Monday, October 4, 2010

That's A Wrap: Closing Out 2010

That's it, folks. The 2010 Red Sox are over. Our bridge-year, run-prevention-defense and triple-starting-aces Red Sox are finished.

Next year, Mike Lowell won't be on that bench. He won't be in the clubhouse or on the disabled list. Hopefully, he'll be somewhere on a lake with his kids, teaching them how to fish. They're absolutely adorable, by the way, and it was fantastic to get even a quick glimpse of the 'daddy' side of Mike. He will be missed. Mikey helped me to move on from Billy Mueller. Who is going to help me move past Mikey? I don't know, but it would have to be someone good to replace the top-quality 3B's we've had around these parts lately. No offense to Beltre, but I never considered him our third baseman, even though the job was his.

It may have been the year of the pitcher, but it seems like it was also the year of the Red Sox babies. We know Lester, Buchholz, and Beltre all welcomed new additions to their families during the season. I don't quite remember when the Papelbons welcomed their second, but I know it was this year. At the very least, all of these brand new babies will get to spend an additional month with their daddies. As much as it stinks for baseball fans, it's a good thing for those guys' families. Family always comes first, after all. That's how it should be.

Maybe I was imagining it, but I'm pretty sure I saw Varitek shedding a tear as he moved around the dugout getting hugs and congratulatory high-fives from his team mates. I said the same thing two years ago that I'm going to say now. I'm not ready for it to be over. I cannot lose Mikey and Tek in the same year. I just can't. So the front office is going to have to bring the Captain back as the backup catcher next year. Can you picture Jason in another uniform? No, and you should never have to see it either.

I hope whatever happens, Paps gets a chance to rediscover whatever it was that he lost this year. I've piled on him a lot, and he deserved a lot of the criticism, but I liked it much better when I trusted him. I don't WANT to dislike Papelbon. This year, it was kind of hard not to. Down to the last moments of 2010, Paps made me swear at him. He made it an uncomfortable win. I'll still take uncomfortable wins over losses, but I want him to find his killer instinct over the off-season. Next year, I'll come in with a fresh opinion of Paps. I'm not going to let this bad year sour my outlook of him right off the bat because I know he was having family issues this year. Whatever those issues were, I hope they get better and let him focus on his job. And I really, REALLY hope he keeps his mouth closed about his salary. I'll be waiting to hear "Shipping Up To Boston" next year.

It's been said, but the kids were pretty damn alright this season. I'll go over it a little more in my annual 'favorite games' post that I like to do to wrap up my season of baseball game attendance, but how often do you get a season where almost every rookie who comes up has a highlight-reel worthy first game? Nava. McDonald. Doubront. Anderson. Reddick. Kalish. They are the future of the organization, and they did us proud. Sure, I would have preferred to keep our starters in the lineup, but since that wasn't an option, the kids got their chance, and they shined. Consider me impressed. And proud.

There are spots that the club needs to work on before opening day. There are veterans whose jobs need to be considered, and we need to find a starting job for Tim Wakefield, who believes that 2011 will be his last season. Despite all that happened, the Sox still battled to the very last week of the regular season, and managed to keep the Yankees from winning the AL East. It may not be the victory we wanted, but just like every other less-than-ideal outcome this season, it was what we got, and we've got to appreciate the little things. So, thank you Red Sox, for a memorable 2010 season. We'll see you guys in the Fort, when the casts and bandages have come off, and hope will spring eternal again.

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