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With Bradley, anything possible for Red Sox in 2013

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  April 2, 2013 09:51 AM

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Globe Jackie Bradley photo.jpgThe Duck Boats are gassed and ready for Monday's Opening Day at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox will board them at the end of the Logan Airport runway at 10 a.m., ride them across Boston Harbor and then, following the lead of Douglas MacArthur, disembark at Atlantic Wharf and make it official: "We have returned."

One game, one win. One great game. One fun win.

Our long national nightmare is over.

Watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees on Opening Day 8-2 was perhaps the most fun Red Sox fans have had since Adrian Gonzalez took that questionable called third strike from Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning on Sept. 1, 2011. Fan Cave left the bases loaded that night and the Red Sox lost 4-2.

The Great Depression had begun.

That was 19 months ago. The longest year in recent Red Sox history ended Monday with Boston's 8-2 win at Yankee Stadium. Yes, it's just one game. But one game was all that was needed, given the fact that past two painful seasons began with the team going 0-6. It's just nice for the Red Sox to not suck right from the start, for a change.

Start spreadin' the trash, which was blowing all over the field inside an empty Yankee Stadium when Joel Hanrahan finished off the defending A.L. East champs.

The win came even as the late Bobby Valentine whined and wailed in the New York Post about the evil Boston media. Funny how winners in sports and politics never "blame the media." It's only the losers who do that. Bobby, to paraphrase Michael Corleone, "you're nothing to us know."

The Red Sox waited on pitches, worked the count, drove in multiple runs with two men out, ran aggressively on the basepaths (getting thrown out at the plate twice, even), took extra bases, played clean defense, turned in a spectacular play in left, scored eight times without the benefit of a home run and produced a bullpen that threw four shutout, one-hit innings against the $228 million Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

No, these are definitely not my father's Red Sox.

Even though Jackie Bradley Jr., evoked way too many memories of Yaz after grabbing Robinson Cano's drive to left to end the third inning. The "Yaz Opening Day 1967 catch to save Billy Rohr's no-hitter" references soon populated Twitter and the local chat rooms.

As the multitudes order World Series tickets and cancel plans for mid-October, we're also going to pass "Go," spent $200 on tickets to see the Red Sox at Tampa Bay next month and directly anoint Bradley with the moniker "Jaz." He looks good in left, he walked three times and he wears No. 44. If what they taught me in the Arlington Public Schools is still true: 4+4=8. We'll take a pass on "Jackie Robinson Bradley."

Bradley's first at-bat - a walk, naturally - set the tone for this game and perhaps the entire season. Bradley was down 0-2 in the count and then worked his way back. He somehow managed to lay off a 1-2 fastball that just missed/kissed the outside corner. Sabathia, the Yankees and many folks watching on TV thought Bradley had struck out. But Ted Barrett thought otherwise.

Jose Iglesias followed with an RBI infield single to the hole at short, the latest version of the "Gold Dust Twins" was born and the Red Sox were off to a 162-0 season.

And here is your stat of the day, kids: Of the top six all-time base-on-balls leaders in major league history - four of them played left field for the Red Sox during their careers. They are Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Rickey Henderson and Yaz.

A fifth, Joe Morgan, crushed the hopes of the 1975 Red Sox with blooper to center in Game 7.

Jim Burton? Why, Darrell Johnson, why?

If we extrapolate Bradley's three-walk performance over a 20-year, 150-games per year career, he will finish with 9,000 walks in his career. That will put him 6,442 walks ahead of Barry Bonds. And Bradley should be able to do all of this while staying "cream and clear" free, keeping his internal organs, head size and testicles in tact.

He even bats left-handed.

What other Yaz comparisons do you need? If Bradley only lit up a Marlboro and nursed a 'Gansett after the victory in clubhouse.

How did Bradley celebrate his successful major-league debut? He went to Applebee's. That's plate discipline.

The clearest contrast between this year's version of the Red Sox and their immediate predecessors is drawn between Bradley's debut with Boston and that of Carl "Crybaby" Crawford two years ago in Texas. In that game, a 9-5 Red Sox loss, Crawford went 0-for-4 and struck out swinging three times. His first strikeout, with two men on base, was classic Crawford, as the Dodgers outfielder flailed wildly at a C.J. Wilson curveball two feet outside the strike zone.

Monday, in his debut with the Dodgers, Crawford went 2-for-4 with a double. And no one east of Rancho Cucamonga gave a damn.

The Dodgers and Angels are where the Red Sox and Yankees were about 10 years ago in terms of the nuclear-arms/free-agency/big-name player race. They are now battling it out for every big name and big salary out there.

Been there, done that, won two World Series titles in the process.

New Yorker.jpgThe 2013 Yankees, meanwhile, are headed down the same path of the 2012 Red Sox. The only proof one needs is the performance of Alex Rodriguez Monday. He passed on the player introductions and, naturally, ducked questions about PEDs. Somehow that cowardice shocked the same members of the New York media who earned Valentine's praise.

Mariano Rivera's farewell tour? Couldn't care less. Although Red Sox fans will remain eternally grateful to Rivera for walking Kevin Millar. Joba Chamberlain looked all of 26 - in dog years, complete with his Ron Swanson mustache. His physique was perfect for the 1913 Yankees.

A-Rod's contract is the pin in the grenade that will eventually blow up the Yankees. He's making $29 million this season, that's only 131 percent of Astros' entire $22 million payroll. His return date is projected sometime before the end of the Obama Administration.

Speaking of future projections, the argument that the Red Sox should have held Bradley down in Pawtucket for 12 days to start the season in order to push back his eligibility for free-agency back a year to 2019 seems so last March. It would be a great problem to have if Bradley is indeed so good in five or six years that the Red Sox have to break the bank to keep him. There's also nothing preventing the club from signing him to a legit deal long before he reaches free-agency or arbitration eligibility. The entire "keep him down to get that extra year of free-agency" argument is born of the same mentality that says what you see with your own eyes on the field or in a player is somehow less reliable than the numbers produced by Carmine and friends.

I'm still waiting for Fan Cave's "WAR" against the rest of the American League.

Bradley was clearly the best overall player in spring training and projects a personality and confidence that's infectious in the club house.

Ah, chemistry.

Bradley will do more to help the Red Sox extend their faux sell-out streak than all the $5 mini-beers Josh Beckett could ever drink.

Who knows, maybe that showdown against the Astros in a couple of weeks will be a preview of the American League Championship Series?

Sounds crazy for sure.

But this is 2013 and anything can happen.

Especially with all that "Jaz" in left.

As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com.

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Obnoxious Boston Fan offers a fun, unique and biting perspective on the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and whatever else people are talking about in the world of sports. We More »
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