BOSTON - APRIL 04: Josh Beckett #19 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the second inning against the New York Yankees on Opening Night at Fenway Park on April 4, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Ah, the pageantry of the home opener! There's nothing quite overblown like it!
The Red Sox have released details on tomorrow's ceremonies, which are expected to last for a whole half hour, leaving us with a 2:05 start time. There will be a flyover by F-16 jets, the Boston pops, a long list of introductions, and then--for better or worse--a baseball game.
Last year the Sox entered this game 0-6, this year they enter 1-5. Last year the question was asked: should/would Sox fans boo during the team introductions?
The general opinion last year was that no, they shouldn't. It was too early in the year, and the team was too good. "They'll come back," we said, "they'll be better." And we were right, they were. For much of the year they were the best team in the game. For a good chunk of time they were at the top of the division. But then September happened, and that might be why the question deserves reevaluation.
Will Red Sox fans boo? I'd like to think not. There's something sacrosanct about the home opener at Fenway--this is about more than the 2012 Red Sox, it's about 100 years of Red Sox baseball, and having nine men take the same field that the 1912 World Series champions did so very long ago.
But will I be surprised if they do? No, not at all. Because if they do they won't just be booing the 1-5 start, they'll be booing the last six months. You have to remember that the last time this team set foot in Fenway, they had a two game lead on the Rays and we still felt that a trip to the playoffs was likely. Then came New York, and Baltimore, and Andino, and Crawford, and the collapse was complete. With the offseason at best doing nothing and at worst aggravating the pains left from September, this is a fan base with a lot of pent up frustration.
So when they finally get within shouting distance of the cause, don't be surprised if it boils over.
The man who might be the focus of that attention is Josh Beckett, taking the mound at Fenway to make his second start of the year. His first start was ugly, ugly, ugly, but Beckett sees no reason to fear--especially about his thum.
"It's fine. It's fine. It's fine. It's fine. It's fine. Jesus, it's fine."
-Josh Beckett to Peter Abraham on his thumb.
Bobby Valentine concurs, and reports to Ian Browne on a positive bullpen session.
"He had a really good bullpen [session on Tuesday]," Valentine said. "Bob worked with him. I think they got a lot of things ironed out where they felt really good about where he should be, and I think the thumb thing seems to be a moot point right now, so I look forward to him pitching again.
Oh how we need a good start from Beckett. While we can look at Daniel Bard and Clay Buchholz and thing "that was well pitched" or "it's just one start" (respectively), Beckett always comes with that nagging reminder that in any given season he can crash with the best of them, even forgetting the...numeric considerations. And the way it happened, with all the homers? It sends a shiver down the spine.
If you're looking for some reason to hope to latch onto (aside from, y'know, small sample size), I provide you this:
"You go from Florida to cold weather," Beckett said. "Not an excuse, but some people deal with it better. Last year, it was in Cleveland. You don't have the same feel. I've done both -- pitched good at the beginning of the year, and then my next start was [bad]. It's tough [in the first start] with all the hoopla and everything like that. It's almost like pitching in October, where everybody is locked in because you're always excited. The Opening Day stuff lasts for two, three days. For me, you've just got to get back on the horse."
Then again, given that the forecast for tomorrow's game is just 50 degrees...
Finally (it's a slow day--people must not want to talk about the Red Sox for some reason), Brian MacPherson took a look at Dustin Pedroia's contract, and why it's set to deny him a major free agency deal in the near future:
That Pedroia will be 32 when his contract expires, however, changes the game.
Timing is everything when it comes to free agency. In exchange for life-changing financial security at the age of 25, Pedroia traded away a chance to hit the jackpot like Kinsler and Phillips did -- and Cano will.
Pedroia's extension, along with those of Lester and Youkilis, are some of Theo's most popular moves, and Pedroia's will continue to pay dividends for a while yet.
The best comparison right now might just be Kevin Youkilis himself. While at 33-years-old Youkilis is a bit further up there in age, corner infielders tend to last longer than middle infielders to begin with. Nevertheless, Youk is very much showing his age, and if he'd gone into free agency after last year, it's hard to imagine he'd really be able to cash in all the way. He might even have ended up with an Adrian Beltre type of deal between injuries and age.
On the one hand, we hope Dustin Pedroia doesn't have to deal with that situation. We want him to keep on mashing right through the last day of his contract, playing top-notch defense all the way.
On the other hand, if he does that, what kind of a situation will we be facing with his contract?
Good thing that's a problem for future Sox fans to think about. Right now, we'll enjoy the years left to us.