Among transportation-related activities in Boston today, waving bye-bye to a truck full of baseball miscellany is quite appealing compared to, say, sitting in Route 1 traffic staring at the Kowloon roof from a distance or waiting for a train that operates on its own schedule if it operates at all.
But in the context of a normal New England winter day, no, Truck Day isn’t usually my thing. I think I’m established as an incurable baseball romantic, someone who unabashedly appreciates the-game-begins-again-in-the-spring sweetness of the new season.
But my born New Englander’s cynicism does rear up at certain points along the way, and that line of demarcation is evident long before I’ll ever get sentimental about a southbound truck full of millionaires’ baseball equipment and supplies.
I get what it represents from both angles: the pending arrival of spring and the end of this [redacted] [redacted again] winter. And: An opportunity for the Red Sox to present branding as tradition. Here’s some free coffee. Now don’t forget to load up on those Sox Pax before you go.
I think of baseball being played, not baseballs — all 20,400 of them — packed into the back of a truck.
But I’ll admit: In anticipation of the seasons ahead — spring, baseball — I can’t help but imagine other baseball-related items that could be loaded up for the long haul to Fort Myers, and to help the Red Sox find success through the long season too. Such as …
A couple of copies of Weaver On Strategy: John Farrell has a World Series title and a last-place finish to his name during his first two seasons as the Red Sox manager, and as we enter Year 3 of his tenure, I’m still not sure how to regard him as a tactician. It’s almost as if this season is the rubber-match in that regard.
This much we do know: The curious decisions he made in 2013 tended to work out (I still cannot believe Brandon Workman has a World Series at-bat to his name), while any seemingly puzzling strategic decisions last year seemed to backfire.
I know he does a lot of things well as a manager — working with the pitchers, building confidence in young players, commanding respect in the clubhouse — but the jury is still out on his skills as a tactician on a game-to-game basis.
He’s a good manager in that myriad of relevant ways, but it could not hurt to put a couple of copies of legendary Orioles manager Earl Weaver’s definitive tome on baseball strategy on the back of the truck. Why more than one copy? Just in case one is lost in transit or Buck Showalter swipes it from him.
Allen Craig: Consider Craig something that should be lost in transit in an effort to benefit the remaining collection of outfielders and first basemen on the roster.
The journey from Yawkey Way to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers is 1,480 miles, according to the Red Sox. The journey from Yawkey Way to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia is 308.6 miles, per MapQuest.
Seems to me that makes for a logical pit-stop/detour to unload Craig, a fine hitter in the National League for three years who is excess baggage with the Red Sox.
A Craig/Ryan Howard platoon at first base seems like something Ruben Amaro Jr. would really dig. Just load a couple of wannabe Reading Phillies onto the truck and we’ll call it a deal.
At least two copies of Tom Emanski’s Defensive Drills video …
… endorsed by Major League superstar Fred McGriff, of course.
Actually, the Red Sox should be above average defensively at most spots on the diamond. But Xander Bogaerts was still in need of some sharpening of the fundamentals at shortstop as of September, and 10-year veteran Hanley Ramirez is slated to play his first official inning as an outfielder on Opening Day.
They could use some brushing up on the defensive basics, and we’re not quite sure what to expect out of Rusney Castillo in center field or Mookie Betts in right, either.
Sure sounds like a job for Emanski to me. And if he happens to have videos on how to hit a curveball and a fastball, pack up what ever he’s got and leave ’em in Jackie Bradley Jr.’s locker upon delivery.
Sunscreen: The sun has been but a rumor here lately, but as of this writing its 65 degrees and sunny in Fort Myers. And that’s a chilly day, relatively. Gotta have that protection from the sun’s harmful rays, and it’s probably a good idea to bring a couple of extra vats of the stuff since Clay Buchholz is of course notorious for bogarting the stuff.
Stowaways: Did I mention it’s 65 and sunny in Fort Myers? AND THAT’S A CHILLY DAY, RELATIVELY. Meanwhile, my roof up here in scenic Wells, Maine has four feet of snow backed up behind the Hoover Ice Dam that has formed in the gutters.
A few more weeks of this and I’m going to start believing The Shining was feel-good documentary. Truck Day, the beginning of the journey, is charmingly goofy. But man, don’t you wish you were headed to the same destination right about now? I suppose that is the point of it all. And it doesn’t hurt the brand, either.