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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Random Thoughts On Opening Day Eve

It is what it says in the headline;

- I am pessimistic about the rotations ability to stay healthy but I predict that one of Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Richards or Martin Perez is healthy and effective all year.

- Franchy Cordero is going to be a fan favorite or about as popular as Carl Crawford.  There is going to be no in between for him.

- He will make less than 20 starts but Tanner Houck will be the Red Sox best starting pitcher in 2021.  I am buying big on him.  Part of me thinks he would be a guy to use in a Bob Stanley fashion.  Get him 120 innings over 45-55 relief appearances.

- How do Therapudians feel about attending games?  I was wary but I’m getting my second shot Friday and I’m really geared up now.  I’ve got a ticket for Patriots Day.  One thing I’m curious about is what the experience will be like.  Part of me thinks that with the smaller crowds it’s going to be less of a hassle and a bit more energetic with people excited to be there.

- Is street meat going to be a thing this year? Can I buy a sausage on Landsdowne Street?

- I’m generally positive about things but one guy I feel a bit pessimistic about is JD Martinez.  I don’t know, there are lots of reasons to dismiss last year but I can’t help but feel he’s another of those late bloomer/early fader types. This is his age 33 seasons which was David Ortiz’ age when he had his rough 2009 season.  Ortiz was terrible the first 60 games that year (analogous to last year) then hit .260/.352/.539 the final 102 games.  So maybe that’s the path JDM is on.  One can hope.

- Darwinzon Hernandez still hasn’t quite harnessed his stuff.  If he can I think his potential as a reliever is virtually unlimited.  I suspect starting is not really an option for him because he just throws so many pitches.

- The bullpen in general I think is going to be good.  Sawamura/Ottavino/Barnes is a perfectly reasonable back three and I think Josh Taylor is an unheralded but effective guy.  For the Bruin fans out there he’s Matt Grzelcyk, not a star but a very effective and productive guy who fills a role well.

- I think Dave O’Brien really found his voice last year.  He seemed to have much better chemistry with Remy and Eckersley (either as a three man booth or just in a pair with either guy).  But how about a little love for Tom Caron.  This guy has carved out a nice little career for himself.  He’s just a guy who is always on our screen and seems perfectly content to do whatever NESN asks.  I’ve bumped into him a couple of times down in Fort Myers over the years and gotten an autograph or photo and he comes across as genuinely friendly.

- What about you guys? Any random thoughts you want to get out there?

Just about 24 hours.  Let’s go!

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 31, 2021 at 01:19 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. SandyRiver Posted: March 31, 2021 at 02:22 PM (#6010869)
IIRC, in 2009 Ortiz was still recovering from the wrist injury suffered the previous year, so perhaps not a good comp. OTOH, he had a lousy start in 2010 as well.
   2. Jay Seaver Posted: March 31, 2021 at 03:31 PM (#6010875)
- How do Therapudians feel about attending games?  I was wary but I’m getting my second shot Friday and I’m really geared up now.  I’ve got a ticket for Patriots Day.  One thing I’m curious about is what the experience will be like.  Part of me thinks that with the smaller crowds it’s going to be less of a hassle and a bit more energetic with people excited to be there.

- Is street meat going to be a thing this year? Can I buy a sausage on Landsdowne Street?


No vendors until June, apparently, at least according to an article from the 22nd, though it also suggests that the vendors are appealing, so maybe? I haven't seen any around Downtown Crossing when I've gone there for a movie and some shopping, but my last trip out was a couple weeks ago and they're not exactly thick on the ground during a normal March.

I've got weekday afternoon tickets for 7 April and 6 May, and I'm looking forward to it, even if I had to buy two tickets for my single self (though each pair probably costs as much as a single ticket for games in more desirable slots). As I mentioned, I've been going to movies when they've been open, taking advantage of how they're relatively safe because not enough people think of them as safe to get them crowded, and the most unnerving part of me has been the subway ride, so I'm not exactly looking forward to Kenmore Square station, even if there's only 1/8 the number of people going through it. It's still going to be weird to not see the regulars in their places even though I'm close to where my usual partial-season tickets are.

As to the team itself... I dunno. As much as the pitching will be more solid as EdRod and Sale return, they're still starting with a rotation of "Eovaldi and then who the heck knows" and enough of the lineup seems jerry-rigged that I've got a sinking feeling that this could look a lot like 2020, where we started out thinking that the Red Sox were going to play a lot of 10-8 games and maybe win a few more than they lost only to find out, no, they were going to be down 5 by the fourth inning and it just wasn't any fun. Maybe Cora's going to be better at figuring out how to use what he's got and keeping the team focused despite not having a lot nailed down, but, oof, it does not help my state of mind that I don't think we've seen a Cordero/Verdugo/Renfroe-or-Hernandez outfield yet in spring training and my brain is still wired for stability there.

(Also, envious of the vaccination; at 47, single, able to work from home in Somerville, and apparently just healthy enough to not get pushed to a later category, it's been frustrating to see other places move their timetables up!)
   3. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 31, 2021 at 03:51 PM (#6010879)
Maybe Cora's going to be better at figuring out how to use what he's got and keeping the team focused despite not having a lot nailed down, but, oof, it does not help my state of mind that I don't think we've seen a Cordero/Verdugo/Renfroe-or-Hernandez outfield yet in spring training and my brain is still wired for stability there.


I think this tweet from Chris Hatfield of SoxProspects is really good on this subject;

Chris Hatfield
@SPChrisHatfield
·
Mar 29
This year, faced with the prospect of losing their no 1, 3, 6, and 7 starters for opening day, the next guy up was Tanner Houck. Last year, after losing 2 guys it was Jeffrey Springs and Matt Hall.

If that doesn't speak volumes, I'm not sure what does.


The outfield defense, and really the defense in general, scares me.
   4. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 31, 2021 at 04:08 PM (#6010882)
Chris Hatfield
@SPChrisHatfield
·
Mar 29
This year, faced with the prospect of losing their no 1, 3, 6, and 7 starters for opening day, the next guy up was Tanner Houck. Last year, after losing 2 guys it was Jeffrey Springs and Matt Hall.

If that doesn't speak volumes, I'm not sure what does.


Not really true though, Hall did have one start, but Springs never did.

Eovaldi, Perez, Weber, Osich, Hall, Eovaldi, Perez, Weber, Godley, Brice started the first 10 games. Come on Hatfield get your anonymous starters correct!
   5. The Mighty Quintana Posted: March 31, 2021 at 05:02 PM (#6010890)
Yes, this team might need to score 920 runs to even sniff contention. To do that they probably need all these things to happen:

1) Bogaerts, Verdugo, and Devers play like all-stars
2) Martinez returns to 85% of 2019 form.
3) Catchers keep hitting like they did last year
4) Duran plays 100 games and is Ellsbury-lite
4) Renfroe, Franchy, Dalbec, and Chavis combine for 100 homers.
   6. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 31, 2021 at 05:15 PM (#6010893)
Should be pretty easy to get a foul ball, or even a HR, with only ~ 4,500 fans. Show a little hustle!
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: March 31, 2021 at 05:22 PM (#6010896)
Should be pretty easy to get a foul ball, or even a HR, with only ~ 4,500 fans. Show a little hustle!
I'm sitting behind the bullpens for a game in April and I had the same thought!
   8. Jay Seaver Posted: March 31, 2021 at 06:56 PM (#6010913)
I've been seated 4 or five rows behind the visiting bullpen in RF, and I think I've had a ball land in my section on the bounce once or twice in 40-ish games there. Maybe I'll get lucky on my games, though.
   9. Darren Posted: March 31, 2021 at 07:15 PM (#6010916)
Aren't they missing the #1 and #2 starters?
   10. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 01, 2021 at 09:13 AM (#6010970)
Well crud. Apparently today is now Opening Day Eve (game postponed until 2PM tomorrow).
   11. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 01, 2021 at 01:41 PM (#6011035)
Got my first vaccine shot yesterday, and the second is scheduled for April 28th. Then, you wait about two weeks, and get the vaccine's full effectiveness. As far as my wife (who gets her second dose on April 24) and I are concerned, as soon as I hit May 12th, we feel like we can live life pretty much normally, including going to a Red Sox game.

According to the NY Times, the country is on pace to hit 70% who have gotten at least their first shot by June 17th (though that projected date keeps moving up as the number of vaccinations per day continues to increase). That probably translates to about half of Americans being *fully* vaccinated by mid-June, and 70% being fully vaccinated (which is generally considered the base of "herd immunity") by late July. I'm personally a supporter of private entities (including professional sports franchises) requiring vaccine passports in order to sit in certain sections with fellow people who have been fully vaccinated.

We've been exceedingly compliant about distancing, staying home, not eating out in a restaurant, etc., over the past year, and have definitely strained some relationships with family members who (in our opinion) didn't take it at seriously. In fact, my mother-in-law passed away of COVID last August in Missouri, which was incredibly saddening for the family, and strengthened our commitment to try to do our part and be careful.

But here's my point: Even coming at it from that experience, our feeling is that, once we are fully immunized by mid-May, we should be able to fully enjoy the return to normalcy that comes with having our s**t together, getting the vaccine, and playing by the rules. That includes not having to worry about the people around us, being able to eat a hot dog, drink beer, and yell and cheer without having to deal with the mask off-and-on the whole game. If there are large sections of Fenway dedicated just for people with a vaccine passport, including dedicated vendor areas, restrooms, etc., it will increase the enjoyment of the experience, and further incentivize those who have not yet gotten their shots to get on it!
   12. villageidiom Posted: April 01, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6011041)
I’m generally positive about things but one guy I feel a bit pessimistic about is JD Martinez. I don’t know, there are lots of reasons to dismiss last year but I can’t help but feel he’s another of those late bloomer/early fader types.

He will have a great year. MLB has removed the restriction on use of video, which is what JDM used to do to learn from his last PA and prepare for his next PA, until it was prohibited for 2020.
   13. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 01, 2021 at 02:07 PM (#6011043)
11 - Yeah that's how I feel. My second shot is tomorrow and the Patriots Day game is 2 weeks and a couple days later and that's the game I'm going to. I am with you on the idea of vaccined sections and that kind of thing. Given the way people are reacting to the idea of a vaccine passport it's going to be really annoying to listen to the crying. As it is I think I've learned a lot about a lot of people around me and how much they care about others and how much they are just selfish pricks.

12 - I hope so. That feels like a ready made excuse though. Maybe it's what happened and like I said I think there are plenty of reasons to dismiss a bad year last year but I'm in "show me" mode with him.
   14. Darren Posted: April 02, 2021 at 04:35 PM (#6011304)
Opening day is not fun to watch.
   15. pikepredator Posted: April 02, 2021 at 04:57 PM (#6011308)
I don't have tickets but if I get them post-vaxx I will be CRAZY WOUND UP in the stands. Not obnoxious pizza-throwing wound up but definitely trying to make enough noise to counteract the empty seats around me.

Same goes for the first live music I attend.

we've been strict about following protocol but I am completely sick of doing so.

Even though this game is brutal to listen to, just having baseball on opening day feels good.
   16. The Mighty Quintana Posted: April 02, 2021 at 05:19 PM (#6011312)
Aw c'mon....throw that pizza!
   17. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 02, 2021 at 05:28 PM (#6011314)
I’m with Pike. I thought I’d been handling things well but when I bought my Patriots Day tickets I was WOUND UP.

Got my second shot today. Now sitting on my couch waiting to see if I get side effects or just sleep for about 12 hours.

One game etc...etc...nice to see Eovaldi look so good and Sawamura impressed. The defensive concerns certainly came to the fore today.
   18. Darren Posted: April 02, 2021 at 11:35 PM (#6011361)
Agreed, Evovaldi and Sawamura looked great.
   19. Darren Posted: April 03, 2021 at 08:14 PM (#6011463)
Not fun so far.
   20. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 03, 2021 at 08:26 PM (#6011466)
The biggest frustration for me is the defense. Optimistically I’m encouraged by the pitching and while the bats have struggled so far I remain optimistic about the offense. But the defense looked bad on paper and 18 innings into the season the Fenway grass has been no different. They’ve got to clean that up.
   21. Darren Posted: April 04, 2021 at 04:29 PM (#6011572)
good news, they're losing more in line with how we expected now.
   22. Jay Seaver Posted: April 07, 2021 at 10:12 PM (#6012333)
Went to my first game of the season this afternoon. Game itself, obviously fun; experience kind of weird (pics for illustration):

* There were some vendors, but not the full brace. The "Yawkey Way Report" hawkers were out, but none for the superior "Boston Baseball". I've seen that for other games where low attendance was expected in the past few years, but it was a bummer.

* The walk from Kenmore to the park is going to look very strange by next Opening Day at the latest; a long strip on the opposite side of Brookline Avenue is being redeveloped, and with all the ground-level windows boarded up, Hotel Buckminster looks like it's been closed for more than a couple of weeks.

* They've started building the MGM Music Hall behind the park, where the parking lot used to be. It's supposed to be 5000 seats, which means there could be some really busy nights in the future if there's games/concerts at Fenway, MGM, and HOB - which is currently being used as a pop-up location for "Mooby's", the fictional chain restaurant from Kevin Smith's movies, so that's weird. It means that the buses to take the team to the airport were lined up on Jersey Street after the game.

* I saw some fans had paper tickets and was very envious. I have no idea how they got them, since I didn't see it as an option at any point. To unlock the digital ones, you have to complete a health survey online that is basically "do you have Covid Y/N?"

* The stands didn't feel deserted; 12% turns out to be a fair compromise between everyone having enough space but the crowd not seeming small and lifeless. There were no vendors in the stands, and the concourse under the bleachers only had a few spots open. No cash, no self-serve, and almost every beverage was in a can or bottle; I didn't see a spot where I could get a souvenir soda cup until after I'd bought a bottle. Not going to complain about the lack of clumsy people who've already had a couple beers spilling their open-topped cups on my stuff, though.

* I think I saw one person wearing merch that referenced a current member of the team, a J.D. Martinez jersey. Lots of people still wearing #50, along with a smattering of Ortiz, Yaz, and Ted. On top of that, I don't think either of the souvenir stands I saw in the park had shirts that referenced a specific player, and the section of name-and-number tees in the main souvenir shop was about a third of the size it has usually been, and included none of the new additions. It was basically Xander, J.D., Devers, Verdugo, and Sale. I'm going to try not to read anything into that, either from the perspective of the team or the fans, but boy do I want to!

Anyway, fun if weird day at the ballpark. I had to buy a two-pack of two-packs (one April, one May, and no single seats), so we'll see where Fenway/Boston/MA is in a month.
   23. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 07, 2021 at 10:52 PM (#6012335)
so we'll see where Fenway/Boston/MA is in a month.


Well after their fine showing against the Rays, I expect to the team to be 26-3 in a month.
   24. Jay Seaver Posted: April 07, 2021 at 10:57 PM (#6012336)
Oh, and one other thing - Xander Bogaerts has added "Three Little Birds" to his walk-up music rotation, and it feels like Hernandez wearing #5 - not retired, not against the rules, but also kind of not right. The crowd was not joining in yet.
   25. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 07, 2021 at 11:32 PM (#6012338)
Very cool Jay. For concessions can you order from your phone and have it brought to your seat or is it only go to the stand or hope to see a vendor?
   26. Jay Seaver Posted: April 08, 2021 at 12:05 AM (#6012341)
It depends on the section - in the MLB Ballpark app, on the Red Sox tab, there's a "Prem Mobile Ordering" page, but it only seems to cover the fancy spots right now (Sam Adams Deck, Dugout Seats, Dell Club, State Street Pavilion). There's "Section Group' and "All" options, which are confusing, because then you just get a bunch of things that say "H43" or whatever in the next menu. If you're not there, it looks like you're going to the concourse, as I didn't see any vendors in the bleachers.

Oh, and for better or worse - attempts to do the wave were just a disaster. Just all over the place.
   27. Jay Seaver Posted: April 08, 2021 at 01:09 PM (#6012379)
One more one more thing: There was someone who came through where I was seating at least a couple times checking for mask use and reminding folks to keep them on between sips and that it goes over your nose. Nobody in my area kicked up a fuss, at least.
   28. Darren Posted: April 08, 2021 at 02:20 PM (#6012390)
Looks like tickets are pretty expensive on the secondary market this year. Is that what others are seeing?
   29. Nasty Nate Posted: April 08, 2021 at 02:28 PM (#6012394)
Looks like tickets are pretty expensive on the secondary market this year. Is that what others are seeing?
I haven't been checking, but that is not surprising given the small supply. But some tickets for May games will be released onto the primary market tomorrow morning.
   30. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 08, 2021 at 02:28 PM (#6012395)
Yeah. It's been crazy from what I've seen. There aren't many tickets to be had so it's not really surprising.

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