Calm Down Thunder. Calm Down.

April 10, 2007 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Watching Thunder Matt at the plate so far this season it is clear that he is nervous. He's already looking over his shoulder at Clifford Floyd. Like a young boy who wants nothing more than to impress his loving yet overbearing father, young Matty is striving for the approval of Papa Lou. It is an approval that has thus far remained more elusive than conclusive proof of the Tibetan Yeti, leading to some expected first week jitters.

Playing for 'Sweet Lou' Piniella can be stressful. Being called an 'adorable redhead' in the press by your own manager can lead to feelings of self doubt and anxiety. "Does he really think I'm adorable in a non-sexual way? Or does that signify some deeper issues that he has concerning growth as a player or perceived lack of testosterone due to my laid back nature and boyish good looks?" These thoughts and questions can make even the strongest man's emotions wilt like a plate of wet gnocchi. Even Thunder Matt. Even Thunder Matt.

My advice? Personally, I'd suggest ingesting a bit of liquor before batting practice, but that's just me. If it worked for Babe Ruth, why not Thunder Matt? Just a few quick pulls from your flask. Maybe even hide your flask in your cap when you're out there in the field. When Michael Wuertz is taking his sweet time with his warm up pitches, you take a couple swigs when nobody is looking. All of the sudden that cold weather doesn't seem too bad and you lose any inhibitions you may have had to dive for that sinking liner. That ouchie you get on your knee from diving? One pour directly on the wound to sterilize, two pours directly in your mouth to party.

Lets go Matthew. Just relax up there. Take a deep breath and do some stretching exercises. Pull a few clubhouse pranks. (The old 'cream pie in the face' standby wins friends AND draws big laughs!) Rassle with Dempster. Dress up like Sammy Sosa and parade around the locker room with an over sized boombox, making stereotypical (and lets be honest, offensive) comments in broken English. Above all, just relax. Calm down. Everything will be ok. Cliff Floyd will be injured in a matter of weeks, if not days, and who's kidding who, Angel Pagan is no Thunder Matt.

I think the best thing we can do here is to quote a scene from "Swingers", taking a few liberties to make the scene applicable to Thunder. Trent and Sue, take it away.

Trent: You know what you are Thunder? You're like a big bear with claws and with fangs...

Sue: ...big fucking teeth, man.

Trent: Yeah... big fuckin' teeth on ya'. And the ball is just like this little bunny, who's just kinda cowering in the corner.

Sue: Shivering.

Trent: Yeah, man just kinda... you know, you got these claws and you're staring at these claws and your thinking to yourself, and with these claws you're thinking, "How am I supposed to kill this bunny, how am I supposed to kill this bunny?"

Sue: And you're poking at it, you're poking at it...

Trent: Yeah, you're not hurting it. You're just kinda gently batting the bunny around, you know what I mean? And the bunny's scared Thunder, the bunny's scared of you, shivering.

Sue: And you got these fucking claws and these fangs...

Trent: And you got these fucking claws and these fangs, man! And you're looking at your claws and you're looking at your fangs. And you're thinking to yourself, you don't know what to do, man. "I don't know how to kill the bunny." With *this* you don't know how to kill the bunny, do you know what I mean?

Sue: You're like a big Cubbie bear, man.