It’s been two years since I’ve had a legitimate major league baseball season to get excited about. Despite the low expectations most people have for the 2021 Red Sox, I couldn’t be more excited. Boston is now firmly entrenched in the Chaim Bloom era. Gone are the days, and several of the players, of the briefly successful, mostly dysfunctional, and aggravatingly uncreative Dave Dombrowski administration. I have no idea how long it will be before I can look at Mookie Betts in a Dodgers uniform without feeling like I’ve been kicked in the throat, but I’m as powerless as a scorned middle school boyfriend. All I can do now is think back on the good times, burn a CD of songs that bring back happy memories of him, and move on with my life.
Similarly to what’s going on with the New England Patriots, the bandwagon Red Sox fans that started jumping on board in 2004 are jumping ship. Even during the 2018 championship run, I listened to an endless drone of garbage from disenchanted ex-Red Sox fans.
They’re not exciting enough. I don’t like their politics. They’re way too corporate. Baseball is too slow for me. They’re too PR-sensitive.
Who knew that for the past 150 years, the game should have aspired to be some odd Michael Bay movie starring James Dean, written by Jack Kerouac, and produced by Dana White?
You know what’s exciting? Winning. Like winning four World Series in the past sixteen years. If watching winning baseball isn’t exciting, then why did I flirt with seven hundred heart attacks throughout ten of the last eighteen Octobers?
When did the left-leaning politics of a sports franchise’s management group start bothering fans of the game so much?
And since when is a billion dollar franchise not supposed to act like a sterilized, capitalist organization with a lot to lose?
I couldn’t be happier to see all you turncoat sissies leave. It’s so easy to watch and cheer for a team that’s racking up championships, no-hitters, 40-homer seasons, and crappy rom-coms. It takes hard work to watch a team that has to struggle and rebuild after blowing up a disastrously mismanaged roster, farm system, and payroll. I’ve been in this situation three times in the past ten years, and the first two times both ended with a parade through Boston. That may not be the case at the end of this season, but with a little luck on the health front and a few more shrewd, responsible moves aimed at long-term success, I believe that Bloom will have this team back in contention by 2022.
In the current era of not-quite-so-rampant steroid abuse and far less can’t-miss free agent signings, I believe that the key to building a championship team is to surround a few stars (at least one elite pitcher and two elite hitters) with versatile, hardworking athletes. Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and JD Martinez are as good an offensive trio as you’ll find anywhere in the league now that the trash can gang in Houston is breaking up. Swiss army knives like Marwin Gonzales and Kike Hernandez not only compliment the trio beautifully, but also make the team pretty resistant to breakdown from the 162-game grind. The team is positioning Alex Verdugo as the next breakout star, but Bobby Dalbec is the guy that will really be turning heads in Boston during the first third of this season. And rookie sensation Jarren Duran will be hitting leadoff and patrolling center field by the All-Star break. As John knows very well, I don’t use the term phenom lightly. However, both Dalbec and Duran have the makings of phenomenal players.
On the pitching side, things do not look nearly as promising. The Sox need a healthy Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez, plus one more top starting pitcher and an electrifying bullpen arm to make this team a contender. Not a single one of these things is a certainty, especially Sale, who happens to be the most important piece of it all. Can a rotation of Eovaldi, ERod, Richards, Perez, and Pivetta and a bullpen headlined by Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino, and Hirokazu Siramura keep the team afloat long enough for Sale to come back and start raising eyebrows across the league? The magic 8-ball would probably say that the outlook is not so good. But the magic 8-ball is a piece of plastic filled with toilet bowl cleaner or something. Why the hell are you listening to that thing?
The Yankees have a core that is simply not mentally capable of great team accomplishments. Combine that with two fragile homegrown offensive centerpieces, a cleanup hitter with tons of pop but no grit, and a closer that’s as likely to choke away a big game as he is to choke a female, and the mountain the Sox have to climb does not look quite as steep anymore. On top of that, the Blue Jays have been scientifically proven over the last thirty years to be incapable of finishing a season strong. The AL East is winnable for any team that has the gumption to step up and take it. Let’s hope that the fiscal savvy of Chaim Bloom and the strategic brilliance of Alex Cora are the special sauce that can elevate this flawed team into something more.