Red Sox tickets go on sale Saturday morning at 10 and those lucky few who got selected in the team's Christmas at Fenway drawing just couldn't wait to start lining up all the way around Fenway. "With Bobby Valentine as manager, who needs a closer?" one fan said with a sheepish grin.
Well, not really. But the sheep will hit the fan in just a few hours when the Red Sox release single-game tickets for "select" April and May 2012 games. The flock is ready to get fleeced. If you don't make it over to Fenway, join a few hundred thousand of your closest pals by visiting redsox.com to eventually claim your spot in the on-line waiting room. That offers a nice preview of purgatory for those who perhaps haven't lived the virtuous life of Tim Tebow.
History tells us more than enough fans have already forgotten the loss of Jonathan Papelbon, the Collapse of 2011 and Head-West Heidi's defection to the Lakers to skip Saturday's opportunity to fill John Henry's coffers. Put the blinders on and dream big for 2012. "We hired Valentine. The Blue Jays are ripe for the taking." Who can't wait to shell out $55 (assuming they get through and pay face value) to sit behind a couple of poles in Section 13 on Thursday, May 10th against Cleveland? Calling for boycott of the Red Sox is foolish. It might be nice, though, if enough folks held off from buying tickets either from the team or secondary sources for some of those early-season games until the team did something of substance on the plus side to improve from 2011. Life will go on if the sellout streak doesn't reach the 725-game plateau.
If clearing out the deadwood (Varitek, Wakefield, Drew, Bedard, etc.) is the biggest improvement the Red Sox make between Robert Andino and Fort Myers, tickets ought to be plentiful for the April 30th game against Oakland. Bringing back David Ortiz certainly doesn't qualify as an "improvement" over 2011's 3d-place effort. For that matter, it's not much on an "improvement" over 2010's 3d-place effort, either. Papi's retention was a top the "bare-minimum we have to do to get anyone to show up on Saturday" category. Keeping Papi became a must for this team whose other big off-season coups were picking up the option on Marco Scuatro, re-upping Andrew Miller and John Lackey's Tommy John surgery.
The good news. The Red Sox may not have gotten themselves any top-notch pitching but there's no doubt they have a front-line pitch man in Bobby V.
Well, who doesn't hate the Yankees? That was Valentine stating the obvious Wednesday in Dallas. It was refreshing for someone in the Red Sox organization to voice those sentiments. Cha-Cha videos are one thing, but at least there aren't any posts on You Tube of Valentine glad-handing and hugging Yankees fans like Ortiz. At times, the Red Sox-Yankees nuclear arms build-up of 2003 seems like 1,000 years ago. If Valentine can inject some venom back into the eternal struggle against "The Evil Empire" - even with his infomercial smile - we'll happily take it.
Bobby V has been saying all the right things since he was hired, from his emotional acceptance speech, to his affection for Tony C. to his continued claim that he sort-of invented the wrap. He's smoother than Michael Bublé. Here's a little break to help get you into the Christmas spirit. And remember, nothing makes a better stocking-stuffer than bleacher tickets to the game against Balitmore on May 4.
Come to think of it - Valentine probably taught Bublé, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra how to sing.
The highlight of the Winter Meetings was Bobby V's admission that Josh Beckett was "pissed off." Well, guess what, Josh, plenty of fans are "pissed off," too. Boo hoo. What was Josh "pissed off" about, anyway? Valentine's jabs from the broadcast booth. Or the fact that he'll have to wait until the post-game buffet for his Popeye's and Bud Light next season? Maybe Valentine will make Beckett log a couple of yards on the treadmill between starts. Doubt if Valentine was a tough on Beckett over the phone as he was when he was calling the Red Sox-Yankees game on Aug. 8 for ESPN. It can't be that reassuring that Beckett is "pissed off." Texas-sized tears are rolling off his chubby cheeks. As long as Beckett's paychecks clear, he has nothing to be "pissed off" about. Don't hold your breath waiting for Beckett to be "apologetic," "determined" or "exercising."
Valentine, who at 61 appears to be in much better shape than most of his pitching staff, is so dynamic, so persuasive, so ebullient, he probably has Ben Cherington convinced that the Red Sox GM actually made the decision so hire Valentine. If you missed it, check out the impromptu sitdown Valentine and Terry Francona did on ESPN. The more we see of Tito and the more time elapses since the collapses of last season, more fond we grow of Francona and the worse the team looks. Time wounds all heels. Thinking ESPN got the better of that job swap.
Bobby V. will make things interesting - especially for the folks who cover the team on a day-to-day basis. Covering a beat like the Red Sox with a personality like Valentine running the show is like cooking for Albert Haynesworth. There's plenty of work but just show up and he'll do the rest. For fans, it's not so easy. Take the four or five worst in-game moves Francona may have made last season and substitute Valentine. Wonder how many of Bobby's decisions would have been any different?
But Valentine's most important attribute will come to fruition on Saturday at 10 a.m. Get out your credit card. You'll have plenty of company.
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