It’s the old “good news, bad news” scenario. The good news is that Mark Kotsay is healthy and has rejoined the Red Sox. That means that Jeff Bailey is back in Pawtucket. That’s good news for a sagging PawSox offense. It’s not so great news for the reigning MVP of the International League. The 30 year old has been an incredibly good and loyal soldier of Red Sox Nation since I first met him at the tail end of the 2004 season. “Bails” was finally rewarded for his production and perseverance with his first promotion in 2007. The PawSox were on the road, late night returning from another road trip. RJ’s phone rang and he received the news that Boston needed a replacement and it was going to be Bailey. Jeff was on the other bus, so he was unaware of the news. I have to admit to eavesdropping, and not being a TOTAL idiot, I put two and two together. As we got off the bus, I followed a safe distance behind RJ because I wanted to see Bailey’s reaction to the news that he had waited so long to hear. RJ put his arm around Baileys’ shoulder and told him that he was going to the Big Leagues. What followed was stunned silence. As if his feet were planted to the grimy floor of the rest stop, he didn’t move. He stood there and stood there and stood there a little longer. As word filtered throughout the team, one by one the guys came by and congratulated him. He remained in that one spot, like a statue, with an enormous smile plastered across his face. I really don’t think it hit him. I finally made my way over to congratulate him and he simply replied “Thanks, Hyder.” That is the essence of Jeff Bailey. Stoic, plain and simple, and to the point. I think part of the key to his success or the success of any pro athlete is to not get too high when times are good and to not get too low when things get bad. He is a guy that I’d be honored to go to war with. He is tough but has things properly in perspective. When you ask him how he is on any ngivern day, his response might be “average”. It’s not a put-on. In this day and age of self-promotion, Bailey just lets his work speak for itself. I pride myself in recognizing his talent before some other people did. At the PawSox “Welcome” luncheon in April 2007, I predicted that Jeff would win the MVP awrd of the I.L. I’m sure that most of the folks assembled at Kirkbrae Country Club have long ago forgotten my prognostication, but I reminded Bailey after the announcement was made that he won in 2008. In typical Bailey fashion, he just smiled. Bailey will not mope. He won’t lament being back in the minors. What he will do is help the PawSox with his bat, his glove and his leadeship. And when the time comes again, and inevitably it will, Jeff Bailey will be ready to resume his Major League career.
I ran into former Providence College basketball coach Tim Welsh at Green Airport on Tuesday as we returned from Indianapolis. Tim and I go back to his days as a grad assistant coach for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse University. He admitted to wanting to get back into the coaching game, but also conceded that he was enjoying working as a color analyst for ESPN and other outlets. He was also planning a weekend of golf with his former boss, Boeheim. The Hall of Famer is slated to be in R.I. this weekend. “Bay” is a single-digit handicapper.