Why not panic?

I love Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its admonition, “Don’t panic!” However, there comes a time when nervousness and anxiety are appropriate reactions. It may be when Vogons are moments away from destroying your planet to make way for an interstellar bypass, or it may be when your favorite baseball team is a week into the season with nary a single victory to show for its efforts.

Let’s start with Tampa Bay. The Rays share the American League East basement with an 0-6 record, largely due to the mere eight runs they’ve scored thus far. That pace, 1.33 runs per game, would make last season’s Mariners look like the ’31 Yankees by comparison. Sure, being without their best player, Evan Longoria, has hurt, but he wouldn’t be enough to make up for the team’s .145/.217/.253 triple-slash line. And it has been largely the offense’s fault for this horrid start, as the pitching has posted a decent 4.42 ERA.

Joining the Rays in the cellar are, of course, the Red Sox. The blame for Boston’s atrocious start can be spread around rather evenly. The hitters haven’t done much, mustering a .181/.269/.275 line that had resulted in 16 runs being scored. The pitching is bringing up the rear in all of baseball with a 7.13 ERA, and a 37:24 strikeout-to-walk ratio hasn’t helped, either. A poor showing at home this weekend against the archrival Yankees could lead to much rending of garments and gnashing of team among the Beantown faithful.

There is one squad wedged between the Red Sox and Rays at the bottom of the runs scored category, and that is the Cardinals. St. Louis has pushed only 15 players across the plate thus far, though the team has a 2-4 record thanks to acceptable pitching. Power has been a notable problem for the Redbirds, who have only two home runs—one of which was hit by a guy who celebrated the next day by having a non-vital organ excised from his body. But manager Tony LaRussa says there’s no reason to worry about the offense. (H/T to Craig Calcaterra for the link.)

Three purported playoff aspirants with a combined 2-16 mark sitting a total of 13 games out of first place, and we’re only a week in. Yes, the Zaphod Beeblebroxes of the world (well, actually, of another world) would fire up the Heart of Gold and set the Infinite Improbability Drive such that these three franchises reassert themselves and rocket back toward the top of the standings. However, the woebegone Marvins of the universe would see these teams’ dreadful starts, process the numbers for the rest of the season and further torture themselves by listening to some Vogon poetry.

Whatever happens, grab your towel, because the rest of the year ought to be a wild ride.

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