The way things have been going on Yawkey Way, it's no surprise that you've lost interest. Quite frankly, I have too. The sorry bunch that call themselves the Boston Red Sox leave a lot -- and I mean a lot -- to be desired.
But wait, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and his name is William S. Middlebrooks.
Middlebrooks has given the Red Sox, not to mention the fan base, exactly what it needed: hope. His first five games have been very encouraging, particularly his last two. Middlebrooks has gone yard three times in the Sox' last two games, connecting for a grand slam, his first career home run, in Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Orioles, while hitting two bombs in Monday's 11-5 thrashing of Kansas City. He's now hitting .381 (5-for-16) with nine RBI. Impressive, huh?
Not even the red hot rookie Middlebrooks could save this sinking ship, though. Even after Monday's big win, the Sox are 12-16, fifth in the American League East and still have a handful of problems, from Adrian Gonzalez's struggles at the plate to their pitiful pitching staff. They likely won't be this bad all season long, but even if they can miraculously claw their way into the playoffs, it's doubtful that they would last long when put to the test against baseball's elite.
But that's not on Middlebrooks. One player, no matter how hot, can't carry a team. Middlebrooks' impressive start has turned heads for sure, but he's still just one of 25, and his spot isn't safe.
Sooner or later, Kevin Youkilis will return, and he deserves another shot. Sure, Youk hasn't produced like he did in 2008 and 2009, but the Red Sox likely aren't ready to give up on him.
But knowing that Middlebrooks is waiting in the wings is very encouraging. Once Youkilis has run his course in Boston, the hot corner keys will be given to Middlebrooks. Sounds good to me.
Middlebrooks represents a return to the golden days for the Red Sox, when they grew talent and didn't just buy it all. Make no mistake, the Red Sox bought their championships (every team buys titles), but they reached prominence with the help of their own products. Guys like Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Bard.
It's one thing to go out and sign or trade for a premier talent, like Gonzalez, but having your team draft a player and watching him grow up in the farm system makes them more connectable to fans. Middlebrooks now has the opportunity to join that group, and he's off to a pretty good start.
Personally, Middlebrook's fast rise has helped to ease the pain of Boston's fall last September and continued struggles this April and May. So thank you, Will, for helping rekindle my love of baseball and the Red Sox. Here's hoping that you will be the next big thing on the Boston sports scene.
#64 / Third Base / Boston Red Sox
Sep 09, 1988