Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Playing in Boston can be tricky. We've created a manual to get new players through those first awkward steps.
Congratulations, (Player Name), and welcome to the Boston Red Sox! Whether you've arrived here via free agency, trade, or the payment of a blood debt to Larry Lucchino, we're thrilled to have you on board. By joining this franchise, you've proven your commitment to the grand history of baseball. As you've no doubt heard, playing for Boston is a wonderful, stress-free job in which you'll be surrounded by the warm embrace of forgiving fans, a worshipful media, and a front office that doesn't even know the phrase "hatchet man." However, as recent events have shown us, there can be an occasional speed bump on the road to success here, and in an effort to make your transition as smooth as possible, we've prepared this handy primer. The lessons included here are by no means comprehensive, there are always a few things you'll have to figure out for yourself. David Price's slider, for example, we can not help you with.
Section I: Fan Relations
You've no doubt heard that Boston fans can be somewhat hard to please. This is a common misconception, as they're actually well nigh impossible to please. It's not enough to simply be good at baseball, you must play with a certain je ne sais quoi. (Note: do not, when attending local establishments, refer to je ne sais quoi. At least one burly man going by "Fitzy" will insult you and attempt to step on your head.) The easiest solution to this is to, when entering the clubhouse, look around for a moment. Within a minute or so, you should have seen a smallish man incessantly saying "Laser Show" or some similar nonsense phrase. That is Dustin Pedroia. Follow him onto the field, watch him play for a few minutes. Play like that. All the time. Or at least as much like that as you can without hurting yourself, we are paying you a considerable amount of money.
Beyond what you do on the field, approaching the fans is really pretty simple. In your first interview, mention "passion" at least twice. Refer with loathing to that one time your team lost to the Yankees. Bring up casually that your childhood hobby was pretending to be Jim Rice. After that, you'll have the fans in the palm of your hand, until the first time you strike out with men on or boot an easy grounder.
Section II: Media Relations
The Boston media, at their core, are basically a group of cuddly, easygoing teddy bears who just want to be loved. And by "cuddly, easygoing teddy bears," of course, I mean "soulless, bloodthirsty hacks who'd throw their own mother under a bus to win the day's news cycle." Despite this, it's still possible to deal with them in a friendly manner and avoid any particularly nasty front-page blowups. We'll run through a few scenarios, showing you the wrong way, and the right way, to respond to media coverage.
1. "Hello, (Player), welcome to Boston. How do you think you can help this ballclub?"
Correct answer: "Well, sir, I know they acquired me to (pitch, hit dingers, caddy for Ellsbury), and that's what I'm going to do."
Incorrect answer: "My name is Bobby Valentine."
2. "Tough loss, (Player). Anything you could have done differently out there to maybe get the win?"
Correct answer: "Well, I don't know, I think we all played pretty hard today, but we did leave some men on base, and I think we'll do better next time."
Incorrect answer: "We'd have been just fine if the fans weren't so loud. Seriously, how does anyone deal with that? This never happened in Tampa."
3. "Hi, (Player). I'm Dan Shaughnessy."
Correct answer: Dive into the laundry bin, wait for David Ortiz to give you the all-clear.
Incorrect answer: Literally anything you say will be incorrect, don't even bother.
Section III: Your New Home
Fenway Park is the greatest venue in baseball. Make sure to remember that when dealing with fans and media, since the park is a point of pride around here. It's the oldest and smallest park in the bigs, and we keep it around because we can't imagine it any other way. This will make things a bit cramped down in the clubhouse, but that's a small price to pay for tradition. There are some features that will make your stay here easier, though.
Are you a right-handed pull hitter? Wander out on to the field, and take a look at left field. Note the enormous wall about 280 feet away (310 if the Commissioner's asking). That wall is your new best friend. Become familiar with it. Dream fondly of it. It's about to juice your slugging percentage by about 50 points. (Should any disgruntled young men in southern Florida have gotten their hands on this manual, by the way, we are looking to rename this feature, and "Stanton's Wall" has a nice ring to it. Give us a call.)
But I'm not a right-handed pull hitter. I am, in fact, a lefty pitcher.
Um. Sorry, dude. Learn a sinker fast, I guess.
Section IV: Conclusion
We hope that this guide has helped you answer some of the questions that most players have when they first arrive here. It may also have generated further questions, any of which can be answered by the impressively square-jawed man in the clubhouse who's probably wondering why you're reading this instead of taking batting practice. You've made an important decision coming to the Red Sox. You're wearing the uniform of Cy Young, Tris Speaker, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, and Pedro Martinez. You're playing for the most devoted fanbase in baseball, at the center of the hottest media spotlight in the game. Your new contract represents our commitment to you, and our expectation that you'll live up to those high standards.
No pressure, though. Have fun out there today, champ.