Sometimes in life, we’re presented with two scenarios based on our decisions: the best case and the worst case. When the bartender offers you one more drink when you’re already on the edge, the worst-case scenario is you end up on a velvet couch in a silk robe with a middle-aged man feeding you baby food (please don’t ask where that example came from). The best-case scenario is … well, everything is the best-case scenario when compared to that velvety nightmare.
The Boston Red Sox find themselves in the most questionable position they’ve been in for years. Today, we break down the best-case and worst-case scenarios for Bobby Valentine, Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard. They are the three key ingredients who need to be mixed just right for the Sox to have a successful season. Only time will tell if they end up on that couch eating baby food. The numbers have been crunched, fantasy drafts have been completed, so here are some “real life” possibilities.
Best case: The players respond to the man who invented the wrap, and his energetic style doesn’t wear on Boston’s veteran players. Terry Francona looked at spring training as something to just to get through with no major injuries. Valentine has players running from station to station, practicing bunts, holding runners on and practicing fundamentals. All of this hard work will lead Boston to another title, and Red Sox Nation and players will fully embrace this savior, this genius, this baseball whisperer.
Worst case: Reality. Valentine will manage the Red Sox to a third-place finish in the AL East. All of the hyperbole will disintegrate when the Red Sox fail to make the postseason yet again. People will actually look at Valentine the manager and not Valentine the man. A manager who has a posted a 1,117-1,072 win-loss record in 15 years managing in the majors — a man who won exactly two pennants during that time. Valentine and the Red Sox front office never see eye to eye on key issues. The struggle to make final decisions about the team’s roster will crack his psyche. By year’s end, Valentine will have claimed to have invented the wave, the Fenway Frank and Ted Williams. Fans and players alike will grow tired of Valentine throwing players under the bus. The streets of Boston will be filled with angry mobs searching for this Frankenstein, this man of the media’s creation.
Best case: Fans will witness Bailey perform an Irish Jig Jonathan Papelbon could only dream of dancing. A dance full of pure joy after he successfully closes game seven of the World Series. The Dropkick Murphys dedicate their next album to Bailey. Nine months from October, a sudden influx of babies named ‘Andrew’ or ‘Bailey’ flood hospitals across New England. He drinks a Guinness during a duck-boat parade on an unusually warm October morning. He’s the toast of the town. We all become Bailey boys and forget there was once a guy here named Jonathan.
Worst case: Bailey succumbs to the pressure cooker of Boston. He never finds his mojo. His regular season stat line follows his spring stat line: 0-1, 4.50 ERA with 0 saves. The Guinness on the warm October morning turns into a Guinness with a chicken wing on days he feels he’s not needed. The Dropkick Murphys bow out and Justin Beiber writes his intro music. Sox fans turn on him faster than Papelbon turned on Sox fans (c’mon Pap, Sox fans are wicked smhaat about baseball). Bailey proves he was more hype than John Carter.
Best Case: There are two possible best-case scenarios for Bard. The best best-case is Bard stays in the rotation, wins 15 games and proves to be a key starter in the playoffs. The second best-case is Bard returns to the bullpen (not because he is struggling but because the bullpen desperately needs him). Upon his return to the bullpen, he turns into the best set-up man in baseball, gets 100 Ks out of the pen and keeps his ERA around 1.00. He becomes the master of versatility and accepts his role with the kind of deep insight only Yoda could muster.
Worst case: Bard stays in the rotation all season as a below-average starter. He gets knocked around more than an unprepared Mike Tyson against Buster Douglas. His arm becomes a wasteland. Worst of all is the knowledge he could be extremely effective out of the pen. Bard becomes a worse head-case than Carl Everett. His confidence as a pitcher is shattered as Sox management keeps him in limbo.
If the Red Sox can get these three key ingredients to mix just right, Boston fans may just be treated to another title and keep themselves away from that velvet couch.
Contributor: Brian Hendrickson