I haven’t been paying attention to the activities at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. That’s “Fenway South” for the uninitiated. True, WEEI is piped into my right ear at least four hours per day and I hear the sound bites but they don’t compute. It’s shopping mall music. I zoned out on the in-depth analysis of the Red Sox in August last summer and I just kept gawking at the train wreck over my left shoulder. After Bobby Valentine told Glenn Ordway “if I was there, I would punch you right in the mouth,” it was hard to look away. I just wasn’t listening.
Then, they put his weird hiccup clown laugh on a continuous audio feed and I started feeling sorry for Bobby. I hoped he wouldn’t get fired and he might find a way to redeem himself.
By October 4, 2012, everyone knew it wasn’t going to turn out that way.
As the season ground down, I decided I was going to miss his weekly WEEI interview which always started with The Drifters hit “Up on the Roof.” After he was fired, I turned away from baseball. I don’t even know who won the World Series. There were Patriots games, Celtics games, and hockey lockout background noise. These long winter months of sports talk radio have been filled with drab stretches of disappointment punctuated by occasional hysteria. Rajon Rondo hurts his knee, Tom Brady takes a pay cut, Wes Welker walks, and Jerome Iginla is traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Pittsburgh Penguins.
Once in a while, there would be a whisper on the radio about Jackie Bradley, Jr. Bla bla bla, spring training, bla bla bla Red Sox, bla bla bla Jackie Bradley, Jr. Who was Jackie Bradley, Jr.? Was he on Twitter? What does he tweet? Should I follow him? Why has Lou Merloni been talking about him for the last two months?
In February, I couldn’t think about baseball — Jackie Bradley WHO-niur? The bla bla bla got louder and more frequent. On Saturday, Red Sox coach John Farrell announced that Jackie Bradley, Jr. had officially made the team.
Today is opening day for the Red Sox and they’re playing the Yankees in the Bronx. I’ve set up the baseball shrine at my office.
It’s a 1:05 p.m. start; I’ll listen to the game and hear the familiar voices of my radio friends Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien. A swing and a pop up? Maybe Jackie Bradley, Jr. will get a home run at his first major league at bat, just like Lou Merloni did in 1998. That was way back.
He’ll be starting in left field, like Yaz. I just got a little tear in the corner of my eye while reading Carl Yastrzemski’s Wikipedia biography. He’s old school.
I’m switching my baseball brain on today; I’m a quick study and I think I’ll be ready for the game by 1:05 p.m.. I’ll put my heart and soul into it.
Can you believe it?