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Members of the Boston Red Sox walk on the field before a March 1 spring training game against the Braves in Fort Myers, Fla. AP photo

Postponed.

This was going to be a column dissecting the Boston Red Sox effort on Opening Day. How did starting pitcher Nate Eovaldi do? Did Bobby Dalbec strike out three times or did he hit one into the sun?

Instead, around 9 a.m. Thursday morning, the Red Sox leadership peeked at the sky and pulled the chute. Opening Day was postponed. In a year in which families across the world have delayed holidays and celebrations, here’s one more. Even though this was weather-related, not pandemic-related, it’s still a disappointment. Now, we wait until Friday to see how the Red Sox fare against the Baltimore Orioles.

With rain in the forecast, postponing Opening Day and all the pomp and circumstance that comes with it is the prudent decision. It’s also a decision the Red Sox haven’t always made. But John Henry and his born-again penny pinchers running the team have changed.

Remember Opening Day at Fenway Park in 2003? It was quite the hullabaloo, with Ray Charles brought in to sing “America the Beautiful” and Lou Rawls singing the national anthem. It had former Red Sox greats like Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice and Dwight Evans. It also had a steady rain that picked up as game time drew closer.

They sold a lot of hot dogs and pretzels and beer and souvenir batting helmets that day to a crowd that left more than a little cheesed off the team went through the motions knowing full well there would be no ballgame. So even with a nowhere close to capacity crowd expected at Fenway Thursday, the Sox made the call to postpone early, sacrificing modest hot dog sales for the greater good.

That fleecing of the Fenway faithful in 2003 wasn’t Opening Day proper, just Opening Day at home. The Red Sox began that season with a 10-game road trip through Tampa, Baltimore, and Toronto. Actual Opening Day against the Rays is memorable for the bullpen by committee experiment blowing up in real time. Pedro Martinez pitched seven strong innings, Ramiro Mendoza pitched a solid eighth, and Alan Embree and Chad Fox gave up five runs in the ninth to hand Tampa Bay a 6-4 win.

Opening Day 1986 began with the most optimistic of moments, with Evans hitting the first pitch of the entire season for a home run at Tiger Stadium. It didn’t matter that Boston lost the game, 6-5, Evans’s homer was a harbinger of great things to come. I forget exactly how the ’86 season ended.

In 1988, again in Detroit, the Red Sox lost when new closer Lee Smith gave up two runs in the 10th inning. Smith, now a Hall of Famer, was acquired from the Chicago Cubs for the low, low price of Al Nipper (a gutsy if average starting pitcher) and Calvin Schiraldi (neither gutsy nor average). Smith ended up being a  fine closer for the Red Sox, saving 58 games before a trade early in the 1990 season sent him to St. Louis. That Opening Day in ’88, we wondered if general manager Lou Gorman saved the receipt.

In 2000, we stayed up late to watch Pedro shut out the Seattle Mariners on Opening Night. In 2008, we got up early for Opening Day against the Oakland A’s in Tokyo. On Opening Day, time stands still.

Mother Nature, on the other hand, does not. The 2021 Boston Red Sox present a lot of questions, and we wait another day to start to get answers. If nothing else in this year of COVID-19, we’ve learned patience. Winter is extended by one day.

Travis Lazarczyk —861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

 

 

 

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