There’s undeniable talent in the room. There also has to be a sincere motivation to right wrongs, in whatever form that may come. In addition, there is one rather unheralded factor in the team’s ability to turn things around, something that rests in more inanimate objects like concrete and mortar and the smell of new carpeting.
Indeed, the opening of the club’s new spring training complex in the southern portion of Fort Myers, away from the dead end street in the rundown industrial portion to the north, could morph into a significant component in the ability to bounce back. It can only help the organization to wipe the slate clean, as all the bells and whistles that come with the all-inclusive project will serve to provide at least some distraction for the massive media contingent and the fans that are sure to come and gawk at last year’s circus act.
Everyone wants to see what kind of shape the players are in when they arrive the second week of February. Will they be smiling as they emerge from their SUVs and pickup trucks, or will we see game faces on that early date? What sort of vibe will exist? Will there be anger? Excitement? Embarrassment? All of the above? The term “pitchers and catchers report” will take on a whole new meaning, one that has much less to do with the optimism of a new spring and green grass, and more to do with how this team will rebound.
A change of scenery cannot hurt in helping to plot this necessary new course.
The old place on Edison Avenue was OK, and the picture-perfect playing fields were a beautiful sight to all those that had hopped a flight from chilly New England. However, it also felt a bit like the site of that American Legion tournament you played in. “Wow, there’s Jason Varitek, but where’s Mom? She was supposed to pick me up after our game, and promised McDonald’s!”
In Feb. 2011, that place took on a different feel. No, it wasn’t upgraded in any significant way. It was there that the foundation was put in place for what became the most disappointing season in the history of the organization. There wasn’t any sign of trouble. However, talk of 100 wins was rather consistent and whatever mindset that eventually sank the club was established in some form or fashion, even if it wasn’t entirely noticeable at the time.
Now, when each big name is marched out to face the music (one significant player is usually presented to the media each day for the first 10 days or so), talk of wiping the slate clean will be a bit more legit. There will be a new manager, a new general manager, likely a handful of new teammates, new lockers, new cardio equipment, new parking spaces, new water fountains, newly planted trees, new concessions. Out with the old and in with the new, new, new.
Nobody knew that 2011 would play out the way it did when the plans for a new training complex were set in motion. JetBlue Park at Fenway South is years in the making. Yet, in what may amount to one of the few positive developments in the past few months, the timing of it could not be more perfect.
Photo courtesy of boston.redsox.mlb.com