‘I Do Not Like The Way This Is Starting Out …’

In the premiere of the fifth and final season of “Friday Night Lights” — without question the best sports television series ever made — the coaching staff of the East Dillon High School football team is found listening to Buddy Garrity’s call-in talk radio show.

Coach Eric Taylor stomps out of his office and calls out a defensive assistant for attempting to install a nickel package in a 4-3 defense. He then chastises the assistant for not yet having a practice plan outlines for that afternoon.

CoachEricTaylor

“We have a game in three days,” he says. “I do not like the way this is starting out. I do not like the way this is starting out … Turn off that radio.”

The new Red Sox season essentially began with Mookie Betts driving a golf cart into a pond last Sunday.

I’m hoping that wasn’t a sign of things to come.

Pablo Sandoval‘s arrival at Spring Training Sunday – a day later than advertised and approximately 20 pounds heavier than advertised (or in other words: the same shape he was in at the close of an atrocious 2015) – hasn’t done anything to allay those fears.

Sandoval just seems to be tone deaf to the situation, to the atmosphere, he is in. He plays for a club in a city where the quickly growing sentiment is that he isn’t nearly worth the money he’s being paid (though at West of Fenway we generally make the argument that no big contracts ever fit that bill).

As teammates reported to camp last week, Sandoval took to Instagram with apparently an old photo of himself at Disney World. When he showed up a day later than expected, he defiantly answered reporters’ questions with claims that the club had not talked with him about his conditioning, and that he hasn’t made a practice of weighing himself. In attempting to work back into a switch-hitting role, he claimed to have not hit from the left side of the plate at all during the offseason.

A number of years ago, I watched a fascinating documentary on the Giants where cameras followed the team in the year after its 2010 World Series Win. In it, they talked about Sandoval showing up to camp woefully out of shape – how it was a tense few days every year waiting to see how he looked when he arrived at camp.

It’s been pointed out that the years he’s been in trimmer form, he plays worse. That may be true. Frankly, I don’t care much how anyone looks or how much anyone weighs.

It’s the overall attitude that concerns me more.

Someone who can’t put in the same amount of effort and attention to detail as the players around him is going to be a problem in the clubhouse. A problem on the field too. There’s little way around it.

The infield corners are volatile. The outfield is streaky.  I’ve already seen no less than three headlines reading something like “Is John Farrell on the hot seat?”

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia — you know, the “first-in, last-out” guys supposed to lead a club desperately trying reverse its fortunes  — are apparently “last-in” this spring with all other players already accounted for.

I do not like the way this is starting out.

 

 

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