It’s been a long, cold winter. While I’ve been blogging about political scandals and banking crises, wine tastings and civic dinners, my mind has only been partly focused on these events, important though they are. My real preoccupation has been baseball.
But will it be a better Sox? Will it be a fitter, more committed Sox? Will it achieve the success over 162+ games that was achieved over June, July and August last year?
The Boston-based columnists and pundits are doubtful. Our acquisitions have not been the stuff of headlines. We didn’t pay out for Pujols or Fielder. Nor even for Jackson or Oswalt. We’ve signed a lot of guys whose records I had to look up; which, considering the amount of time I spend poring over the stats, does not augur well.
But as I watched a live feed of the equipment truck leaving Fenway (I know!) and read reports of players arriving early in Florida, I've started to get optimistic about the coming year.
I think Valentine is the right guy to take over from Tito. I think that Josh’s pride will once again make him the ace of aces. I think that Jon Lester, whose no-hitter against the Royals in 2008 gave me my most memorable Fenway moment, will come good. I think that Papi will justify his arbitration award. I think that the return of the newly affianced Youk is the equivalent of a major signing. I think that Pedey and Jacoby will confirm that they are future Hall of Famers.
I think that Lackey will not be missed, but Scutaro will, and Paps will. And I will miss Wakes and ‘Tec if we can’t find a role for them.
But what I will miss most of all is being there, because – for a number of reasons – I’m not going to make it to Fenway in its 100th year. What makes this worse is that my friends John, Hamish and Ben from the Leamington Spa branch of the Nation already have their tickets, their flights and their hotel booked. They will be there to see us beat the Yankees on the 100th anniversary of the opening of what John Updike memorably called a “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark”. And after the game, they will celebrate in North 26 with the estimable Rick Hough behind the bar. Boy, am I going to miss being there, that night.
But I will be watching on mlb.tv. Every pitch. Every hit. In the middle of the 8th, I will be singing “So good. So good.”
Because it is.
Today’s listening: Chimes of Freedom, the Amnesty 4CD set of Bob covers. Some good, some bad, some downright ugly. But great songs in a great cause.