Chemistry can be a good and bad thing. Chemistry is good when you make love with it. Chemistry is bad when you make crack with it.
It’s good to be back, diegesis devotees. I had a productive offseason by taking some chemistry courses. The word “chemistry,” in case you didn’t know, has its roots in the Greek χημεια (chumeia), which could be the origin for the precursor of chemistry, alchemy, via the Arabic الكيمياء, which is pronounced “al-kīmiyaˀ.”
All that I learned in my studies has greatly aided me in understanding the potential assets and impediments in the Red Sox clubhouse this year. Sure, some people say that chemistry is overrated, but I happen to think through careful observation and tracking of observable phenomena, the supposedly capricious nature of human behavior can be equated to chemical reactions. To wit:
- Josh Bard: NH4Cl (ammonium chloride)
For Bard, I describe more what he should become rather than what he is. Ammonium chloride is embedded into soldering wires to help the lead and tin parts of the wire flow when melted, joining together disparate parts. Bard must similarly become the conduit for Wakefield’s knuckleball and the strike zone, merging them together into a seamless whole.
- Josh Beckett: C3H5N3O9 (nitroglycerin)
Beckett’s explosive power on the mound can only be described as dynamite. Unlike his chemical compound counterpart, however, the righty’s blast selectively demolishes only opposing hitters.
- Matt Clement: Pb(N3)2 (lead azide)
Clement, despite his calm demeanor, is potentially explosive. He can be, like his chemical equivalent, the active ingredient in detonators to unleash massive devastation on opponents’ lineups. But he isn’t the primary explosive.
- Coco Crisp: KNaC4H4O6·4H2O (potassium sodium tartrate)
Can you smell what Coco Crisp is baking? Those sweet wins can’t be made without a little efferevesence, which is what baking powder does for our favorite desserts.
- Lenny DiNardo: Gd2O3 (gadolinium oxide)
When a pitcher has a meltdown on the mound, Terry Francona turns to DiNardo. When there is a nuclear reaction, good old gadolinium oxide is used in control rods to avoid an atomic catastrophe.
- Keith Foulke: Pu (plutonium)
Once a dangerous weapon and now some say he is on the verge of a meltdown. We all hope not, but the signs are there.
- Alex Gonzalez: C12H22O11 (sucrose)
When I see Gonzalez field, my immediate thought: Sweet.
- Mark Loretta: Caesium (Cs)
Reliable and and steady, caesium is used in atomic clocks because that is the agreed element in the International System of Measurements definition of a second (9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation which corresponds to the transition between two energy levels of the ground state of the 133Cs atom). Some of its isotopes are also used in the treatment of cancer. Loretta is the caesium of the team, dependable and curative.
- Mike Lowell: CO2 (carbon dioxide)
You could see Lowell as the byproduct of respiration, an unwanted compound in the vital act of resuscitating this team. But, as carbon dioxide is critical to plants, so could the veteran third baseman be crucial to the development of the greener players on the roster.
- Trot Nixon: H2S (hydrogen sulfide)
What else is smelly and the result of biomatter breaking down with the presence of oxygen? Breathing hydrogen sulfide can kill nerves in the olfactory system, which his my best guess as to why Trot can wear the same fetid hat all season.
- David Ortiz: O2 (oxygen)
Without oxygen, we die. Without Big Papi, the team dies.
- Jonathan Papelbon: Ni (nickel)
Indifferent to oxidation and magnetic. Nickel is the primary element in many super-alloys, and as we add more farm talent like Papelbon’s to the team we’ll be made of even better metal. Since he’s homegrown, our shining pitching star only costs nickels, too.
- Wily Mo Peña: Fe (iron)
Strong, but needs to be annealed and alloyed to attain its full strength. With the mentoring of Ron Jackson, Ortiz, and Ramirez, Peña may become a man of steel.
- Manny Ramirez: N2 (nitrogen)
Like the gas, Ramirez must be harnessed into usable forms. Enrique Wilson is analogous to the nitrogen-fixing bacteria that converts nitrogen into ammonia, the foundation of important biological molecules, such as amino and nucleic acids, including deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
- Curt Schilling: Pb (lead)
Of all stable elements, lead has the highest number. Schilling doesn’t let media criticism erode his confidence in himself and his abilities, just as lead is resistant to corrosion. Long exposure can lead to nerve and brain damage, similar to listening to the veteran pitcher’s press conferences for extended periods of time.
- Rudy Seanez: KCN (potassium cyanide)
Seanez, if his stuff is on, can be lethal to hitters, and thanks to his Ultimate Fighting resume, he is deadly on a number of levels.
- Julian Tavarez: (Mg,Fe)3Si2O5(OH)4 (magnesium iron silicate hydroxide)
More commonly known as asbestos. Causes cancer.
- Mike Timlin: NaClO (sodium hypochlorite)
The active ingredient in bleach, this oxidizing agent purifies the team of unclean thoughts and rids bases of runners, whom Timlins sees as bacteria contaminating his territory.
- Jason Varitek: NaCl (sodium chloride)
The Captain is the salt of earth. Roman soldiers were paid “salaries” so they could buy the valuable flavoring. He was indeed given a large salary when he was re-signed with the Red Sox in 2004, but salt, in moderate quantities, is essential to life. In three years we’ll see if the team suffers from too much sodium intake.
- Tim Wakefield: C (carbon)
As carbon is the building block of life, so is Wakefield the foundation of the Red Sox. Like his elemental counterpart, under pressure he assumes gem-like qualities.
- David Wells: C2H5OH (ethanol)
Boomer, like his associated compound, is a great social lubricant. And if you can stomach a sentence that mentions both Wells and lubrication, you are a stronger man than I. At any rate, when you need someone to help you lighten up, Boomer is your man. In a figurative, not literal, sense.
- Kevin Youkilis: CH2:C(CH 3)CH:CH2 (isoprene)
Last year Youkilis bounced between McCoy Stadium and Fenway Park like a rubber ball. This year he’s springing from third base to first. Everyone likes to play with rubber balls; it is probably the most-lost childhood toy in history. Try not to take it for granted.
Every Friday, Dave McCarty will join us to discuss a topic of interest to him and probably no one else but the author of this site, other seekers of the alkahest, and NU50, who liked one of my mojo suggestions.