Boston College vs. Boston Red Sox
Monday: 1 PM
It's an annual tradition to have a Major League Baseball team kick off their 2016 season in Spring Training with an exhibition game against a college team. But where the Philadelphia Phillies, for example, will take on the University of Tampa, the Boston Red Sox will once again split their squad for their first cuts against Boston College and Northeastern.
In the grand scheme of the baseball season, this game means virtually nothing. Both teams will rotate players in and out just to get them cuts and at-bats, plate apperances, and chances to get face time in. The end of the game will feature depth players for the Eagles and minor leaguers for the Red Sox.
But to step on a big league Spring Training field and stare down a hero is the stuff of memories. The first time Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched in a Red Sox uniform, he gave up a single to Johnny Ayers. Kevin Youkilis went yard against BC in 2011. Last year, both teams donned the familiar #3 of Pete Frates with his last name across the back of jerseys. For the players, being able to set foot into those situations is what they'll tell their kids and grandkids about.
This game, at a personal level, is special. At a professional level, I'm sure the Red Sox would rather sweep the Blue Jays and the Eagles would rather sweep Louisville than worry about the result on Monday. But the memories are there for a lifetime, and that makes this game special.
Around The Horn
Believe it or not, there is an interest factor in seeing how the BC bats challenge the Red Sox defense. It's the first look for Red Sox fans at Hanley Ramirez at first base, and after an abysmal 2015, he entered camp looking to make the transition back to the infield (granted, he forgot a glove and had to use a Mike Napoli leftover, but still...).
In addition, there's been a ton of focus on Pablo Sandoval's weight issues (17% body fat? Really?). If Sandoval, who also had an abysmal 2015, is taking reps, there's going to be heightened attention on anything hit his way.
There's an interest factor to see how the Red Sox bounce back from last year, and it's the first look at the team since last season mercifully ended. There's not a whole lot to take away from it, but if Hanley can't handle anything thrown his way, and if Sandoval struggles to catch a groundball, then there's going to be chatter on Tuesday.
On The Bump
As of the time of typing this, the Red Sox haven't yet filed who will pitch what inning, but they're likely to get a number of different players work. Pitchers typically throw an inning or so, and the deeper innings feature minor leaguers looking for a shot either at Major League playing time or work before heading into the minors. All we know is that Steven Wright will start, which means the Eagles will get a knuckleball sandwich to start the game.
From a BC perspective, the Eagles will throw the same, with guys going one or two innings tops, getting as many players a chance to face down some of the Major League hitters. It'll be interesting to see if anyone shows dominant performances, especially since they'll be pitching against the top hitters. I personally am hoping someone goes down on strikes against BC, especially someone like a Pedroia or Boegarts.
There's no need for this game. Just sit back and enjoy the game.
It's going to be an absolutely perfect day in Fort Myers on Monday,with temperatures soaring into high 70s and sunshine in the forecast.
Where in The World Is Boston College Baseball?
(Once again, if you don't know the tune, check out this link to Rockapella. Trust me, it works.)
jetBlue Park at Fenway South was opened in 2012 as a replacement for City of Palms Park (also in Fort Myers). Following their 2007 World Series victory, the Red Sox began exploring a new Spring Training facility because City of Palms failed to live up to modern standards (aka - the Red Sox, a virtual cash cow, couldn't cash in as much as possible on the excitement surrounding spring training games).
After some jockeying, the Red Sox signed a lease with the city of Fort Myers to build a new stadium similar to Fenway Park, with the exact same dimensions.
There are some differences between Fenway South and the actual Fenway Park. There is about a third of the seating (given that it's a Spring Training park), but otherwise the Red Sox went out of their way to train their players on a surface similar to what they would see in Boston. There's a Green Monster (although this one has seating inside the wall), a deep triangle, and a short right field.
The stadium measures 310 feet down the left field line to the Monster, with the Triangle sitting 420 feet out in center. The 302-foot right field foul pole is exactly what players could wrap a homer around in Boston at Pesky Pole.
Music To Listen To As You're Hoping Someone Throws Up And In At Hanley Ramirez
Standells - Dirty Water. As a Red Sox fan, it's my sworn duty to make a comment about how much I don't like Hanley Ramirez, especially after the way last season turned out. But it's a new year, and I'm hoping I don't dislike him in September nearly as much as fans do in February.
On the flip side, if I hear this a lot this year, that means the Sox had themselves a season.
The outcome of this game really doesn't matter, but playing well against the Red Sox can generate some interest not seen anywhere else in the world of baseball. For what it's worth, just hope that the players go out and have some fun. That's what this day is all about.
Have a thought? Weigh in with thoughts and observations in the comments section!