His birth has been the highlight of a long, cold winter: meteorologically, personally, and professionally. I don’t see Asher or his brother Max often enough, but when I do they make my day. However cold it is, however much work there is to do, however depressed I feel.
For many of us, the long cold winter comes to an end with the opening of the cricket and baseball seasons, the former in a fortnight, the latter on Monday at the home of the Evil Empire, a term coined by Larry Lucchino and now patented by the Yankees. Spring training has been interesting in both sports, with Warwickshire thrashing the MCC in Dubai of all places, and JBJ emerging as a serious contender for the opening game across in Florida.
I think there is little doubt that Warwickshire will be there or thereabouts this year. But there is a great deal of doubt over the ability of the Sox to make it to the play-offs. The Nation seems underwhelmed by Ben’s moves over the winter, and I’m confused by Farrell’s recent introduction of pitchers who will struggle to make the Pawtucket nine when we should be stretching out those with a realistic chance of making the show.
But what do I know?
I know that Buckholz is going to be as good as we used to think he was.
I know that the crazy experiment of making Bard a starter has ruined him for at least another year.
I know that Papi still has a real contribution to make to the Sox and that Pedey will never give up.
What I don’t know for sure, but think, is that Ryan Dempster will make an impact, that Hanrahan will be an effective closer, that Ross will be pretty good catcher, and that Drew is no Nomar but will be competent enough. I’m pretty sure, too, that Napoli, Gomes and Victorino will turn out to be judicious signings.
I also think that Jackie Bradley Jnr should play. I understand that if we delay his activation for 11 days it gives us an extra year of his services, but right now I’m thinking about 2013 rather than 2018. From what I’ve seen, I think JBJ is good enough, and if he’s good enough, he’s old enough, and he’s ready for opening day. For me, it’s not just the obvious talent; it’s the way he has handled himself and the media attention this spring. Even hardened pros struggle with it. He hasn’t. And that alone augurs well.
Will we make the play-offs?
I think we will. I think the Town Nine this year will be good enough, and I’m conscious that the Yankees are ageing, the Os have over-achieved enough already, the Rays are in transformation again, and the Jays have invested too much in NL players: the AL East is a whole different ball-game.
I don’t believe we’re good enough to take the Series without a lot of luck and maybe another trade or two. But I believe these guys will give us a good run for our money.
Not a great team perhaps, but a good team. We will get a better idea on Monday, when I'll be watching with Sox, Os and Yankees fans round at Michelle's. (Thanks Michie!)
And if it doesn’t work out, there’s always Max and Asher waiting in the wings for 2035.
Today’s listening: My trawl of early ‘70s Dead has arrived at The Academy of Music this month in 1972, when they played a set with the great Bo Diddley. Some of it is on Dick's Picks #30 but I’m listening to a slightly iffy AUD tape of the whole show. For completeness you understand.