Which Button Do You Press For Panic?

It’s funny, Spring Training baseball games have been going for a little more than two weeks and Opening Day is still over two weeks away and yet a day does not go by that I don’t get asked the question, “What is wrong with the Diamondbacks?” Oh what a difference a year makes. Last season everyone was wondering how many games below .500 the Diamondbacks would be at season’s end and whether the team would miss former fan-favorite Luis Gonzalez. The team was in the midst of a full-blown youth movement and expectations were relatively low. But after the Diamondbacks shocked the baseball world by accumulating the best record in the National League and making it as far as the NLCS; all eyes are on the Diamondbacks every move. That being said, the concern is just a touch premature.

My pat answer to this question is always, “Please take one step back off the ledge. There is nothing to worry about. Everything is going to be fine.” In the year 10 BD (before Diamondbacks) we were living in Idaho. That in itself should be thought of more as a prison sentence than a life choice. It’s not that I dislike Idaho; it’s just that the state is not at the forefront of technology advancement. So when you don’t have the Internet and satellite television is thought of as a “new-fangled contraption of the devil” your entertainment options are relatively limited. It should therefore not have come as any surprise when I came home from work one day and announced to Trina that I had just signed us up for scuba diving lessons. Well maybe it was a little bit of a surprise since Idaho is a landlocked state that is climatically defined as a high-mountain desert. Still, I had seen enough James Bond movies to know that scuba diving was cool and chicks did a guy with his own air tanks. So we entered the exciting field of underwater exploration. The class consisted of several lecture sessions followed by pool labs where we would practice what was taught before finally being allowed out into the open water. I remember going to the class the first night eager to soak up (pun intended) all the knowledge necessary to be a scuba diver. The instructor stood at the front of the class and declared that he was about to disclose the first and most important rule in scuba diving. I took out a piece of paper and waited to document this highly-regarded secret.

The first rule of scuba diving is don’t forget to breathe.
Stacy Clark
Scuba Instructor

That’s it? The first and most important rule is to not forget to breathe? I felt totally deflated. I expected to be enlightened and learn the secrets that only Double-O secret agents knew. Instead I was told to remember to breathe, something I do on a daily basis. I went home dejected and disenchanted with the whole notion of diving. I finished the class and received my scuba certification. Every time I thought about the first rule of scuba diving I just shook my head. In the years since I learned that secret I have come to realize that the first rule of scuba diving is applicable to so much more than just diving. Take the subject of Spring Training for example. People get so upset when the team or a player has a bad day or bad performance during a Spring Training game. Likewise if someone gets off to a hot start over a couple of days then that player is identified as an MVP candidate. In both of these instances it would behoove baseball fans to exercise the first rule of scuba diving and stop and don’t forget to breathe. Having a bad game or a couple of rough outings does not define a season nor should it be grounds to start looking for the panic button. In most cases players will use Spring Training to try new things or work on a specific aspect of their game that they would otherwise not try if the game actually counted. They look at Spring Training as a place to get comfortable with things and to build strength while minimizing the opportunity for injury. The approach just isn’t the same as it is in the Regular Season or the Post Season so we as fans should not put any credence on the outcomes. Just because the Diamondbacks have won only 7 games this spring should not lead to us being worried about the team nor should we expect Josh Byrnes or Bob Melvin to begin making changes to the roster. Instead we should all just dab a little more sun screen on and relax. This time of year is about working on your tan and hanging out for an afternoon at the ballpark. The stress and panic is best left to August and September when it actually means something.

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