As Red Sox fans, we spend an inordinate amount of time fretting about issues beyond our control. 2004 notwithstanding, I'm not sure that we can help ourselves. Whether an outgrowth of a Puritanical heritage (not me) or something in the water, cynicism and fear in the Nation seem inescapable. So let's try to compile the issues to worry about, and those 'certainties' and see where we land.
WORRIES. Now I'm talking real, legitimate, dyed in the wool concerns, nettlesome, rock-in-the-shoe stuff that probably won't go away.
TICKET PRICES. Is it true that they make the ticket sellers wear masks, like Zorro? More seats, yet ever-inflationary ticket prices, Ben Bernanke aside. Well, there is that 160 million dollar payroll.
CONCESSIONS. I have my ticket stub from the 1975 World Series Game 1 around somewhere. That ticket cost about the same as a WATER now. Well, the Federal Reserve and the end of the RESERVE CLAUSE have pretty much destroyed the value of a dollar and the value of a player.
AGE. What is worse, youth and inexperience or the infirmaties and uncertainties of age? Among the Sox greybeards, we number Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, and Jason Varitek. If it's possible to outwork age, these professionals will do it. On the other hand, I'm not sure that you can outwork the wear and tear of so many marathons. At the other end of the spectrum, you have the PEDROIA EXPERIMENT. No worries, as Alex Cora can capably fill in, turn the pivot, and plays with a savvy that we can only hope will be rewarded with a managerial job someday.
Summing the above, that's not such a big deal, as long as you bring your Kruggerands to the ballpark for a ticket, sushi, and sparkling Perrier.
SURE THINGS. Take it to the bank, good as gold, Old Faithful stuff.
TERRY FRANCONA. Yeah, the fans will turn on Francona like guests on Springer turn on each other, but realistically, do you really worry about him. He doesn't criticize players in the media, deals with the knucklehead players and media very professionally, and he knows the game. Every manager is only as good as the talent on the field. And he does have the pelt.
DYNAMIC DUO. Combined, does anyone expect less that .300, 75-85 homers, and 200-250 RBI from Manny and Ortiz? They are Supermanny and The Thing, and as entertaining off the field as on it.
YOUNG BLOOD on the MOUND. With Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Papelbon the Sox have three young guns that will deliver. We do have to hope that the presence of more 'pitchers' (Schilling, Matsuzaka, Papelbon, Okajmia) will somehow convince Beckett that throwing it HARDER will not necessarily fool the likes of the Travis Hafners of the league. I'm believing that Beckett figures it out.
The NEW GUY. Actually, there are a couple of them, with Julio (bing-bing-bing, Ricochet Rabbit) Lugo the energized one, and J. D. Drew, who will quickly become a fan favorite, because he can flat out play.
FRONT OFFICE. They did it. They coughed up the dough, and absent the competitive balance afforded by drafts and salary caps like the NFL, the Sox recognized that had weaknesses, and they fixed them.
FARM AID. Whether it pays off this year isn't known, but if you get enough live arms in the system (Lester, Buchholz, Bard, Cox, Masterson, Johnson, Doubront, etc) you'll get some pitchers or proven players in trade. With the Sox payroll the way it is though, they need to offset some of the mercenaries with the low-priced spread.