Baseball season is back and Red Sox fans everywhere are in for another nail-biting ride on the Red Sox Rollercoaster. After the 2004 recovery from the Curse of the Bambino, we dared to hope for a rerun of our pre-1918 successes, only to find out we were riding the downswing for another couple of years of low seasons. 2007 produced another World Series victory, followed by another set of losses. Now that we’ve experienced a worst-to-first-to-worst with the 2013-2014 seasons… can we dare to hope for another "first" to be added to that list?
Many fans are thinking it might be a possibility with this year’s lineup. Just as many critics are calling it a fat chance.
This season’s roster has really offered a good mix between veteran players and some new talent, and some of the newer players are being put under the microscope by baseball analysts. Take, for example, lefty pitcher Wade Miley and centerfielder Mookie Betts.
Miley has proven himself as a good starting pitcher, and one of the things scouts noticed was his no-nonsense method of pitching; he likes to work fast and keep hitters off-balance with barely any time to think between pitches. With the amount of good attributes, he almost seems too good to be true, and skeptics are watching every move for any signs of Miley not living up to his reputation.
On the other hand, Betts – while talented – remains mostly untested. Sure, he has quite a lot of potential, and he’s already displayed great talent, but without much statistical evidence to back up his abilities, a lot of us are left anxiously waiting to see if he’ll be placed in a position where he can do some damage. He’s currently caught up in the Betts-Castillo-Victorino standoff over right field and centerfield, and only time will tell where he’ll be placed for the season.
Aside from questions regarding player positions and abilities, skeptics have also brought our attention to past injuries and issues. For example, Mike Napoli is coming off a reportedly very painful surgery for his sleep apnea; Dustin Pedroia is coming back from surgery on his left wrist; and just the other day, Rusney Castillo strained an oblique muscle.
For Napoli, critics are looking at his 2014 season dips and debating whether or not his sleep apnea had anything to do with, well, anything. Napoli certainly seems to feel that’s the case, and has mentioned on many occasions that he’s feeling more energy than before, is sleeping well for the first time in nearly a decade, and has high hopes for his performance this upcoming season. Fans are sharing his hope for a good season, and are looking forward to a well-rested Napoli in action.
As for Pedroia, critics are citing a season full of disappointments when they claim he’s on the downhill slide of a player preparing for retirement. Fans are vehemently disagreeing (and that’s putting it mildly.) After seriously injuring the ligaments in his left hand in the 2013 season, Pedroia reinjured his wrist during the beginning of last season. Fans and supporters will proudly note that, despite what was obviously a very painful injury, Pedroia played through nearly the entire season, and his numbers were only down due to the painful inflammation in his wrist. Pedroia said he is feeling much better, and his confidence has increased since making a full recovery.
Outfielder Rusney Castillo only recently strained an oblique muscle, and manager John Farrell has stated that he will be "down for some time." Considering the location of the strain, it isn’t unreasonable to expect Castillo to be out for more than a week, but this is an injury where only time will tell. This certainly upsets the lineup, and it’s unclear whether Castillo will be ready for the regular-season opener. Castillo is remaining hopeful that he won’t be out for that long, and fans are certainly feeling the anxiety this rotational upset is causing.
All in all, this season’s forecast is unpredictable at best. There are certainly a lot of players where you can say, "Yeah, they’re good, but…"
But maybe that’s part of why we love the Red Sox. There will always be a sense of uncertainty, and the team will always keep us guessing. Sure, reliability is nice, but what’s the fun in knowing the outcome of a season? And while winning is wicked pissah and losing certainly isn’t what we’re hoping for, for us Red Sox fans, winning really isn’t everything. To quote a beloved Red Sox movie: "So what? They're here. Every April, they're here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that?"
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for this rollercoaster to take off.