THE PRIDE OF RHODE ISLAND
I have to admit I feel sick to my stomach after the Yankees wins over Boston on Friday and Saturday. The wins (or losses) probably don’t mean much to most people at this stage of the game, but I am definitely not most people. I absolutely cannot stand to watch the Yankees beat Boston. As I have said before, I know it’s not natural and completely irrational, but that’s me. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s look at the bright side. We are heading to the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. More than likely, Boston will face the Angels, a team that they’ve routinely eliminated from the postseason every time they’ve met since 1986. It’s also good to see a lot of “our guys” (PawSox) helping out down the stretch. It’s also good to see a healthy Rocco Baldelli (in photo to the right with me) getting some at bats. Rocco was at McCoy the other day for a youth clinic, along with Pawtucket alum Daniel Bard. Rocco looks healthy and says he feels just fine, thank you. “I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been coming out of every game I’ve played in ready to go the next day. Hopefully, I’ll finish strong this year.” Baldelli lead Bishop Hendricken to a state title at McCoy Stadium and he relishes the chance to get back and give back to the youth of the state of R.I. “I used to go the camps behind McCoy, the R.I. Baseball Academy. I used to have a good time. These are some of the memories I had as a kid. To be able to come back and see these kids having fun and enjoying themselves is great.” Baldelli admits that it has taken some getting used to not being an “everyday” player. He comes off the bench for the Red Sox. “It’s definitely different. When you’re out there playing every day and there’s no question if you’re in the lineup or not, you have a different mindset when you go to the field. When you don’t know or don’t find out until the night before, it’s tougher. You can’t be too hard on yourself. You try to produce, but it’s hard when you play once a week. You do your best and whatever happens, happens.” Despite limited playing time, Rocco has enjoyed his first season in a Boston uniform. “It’s pretty much what I thought it’d be. When I played for Tampa I came here a lot, played against the Sox a lot. When I got here, the guys made it easy. Tito and Theo make you feel really comfortable. It was about as smooth a transition as I could want.” Baldelli says his teammates are clearly the best part of being a member of the Red Sox. “Being with quality people and being in an organization that wins. When you show up to the park every day and you’re losing, it literally, is not fun. When you come out and have a chance to play for a World Series, just having that opportunity keeps you going.” You’ve got to love the “Woonsocket Rocket”. He won an American League championship ring last season with the Rays. Hopefully, this year he goes one step further.