I have already had my rants about players not prepared for the Red Sox season. Now I want to credit some role players, who are always prepared.
Ryan Hannigan: Hannigan hit a home run in the final Exhibition game in 2016, threw out a baserunner and almost threw out another one. He really looks like a plumber playing for Local 1721, but he handles pitchers expertly and he makes the perfect battery-mate for a guy named O’Sullivan. Makes glad the Irish heart from South Boston.
Brock Holt: Is there a better name for a baseball player than “Brock Holt”? Holt is less obscure, but who would have picked him as a starting left fielder at the beginning of Spring Training? He does all the little things: bunts, moves the runner along, takes the walks, hustles in the field from seven different positions. Small wonder he was an All-Star utility infielder last year. Now he’s platooning with Michael Young in the most famous left field in baseball.
Steven Wright: Son of Tim Wakefield. I would love to know what makes knuckle-ballers so resilient. If the knuckler forgets to dip out of the hitting zone, the knuckle-baller philosophically watches it arc into space and land in the parking lot, then sighs, and turns to the next batter, who flails helplessly at the next pitch. Live by the butterfly, die by the butterfly. The best part of Wakefield and Wright is the total lack of ego, which says, start me, close me, give me the mop, send me for coffee, I’m just here to do my job. My job is to release pitches from my finger tips and hope for the best.
Ruben Amaro: Jaws dropped when he left an administrative job in the front office to be a first-base coach for the Red Sox. This is like the school superintendent deciding to return to the classroom. I wish more would follow Amaro’s example. He loves baseball more than power, and he wants to work where he can have the most impact. He may be a throwback from the halcyon days of baseball, when managers played and executives left them alone. I like to think he is true to baseball’s eternal spirit.
Opening Day Fans: We start every year thinking our team will make the playoffs and who knows what can happen from there? Is there any other game with the potential for dreams like that? There are five teams in every pro sport who plan at the beginning of the year to sell playoff seats and always do. There are a dozen more who are chronic re-builders. Not so in baseball. The Chicago Cubs and the Kansas City Royals are favored to go to the World Series. If anyone had predicted that five years ago we would have been glad to take their money. Baseball is the land of dreams.
Dream on, fans, we are all headed for the playoffs.