Or at City of Palms Park.
Last week the Red Sox media sufficiently launched us into panic mode about the upcoming season, which seems to be a talent of theirs. However, this week was full of relief and promise.
Josh Beckett was pretty down on Monday about his back; we have to understand, this guy is a competitive beast. But today he played catch with John Farrell and his back didn’t bother him at all. Farrell was "excited," and indicated Beckett was where the doctor’s expected him to be. Beckett won’t be flying to Tokyo, as if anyone really though the Sox were stupid enough to send their ace on an 18 hour plane ride half way around the world. This marathon called the major league baseball season is long, and being ready for Opening Day is no big deal. I want Beckett to pitch effectively in October, not April.
No word on Schilling, although I thought I heard someone say somewhere he might start tossing the ball in a few weeks. Does anyone really think he’s going to pitch again??
Lester had a solid outing, Colon threw with surprising strength (topped out at 93-94 mph), and Dice K didn’t implode, which is the summary of starts this week. Dice K will be going to Japan, thanks to his wife giving birth this past Saturday to their second child, first son. If that child is half as cute as Dice K, I want to pinch his cheeks.
Kyle Synder came out of frickin’ no where and threw three scoreless innings today. Well, I guess it’s not out of no where, but I am still always surprised when he turns in a good outing. That guy is either ON or imploding big time. He seems nice enough, and does lots with the Sox charities, but I don’t think he’s reliable. Maybe he just needs definition to pitch well, ie starter or bullpen?
The bats finally started to come alive. Good old ‘Tek had a three run shot, little Pedroia knocked in a solo homer, and even some of the minor leaguers took their turn with the long ball. Something else that eased my mind this week was looking at the 2007 Spring Training stats; the Sox are about the same as this time last year. See, Spring Training really doesn’t mean anything!
Another factor preventing me from having an accurate view of Spring Training 2008 is the lack of games I have been able to view. If I could actually watch the Sox play, things might be different. MLB.TV promises over 150 Spring Training games, which means you get to watch about 5 of your team. Go figure.
I envy those people who blog professionally. Some of us have real jobs that prevent frequent posting due to surf control restrictions. Darn banks.
Much has occurred this past week in MLB and Red Sox Nation. And yes, Hank, it is a Red Sox Nation after all. I have tried to remember all my witty comments and observations, but so much is always happening. I will have to blog more frequently!
In probably less covered but equally important news, Bruce Hurst, left handed starting pitcher (145-113), who played for the Sox from 1980-1988, was hired to evaluate minor league talent, and help players develop.
An interesting quote from Hurst reflecting on the Red Sox organization then and now: "This is my own belief, that this is the elite organization in baseball. In the 20 years since I’ve been gone, what I’ve seen from when I left to what we have now, it’s the epitome of what this place can be. I think every player back in my generation, when they left, there was always a certain amount of frustration, for whatever reason, and I think the frustration was the fact that they saw what it could become and it never reached its potential and now I think it’s reached its potential."
Speaking of being an elite baseball franchise, how ’bout them Yankees? I feel sorry for poor Brian Cashman, whom I actually respect. If Hank and Hal had it there way, they would have sold their best young arms for Santana, and gotten stuck with another bloated contract. Instead, Hank and Hal both like to open their big mouths; they must be every publicists worst nightmare. As if there wasn’t enough whining going on in Yankeeland, Hank said the following to the New York Times Play magazine.
"Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order."
Right. Hal had to add his two cents.
The defending World Series champions have "a lot of talent, and [have] done very well the past few years, but let me put it this way: I don’t think [they] wanted to play us in the ALCS. So I will concede nothing. I think we’re better than [them]."
Right. The Yankees were outmatched by Cleveland, we were almost evenly matched with Cleveland, and yet, we didn’t want to face the Yankees in the ALCS? Excuses, excuses. Don’t get me started on the midges.
The 2004 comeback was, to this date, the greatest comeback in sports history. Period. I think Derek Jeter is still mental over it. The Red Sox Yankees rivalry has officially heated up, and it is not even Opening Day. Crazy.
Continuing on, the Red Sox 2007 team visited the White House Wednesday. Quick trip. They left that morning after an abbreviated workout and returned in the evening. Must be nice to have your own team jet; thanks John Henry! Say what you want about politics, but I think it would be cool to visit the president no matter if you liked him or not. It’s the flipping White House, for Pete’s sake!
Best stories out of the trip were Bush making quips about the players. He thanked Papelbon for wearing pants, said Manny’s grandmother must have died again. Manny’s excuse for not showing up in 2005 was his grandmother passed away. She didn’t, and is still kickin’. I buy into the whole "Manny being Manny" life style, but not showing up to meet the president and lying about it? That’s not cool, and I let Manny slide on a bunch of stuff because, well, he’s Manny.
One great story from the White House trip was Ortiz riding with the detail in the motorcycle side car. Helmet, GQ suit, chic eye glasses, and all. Tito tried it out first. He said between the exhaust, bouncing around, and 38 degree temperature, he could have thrown up. He told Ortiz, "You’ll love this." Ortiz took it in Big Papi stride, because, as he said, "I’ve got all my bosses watching me."
The Red Sox also took time to visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a hospital for wounded veterans. Beckett had the following to say, "I think the most rewarding part of the trip — I think you can ask anybody that went on that trip yesterday — was visiting the hospital," said Sox ace Josh Beckett. "I know I got to hear several stories, and as terrible as those stories are, it’s something like that that you get to hear that puts everything in perspective for you and makes you realize how fortunate we are to have people like that will go and do stuff like that. Those are heroes. Like I said, it definitely puts it in perspective for you."
Schilling cut to the chase with this quote, "You know what it is, hopefully, for some of the younger guys — it’s a chance to put ‘superstar’ and ‘hero’ and ‘brave’ to context. Seeing multiple amputees that are 22 with a wife and three kids, these guys are the true warriors, the true heroes. It’s staggering to see. If you don’t already have perspective, have it when you walk out of there. For me, it’s a chance to truly acknowledge them and tell them, ‘I’m not just telling you it’s an honor to meet you, it really is an honor to meet you.’ These guys, a lot of them are Red Sox fans. When they’re sitting there and they’re missing both legs and they’re in a wheelchair and they’re trying to get something signed for the buddy that saved their life that is still over in Iraq, it’s like, ‘OK, how bad are my problems?’"
Right on, Schill. Right on.
More to come tomorrow where I actually talk about baseball instead of human interest stories. Mostly.