Well, I don’t need to repeat what can be read or heard in the news. Just my thoughts:
- The Sox seem to be going through a seesaw on ups and downs, this being a huge up after being swept by Toronto.
- Emotionally, this is a high not just for the team but also for the fans who get a chance to watch the team play as we saw them play last fall.
- JD Drew is blazing hot… and continuing it. I hope this is a big year for him.
- What a surprise to see Buckner make a return to Fenway! I missed the festivities, but was vastly amused to read the reactions of fellow bloggers, Dan and Steve.
- I hope the team regains energy and momentum from today’s game and celebration. It still is a long season to come.
- Tigers… ouch. Now, that team’s fans have got to be beginning to worry.
- Personally, I’m enjoying this view, even from thousands of miles away:
I had a fondness for the Nat’s new stadium although I have yet to set a foot on the grounds. As a rower on the Anacostia River, I rowed right past the site every day of it’s construction, barring bad weather preventing me the go on the water, all year last year. I saw the grounds start off as a really unattractive piece of dirt called real estate turned into a massive stadium. It wasn’t completely done when our crew season wrapped up for the winter but the majority of the structure was already up and I had grown accustomed to seeing the sun set behind its silhouette. I truly regret not bringing my camera and snapping shows of the progress of the building from the water.
The stadium brings many changes. The opportunity to revitalise a horrible part of town. The process of growth had started long before the team even came to town. The government buildings being constructed around the Navy Yard has brought more daytime foot traffic and dispersed some of the more shady elements of DC’s population.
The biggest headache for me is traffic. Other than an initial surprise and private grin when I saw small road signs with the Nationals’ “W” and an arrow pointing where to go show up on I-395, I will start spending more time griping about the traffic gridlock. DC has more traffic than its roads are designed to handle. Which is why a practice emergency evaculation a while back went so wrong so quickly. I had to fight traffic from work to the boathouse with RFK traffic since my practice time coincided with the weekday evening games. Now with the stadium directly on the way to the boathouse, I’m not even sure Metro is ready to handle the traffic either.
I do want to check out the stadium, though. I chuckled last night at the first homerun of the stadium. I wondered if the Nats, even with an one-point lead at the time, wished they were still at RFK because that hit would not have been a homerun there. I am kicking myself for calling it a night and hopping into the shower at the bottom of the 8th. I apprently missed the best part, as I inevitably do in my rare decisions to close up early. But my excuse: I was running on 6 hours of culmulative sleep the past three days and I had just had a 16-hour day of travel. I was beat.
Now, I’ll have to continue my thoughts on the stadium later… off the hit the slopes!
You may laugh. You may mock. You may roll your eyes. You may tease. I give you free license to poke fun at me. I’ll bear it like a good sport, in the name of sportsmanship. But at the least, give me credit for trying, please?
Let me start by saying to the Boston fans in New England- you cannot begin to appreciate what homefield advantage you have when it comes to following the team. We expatriates… well, don’t have it so nice.
I left as prescribed. I was out of the house on time. Heck, I even had enough time to spare to log on and blog about being up on time.
Anyone who takes public transit for daily commute knows there are unspoken rules and actual rules that everyone abdes in to maintain organized chaos and for all to get to work safely instead of killing one another in fits of rail rage. Here, one of those rules, actual and followed, is no drinks on board. That means thousands forego bringing coffee and suffer fishing out pocket change for coffee at the shop near work or the disgusting excuse of Folgers in the office. I chose this morning to break that rule. Discreetly. I got my trust and rather well sealed travel mug. Filled with my premium coffee (fresh ground) with 1/2 and 1/2 just the way I like it. Carefully packed *in* my briefbag, sandwiched between my planner and portfolio. And carried it c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y.
I wore a white coat. Specifically so the bus driver would see me and stop. It was pitch black and still cold outside when I left. All my neighbors were still abed, lights out.
Oh, my fingers iched to reach in and pull out that mug for a sip. Or a thirsty desperate gulp. Whichever I could get in first. I kept looking around surreptitiously in hopes of finding a moment to sneak it out and get a drink. No avail. The entire ride my mind alternated between trying to brush aside the cobwebs and trying to calculate how much longer until I could reach for my precious coffee. I then understood what addiction means. Thank heavens I’m not a drinker or smoker. Just coffee… and perhaps the Red Sox.
For those of you who may have not used MeetUp before.. it’s an online community of sorts. Very loose terms of “community.” Basically people of same interests sign up for a meetup group and a self-appointed leader would organize events around that interest. Such as a gathering to watch the Red Sox for Sox fans in the area. Which means for some of us newer or less involved, we aren’t as likely to know many of the members especially when some interest groups grow to large numbers as this one.
So, there I was at 6:06am (*sigh* I know, I know. I was ONE minute late) in a bar I’ve never been to, surrounded by maybe a dozen people dressed in sorts of Red Sox gear, except me, already in my work clothes for an employer with a very official dress code. Whatever these folks do… I’d like to know how I can get a job with that kind of flexibility both in dress as well as in work hours.
Then guess what. TV ain’t workin’. Well, TVs were fine but for some odd reason they couldn’t get the ESPN2 or the DirecTV feeds. By then I was greedily nursing my coffee and trying to keep my bleary eyes open. I was *not* very social. At all.
I knew it was time to go when one guy who had the foresight to bring his laptop out started calling the scores as they updated on whatever website he was reading off. By then, the bar owner and his friend had been fiddling with different solutions and we were well into the third inning. Dunkin Donuts were available but the good ones gobbled down the faster digestive systems. I couldn’t get enough of my precious coffee but the sipping wasn’t solving our reception problems.
People, I didn’t even take my tv out of storage until last fall when the play offs were finally broadcasted on broadcast channels and a friend got so tired of my whining he dug out his old rabbit ears and shoved them to me to shut me up. If I want a tv with no reception, I could have stayed home. In all fairness, I don’t blem the pub. I can’t blame the guys who opened the doors to us when all the other pubs laughed in our faces.
I left. I felt like such a spoilsport and an antisocial. I had barely spoken to anyone. My attention was honed to three things only: coffee, coffee, and game. I got the first two… the third, not really. I trudged to work and turned on my computer. Tuned to ESPN and got my game updates. I can settle with that.
What I didn’t know until later was the creative fans back at the pub came with a rather creative solution. The coffee must have just begun to kick in when I left. They used the one laptop present, Internet service available and another guy’s Slingbox access to his tv all the back in MA and broadcasted the game over a projector. I have to check into this Slingbox thing. What are the odds I can use it to tap my parents’ cable tv back in Massachusetts while I live abroad to follow the games?
My last conversation of the day at work: Coworker pops his head in my office as a surprise and to say Hi. I smacked him in the arm complaining. He LIVES in Tokyo. What the heck was he doing back here when he could have been THERE watching the game? This is why you get the reminder that we still are a minority as Sox fans.
Coworker: What? Baseball?
Me: Today is the Opening GAME. You could have been watching it!
Coworker: So what?
Me: Do you have any idea how much trouble I went through to try to catch the game on tv today?
Coworker: Lemme get you a referral for my brother’s shrink.
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.
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.