– by Megan Rilkoff.
Baseball spring training has begun at the new stadium, Jetblue Park, in sunny Florida, and for the Red Sox, the 2012 season has called for some heavy spring cleaning.
First, a brief (and tragic) recap of last season’s devastating collapse which inevitably accounts for much of the change going on this season. Heading into September, one month away from playoffs and another run at the World Series, the Sox were up nine games to Tampa Bay and in great position for the Wild Card spot. The team was 84-54 after beating the Texas Rangers on September 3. And the rest of that month is wiped clean from the memories of all Sox fans, but unfortunately not from the record books, as the Sox became the first team in MLB history to have a nine game lead in September and not go to playoffs. This is the kind of history that Boston never wants to be a part of.
Thus, after a week grace period of pure shock at the end of last season, failures, excuses and bad luck were swept away and the Sox started to look ahead to the next season. First was letting go of Terry Francona, the Sox manager who led us to 2 World Series championships in 2004 and 2007. Then we parted ways with Theo Epstein, general manager of the Sox since 2002, who left for the Chicago Cubs. As always in saying goodbye, new people are welcomed in. Welcome, Bobby Valentine – ex-manager of the Rangers and Mets and a name hallowed in Japan for his immense influence on the popularity of the sport in Asia.
Since joining the club, Valentine has done some spring cleaning himself. After rumors and publicity over pitchers drinking, eating and playing video games in the clubhouse during home games last season, Bobby banned alcohol in the clubhouse and dug out. Big Papi – David Ortiz – agrees with the decision saying, “We’re not here to drink. We’re here to play baseball. It ain’t a bar.”
More change came last week with the retirement of Jason Varitek, our catcher and captain, and pitcher Tim Wakefield. Even without these two influential players, the Sox have started the spring season strong with a crushing win over Northeastern, 24-0, and a solid win over Boston College, 6-3.
Only time will tell how the Sox adapt to these new changes and take advantage of a fresh start and a new season. Hopefully this spring cleaning will bring us some newfound luck for our home opening game on Friday April 13 against the Tampa Bay Rays.