BOSTON — The time to start panicking is when a team says it isn’t time to panic.
Teams that have swagger and confidence, no matter how miserably they might be playing, don’t even answer panic questions.
Athletes on those teams instead give the questioner the Spockian eyebrow, followed by a dismissive shake of the head, and move on.
So when members of the Red Sox, the other day after their rain out against the Tampa Bay Rays, were gleefully answering questions about panic time, you have to wonder what’s going on?
As it stands now, the Red Sox are about to play host to the Blue Jays for a four-game set that runs through Monday — and we mean run literally given that will be the day of the famed Boston Marathon.
However, at 2-9, the Red Sox are entrenched in the basement of the American League and have fallen there deservedly. They haven’t been hitting and their pitching has been simply dreadful which means they have only one way in which to go — up.
The players are saying all the right things, of course, but that’s what veteran players are particularly good at — rolling out the appropriate cliches.
So there was big David Ortiz waxing poetic as rain Wednesday washed out the scheduled game against the Rays.
“You know, the situation like this either makes you or breaks you,” the veteran DH opined to Boston reporters. “Guys like myself, guys who have been here a long time, that’s when we need to put ourselves together and keep everybody tight. Let’s say keep everybody loose — if you’re tight, there’s no way you can go out and do what you can do.”
Keeping a calm hand on the rudder while his ship is foundering on the rocks is manager Terry Francona. He believes that class will ultimately tell and that his troops are the right mix to get them back on the proper course.
“I don’t think we’re trying to come up with stuff,” he said. “Everything we do, we try to do for common-sense reasons. If you start coming up with stuff, it’s probably not going to be based out of common sense or going against things that you believe in.
“I think that the biggest thing is to do what you believe in and keep doing it and have a good reason for it.”
But don’t think for a minute think that Boston is cavalier about its record.
“Everybody’s worried, I’m not going to lie to you,” Ortiz cautioned. “Everybody’s working their butts off just to get things better. Things are just not coming the way we expected right now. But everybody is trying to change things around.”
Worried but not panicking. Yeah, right.