Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day 364: And Like That... Baseball is Back!

The 2014 Major League Baseball season officially kicks off tonight as Sunday Night Baseball returns featuring a matchup between National League West rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. But the real action doesn't start until Monday. At 3:05pm EST, the Red Sox open their season at Camden Yards to take on the Orioles for three.

If the weather reports are correct, it looks like a spectacular day for baseball with sunny skies and temps right around 60˚—a little better than the 39˚ and rain expected in Boston tomorrow. Winter really mistreated the northeast over the past several months and it doesn't appear to be in too much of a hurry to surrender and let spring take over. But after the deep freeze we've experienced, 45˚ sounds downright balmy!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited for Monday and that doesn't happen very often. Monday is usually reserved for a belly full of dread as the impending work week looms with piles of shit to do. But I've already got my name on the calendar indicating I will be OUT of the office for the afternoon to park my ass on the couch and bask in the glow of yet another Opening Day.

The Orioles will send Chris Tillman (16-7, 3.71 in '13) to the hill against the World Series workhorse, Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 in '13). I'm guessing the lineup will look a little something like this (let's see how close I get): (1) Grady Sizemore, CF; (2) Daniel Nava, LF; (3) Dustin Pedroia, 2B; (4) David Ortiz, DH; (5) Mike Napoli, 1B; (6) Shane Victorino, RF; (7) Xander Bogaerts, SS; (8) Will Middlebrooks, 3B and (9) AJ Pierzynski.

Victorino is a question mark for Opening Day after suffering a strained hamstring in the final spring training game, so if he's not available, it could be Jackie Bradley Jr. in right and I would guess he would bat 9th. My pick for Sizemore to lead-off is a shaky choice... so I'll be curious to see who John Farrell puts in that spot to replace the speedy and recently departed Jacoby Ellsbury. Sizemore has been known to have some speed and his numbers in spring training were pretty good.

The best thing the Red Sox could do at this point is to get the thought of repeating as World Series Champs completely out of the conversation. This is a new year, with some new faces and, most certainly, some new challenges. They need to play it one game at a time like they did in 2013. They need to play as a team... and grow those gnarly yet magical beards like their lives and wins depend on it.

As the team's spring training t-shirts read: Turn the [Bleep]ing Page. If they can focus on making a fresh start, I'd say there's a pretty good chance it will be another fun season to be a Sox fan.