CLEVELAND -- The buzz word for the 2016 Red Sox season, which -- weather permitting -- gets underway here Monday afternoon, is "urgency.''
It was inserted into questions directed at manager John Farrell: Will you manage with more urgency after your bout with cancer?
It gets mentioned in conjunction with the need for the team to get off to a strong start: Will the Sox show more urgency in the early part of the season?
It already has been applied when Farrell relegated Rusney Castillo from presumptive everyday left fielder to the team's fifth outfielder, and, especially, when he chose Travis Shaw over Pablo Sandoval as the team's starting third baseman.
Everything associated with the Red Sox has become urgent.
But that's not how baseball is played. In fact, baseball is the least urgent game imaginable. It's leisurely, sometimes slow to develop. Baseball is seldom in a hurry.
The Red Sox are not in a race, with themselves or anyone else. So while fans desperately want the Sox to get off to a strong start, the issues surrounding the team are not going to resolve themselves on Opening Day, or the first road trip, or maybe even the first month of the season.
Would a strong April help the Red Sox? Of course.
Would a strong April answer all the questions people have about them? Of course not.
What good would a quick sprint from the gate do them -- recall that the last-place 2015 Red Sox began the year 12-10, for all the good that would later mean -- if they encounter a slew of injuries, or key veterans later underperform.
And while we're at it, is their a team in all of Major League Baseball which is not wanting to begin the season well? Will any teams purposefully start poorly?
The season is a long one, with plenty of unpredictable twists and turns ahead. Who forecast Farrell choking back emotion and announcing that he was taking a medical leave of absence last August? Who envisioned a strong six-week push under an interim maanger? Who saw that Dave Dombrowski would be calling the shots by Labor Day?
And that's part of the beauty of the season, and why predictions and forecasts must be taken only so seriously.
You don't know what's going to happen. I don't know. Heck, they don't know. That's part of the charm.
In the comings days and weeks, all of Farrell's moves will be given the kind of examination that crime scenes get on TV procedurals. We'll look for clues, imagine motive and assign culpability.
Why did he do that? Why didn't he do this instead? Did he do that to send a message? To prove a point? To save his job?
But the real answers won't reveal themselves for a while. Barring a complete belly flop in the early going, the Red Sox aren't about to win -- or lose -- a playoff spot in the first month or so.
Sure, they may reveal a weakness or a need. Or they could surprise everyone.
Urgency, however, will be difficult to manufacture. If the Red Sox begin poorly, it won't be because they want their manager fired, subconsciously or otherwise.
It will be because they aren't good enough.
In the bigger picture, perhaps the Red Sox shouldn't be at all consumed with saving Farrell's job, or, you know, MAKING A STATEMENT.
Maybe they'd be better off making themselves relevant again. For too many New England fans, the Red Sox have become a punch line. The Patriots are everyone's darlings, incapable of wrongdoing. The Celtics are plucky rebuilders, awaiting only a lottery pick to deliver them to Glory Days again. As for the Bruins, with three games remaining and on the outside of the playoff field, they could use some urgency.
The Red Sox? They're the team that can't make up their minds. Homegrown or Star-Driven? Don't need an ace, or desperately in need of one?
They're the ones with the corpulent third baseman, the indifferent first baseman, the brittle No. 2 starter.
It's gotten to the point where the Red Sox, once Kings of the Hill, don't matter much - unless you've got a good one-liner you're aching to unload.
That's what happens when you've finished in last place the last two seasons, and three of the last four. That's what happens when you've made just one post-season appearance in the last seven seasons. That's what happens when you've had just one season in which you've won a post-season series in the last eight years.
They've brought this all on themselves.
Starting Monday afternoon, they can begin to change the narrative. But only begin.
It's going to take a while. It won't change by the home opener, or maybe even Memorial Day.
That's baseball. And while it may be important to be better, it's not urgent.
It never is.