During MLB’s season, my mind is usually spinning with ideas about what to write here. It takes a little more work for me to get going in the off-season, but Truck Day coming upon us is certainly starting to get me worked up about the 2010 season.
So in an effort to get the writing juices flowing again, I started reading up on a few former players and where they are now – which led me to the official home page of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The moment the page loads the banner greets you with PRIDE. PASSION. PITTSBURGH PIRATES. I suppose, when you’re the Pittsburgh Pirates, you can’t really promote anything with “We’re built to win!” or something similar. All they have to play on is the love the fans have for their team. (Although it’s much too close to “Pride. Power. Pinstripes.” for my liking.) Javier Lopez, briefly rumored to be retiring this off-season, has been signed by the Pirates. So has Brendan Donnelly. Brandon Moss is still on their roster and they’ve also just picked up one of my favorite ex-Mets, Ryan Church. Not exactly names that will be bringing the butts into the seats but the beginnings of a fun team to watch nonetheless. I just dig that they feel like throwing a snappy catchphrase on their website will entice fans. (I checked to see if the Royals had any kind of rally cry on the front of their home page – nope.)
The Red Sox don’t have a slogan either. I don’t often visit their website but there was a time when I spent an awful lot of time over there (so much so that I was involved in a campaign to have Tim Wakefield added to their banner. It worked! But now their banner is a panoramic view of Fenway Park. Acceptable.)
The front page story at Red Sox.com is about Jonathan Papelbon being “fine” with the one-year, $9.35 million deal he just finalized with the team. Nowhere in the article did I see where it said he was just “fine” with it. He seems pleased, though, and eager to start the new season. I received an email yesterday from a Sox fan wondering if I was going to write about Paps “and defend him like you always do”. Apparently, this particular reader was upset that I didn’t want Papelbon drawn and quartered after the final game of the 2009 ALDS. I’m really stunned that there are people who genuinely point to Papelbon as the only reason the Sox didn’t get past 3 games in the playoffs last year.
Blame Papelbon all you want but I’m not buying. In reality, all he did was spare us the anguish of ANOTHER game and ANOTHER loss. Paps didn’t lose those first two games, lack of offense did. So let’s put the past behind us and focus on what could happen in 2010. I DID find it interesting that Paps didn’t let that game go the way a lot of people thought he did:
Papelbon made it clear that there was no exaggeration to his recent comments in an article with ESPNBoston.com that he plays the video of that fateful ninth inning as motivation during his winter workouts. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who sat in with Tanguay and Zolak during Thursday’s interview, asked Papelbon why he would subject himself to something so painful.
“Man, I’m a different cat, you should know that by now, Dan. That’s just something that motivates me, man,” Papelbon said. “That was something that was very dear to me and something that I prized and cherished a lot was the postseason scoreless run that I went on. Obviously that came to an end this postseason.
“That’s something that look, when I’m in the gym and I’m sitting there saying, ‘God, I’ve got one more set to do,’ or ‘Man, I’m tired’, and I look up and that game is on one of the three TV’s in my gym and I look at that little tape that keeps rewinding and rewinding the whole time I’m in there. It gives me that little [motivation], that little edge that makes me dig down in my bones and pushes me. It does, it pushes me.”
So his failures motivate him. I can get behind that.
This year, Truck Day falls on Friday, February 12th (less than 25 days away!). The signs are all there that for the third year running I’ll be at Fenway to see the trucks off. It’s a bit of a silly tradition (and both years I’ve been it’s also a really COLD tradition) but I’m looking forward to it. Seeing the equipment being loaded up, watching Wally interact with folks, it’s all become part of how I start off the new season and I can’t wait!
(To get a feel for the ‘excitement’ of Truck Day, you can view my photos from last year at my Flickr account.)