ANAHEIM, Calif. — At 3:18 p.m. Tuesday, while some Angels were taking extra batting practice, a black cat prowled alone in the stands behind home plate at Angel Stadium.
“He could be here for a number of people,’’ said one press box wag.
If you are a Red Sox fan, Tuesday was the first day of the rest of your life.
Remember how good you felt Friday and Saturday when the Sox jettisoned Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, moving more than a quarter of a billion dollars of payroll? Great, wasn’t it? It was the Giant Exhale for frustrated fans. Constipation relief.
Now comes the reality. The inconvenient truth.
Take a good look at Tuesday night’s lineup, a/k/a The Sons of Mario Mendoza.
Bobby Valentine’s leadoff hitter and No. 9 hitter had both been released. The cleanup hitter was batting .180 with no homers and one RBI. The men batting in spots 4 through 8 were all hitting below .230. If you took this lineup to Bradenton in March, the Pirates would complain to the commissioner.
We wanted the Sox to quit on 2012 and start thinking about next season. And this is what they have done. Too bad there won’t be discounted prices at Fenway when the Mendozas return Sept. 7.
It’s Game On for 2013.
Boston’s owners are all here. Must be the great weather. Or maybe they’re big Pedro Ciriaco fans. Or maybe they’re taking a good long look at Valentine.
Bobby V was relaxed before the series opener against the Angels. He entertained his mentor and former manager Tommy Lasorda in his office three hours before the game. They talked about the days when they would go to a $1.99 all-you-can eat place.
When Valentine was asked about the “hunger’’ of his new young team, he rejected the notion that his old team was fat and lazy.
Saying he was “anxious” to see Jose Iglesias starting at short, Valentine talked about how great it was having Gonzalez in Boston and said, “I don’t want to compare anybody to guys who aren’t here.’’
Speaking of Gonzo, I’ve been in Southern California for two days and have again observed “the Manny dynamic.’’ You know the drill. A disgruntled Red Sox star comes to California and is immediately embraced as a great guy who was mistreated and misunderstood in Boston.
The Angelenos are bubbling with joy over the acquisitions of Gonzalez and Beckett, and it’s pretty clear that the media was the problem in Boston. I haven’t seen this kind of love for guys who didn’t work out in our town since Manny Ramirez splashed down in 2008.
Remember Mannywood? Manny wigs in the Dodger Stadium gift shop? Oodles of positive press about Manny and the meanies who made his life difficult in Boston? They loved him in LA. It was all going to be different here . . . until it turned out exactly the same.
And now it’s happening again.
Here’s bombastic Los Angeles Times columnist T. J. Simers on Monday: “Must I apologize for being agog over A-Gon? . . . Only 59 days until Game 1 of the World Series in Dodger Stadium.’’
Here’s Gonzalez on why the Boston media didn’t like him: “They didn’t like that I was a calm person. I won’t throw my helmet. I won’t scream, I won’t use bad words if I strike out. That’s what they want over there.’’
Actually, no, Gonzo. We didn’t want you to throw helmets. We just wanted a few more homers. We wanted to see a guy who could carry a team. We wanted to see the Red Sox in the playoffs. We wanted a little less complaining about Sunday night baseball. We wanted someone who wouldn’t run upstairs behind the manager’s back.
We didn’t like you telling us that it was “God’s will” that the Sox didn’t make the playoffs last year. We didn’t like it when you explained chicken and beer with, “People gotta eat.’’
Explaining his power outage, Gonzalez told the LA Times, “What took my power away was the Green Monster.’’
Hmmmmm. That’s not what he said when he was negotiating for that $154 million deal with the Sox. The Wall was there then, wasn’t it? I thought the Wall was supposed to help Gonzalez’s production because of his famed inside-out swing.
Our pal Simers wrote about Beckett after the Texas tough guy lost, 10-0, Monday in Denver. The headline over the inside jump of the story was, “Beckett may not be that bad.’’ When Simers asked Beckett if he is as bad as everyone says, Beckett answered, “I don’t think the right people are talking about me.’’
Fair enough. It should be all good with these guys now. The right people can start talking about them. And research shows that there are a million Popeyes in downtown Los Angeles.
After all, you know what they say . . . people gotta eat.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.