Lenny Megliola: No one can be sad for Boston’s home opener
It took the Boston Red Sox 16,000 miles to find their way home. Should they be pooped? Sure. Can they afford to be? Nope. It’s time to suck it up. They’re a last-place team, not the way they wanted to meet up with today’s Fenway Park opener.
But, hey, they’re not as bad off as today’s opponent. The Tigers have played just six games, but they’re already four games out of first place. They’re 0-6. You’d figure the law of averages would favor the Tigers this afternoon. Not so fast. The Red Sox limped home after going 0-3 in Toronto.
For Boston fans, especially ticket holders for the opener, none of this matters. It’s a day to skip school and blow off work.
OK, the series in Toronto was dreary. How so?
- Frank Thomas turned Manny Delcarmen into a punching bag.
- Julio Lugo might as well have signed autographs E-6. His batting average, .238, isn’t far off from his fielding percentage.
- Manny Ramirez has struck out nine times in 28 at bats. He’s hitting .250 with one home run. Gabe Kapler has belted two homers and is hitting .438 for the Brewers (thought you’d like to know).
- Auditions for middle relievers flopped. Bryan Corey’s ERA is 11.25. Javier Lopez’s is 9.00. Kyle Snyder’s 21.60 got him a pink slip. Can you say David Aardsma? Actually, not without some degree of difficulty.
Know what? None it if means a fig. Today is a bright new and, naturally, chilly day for baseball. The Grande Dame of ballparks will glow, like it does every Opening Day. It just takes a little more makeup, that’s all.
Baseball’s return to the Hub is always a good thing, yet some opening days carry more weight, and today’s qualifies.
For the second opener in four years, a ring ceremony will take place. It’s not inconceivable they could do it again on Opening Day, 2009. You wait 86 years, and all of a sudden it’s rings, rings, rings. Fine. You can get used to it.
Early this morning, Kenmore Square will be an unending red vista, fans streaming, and I mean STREAMING, out of the digs of the ‘T’ stops and entering the unmistakable rarefied air of Opening Day. Fans filling up Van Ness and Boylston Streets and Brookline and Commonwealth Avenues covered in garb of the home team, from head to foot. Of the 36,984 fans (Fenway’s new daytime capacity; night games 37,400), I’ll bet 36,473 will be wearing at least a Sox hat.
The saloons --- Cornwall’s, Boston Beer Works, Game On!, the venerable Baseball Tavern and Cask ‘N Flagon --- will be so crowded you may be able to hold your pint of Sam Adams, but the trick will be to find elbow room to raise it to your lips.
Beer gets spilled, stories old and new get told, laughter crackles throughout the noisy joints. Some patrons won’t have tickets and will just stay put drinking all day, just happy to be within breathing room of the ball game.
Nobody can be sad on Opening Day. It’s the law.
Inside Fenway, the Red Sox, who have set a major league record for pregame introductions (in three countries no less), will get the only one that really matters.
Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Daisuke Matsuzaka, in other words, The Future, will get huge ovations when they come out for their World Series rings. The “Yoo-ook!” shout-out will be set a one-syllable length of time mark. Fans will stomp and scream for Big Papi. Ramirez, always quirky, always unpredictable and a first ballot future Hall of Famer, will be drowned by the noise when his name is called. You just wonder if he’ll come out of the dugout, or the left field wall.
You also wonder: will this be Manny’s last opener in a Red Sox uniform?
The fans will give it up for Curt Schilling because of his powerful role in this ring business, and because the possibility exists he’s thrown his last pitch.
The Red Sox have a few pre-game surprises planned. Some things won’t change. The BSO will handle the music. The flyover will be in the capable hands of the Green Mountain Boys 158th Fighter Wing out of Vermont.
THE Moment, though, will be the unfurling of the 2007 World Champion banner. The Red Sox are on it. Again.
It’s going to be a great day. As for the game, if the Sox lose their fourth straight, I’m ripping ‘em tomorrow.
Lenny Megliola is a Daily News columnist. His e-mail is email@example.com