Are you tired of spring training yet?
With only 8 days to go until opening day, the thrill of pre-season games is long gone. It’s time for some baseball that counts. The summer-like temperatures in Boston last week were such a tease. It was perfect baseball weather and, yet, Fenway Park was empty. Sports talk radio about the disappointing Celtics, the ho-hum Bruins, football, bounties, and Tim Tebow’s mismatched signing with the Jets will soon, thankfully, give way to angst over the pitching rotation and Bobby Valentine stories. It will be music to my ears.
I have my own worries. The questions about the pitching rotation have lingered too long. While I so want Daniel Bard to succeed as a starter, I have my fears. I know it’s “just spring training”, but that’s what was said last year. How did that work out? And by the way, has anyone noticed that there is a need for a fifth starter? Tim Wakefield retired and is no longer available to be the one-size-fits-all pitcher of years past. I’m trying not to get too anxious this year. As the big leaguers say, don’t get too high or too low. It’s not easy. A three-man pitching rotation with a couple of question marks is a bit of a worry. Andy Pettitte is not walking through that door in anything but pinstripes. At least the shortstop question has been answered. An everyday right-fielder? Not so much. Our new closer, Andrew Bailey, certainly appears to have the stuff and the makeup, but can he stay healthy this year? Will Clay’s back be okay or does he have some kind of chronic condition? Will Youkilis have another injury-prone year? Already he has tweaked his back. Will Carl Crawford…uh…whatever. Will Dice-K come back mid-year and finally be the pitcher he was supposed to be? Can the catchers get in sync with the pitching staff? Will the players love Bobby V. or hate him by July? So many questions. So much angst. To help with stress-relief, I made a quilt:
There. That helped.
When I am in a pre-season good place, it is because I am thinking of all the positives. The things I feel certain about (or as certain as anyone can feel after Chickengate 2011) are these: Jacoby will silence any of the few remaining doubters with another MVP-caliber season. Dustin Pedroia will step up as a team leader. With that nasty pin removed from his foot, he will be our awesome Dustbuster again. With his shoulder surgery well behind him, Gonzo will prove to be everything he was supposed to be in 2011. Mike Aviles, now given a chance to be our everyday shortstop, will prove to be a valuable asset. Aviles, Darnell McDonald, along with the new guys – Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, Nick Punto, Kelly Shoppach — will create the chemistry and spark (and competition) that has been missing for the last couple of years. No longer in Varitek’s shadow, Salty will come into his own. Backed by Shoppach and Lavarnway down the line, there will be nothing to fear behind the plate for some time to come. Big Papi will be Big Papi if he wants to be. An ornery Beckett will have a great year just to piss everyone off.
Admittedly, I am worried about the bullpen. Everyone except the rubber-armed Aceves, that is. There seems to be so much to worry about out there. Albers? (Bad memories.) Miller? (Awful memories, even though I am pulling for that very likable guy to succeed.) Melancon? (I’m not sure.) Padilla? (He looks like he might eat someone.) Now I’m stressed again. I think I need to make another anxiety quilt.
I have written a prescription for my pre-baseball season anxiety. I hope it helps you, too:
- Remember the good times.
- Focus on the consistent, trusted players, the dirt-dogs, the positive attitude guys.
- Breathe deeply and let this reality wash over you: You. Will. Not. Be. Seeing. Lackey. This. Year.
- Cut up last year’s t-shirts, mix with colorful fabrics, layer over batting, machine quilt. Stand back and admire your work:
Let the games begin.