At long last, we finally get to see some games that count.
When the Red Sox's season came to a crashing halt on September 28, 2011, fans immediately began to look forward to this day on the calendar. After a tumultuous offseason, the Sox and their fans will finally be able to turn the page on last season’s collapse and simply get back to baseball.
There will certainly be some bumps in the road as the Sox try to fit inexperienced players into new roles. The offense, defense and pitching will all be affected by these changes, and the famously impetuous fans will expect immediate results.
Such is both the peril and privilege of playing in Boston, where there is no patience for slow starts or learning on the job. “Produce or get out of town” is the prevailing sentiment amongst fans and media, and how the new players adjust to this added scrutiny will go a long way in determining the success of the team this year.
While today’s contest will have little bearing on how things shake out this year, the unfortunate ending of last season has added a significance that usually is not attached to just one game of 162. In Boston, the line between being world beaters and cellar dwellers is preposterously thin; one game often can swing the perception of the team 180 degrees.
Getting off to a good start this season is important for the Sox, and today will set the tone. With so many new players and a new manager, we’ll also begin to learn a bit more about the makeup of this team and how Bobby Valentine plans on using his personnel.
Here are five key things to watch for when the Sox take the field at Comerica Park this afternoon: