While the Red Sox have been running sprints and performing drills for nearly two weeks in Fort Myers, Fla., their season truly starts when the calendar leaves February behind. Beginning with scrimmages against Northeastern University and Boston College on Wednesday, the Red Sox set off on a seven-month journey (many hope it lasts for eight months) that will undoubtedly include incredible highs and lows. I, too, begin that journey this week, and through it all, I promise to do my best to bring you consistent, quality coverage of all things Red Sox.
My earliest memories of the team come from a childhood home in Berwick, Maine, where my older brother used to ride his bike with a transistor radio attached to the handle bars, blaring the voices of Ned Martin and later Ken Coleman.
When I was four, my family moved to Burlington, Vt. There, I grew up in a town largely split between old-school New Englanders loyal to the Red Sox and transplanted New Yorkers who backed the Yankees. Toss in a handful of Expos fans who made the 90-minute trek to Montreal, minor league teams at Centennial Field (which farmed many members of the 1990 world champion Cincinnati Reds and an 18-year-old named Ken Griffey Jr. for 17 games in 1988), and you had a surprisingly vibrant baseball town.
Burlington was where my love for the game grew. Regular trips to Fenway Park and Yankee and Olympic Stadiums — where I would bring binoculars not to look at Tim Raines run the bases but to watch the scribes in the press box — only enhanced that passion. Living in baseball-mad Boston for the past 13 years took it to a new level, and I hope that this passion is evident in the coverage I provide for NESN.com.
As a reporter, I have covered the Red Sox for a variety of publications, including an ESPN wire service and locally for the Metro newspaper and its Fenway Park program known as Gameday. I have been following the Celtics and Bruins for NESN.com since October and expect to make a solid contribution to the already excellent Red Sox coverage at the network.
I have been asked several times in recent weeks what my opinion is on this current Red Sox team. While there is a fine assemblage of talent and an incredible structure in place from the ownership group on down, there has been significant turnover in both personnel and philosophy. Examining if, when and how those pieces fit, and whether the new theories on run prevention play out as planned, makes this among the most interesting seasons on Lansdowne Street in some time.
Look at the box score for July 19, 2009, the last day in which the Red Sox were in first place by themselves last season. There were six positions (catcher, first base, shortstop, third base, left field and center field) at which the Red Sox had a player who either will be in another city or at another position come Opening Day 2010.
One night later, John Smoltz started, and Justin Masterson finished a loss which dropped the Red Sox into a tie atop the American League East.
A lot has changed since then. Yet amid this shift remains one of the more consistent franchises in sports (96, 95 and 95 are the win totals the last three years), and all the parts are in place for the Red Sox to stay successful in 2010. It just might look a little different than what most fans are used to seeing.
That’s what what makes the 2010 season such an intriguing one, and why I am eager to share with you everything that I see and hear going forward.