Getting on base is key for this team this year, and there are plenty of guys that can make that happen. The other important step toward greatness is playing as a team. The kind of camaraderie that we saw back in 2004 is what made the difference and got us to the World Series. The latter is a club house culture issue, while the former revolves around filling the bases and getting players in position to score. What makes the difference? Runs. Just runs. Not home runs. Even walks would be fine. Fans love the excitement of a home run, but better than that is seeing a player cross home plate. Home runs do not translate to game wins. They do translate into ticket sales. The “Bash Brothers” era of the late 1990s is a perfect example of that phenomenon. No longer is that the shape of the game.
As my father says, the Red Sox can learn a lot from high school or college level girls’ fast pitch softball. Make contact with the ball, any way you can, bunt if you wish, and then get on base. Obviously this is far more easily said then done, but it is food for thought as John Farrell starts to sculpt his roster. Two rounds of cuts have been made so far. As a result of the last round of cuts, Alex Hassan will go back to Pawtucket to gain more experience and knuckleballer Steven Wright will throw more pitches in Rhode Island. This takes one more person out of the running for an outfield position. Will this further open the door for Jackie Bradley Jr’s hot bat and defensive prowess, who knows? I believe Bradley Jr. will not be able to come up any sooner than mid-June, while they aim to get Will Middlebrooks, Pedro Ciriaco, among others, ready for major league play.
During yesterday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ciriaco got on base. In fact, Ellsbury was on base three times with a hit, RBI, and a walk. Others were able to follow suit, setting up scoring opportunities. Middlebrooks came up with the movement around the bases that we needed, making contact with the ball for a double.
Thursday’s roster hit, got on base, played as a team, and it ended in a 7-3 win. I hope the Red Sox coaches and players see what is possible if these trends continue.