Beckett, you're my BOY! (Saying it just the way Will Farrell did in Old School to the old guy). Baseball is finally back, as Beckett, along with Jonathan Papelbon, and if you look real close, at the far right of the picture, Jon Lester all are in Florida for Spring Training. It's great to see these young guys showing up 4 days before they have to, showing how much they are ready to strap it on and get after it. Lester, in particular: if you don't know, he was diagnosed with Lymphoma during the season last year, and had to stop playing to get treatment. From all accounts, he is in good health and ready to go. Whether he makes the team out of camp is irrelevant: the fact he is THERE is the story. Even Matsuzaka showed up today around noon, playing a little long toss in the outfield.
It seems like it's been forever since the Sox played: the end of the season was bizarre, to say the least. After a 3 1/2 hour rain delay, Devern Hansack, a Double A call up throws a no hitter through 5 innings, then with the rain coming down again, they call the game. Talk about going out with a whimper, not a bang. Weird ending to a weird year: First place until the 5 game series known forever to me as "The Yankee Massacre". It was right at this point the boys resembled more of a M.A.S.H. unit than a ball club, with a rash of injuries so big and so bizarre, you could almost image Big Stein holding a Red Sox doll in his lap and driving pins into it.
Now, I feel like my kids do on Christmas morning, or the way Ciera feels on the first day of school. I feel like Red on his way to finally meet up with Andy in Mexico in Shawshank: I almost cannot contain my sheer giddiness that the season is right around the corner. I've got a lot I want to do this season: I'm gonna try to score at least 3 games a week, teach Rakes how to throw a knuckle ball, and keep working with Ciera on her catching. I have to get my chair ready for the last 4 innings of each game for when I sit on the edge, rocking back and forth like Dustin Hoffman in "Rain man", muttering to myself. Gonna take the kids, wife, brother-in-law Scott, and whoever else wants to come down to Greenville, S.C. to see Gabe and the Greenville Drive this summer. And of course, Mattie and I take our annual trip to Camden Yards to catch a few games in September.
My buddy Shawn is a Yankee fan, who even though he would never admit it, KNOWS Papi deserved the MVP instead of Slappy McBluelips. He's a good guy, even though his baseball team is a legion of Satan, and he and I can actually talk about the game and our teams without arguing. (Although after the GREATEST CHOKE IN SPORTS HISTORY in 2004, he would not answer his phone for 5 days. Hard to argue with yourself.). He told me the other day that the Red Sox actually had him worried about this year. To get a Yankee fan to even half way admit the Sox are on his radar is a major accomplishment, so I feel good! I have a good feeling about this year.
Sunday, February 18th is the day. The day everyone is expected in camp. I, for one, can't wait. My wife, however, is not so excited. She realizes that in about 45 days, she loses the main tv for roughly 6 months. I told her it was all right, she was married to me, and that should be reward enough on it's own! Her response? The universal symbol for "We're number 1!" Although it's normally done with the index finger, not the middle one.