. Turns out, Mark really wanted a whole ant farm so he sent a walk-off over the Monster. Hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

So it happened that last night, down 6-5 in the top of the ninth inning, we started getting positive with our cheering. Trot Nixon, up with the bases loaded, was the first recipient of our good vibes.

“Trotter,” Marianne said, lovingly, “If you somehow tie this game, I will see to it that you get your own personal keg of Lonestar Light. And unlimited barbecue ribs for a week.” Trot, cleary, liking the deal, drew a bases loaded walk to tie the game.

Then it was Varitek’s turn and God (and myself) love him, but we know the man doesn’t exactly have the best track record in bases loaded situations. “Weak pop to short,” I predicted.

“Now, let’s be positive,” Marianne countered. You know Tek best, what does he want?”

“Jason,” I said, staring intently at the television screen, “If you managed to get an RBI here, I will get you every season of This Old House with Bob Villa on DVD.” Tek swung at a fastball out of the zone, missing it by a foot. “And Supercuts gift certificates for life.” I added. He swung and missed at another pitch.

“It’s not working,” Marianne countered, “He needs something else.”

“Beef jerky!” I blurted out, “Or Slim Jims. Do something good here and you can snap into as many Slim Jims as you like.” Tek evidently liked this idea as he laced a ball through the hole on the right side of the infield, scoring the go-ahead run. I got so excited, I therw in a bonus, “And a fancy, new pair of pleated khakis for you too!”

Next, it was Mike Lowell’s turn. “A lifetime supply of Just For Men!” I blurted out, resulting in a sacrifice fly.

Up came Wily Mo. Now, Wily Mo hasn’t been around for long. It’s hard to know what the newbies want in Imaginary Baseball World as we haven’t really had long enough to get to know them. But we do know that Wily Mo likes to hang out with David Ortiz.

“Wily Mo,” Marianne coached him, “If you get a hit, you can borrow Papi’s harem and entourage for one day. And you can sit next to him in the chauffered Escalade.”

“And you’ll get your own bottle of Hennessey at the postgame spread,” I added.

Wily Mo obliged with a single to center, scoring Trot.

“You know,” I said, “I’m starting to get a wee bit frightened of our mental powers here. It’s possible that we’ve just tapped into the key to winning baseball games. It’s all about positive reinforcement.”

“Or it’s possible that the Devil Rays’ bullpen just really sucks,” Marianne said.

“True,” I answered. “Plus, it’s kind of unlikely that this whole ‘think positive’ thing is gonna catch on in Boston.”

“Well some of them just need tough love,” Marianne added, “Like Damon did.”

“Or like Foulke,” I said.

“Exactly. Who’s up now?”

“Um…Gonzalez.”

“What the hell are we supposed to do with this guy?”

We stared at the television for a moment, long enough to see Gonzalez fly out to end the inning.

“Well,” I shrugged, “No use in getting greedy.”

“Indeed,” Marianne agreed.

“Now,” I said, “Here’s the real question: with Papelbon, do we offer him something so he’ll do well or do we just not look directly at him and allow him to go about his business?”

“I’m thinking we don’t mention his name again and look at the television in about four minutes.”

“Good plan.”

And so we talked about tangentially related baseball things for a few minutes, drank some beer and, when we finally allowed ourselves to look at the TV, Papelbon had struck out the side, securing the win for the Sox.

“The thing about that guy is…I don’t even know,” I said, at a loss for words.

“Word,” Marianne replied.

So clearly, last night all the Sox needed was for someone to believe in them. I’d like to say that the era of good feelings, puppies and rainbows will carry over into today’s game but the D-Rays are countering Schilling with Kazmir. The least I can hope for is a good brawl.

However, I would like to tempt Kevin Youkilis by saying that if he does something particularly excellent, resulting in multiple runs, I’ll have a talk with Coco about letting Kevin “The Big K.Y.” have a guest spot on Coco’s next rap album. Think about it, Youks.

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