Item (from today's Globe sports section): "I've been fighting a lot of [expletive], man," said Ortiz, whose recuperation from knee surgery has not been abetted by the frequent-flier miles. "Thank God it's early in the season; I can put myself together. But it's hard, man.
"Let me break this down for you. We were in Fort Myers, then we went to the other side of the planet. We came back to LA in one place [Dodger Stadium], then went to another place in LA [the Coliseum], and now we're leaving the country again. You tell me, what do you think?"
And yet the Sox are off to a better start than in either of their last two World Series-winning years, when they split their first four games in both 2004 and '07.
"I guess we're good," Ortiz said when reminded of that fact.
I guess this settles the debate of whether or not the Sox players were in favor of the Japanese adventure that started their defense of last year's Series win. Ortiz, who probably commands as much respect inside -- and outside -- the Sox clubhouse as any player, clearly was not a fan of MLB's desire to "taske this show on the road," as it were. But just in case you think it's just Big Papi being Big Disgruntled-i (wow, that didn't work), take heed of Curt Schilling's post on http://www.38pitches.com/ on the Japan trip.
Highlights include (full post is at http://38pitches.com/2008/03/20/last-boring-uneventful-day-of-camp%e2%80%a6):
- "Late last year we had confirmation of MLB’s desire for the Red Sox to open the 2008 baseball season in Japan... I know the players gave this a lukewarm reception at best, which deteriorated the deeper the discussion got."
- "I don’t believe MLB thought the players would have any objections and would be looking forward to the trip. To the contrary, on the initial call we actually told MLB we pretty much decided on not wanting to do this, and that as a club we’d voted not to go."
So was the trip overseas worth it? I guess it depends on your perspective... if you are MLB, then yes: Based on the interest level (nationally & internationally), now you have even more impetus to seriously consider adding some form of a Japanese team(s) or league to MLB. If you are teh Sox ownership: Yes, yes, yes. For financial reason principally, but also for the stability and longevity of the Red Sox brand and general goodwill.
However, if you're a player... hmmm. Remember when the Yankees did this a few years ago? Well, they had a horrible April and spent the first part of the season playing catch-up. For the Sox, the jury's still out.
But you have to wonder if there is any lingering acrimony between the players and the management, esp. give the brouhaha that preceded the trip concerning the Sox staff and compensation, not to mention the obvious reluctance to participate voiced publicly by Schilling and Ortiz and, surely, by many more privately.
And the fans? We'll see... Having the Sox defense of the Series begin thousands of miles (and 13 hours ahead) of the usual time probably wasn't all that damaging to the fan base. I for one, though, am wondering if it will all be so copascetic when all of a sudden Papi or someone else has to go on the DL because the time spent in an airplane flying to or back from Japan caused some kind of damage to their recuperation from injury or, like JD Drew and Sean Casey, aggravated a twinge (back and neck, respectively).
The worst-kept secret in baseball is that the Sox aren't as deep as they have been. Only time will tell if this will come back to bite them.
And then you might hear something from the fans... stay tuned.
In the meantime, enjoy this NSFW 2008 Sox preview from fellow Braintree High alum and noted Bostonian Paul "Fitzy" Fitzgerald...
More of "Fitzy" at http://www.townienews.com.