Dear Red Sox players,
Do you know what extents we go to show you our dedication?
One part of me says, sure, how can you not? You see Fenway completely packed everytime you go out to the field. You see stadiums you visit completely blanketed with a sea of red when you’re on the road. If you started and stayed with the Sox, you probably never experienced or forgot how empty some of those stadiums get for their own home teams (Nationals, Orioles, anyone?). The heckling, hooting, yelling, screaming… you are probably used to it by now. It’s not a matter of “tuning it out.” It’s simply a matter of assuming it’s always there. You get fans clamouring for signatures. You see how your team has one of the best paid rosters in the league. So, yeah, you’ve got to know how intense the fans are, right?
But do you really know and appreciate? Do you sense or actually witness the lengths your fans go through?
How about those guys in Japan. Do you have any idea how much airfare there costs? You probably had an aircraft with quite a number of seats that are normally reserved for the first and business class cabins with almost flat if not completely flat declining backs. How about sticking yourself in an economy seat for 13+ hours straight, most likely wedged between two people who are overflowing over their own seats? You are big guys, averaging well over 6 feet. Your arms and limbs won’t fit!
How about staying in Tokyo? One of the most expensive cities to visit in the world. Compound that by the shrinking value of US currency. Then, again, when your W2 shows numbers in the millions, and your charity events cost thousands a piece, can you appreciate how the regular folks in a country where the average household income is less than $50,000 take the pain in the wallet to follow you halfway across the globe? In a country where the majority of the citizens don’t even own passports.
So, guys, how much do you appreciate your fans? Really really appreciate us?
I’m not implying you don’t. I really appreciate how plugged into our community some of you are. It really added to the sense that you are the “home” team for the locals. It’s a two-way street and some of you have done a phenomenal job.
But what I’m saying is you are lucky. You are some very very lucky guys. You play ball for a living. Some of you have spouses who are raising your kids almost as a single parent for the season. You have a whole demographic cheering for you everywhere you go even outside the country.
So we fans deserve a right to complain, criticise, cheer or jeer, second-guess, and behave crazy. It’s our money that fuels your team’s success. We pay a bloody forture for Fenway tickets. If we can get any. We give so much to demonstrate how much we love the team. We loose sleep to watch you. We adjust our lifestyle to incorporate you in our routine. Many of your members come and go but for the most part we fans are here to stay for life. We’re not getting paid or rewarded in any way. Other than the occaisional satisfaction of cheering for a win.
So, thank your lucky stars for your incredible talet and amazing luck. And the next time someone ask for an autograph, adult or child, grin, honour the request, and thank him or her for the support. Because other than playing some good baseball, it’s really not too much to give.
What a gorgeous Easter. And a reminder that the Cherry Blossom Festival is approaching both where the Sox are as well as here in DC. I somewhat regret not going to town to enjoy the view today, but I have several weeks to work out a trip. This is my favourite event of the year, even if it means sharing space with annoying hoards of tourists.
The weather, the sun, and the blooming plants come with continuing good news from the Sox:
– Drew is hitting well. With less intense pressure and no more heckling from the RSN, he seems more relaxed and ready to play the way he was brought on to play.
– Beckett plays a minor league game, ready to bring it up another level in his next outing.
– Amusingly, the Sox seems to be having a very tough time finding someone to wear the Wally suit. Heck, I would do it if I knew they needed someone and it included a trip to Japan with the team.
Hai. Good news indeed. Now, what are the odds I can fly out there in time for the Wally suit on opening day? (ps, Sox Front Office: I live within vicinity of one of the few airports that have a direct flight toTokyo) Hm..
Dammit. Paintballin’ hurts. I’ve got bruises all over to mark the soreness.
I’ve been out of the loop. The things I miss from one week of not checking in. A team strike? Japan games? Dice-K to start the opener?
Here, the local Sox MeetUp is talking about meeting to watch the Tuesday game, live, at 6:05am at a local pub. Pub will be open but not the kitchen. Guy opening the pub will bring Dunkin’ Donuts on his way in. Do I envy those who have the schedule to allow such an excursion. I love my team and I love the sport, but I absolutely cannot afford taking the time off just to watch the game live, especially if it was going to be on tv. Now, if I were to be able to travel to watch the game live in Tokyo, that would be another story.
Dudes, I don’t even wake up that early for work.
What a lovely way to be woken up. By a charity donation solicitor who happens to be call on behalf of the Virginia Law Enforcement something at 8am.
I still am trying to figure out how I can stay in touch with baseball once I move abroad. It’s quite fun to hear all about the tours into China and Japan. Maybe within the next two year, they will visit Thailand… Ah, I can only hope.
At least I have the honour of becoming on of the few MLBloggers out there? I don’t know if I’ll enjoy it all that much… being displaced from New England is difficult enough. Oh bother.
The Red Sox paraphernalia are coming back out of hibernation. I replaced the ginormous Sox car magnet. I bought a smaller version in Fort Myers and now I feel less like a bullseye and more like a restrained but enthusastic Red Sox fan when driving around in my car. Picture to be attached once I remember to take a photo.
Final thoughts before I hit the sack.
The Red Sox has four games to play in Japan. Two exhibition games against Japanese teams and two against the A’s as the season opener.
A lot of the focus has been on Beckett and his back problems and how he might not be pitching in the opener against the A’s. There there’s the speculation on who fills in the “ace” slot and well as who gets the honour of taking the first game.
All this comes down to symbolism, really. The concept of an “ace” is identifying one individual who is deem the “best” and the one to get the team started on the right foot. It’s no guarantee that he will get the team a win. It’s no guarantee that there is one clear ace in a team.
For the Red Sox, there was. Beckett had the only 20 wins in the majors last year (it pleases me to still see his stat sitting on the mlb.com page with the gigantic number 20). He was the pitcher that gave the team their few wins in the end of the month when the team went through a slump of sorts, dropping the 10+ win lead over the Yankees down to periously close to 0. His second game led to the pivotal turn-around on a losing streak against the Indians for the ALCS. There’s something about the way he pitches and the way he works that encourages the team and makes them think they can win. It is Beckett that made me understand the term and the meaning of an “ace.”
Part of it, I suspect, is psychological. Yes, he pitches well. But even the games when his pitching was not as clean as it could be, the team’s offense would be more aggressive and the run support would start coming in. There’s something about the assurance of having one of your strongest teammates playing side-by-side with you.
So, back to the opener. No one has mentioned who would pitch in the exhibition games. Well, technically, they don’t count towards the season, yes, but those are more of outreach or ambassadorial functions, aren’t they?
Dice-K: By default would probably have had to pitched at one of the two games against the A’s, partly because he’s in Japan, and mostly because he still remains a Japanese symbol and MLB wants to convey the gesture of appreciation and friendship by giving the Japanese another chance to watch their greatest star play one more time. But all that is trumped by his expecting his second child. As a woman, I say, good for you to get your priorities straight.
I have to ask: is he *that* good? I have watched him pitch only a couple of times, even on tv. I had not been impressed. He’s not bad. But I find that he’s not all that awe-inspiring, to be honest. I am more impressed by his compatriot Okajima.
Lester: I’m glad he is given the consideration. He truly is one special kid. And inspiring. Looking beyond all that emotional stuff, though, he has provided very solid outings lately in the spring training games. He’s delivering and he’s delivering as a starting pitcher. He already showed that he could by finishing off the World Series for the Sox. It would be oddly nice to have him pitching the next official game, the opener, wouldn’t it?
Wakefield: Is, to me, the true star of the spring training season. I was lucky to watch his start last week. Crisp, solid, clean, confident are words that come to mind to describe his performance. So far, two appearances, five innings, 0.00 ERA and 2 hits. The best of the batch. Remember the heart-breaking news last fall that he would not be playing in the World Series? Remember how his shoulder injury was gut-wrenching news to the Red Sox fans? Especially after an impressive 17-win season, at age of 41. Few fans know the Red Sox long enough to remember a team without Wakefield. He first joined the Sox in 1995. He has been on the team the longest- now, in a world of trades and free agency, *that* makes his a true Red Sox player both in heart and in uniform. And he intends to stay to hold the record as the most games won, pitching for the Red Sox. He currently ranks second with 154, trailing to Cy Young and Clemens’ 192. If I haven’t made my case on how he is a Red Sox lifer- he just did for himself. He probably wants to shoot for 200 and he wants to stay long enough to do that.
So, with all that, if it can’t be Beckett, Wakefield deserves the honour to start the opener. Ace or not, Wakefield has poured his heart and soul for the Sox longer and more sincerely than anyone else. And I would love to see him given the nod.