Spring training is over. Finally. The real baseball season starts Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park, when the reigning World Series champion Red Sox take the field against the Toronto Blue Jays.
I know, the Sox played 11 games out west, eight of them stinkers in Seattle, Oakland and Phoenix thanks to horrendous starting pitching that threw 16 home run balls, shoddy fielding that at times looked more Little League than Major League, and a batting order that failed to produce one run in consecutive games.
Yes, the Red Sox played like they were still in Ft. Myers on extended spring training. Yes, the game count in the American League standings. And yes, the season is a marathon, not a sprint. There is plenty of time to make up lost ground.
That nightmarish start, the worst in Red Sox history, is history. Pitching by Committee -- Hector Velazquez, Brandon Workman, Marcus Walden, Matt Barnes and Ryan Brazier -- and a seventh-inning leadoff home run by Mitch Moreland sent the Red Sox home with a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. For once this young season, they played like champs instead of chumps.
So Tuesday afternoon 36,000 adoring fans will forget about the poor play that produced the 3-8 record. They will cheer the raising of the World Series flag, cheer the Red Sox of yesteryear and this year, and cheer the Super Bowl champion Patriots. They will savor the rich Fenway Green of John Updike’s “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark.” They will bundle up and celebrate the home opener despite the forecast of chilly temperatures, clouds and showers.
For this is April in New England, baby, where the baseball season doesn’t begin until the Red Sox in their home whites bound out of their first-base dugout and take the field at Fenway Park.