Monday, March 30, 2015

One Week and Counting: Opening Day is Almost Here!

Monday, April 6th. It's a day I've been looking forward to all winter—all five months of frigid temperatures and endless snowstorms. But now, even as the temps struggle to make it out of the 30s, I can see baseball season. I can see the real sign that spring is actually here no matter what the thermometer or the snow in my yard says. And I will surely argue with myself that morning of April 6th whether or not I feel well enough to go to work.

My hope for this season? A respectable finish would be nice. You know... sort of like that season they had in 2013 and preferably not the two that flanked it. I don't like last place. I especially don't like last place living with a Yankees fan. There's no greater pain.

I have no idea what the Red Sox starting rotation is going to look like this year—especially with all these new faces. I do know that Clay Buchholz has been named Opening Day starter and after last season's 5.34 ERA, my confidence in the lanky righthander is not high. Former Tiger, Rick Porcello, seems to have the best 2014 resume of the bunch with a 3.43 ERA. And Justin Masterson returns to the Sox after spending time with the Indians and Cardinals, but despite an All-Star appearance in 2013, in 2014 he was worse than Buchholz with a 5.88 ERA. So basically... oy.

The Sox picked up a couple of big offensive threats in the off-season in Hanley Ramirez (who came up through the Red Sox farm system a decade ago) and Pablo Sandoval. Ramirez has had a respectable spring, but Sandoval hasn't impressed me too much. Mike Napoli has been on fire and as usual, Jackie Bradley Jr. is tearing up the spring. What is it about Bradley Jr. and his spring training successes? And will he carry that spark north to Boston? Because last year he was sort of a giant disappointment.

But Mookie Betts, dude. MOOKIE BETTS!! If the Sox don't find a spot for him to play regularly, I'm going to have someone's head. Seriously. (Unless, of course, he has JBJ disease and can't seem to play in the regular season.) This guy has been on hotter than fire. He's been like molten lava. He's logged among the most at bats during the pre-season and boasts a .452 average with 19 hits, seven doubles, two triples and two home runs—one of which was an inside-the-park jobby. He has scored 11 runs and has an OPS of 1.334. DUDE! Mookie for President!

So the jury is still out on how I feel about this team. Can Pedroia bounce back from a very un-Pedroia-like 2014? Can Big Papi still smash the ball without his ever growing ego getting in the way? What will the Sox do to solve their latest complication behind the plate with Christian Vazquez going out for the season? And most importantly, what are they going to do to stay out of the cellar so I can maintain my sanity?

Now I just sit and wait and wring my hands until the final 25-man roster is named and I become that crazed Boston fan who is never satisfied with any decision they make. I will also to continue to hope for a team that respects each other enough to not end up in last place again. A team that plays for the parade. I really liked that team.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Spring Means Baseball and Sunshine and Melting Snow... and Baseball. Did I Mention Baseball?

Well, it's not spring yet, but it is March 1st—the day I am officially over winter. Granted, February set a record for coldest month ever in the state of Maine—or at least since they've been keeping records—so I'm going out on a limb and saying that I was over winter sometime last month. And I'm a fan of winter, so you know it had to be a bad one.

But March is full of hope too. It's full of days to look forward to that actually might just signify that winter is on its way out and we could possibly see bare ground before the month's end. The town I live in, Gray, Maine, has received nearly 100" of snow so far this year and I'm fairly certain all of it is still on the ground so we're going to need some seriously warm days to get rid of this white shit.

The days get longer. There's a holiday that's dedicated to drinking. And let's not forget, if the old adage is right, March goes out like a lamb. A nice, soft, cuddly lamb I like to call April—a month that is chock full of good stuff.

So come, sit down next to me and let's dream of days in the not too distant future that will make us ridiculously happy... especially after Mother Nature tortured us for no apparent reason the last couple of months.
Tuesday, March 3rd: The Red Sox kick off their spring training game schedule with their annual doubleheader against the college kids of Boston College and Northeastern. 
Sunday, March 8th: Daylight Saving Time! Yay, we get an extra hour of daylight after work!! Although we do lose a precious hour of weekend so that sort of aggravates me.
Monday, March 9th: National Napping Day. To make up for that lost hour!! Although I'm not sure my bosses would appreciate me sleeping on the job. Again.
Tuesday, March 17th: St. Patty's Day. Gotta love a holiday dedicated to drinking. The only day of the year, the Irish pub near my office has a full deck at 8am. Now that's commitment. 
Friday, March 20th: THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING!! And yes, it did deserve the shouty caps. It's also the day where any snow that occurs after pisses us off more than any other snow of the season. Unless you're a skier.
Wednesday, April 1st: April Fools Day. Don't believe a word of anything anyone says to you. And watch out for saran wrap on your toilet. 
Sunday, April 5th: Easter Sunday. Chocolate eggs. Chocolate bunnies. Chocolate everything. Did I mention chocolate? I'm sure there's another reason for Easter, but right now all I can think about is chocolate! 
Monday, April 6th: Opening Day for the Red Sox in Philadephia. It's a fresh start after a dismal 2014 season. Could they perhaps become the only team to go worst to first to worst to first? Fingers crossed. 
Tuesday, April 7th: National Beer Day! Excuse me... wouldn't it make more sense to have this day on... say... a Saturday? Whatever. It's beer. And baseball season so... yeah. 
Friday, April 10th - Sunday, April 12th: Red Sox vs. Yankees, Version 1.0. Gotta love that first series of the year between these two rivals. And we'll see a Jeter-less Yankee team for the first time since 1995. 
Sunday, April 12th: Happy Birthday, Dad! And Sunday at Augusta National for the final round of the Masters. 
Monday, April 13th: Red Sox Home Opener! I can only hope they're 6-0 by the time they make it to Fenway Park. I am expecting a championship, you know. 
Monday, April 20th: Patriots Day... a holiday only celebrated in Maine and Massachusetts, but it's the day of the Boston Marathon and the Red Sox play at 11am—the only game I watch in my PJs while eating breakfast. 
Friday, April 24th: Happy Birthday, Mom! (And it just happens to be National Pigs in a Blanket day. Who knew??)
So there you have it. There is a light at the end of this long, dark, snowy, COLD tunnel and it smells like grass, sunshine, and beer. This list might just keep me from throwing myself in front of plow truck during the next (and you know there will be a next) snow storm.

Happy Almost Spring!!