There's something about spring training that makes me so happy that I think I might hug Kenny Lofton, too. Actually I've found myself wanting to hug him before, when he failed to catch that bloop which resulted in a blown save by Rivera, but that was a long time ago. Kenny Lofton is no longer with the dirty Pinstripers. Manny Ramírez will probably still be hugging anyone and everyone he can find, but this year he won't just be "Manny Ramírez, Sarah's Favorite Playa and Best Right-Handed Hitter in the Game," he will be "Manny Ramírez, Defending World Champion, Yeeeeaaaaaah, Beeeitches, How You Like Me Now??"
A lot of things will be different this year.
1. First thing that comes to my mind is: No more 1918 chants. None of us ever have to hear that number ever again. Ever. And don't believe the media hype - it feels fucking awesome to be a fan of a winning team. The only thing that could possibly make me feel any cooler is if they went out and won it all again this year.
2. We will never have to see those hideous red alternate jerseys again. Apparently Derek Lowe thought that they were good luck. I think they made everyone look like a big fat tomato.
3. Shortstop won't be a revolving door this year. That position belongs solely to one Edgar Renteria. I saw three or four Cardinals games last year (one of the few benefits of living in a National League town,) and Renteria was fun to watch. This is one of the guys who is going to make me say "Man, that's kinda fucked up," the first time I see him in a Sox uniform, but I'm looking forward to it.
4. Which brings me to David Wells. I can't say that I'm necessarily looking forward to seeing him in a Sox uniform, but it will definitely be fucked up. I guess there always has to be that one dude on the team who I just root for because of the B on his hat, and this year I think it's gonna be David Wells. Which is funny because he sort of replaced Derek Lowe, who was my least favorite player from last season. Wells is a douchebag. This opinion might be mitigated by his health status and his accumulation of wins over the course of the year, but I'm not holding my breath.
5. I wonder when it's finally going to sink in that Pedro is actually gone for real. I've already seen him training with the Mets...but it's just not getting through yet.
6. I'm going to kick off this season with a little faith and confidence in Terry Francona, whereas last year around this time I had no faith in him whatsoever, and then he went on to prove me right for four months.
But the more things change, the more things stay the same. There will still be baseball in that beautiful green box of a ballpark they call Fenway. Jerry Remy will still be announcing and we'll still hear stories about Don Orsillo's adventures at RemDawg's. I'm sure that we'll still be persecuted by the Foxwoods commercials and the 4th inning Aflack trivia question. There will be wins and losses, day games, night games, Patriot's day games, dramatic homeruns, dramatic and gut clenching errors (not to mention any names (manny)), Green Monster shots, Dale Sveum's Windmill of Futility, Sweet Caroline, Dirty Water...all of the good stuff. Some of the bad. Not too far away now...
There is something about spring training. Seeing pictures of the team working out in various stages of appropriate dress, and always with that low, flat Florida horizon behind them. It's like the first sign that the world is going to warm up again after shithole winter. Even before the first leaf bud on a tree or the first gusty, 60 degree day when you can feel the sun shining overhead with just a little bit more gusto...Somewhere it is warm, and somewhere a bunch of dudes are playing baseball. And when they come up to play for us, they'll bring the warm weather and sunshine with them.