This week was momentous. This time of year usually is. Because this week, my friends, we celebrated Truck Day! On Tuesday, all of our equipment rolled out for the long drive down to Fort Myers. Spring Training has officially unofficially started! Man, it’s been a long winter. It still is a long winter. And we have a long way to go, but we’re getting there. It’s February already, and since Truck Day has come and gone, Pitcher and Catchers is our next milestone, followed of course by the officially official start of Spring Training and then the season! We’re well on our way. It may be freezing outside, and there may be snow in the air or on the ground, but we know that in Florida there is baseball to be played. I can almost taste it, especially since Farrell is already talking about lineups; expect Ellsbury to bat first this year.
Pedro Martinez is back in Boston, in the front office this time; he’s a special assistant to Ben, and he’s basically going to advise the pitching staff. Kalish had successful surgery on his right shoulder, but we re-signed Sweeney just in case. We signed Lyle Overbay to a minor-league deal. Terry Francona won the Judge Emil Fuchs Award, presented by the Boston Baseball Writers, for his service to the game.
Gary Tuck, our bullpen coach, decided to retire and has been replaced by Dana Levangie. Remember him? Levangie was our bullpen coach for eight years, the last of which was 2004. After that, he was an advance scout. And now he’s back where he started. Tuck was going to be the last man standing from last year’s staff, and he surely was a fantastic bullpen coach. He expected nothing but the best from pitchers and catchers; he made our staff great, and he will be sorely missed. Levangie has big shoes to fill, but seems like the logical choice.
Congratulations to the Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund, who celebrate sixty years of partnership this season. This will be the inauguration of a suite available all season long for Jimmy Fund patients and their families. A Jimmy Fund Chorus will also perform at the park. This is one of those occasions when you feel really proud to support this organization.
Okay. There’s something else that needs to be said, and I’m only going to say it once and then be done with it, because it’s that excruciating. Kevin Youkilis is now a Yankee. Like his predecessor, Johnny Damon, he has enlisted in the Evil Empire. He has committed himself to the aiding and abetting of New York’s success. Baseball is a complicated business these days; it’s a rare and happy find to discover a player whose sentimental connection with a particular team is strong. In Boston, we’ve had a long tradition of such sentimental connections, and we still expect that from our players; we give them everything we’ve got, and we like to see the same in return. So when one of our own, a homegrown farm boy no less, goes to the dark side, it’s extremely difficult to accept. It was difficult to accept Damon doing it, and it’s no less difficult now. We salute Youk and everything he has done for this team and this city. He was a potent combination of hitting and fielding, volatility and versatility. He had his good moments, and he had his bad moments, but he has left a legacy here of a stellar player. I already made the tribute when he left, and we all know how awesome he was. All I’m saying now is that it hurts. It hurts, and it’s devastating, and we have to go through that pain all over again of seeing one of our own turn away from us. That’s all I’m saying.
In other news, the Ravens won the Super Bowl, 34-31. What a game. It looked like the 49ers didn’t have a chance for most of it, and then it looked like the Ravens would be hard-pressed to keep them down after the power went out. But alas, they pulled through. At least now we get to say that it took a Super Bowl champion to defeat us this year. The Bruins, for their part, have been doing quite well. Since the shortened season’s first game, the Bruins have beaten the Jets by a score of 2-1, the Isles by a score of 4-2, the Canes by a score of 5-3, the Devils by a score of 2-1, the Leafs by a score of one-zip, and the Habs by a narrow yet satisfying score of 2-1. We lost to the Rangers, 4-3, in sudden death and to the Sabres by the brutal score of 7-4.