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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Campos View – 2/20/03

The quintessential American sport is about to begin another long season in about a month and a half. When it comes to the Boston Red Sox, the clichéd poetic line “Hope springs eternal” is sure to said ad nauseam on evening newscasts and sports talk shows, even if the local nine’s talent is less than subpar.

Spring hardball optimism is particularly endemic to the New England region. No matter what has transpired during the off-season, Red Sox fans seem to turn a blind eye to reality and instead conjure up exaggerated personas of the players and farfetched scenarios for the upcoming season.

Will the 2003 Boston Red Sox team have the similar effect that its predecessors had? I would say no. The squad has none of the sexy allure or dynamism that would normally electrify an easily excitable fan base to unbridled fervor. Instead, pessimism and caution hang in the air like a high infield pop up.

After all, what exactly should Sox fans be giddy about? The star and most vital player on the team, one Pedro Martinez, has already been kvetching about the “disrespect” that he thinks he has been shown by the ownership. Martinez, who has one year left (plus an option) on a seven year deal, wants to be signed to an extension before the start of the regular season. He has threatened to walk after the 2004 season if he doesn’t have a new contract in place by Opening Day.

A player who has money on the brain is almost never focused on his job performance. If Martinez’s first concern is his paycheck, it should surprise no one if he plays less than his best. Although I believe Martinez should be signed to new contract, his timing begets questions of his commitment to the job at hand.

Then there is the almost soap operatic affair of Kevin Millar. Last season, Millar played for the Florida Marlins, where he posted respectable, but not mind-blowing, numbers on offense. During the off-season, Millar signed a two year deal with a Japanese professional team, the Cunichi Dragons, because there appeared to little interest by Major League teams in acquiring his services.

Everything seemed to be hunki-dori until the Red Sox stepped in to create a three ring circus. The team expressed interest in bringing the former Marlin to town, and Millar reciprocated the feeling. But there was still the issue of a signed contract, and the Cunichi Dragons had no intention of releasing their newest acquisition.

You know it’s been a slow off-season when the hottest topic is the squabbling between the Red Sox and a Japanese baseball team. Yeah, that’s great fodder for water cooler chatter.

Oh, the team will field a “competitive” team. After all, Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez don Sox uniforms. The starting pitching staff should once again post above-average stats. But there is very little talk that hints at that most Bostonian of sport sayings, “This could be the year.” There’s very little reason to think so,

This colum is dedicated to the memory of J.P. Goodwin, one of the biggest Red Sox fans I ever met.