I feel like I wind up writing about Hanley Ramirez a lot. I don’t know when or if he became one of my “favorite” players — those select few who get cataloged and immortalized in t-shirts and stupid toys that surround my desk because I am, you see, an adult — but I damn sure find myself fascinated with him. I saw him play shortstop in Portland in 2005 and his trade just about sealed a World Series for the Red Sox two years later. And then he was the best player in the world for a couple of years. It’s quite a backstory.
That’s not how it gets told, though. It’s that he’s difficult, he can’t play in the field, he’s weird, he’s whatever.
What he’s been at his best, though, is a hitter with a flair for entertainment. And through the first seven games of the 2018 season, Ramirez — fully healthy and enjoying the moment — has spent most of his time delivering the Red Sox from possible early losses. Continue reading
I feel like I spend a lot of time just looking for something I already know. At least, something familiar.
As baseball goes, that feeling is certainly rearing itself lately. Thanks to work commitments, especially busy weekends and the fact that the Celtics and Bruins are each chasing their own shot at postseason glory, I’ve probably watched the least Spring Training baseball as I have in years. I go to box scores, I look quickly to see who’s still on the roster and who’s been jettisoned back to the minor leagues and, sometimes, I watch highlights.
There have been a few memorable ones in there. A few guys, like Xander Bogaerts, have been off at the World Baseball Classic, and that’s been on a channel I don’t get. But there’s Pablo Sandoval, showing that he’s got something useful in the tank. There’s Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi, looking like the second coming of the Evans-Lynn-Rice outfield. There’s plenty if you’re looking for it. Continue reading
Credit to the immortal Jon Couture for capturing this moment.
Just before I started paying attention to baseball and, by default, the Boston Red Sox, the team had undergone a transformation, sliding from a pennant winner to the basement and back.
I missed most of that. When I hopped on the train, Mike Greenwell and Ellis Burks were kings, with Dwight Evans providing the steady guidance of a veteran. A lot of older players had already been cast aside, but Bill Buckner was probably more likeable than A.J. Pierzynski.
Blaming everything that’s gone wrong with the 2014 Red Sox on their former catcher would be lazy and probably inaccurate. Pierzynski was (and is) an aging catcher with a less-than-stellar reputation both on defense and in personality — his career highlight for a lot of fans was being punched in the face by Michael Barrett in 2006.
Instead, Pierzynski has unwittingly served as a marker in the sand, documenting the changing tides of the team. When he arrived, he was a stopgap, a veteran presence with plenty of pop left in his bat to keep the Red Sox in contention while younger players worked their way through the system. Continue reading
Jackie Bradley Jr., blowing bubbles and playing ball.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t detail just how much I’ve enjoyed the dawn of the Jackie Bradley Jr. era in Boston, now two games and a Grapefruit League season old.
It’s more than just the play, which has ranged from promising to stellar through the spring and this opening series in Yankee Stadium. It’s more than the calm he exudes when he steps to the plate, when he trots out to left field or when he hangs in the dugout blowing bubbles and studying pitchers, though that all plays a part in the excitement.
He’s exciting, and he’s already helping the renewal process in Boston. Having a flair for the game and translating that into wins is always an easy path to success and likeability in New England. Continue reading