OK, so you’re a Red Sox fan, and it’s the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Let’s go around the diamond and point out nine things you can be thankful for.
No. 1: David Ortiz. There isn’t a more lovable slugger in baseball. The guy swings for the fences and has a smile that lights up New England. I don’t think the Red Sox have ever had a more popular player.
No. 2: Jonathan Papelbon. Starter, reliever, it doesn’t matter. The guy has a terrific young arm and should be an elite pitcher for the next decade-plus.
No. 3: Fenway Park: The place remains a shrine and new ownership has spruced it up beyond belief. Do I believe that fans would enjoy a new, state of the art park more? Sure I do. But until then, you have a beautiful antique with an atmosphere for the ages.
No. 4: The rivalry. Outside of college sports, it’s hard to find any rivalry that even closely resembles Red Sox-Yankees. Just check out this blog on a daily basis. A good portion of the comments are Red Sox and Yankees fans sniping back and forth, and as long as it’s clean, I love it. Matsuzaka vs. Matsui is going to provide yet another dimension as the best rivalry in pro sports extends to Japan.
No. 5: The fans. That’s right, Sox fans care. The Patriots have put together one of the great runs in the history of the NFL, and even during football season, they remain the second team in town. Instead, everyone obsessesses on who will play shorstop for the Red Sox next year, whether J.D. Drew is worth the money and when Matsuzaka might sign.
No. 6: Ownership and front office. Theo and the Trio didn’t have a good year in ’06, but they remain a driven group willing to do whatever it takes to get the Sox back to prominence. They just showed $51.1 million reasons why.
No. 7: The manager. Managing the Boston Red Sox has been a thankless job over the years. Even the best get second guessed for the entirety of the 162-game schedule. But Terry Francona has handled his position with class the last three years, being loyal to his players and his bosses and putting in as much prep work as any manager in the game. Francona is wrong from time to time. Every manager is. But it’s not from a lack of preparation.
No. 8: 2004. Because of those four numerals, Red Sox fans have no excuse to be bitter anymore. They saw the autumn of a lifetime, and it’s going to live on forever. I’m thinking there won’t be another 86-year drought before the taste of another championship at Fenway.
No. 9: Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers are less than three months away. For a baseball fan, spring doesn’t start a day earlier or later than that.