THE ROAD…DAY ONE
To do what I do, you have to love baseball. You must embrace it, and every aspect of this life. If you don’t, it makes for a long miserable year. Fortunately for me, I do enjoy the road portion of our season. It began on Wednesday in Buffalo. The Bisons stuck it in our ear, beating the PawSox, 8-2. As the voice of the PawSox, I am biased. I root for our guys every day, every night, every at bat. However, I’m not going to lie to you either. There is a very human emotion that goes along with my job. You become close with some of the players, and that friendship doesn’t change because a man might be in the uniform of another club.
Chris Carter served the Red Sox organization with distinction from the day he arrived in the Wily Mo Pena deal, until the day he left us for the Mets, in the Billy Wagner trade. That being said, I was very proud of Chris’ performance on Wednesday. The lefthanded batter went 4-4, with 4 rbi to lead the rout against Pawtucket. “CC” is an intense individual. He takes things very seriously. I learned that in our years together. With Mets’ “brass” on hand for Opening Day in Buffalo, Carter wanted to make sure he was “locked in.” He was. A triple, two doubles and a single against ex-teammates Adam Mills and Kris Johnson proved former manager Ron Johnsons’ theory that a former player will ALWAYS come back and hurt you. He did, and it was only the first time we’ll encounter Carter and Buffalo this year.
Carter possesses the type of “matinee idol” looks that make the girls swoon. He is also extremely intelligent (Stanford grad) and a great person. His interest in others has always floored me. When we met on Wednesday, the first thing he asked me about was my daughters.
I really hoped when he went to the Mets, there’d be an opening day roster spot for him. Despite hitting .393, with 4 home runs in Grapefruit League action, he was optioned to Buffalo instead of Fernando Tatis and/or Mike Jacobs. Hopefully, at some point soon, he’ll have a shot. I hope it’s real soon. I don’t want him to destroy us again.
Opening Day ceremonies have become mundane and trite in my mind. Maybe because I’m a veteran of so many of them. I will admit, it was neat to see Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Mesler, a western New York native throw out the first pitch on Wednesday. Mesler won the gold at the recently completed Canadian Winter Games, in the bobsled. Sporting a Bisons jersey, the prized medal dangled from his neck as he made his pitch.
First feast of the year is in the books. We ate at “Chefs” after the game Wednesday. Dan Hoard, hitting instructor Gerald Perry, Training staff members John Jochim and Mike Roose, PawSox V.P. Bill Wanless, Head of Security Rick Medeiros and I “carbo loaded” on the sinfully good specialty of the house, spaghetti parmesan, along with veal, chicken, eggplant meatballs and sausage. Absolutely delicious. The Boston Bruins open their Stanley Cup playoff series against Buffalo tonight at the HSBC Arena. Faceoff is at 7:00 and if all goes well, we’re hoping to get in to see some of the game. You can actually see the hockey rink from our seats in the baseball press box. Last night, we got together with dear friend, Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com, who is in town to cover the hockey playoffs. Also saw an old boss of mine who has remained a good friend over the last 25 years. Pete Lonergan, formerly the regional manager for Jostens. Pete hired me after we met on a flight from Washington to Providence in 1985. If the name sounds familiar to basketball fans, good job. Pete was the head basketball coach at Niagara University in the Mid-’80s, when the Purple Eagles shocked the world by defeating then, #1 St. Johns University. The RedMen, coached by legendary Lou Carnesseca, featured 8 future NBA players, including Chris Mullin and Mark Jackson.