Whether or not you are a fan of Punxsutawney Phil, believe that a rodent can predict the end of winter on the off chance he doesn’t see his shadow, or just like the tradition behind it all, February 2 is a day of wondering about the future and hoping a better six weeks lies ahead.
The fact is, Groundhog Day is a true sign that baseball season is just around the corner. Quite frankly, I live in San Francisco – a city where it is perpetually almost spring. I could care less what the groundhog says. But in just two and half weeks pitchers and catchers report to Fort Meyers for the start of Red Sox preseason; and that readers, is always something that captures my attention.
Since Phil is accurate less than 40 percent of the time and people still travel in droves to the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania to await how quickly he returns to his tree stump in Gobbler’s Knob, I am going to make some predictions of my own about the upcoming baseball season. And using fact based analysis, superstition, my attraction to specific players, and innate BS detector, I have an equal or better chance of being right. So Sox fans don’t be sad that spring has been put on hold for another six weeks (at least). Here are some dates to look forward to and my prognosis for the 2010 season.
These are the facts:
Feb 12 – Truck Day. The Red Sox’s 18 wheeler departs for Florida laden with equipment and expectation.
Feb 18 – Pitchers and catchers report
Feb 22 – (my birthday!) and positional players arrive
Feb 24 – (Emily’s birthday) and first full squad workout
Here’s what we can anticipate happening over the next six weeks:
Clay Buchholz develops a criminal record. My friend Michael and I have determined that he needs a more commanding presence on the mound. He needs that something extra that really puts the fear of God into opposing batters. At the very least, he needs to look like he isn’t about to burst into tears if he throws out of the strike zone. So we anticipate hearing rumors of assault and battery charges emerging from a raucous at some dive bar in Eastern Florida that can never be traced and never confirmed. Maybe he could arrive wearing bandages on his non-pitching arm for show. And shave his head for good measure. He could attempt to grow facial hair. But I strongly caution against debuting it without checking with Kevin Youkilis first.
John Lackey comes clean. He finally admits that he is 45 and not 31 as his bio says. He arrives in shape and ready to prove to Bostonians that the $82.5 million contract was not the most retarded move the front office made over the winter besides not resigning Jason Bay. Lackey forms a longstanding friendship with Josh Beckett where he convinces him it’s time he gives up the ghost, pick up the phone, and finally call to apologize for ignoring me last season.
Josh Beckett is fine. I receive said phone call. The first of many throughout our blossoming relationship.
Jonathan Papelbon gets back on the right side of crazy. He was too sane last year. His inability to close out a game without scaring people became predictable. Over the winter Pap stopped reading and seeing the team therapist, whatever it was he was doing to try and make himself better. He accepts himself as is: a loose cannon with heat. That worked.
Dice-K adheres to the prescribed off-season training regimen and doesn’t get fat. That is all.
Jason Varitek finds peace with his future. He puts down the mitt and picks up the clipboard. I never have to see him standing at the plate or behind it again. Unless he somehow found a way to throw to second and hit in clutch situations. (Dream on people.)
Timmy Wakefield continues to be a viable pitcher for the Sox until he’s 85 and we are rolling him out to the mound in a wheelchair.
Papi sucks less than last year.
Boof Bonser becomes a household name. As of 20 minutes ago I knew nothing about this man or even that he was a member of the Boston Red Sox until checking the roster. The man legally changed his name to Boof in 2001. This is a sign that he could be exactly the sort of character the Sox need to save the 2010 season from totally sucking.