The day has arrived. Opening Day of the 2012 MLB season. Unfortunately, it was not in Boston that the Red Sox made their 2012 debut, but there were plenty of Sox fans in the Detroit Tiger’s Comerica Park and many more camped in front of their televisions with Ortiz jerseys and Papelbon hats, ready to avenge last year.
The Red Sox dealt with publicity, criticism, and pity during the entire off-season as sports analysts harassed us and other fans laughed at our downfall at the end of last season (see Love That Dirty Water: Red Sox Spring Cleaning). The pre-game proved that this collapse is still haunting us, showing statistics of games lost, runs scored, and batting averages that plummeted in the fall of 2011.
But today was the first opportunity to truly put it all behind us (although no one will let us forget it). Opening Day means a new start, a new season, new players, and for the Sox, a new manager in Bobby Valentine. For old manager, Terry Francona, today was his first Opening Day as an ESPN sports analyst. Although he seemed to have some initial jitters, he soon got his groove and seemed almost comfortable commenting on his old team.
The first six innings were pretty uneventful in Detroit. The Tigers put their first run on the board in the 7th inning and another in the 8th. The Sox went scoreless until the 9th when Ortiz hit a sacrifice fly to let Pedroia get the first Sox run. After stealing second base, Darnell McDonald made it home on Ryan Sweeney’s triple, tying the game 2-2. In Red Sox style, the 9th inning went out in dramatic fashion. With the bases loaded, Austin Jackson hit a single to overcome the Red Sox 3-2.
Should we be concerned about this first loss of the season? While commentators will likely harp on the Sox again until Saturday’s rematch, the Sox did play a solid nine innings. Jon Lester only allowed one run and six hits in seven innings. He went strike-for-strike against the Cy Young award-winning pitcher Justin Verlander throughout the game. Although we were unable to get our first win, the beautiful thing is that we have another 161 games to make it happen.
Although the official Opening Day is now behind us, the Fenway Home Opener is really the first official day of spring in Boston. Next Friday, April 13, the roasted peanut and hot dog vendors will set up along Yawkey Way, the bars will be packed at 11 AM, and the Green Monster will wake up from his long winter hibernation. Best of all, the Red Sox will have the support of 37, 065 cheering fans to prove that 2012 can be a comeback year.