It’s been a riveting start to spring training.
So far we’ve come to find out that Craig Hansen no longer snores and Hideki Okajima has a secret.
In the coming days and weeks, stay tuned as we bring you fascinating updates on why Dustin Pedroia switched toothpaste brands and which video games Clay Buchholz played over the winter. Hey, NESN has two hours to fill tomorrow morning. If it comes to it, we'll start breaking down the debate over Brandon Moss vs. Bobby Kielty as fifth outfielder. Now that's Saturday morning TV.
Luckily, Jonathan Papelbon showed up yesterday and stopped just one step short of telling airplane and pull-my-finger jokes. Because if Hansen’s recovery from sleep apnea was going to be the big story of camp, we were going to start praying that Manny Ramirez wouldn’t show up until March.
Proving that we are a Red Sox-hungry region with an appetite for anything having to do with the Boys of Summer, the Boston Herald on Wednesday dedicated its full front page to Hansen's snoring epidemic and pitchers and catchers reporting is sure to lead at least one local newscast. But this is the time of year when anything is possible in baseball, and anyone can be a surprise story heading into the season. Everyone has faith in Jon Lester, Buchholz, and Julian Tavarez, even if each of their names will be taken in vain countless times come July. Curt Schilling is hurt, but the Red Sox don't need him anyway. And Hansen is cured. Can you say set-up man?
It's nothing but "Prognosis: Positive", from here on out. For sure. But just in case, let's take a look at some of the headlines from exactly one year ago today.
"After an offseason spent mostly in Boston -- where he got to explore some of the better restaurants and get a feel for navigating the city -- Hansen feels the studying he's done will better prepare him for his ultimate challenge this spring, making the team." -- Amalie Benjamin
Let's hope the surgery went better than the studying.
Three hundred sixty-six days and a World Series title later, we've got the same exact story lines on our hands, except that a year ago, we were talking Hansen as closer, which I suppose is like talking about Ron Paul as president. Even so, this could be Hansen's year. Sooner or later, I suppose.
Still, spring training is camp is poised to be a microcosm of the uneventful offseason, when the biggest news is there was no news. As ESPN's Jayson Stark put it: "When was the last offseason in which the Red Sox and Yankees both added, essentially, no new players of major significance? 1904?...The Yankees and Red Sox spend the entire offseason talking to the Twins about Johan Santana. Then neither of them trades for him. What's baseball coming to, anyway?"
Indeed. While the Devil Rays were out putting their latest touches on their 10-year rebuilding plan, the Blue Jays were adding Scott Rolen, and the Orioles were off doing whatever in God's name it is they do to prepare for another disastrous season, the Red Sox and Yankees took a look around, and on the seventh day decided it was good. Elsewhere, the Tigers pulled off the trade of the offseason in grabbing Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera, the Angels tossed enough cash at Torii Hunter for him to buy another vowel, and the Cubs made eight-year-olds in the greater Chicago area afraid to say the name of their new Japanese import outfielder in front of their parents.
Still, the Red Sox and Yankees liked what they had and chose to just tinker. Barring a Coco Crisp deal or a Jeff Frye rounding the bases and ... full disclosure: a pain just shot through my left leg even just thinking about that decade-old incident.
Elsewhere, Joe Girardi's first days as Yankees manager have to deal with Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and peach bikinis. Pedro Martinez is trying to explain why he's a huge fan of the University of Delaware. C.C. Sabathia and the Indians have cut off contract talks, and perhaps most controversial of all, Ryan Dempster went and said he thinks the Cubs will win the World Series.
But in Fort Myers, it's a snooze-fest. No pun intended.