As Ken Burns observed in his baseball documentary, baseball was important to immigrants. It was part of the process of becoming American, and my grandfather embraced it as a young man and held on to it for the rest of a long life. I write about him in my book, “Claremont Boy,” and about other immigrants who were part of the Claremont of my youth.
And I write about sports, mostly baseball. My grandfather sat me down at a young age and his words are still in my ears and my heart: “Joey, there are two leagues, the American and the National.” My grandfather died in April 45 years ago, and I was thinking of him as I wrote these lines.
OK, he’s gone, we can’t let it fester,
We’ll just get along without Jon Lester;
Yes spring is here, and the Red Sox are playing,
Let’s all give a cheer, Big Papi is staying.
What would we do without David Ortiz?
By unanimous vote he’s the team’s big cheese.
And this year, we think, Pedroia is healthy,
John Henry is smiling, it helps to be wealthy.
He took out his pen and wrote a large check.
Now Hanley Ramirez is again on deck;
Sandoval’s at third, it’s his veranda,
He’s earned his nickname, it’s “Kung Fu Panda.”
In center field, once Dom DiMaggio’s home,
That’s where young Mookie Betts will roam.
He’s ready, they say, and so is Tazawa,
The setup man for Koji Uehara.
They begin next Monday, for the pennant they’ll race,
With Mike Napoli still patrolling first base.
Then they’ll open at home on April thirteen,
Rest assured, Fenway Park will again be green.
Will there still be snow, along Yawkey Way?
“Never mind” says John Farrell, “we’ve come to play.”
But without Moncada, the young Cuban whiz,
They’ve sent him to Greenville, wherever that is.
But he’ll make the Show, of that I am sure;
In the meanwhile don’t worry, he’ll never be poor.
Nor will Rusney Castillo, he’s also from Cuba,
Unlike Xander Bogaerts, who hails from Aruba!
In right field Victorino, his first name is Shane
The position is his, but let me explain,
As you run down the roster, the Sox seem to have a
Surplus of players, such as Daniel Nava.
There’s Allen Craig and the team’s antidote,
The utility player named Brock Wyatt Holt.
They got him from Pittsburgh, a good acquisition;
Last year he played nearly every position.
Jackie Bradley’s another who will be competing
As he learned last year, fame can be so fleeting;
We miss Ellsbury, how he used to please;
How could he have signed with the dreaded Yankees?
On the mound the team still needs a number one ace,
Someone who can take over Jon Lester’s place;
It might be Joe Kelly, or southpaw Wade Miley,
He pitched well this spring, he’s earned his own smiley J.
They will need five starters, not so easy to find;
An injury or two, and the team’s in a bind.
There’s Masterson, Buchholz and Rick Porcello,
And perhaps Steven Wright, the knuckleball fellow.
The man on the mound will take signs from Vazquez,
From Puerto Rico, his biography says;
The back-up catcher is Ryan Hanigan,
If Vazquez falters, he’ll be the signalman.
Reliever Craig Breslow graduated from Yale;
He’s smart, but still looking for his holy grail.
His ERA last year was five point nine six,
This season that’s something he will need to fix.
In the bullpen will be Escobar as well,
He’s just getting started so there’s not much to tell;
And a bunch of others I’ve never heard of,
We will see what they do when push comes to shove.
Well that’s the rundown of this year’s players,
No doubt, as always, there will be naysayers;
But winter is past, we should have no fear,
For Red Sox Nation, it is now Next Year