Being a Red Sox fan in 2020 was tough. You were there. I don’t have to run through all the ways they were painful to watch last year. But I am here to tell you that being a Red Sox fan in 2021 will be fun again. No, really! That’s not just hope springs eternal Opening Day optimism. There are real reasons to be happy about the Sox this year, so let me run through the biggest ones that I am excited about.
First, we are going to have a full 162 game season this year. Opening day is April 1st, not in mid-summer. So we simply get more baseball this year. More is better!
During those 162 games, there will be fans in the stands again. No more synthetic crowd noise that was just plain wrong last year. There will be real people (maybe even you!) in the stands for every game. When Devers crushes a home run to right field there will be the roar of the crowd following it into the stands. When Verdugo makes a highlight reel catch, then jumps up and pumps his fists in excitement, you will her the crowd go wild with the appreciation that a max effort play deserves. When Pedroia comes to Fenway to celebrate his retirement, he will be given the long, enthusiastic, cathartic standing ovation that he has earned as one of the Red Sox all time greats. Moments like these are what make being a Red Sox fan so great. These moments are meant to be shared; and in 2021, they will be once again.
The Sox offense will be a juggernaut. When you have Bobby Dalbec hitting 9th, you know that your lineup is stacked. The Sox will be among the league leader in runs and home runs. So even when the pitching falters early in a game, our offense will be good enough to come back and win. No more giving up and turning off the TV after the 2nd inning like last year. The ‘21 Sox will be worth watching to the end of each game.
The Sox have players that will be fun to follow in ‘21. We have a good core of returning veterans that we have come to love over the years. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Christian Vazquez, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nate Eovaldi. These are player that we already love and we get to root for them again.
And there are some exciting, newly acquired players whom we will get to know for the first time this year. Kike Hernandez is a spark plug who has the potential to be a new fan favorite. Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe are going to wow us with their moon shot home runs. Garrett Richards is a legitimate MLB starter (remember those!) that will be a treat to watch every fifth day. Adam Ottavino and Hirokazu Sawamura add to a bullpen that should be able to keep us in games. New players are fun! I can’t wait for the NESN team to introduce us to them and tell us their stories.
Speaking of new players, we are going to get our first real look at some exciting, young rookies this year. Bobby Dalbec starts the season at first base and is on the short list for rookie of the year. Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock looks like a legit major league pitcher (suck on that, Yankees fans!). If you aren’t excited about Jarren Duran being called up mid season, then there is something wrong with you. Jeter Downs should make an appearance after the trade deadline and start to show us why some rank him as the Red Sox #1 overall prospect. Rookies Tanner Houck, Connor Seabold and Thad Ward provide real starting pitcher depth this season. These young players will provide a new spark to the team every few weeks when one is called up for the first time. That gives us another reason to keep watching all year.
Those rookies are going to get some serious playing time after the trade deadline, because the Red Sox are likely to trade away some veterans on expiring contracts. That will land us yet another haul of new prospects to get excited about. Some of those new players could even make appearances in Boston this year. More shiny new toys to get excited about!
Plus Minor League games are back this year! That means we can spend time dreaming on future Red Sox stars working their way up through the minors. If you live near an affiliate, you can take your family to a game. All of us get to follow our prospects this year and dream on their potential.
Oh, and by the way, did I mention that the Red Sox are going to win some games this year! They will probably be around a .500 team in 2021. And they probably won’t make the playoffs. But they won’t be getting blown out every day. Each game day will begin with hope of a victory, not the dread of a seemingly inevitable shellacking. Baseball is a competition, after all. You can’t win them all, but it sure is nice to know that they will have a chance at a win every single day. It makes watching a game or checking the box score so much more fun.
One last reason that the Sox will be fun again this year is that the COVID emergency will finally end in the Summer of 2021. So everything, including baseball, will be better! Go to a game this year! Soak in the sun, the sights, the sounds; and savor the feeling that all is right in the world once again.
The Sox probably won’t make the playoffs this year, but they will be fun to watch again. And the 2021 season will end with us Red Sox fans feeling so much better about the team’s future. By September, we will be filled with real hope for a serious, multi-year playoff run starting in 2022 that is built on a new core of young, exciting talent.
That sure sounds like fun to me.