For one shining moment, let’s have no snark. No cynicism. No wiseguy remarks about bat-to-ball skills, spin rate, analytic geeks, standing ovations in Springfield, or payroll flexibility.
Let’s celebrate the start of another baseball season. The Red Sox are 0-0 and not yet poisoned by last place or false narratives.
Almost 30 years ago, the Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell — their Gammons — released a book titled, “Why Time Begins on Opening Day.”
It’s a great phrase and reminds us of a long-ago day when baseball was king of New England and Opening Day was a legal excuse to skip school.
Happy New Year, everyone. The Red Sox are readying for their 123rd season opener Thursday (2:10 p.m.) at ancient, beautiful Fenway Park against the Orioles and we are in Full Rochie, Hakuna Matata mode.
For this one day only, we are all Bart Giamatti, Roger Angell, Ken Burns, and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Ich bin ein citizen of Red Sox Nation.
Celebrate. Hope for the future. Honor the past.
The Boston Baseball Opener is when 19-year-old Swampscott rookie Tony Conigliaro homered in his first Fenway at-bat in 1964. It’s when the Sox unveiled a rookie second baseman named Reggie Smith and got a win from Jim Lonborg in the Cinderella season of 1967. It’s when Yankees slugger Ron Blomberg became the first DH in baseball history in 1973, and when Mo Vaughn capped a comeback with a walkoff grand slam against the Mariners in 1998.
It’s when Bill Russell and Bobby Orr threw out ceremonial first pitches as the curse-busting 2004 champs received their rings in front of the Yankees in April of 2005.
With the energy of the innocent, an expected crowd of 35,000-plus will shiver and watch two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in his Red Sox debut. They’ll check to see if rookie first baseman Triston Casas still has red fingernails, and if the kid can show the plate discipline and power he demonstrated in his short sample last September.
Fans of 2023 are in for a surprise because new rules are in place to stimulate scoring and — best of all — speed up the pace of play. Baseball ground to a halt in recent seasons with an endless succession of batters stepping out of the box and pitchers walking around the mound, ramping up for their next 100-m.p.h. launch. A pitch clock (deliver a pitch within 15 seconds) has stopped the madness, and you’ll find yourself viewing a game with more action and less dead time.
“It’s like watching video of a game from the 1975 season,” says former Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who was hired by MLB to Stop The Stall and Make Baseball Great Again.
You’ll likely find that it’s easier to keep your head in the game. Don’t glance at your phone or you might miss something. Spring training games were 26 minutes shorter, on average.
The 2023 Chaim Bloom Red Sox feature plenty of new faces. Left fielder Masataka Yoshida got a bag of money to leave the Orix Buffaloes and he batted cleanup for his homeland when Japan won the World Baseball Classic. New center fielder Adam Duvall once led the National League in RBIs, and new/old DH Justin Turner was a world champ and two-time All-Star with the Dodgers.
They join a lineup that already features Rafael Devers, who signed a 10-year, $313.5 million contract extension in the offseason. Clearly, money is no object with Sox ownership (OK, I know this is starting to sound like a hostage tape).
Boston’s bullpen is better. Oft-injured Chris Sale showed his All-Star form in spring training. The Sox think young Dominican righty Brayan Bello is a future stopper.
There’s also shortstop Kiké Hernández, the self-appointed team leader, face of the franchise, a man of many hair colors.
Manager Alex Cora likes his underdog squad and speaks glowingly of an improved clubhouse vibe.
So there. Things look pretty swell for the Local Nine. Remember that the Red Sox finished last in 2012, then came back to win the World Series in 2013. The Bloominati think history could repeat itself.
It’s Opening Day, the Red Sox are undefeated, and anything’s possible. Enough with the narratives, true or false. Let’s suspend reality and embrace this weekend of April Fools.
Read more from our Red Sox season preview
- Chaim Bloom is transforming the Red Sox. What does the future hold?
- ‘This group knows what we can do but the world doesn’t:’ Whether it’s confidence or cockiness, Red Sox manager Alex Cora has it
- The ultra-competitive Rafael Devers is the cornerstone of the Red Sox — now and for the foreseeable future
- Dueling columns | Alex Speier: Why projection systems don’t like the 2023 Red Sox
- Dueling columns | Peter Abraham: For an unpredictable Red Sox team, let’s call it 86 wins and in contention for a playoff spot
- Meet the 2023 Red Sox Opening Day roster
- MLB season predictions: Will the Red Sox make the playoffs? Our staff doesn’t think so.