It’s almost that time. Almost time for things to start counting…for real. And not a moment too soon. The Sox take on the Yankees at Legends Field today in another meaningless Spring Training game that will surely only stoke the fires for Opening Day if A-Rod so much as spits his sunflower seeds in the direction of the Sox dugout. Which? Not a bad thing, this passion. I’ll be the first to admit that I like it better when there’s some bad blood between the teams. I’d rather they be sniping at each other and sliding hard into second than playing canasta and drinking Shirley Temples together after the games. That said, the Sox do play 143 games against teams who are not the Yankees. I know, I know, I’ve heard nothing about these alleged “other teams” either. But there’s a nasty rumor that those games count too. Assuming that’s true, there are a few things the Sox need to do to make sure they’re ready for the new season, or, as I like to call it, The Title Defense of Aught Five. All pertinent players and people are addressed personally:
Nice job on the Jay Payton thing. Oh, and also Edgah. Really, good work. But about this stubborn insistence on BK Kim? Yeah, what’s happening there, man? Just swallow your pride and admit you made a mistake. It’s okay, we won’t hold it against you. No one wants to trade for him either. What should that tell you? Okay, here’s what you do: Put him in the Witness Protection Program where he’ll be renamed Steve Jones and take up a respectable job as a mid-level paper pusher with a no-name insurance company. You can still pay him his $6 million. And when the roster comes out and his name is nowhere to be found, in the minor leagues or otherwise, you disavow any knowledge of him, Mission: Impossible style. Never admit to knowing he existed. Plead ignorance. Really, we’ll give you a mulligan on this one. Just get rid of the guy.
I don’t know if this is true. I mean, it’s the flippin’ Herald for crissakes. To be taken with a truckload of salt. But here’s the thing; this is none of my business. None. At all. Dude, I don’t love you because you’re faithful or unfaithful to your wife. I don’t love you because you have adorable children. I love you a little bit because of the hair and the fact that you’re no stranger to the batshit crazy and the possibility that you might need to be medicated but mostly I love you because you’re a damned good leadoff hitter and center fielder for my favorite baseball team. That’s it. That’s what it comes down to. You “wrote” a book and that’s lovely and all but if it’s not about baseball, I really don’t care. I mean, you do what you want in your personal life but really, I’d be happier not knowing. You’re a self-proclaimed “idiot,” man, sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.
Whenever someone offers you a hug, accept it. And hug them back. I’m beginning to think that’s all you need to know to fit in around here. Oh, and keep playing like you do. I think you got that part down pat. We’ll get to the handshakes in due time.
Actually, you’re fine. Can’t really improve on a World Series MVP type season, now can we? The beads, um, well, whatever you want to do. I’ve given up on giving you advice because you’re gonna do what you want to do and it’s probably going to work. So you just do what you do. Oh, and hug Edgah.
Dear Doug E. Fresh:
For the love of all that is good and holy, shave that godforsaken soul patch! Really. Right now, if possible. We’ll wait. Christ, man, what’s with the insistence on that? It’s got to be more trouble than it’s worth. Also, take Varitek shopping. And nice work marrying a woman named Kristen. Spread the word. Kristens rock. Oh, and when you hear a deranged sounding twenty-something duo screaming your name in the cavernous confines of Skydome this summer for nine straight innings for three straight days, regardless of whether you’re playing or not, that’s me and my bro. Just tug on your left ear if you hear us. Also, we won’t shut up. So no use trying.
Dear Lord Thighsmore:
Since you apparently learned nothing from the Queer Eye makeover, I throw my hands up. Just wear your uniform 24/7. How’d that be? Oh, and congrats on the Captain thing. Your playing? You’re fine. Really, change nothing. Unless you want to stop wearing pants. That’d be fine.
Dear Cowboy Kevin:
I will tell you now because I will probably say it many times throughout the season and I won’t really mean it so I just offer this as a preemptive blanket apology. “Shut up and hit the damn ball!” And, “Sorry, I didn’t mean it.” There, taken care of. Also, hug Edgah.
No more Steelers or Colts jerseys. The Celtics are fine. Yeah, like I’m going to tell you what to do. You could crush my head with one of your gargantuan hands. While smiling. Oh, and take Varitek shopping.
You can’t even hear me, can you? You’re not even seeing this, are you? Are you even awake? Hello? Well, ECA predicts that you’re going to suck an inordinate amount of rotten eggs this year. So just, you know, prove them wrong. When you wake up.
Take good care of your knees. We love Youk so don’t be afraid to tell him he’s got the corner on any given day but really, take care of yourself. Not that you wouldn’t have many attractive and humorous Sox fans willing to nurse you back to health but we’d prefer that wasn’t necessary. I mean, sort of. Watch out for that turf.
Learn to hit lefties. Put some more pine tar on your hat. Stop shaving. That is all.
Dear Big Schill:
I don’t care one whit about your politics or your religion or your outspokenness. I care about your pitching. Just keep doing that. You are permanently exempt from ever ending up on my personal shit list because of what you did for us last season. If it’s not too much to ask, could you do it again?
Dear Fat Man:
I’m sorry, that’s your name and ever shall be. I can’t call you “Boomer” with anything other than a sneer. You should send me cookies. Then maybe I’ll like you. Or beat the Yankees. Whichever. And no fraternizing. That’s not allowed.
Dear Matt Mantei:
It’s almost enough for you to just be pretty but if you wouldn’t mind striking a guy out every now and then, that’d be nice too. Thanks, ‘preciate it.
Dear Hot Lips:
Is Manny listening? No? Okay then you totally should have gotten the World Series MVP. I would have given it to you hands down for saving every game. But no worries, right? I’ve just got one small request. Could you stop scaring the piss out of me? I mean, I know you’re great and you deliver in the clutch and I am totally sold on you and I know you’ll come through when we need you to but, um, it’d be nice if I could get through the ninth inning of a close game without suffering eight heart attacks. All faith in you, Keith, really, but, my poor heart, she can’t take it.
I like you very, very much and have a soft spot for you and will defend you to the death (not that you don’t have a catcher for that), and I would like for you to continue doing what you did last year. And you should definitely have your guitar in the dugout for between inning Kumbaya sessions. That would be excellent.
Dear Matty Clement:
Breathe in. Breathe out. It’ll all be okay.
All right, boys, that’ll about do it. I’m not about to tell you how to play baseball. You surely know that already. Just have fun. And if that means you’re doing shots of Goldschlager before the games or pantsing each other in the bullpen then have at it. But just remember, it’s a long season, pace yourselves.