Baseball hasn't really existed in Boston for close to a year. After the disappointment of 2019 and the offseason that followed, there wasn't anything to really be excited about with the Red Sox. In fact, it was mostly just depressing and frustrating to think about them or pay them any mind. I wrote about it a few times and lamented how the Mookie Betts trade would effect the franchise and it's fans. Nothing I said was off-base as the season was a total abomination from Day 1. With that, people tuned out.
I've been a Red Sox fan and baseball fan for really as long as I can remember. It was the first sport and team that I actually got invested in and had passion for. From the age of about 6 or 7 when I was idolizing Nomar, baseball has been an important part of my life. This year really tested that as I watched the least amount of Red Sox games that I ever have and I actually tried to avoid them as much as possible. I was just mad. The front office and ownership group really did some major damage by trotting the product out there that they did.
How would I fill the void? By watching more of OTHER teams and paying special attention to National League favorites like the Dodgers and the Padres. While that was fun, it didn't replace the Red Sox. It couldn't. I'm still pretty sad about it, to be honest. So, what's the fix? Is there anything at all to look forward to or be optimistic about? Weirdly enough, I found out there is and it came from my 6 year old nephew.
During the worst season the Red Sox have had in my lifetime, my nephew became a fan. It's kind of funny to be honest and it gives me joy to know that he loved watching all of the games and learning about the players while being able to acknowledge that they weren't very good. He was able to forget Mookie Betts and invest his fandom in guys like Xander Bogaerts (a worthy sports hero to a young fan), Bobby Dalbec and some guy named Yairo Munoz. Hearing my nephew talk about Munoz was especially funny because I simply was not watching and had no idea who this player was. It was the first time in my life that someone was telling me what was going on with my favorite baseball team.
5 straight games with a BOBBY BOMB. pic.twitter.com/OXYYwMaV50— Red Sox (@RedSox) September 11, 2020
While I kept telling him that my guy was JD Martinez (despite the fact that Martinez had an awful year and will likely be gone in 2021), he kept talking about the other guys. Bobby Dalbec was the standout to him, and I could agree. What I've seen from Dalbec in the minors and playing for Team USA has been nothing short of promising and I was excited to see the young 3B/1B come up and mash homer after homer to the point that my nephew was telling my brother that he wanted a Dalbec jersey.
Bobby Dalbec loves hitting the ball to the next area code— BoSox Injection (@BoSoxInjection) September 20, 2020
As the season went along and I learned that someone in my family was starting their fanhood, I really couldn't hold out from paying attention. Did I tune in? No, not really. I just caught recaps and highlights. Still, I perked up when I saw Tanner Houck get the call to the bigs. Houck was the Sox 1st round draft pick in 2017 and if he could show something at all, maybe we'd have at least one pitcher to be happy with.
Houck did not disappoint. In two starts (one against the Marlins and one against the Yankees) the young lefty pitched 11 innings while giving up only 3 hits and zero runs with 11 punchouts and two wins. His only blemishes were walking six batters over that time. He'll get one more turn against Atlanta this weekend and regardless of the results, I think I've seen enough to be high on him going into the future.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm still upset with the Red Sox. They've still made some inexcusable mistakes and insulted the intelligence of their fanbase. I'm still out on Chaim Bloom, Johny Henry, Tom Werner and Sam Kennedy. Ron Roenicke cannot possibly come back to manage this team. Every pitcher not named Houck, Sale or Eovaldi can kick rocks. However, I'll be happy about one thing coming from this pandemic shortened, pathetic and disgusting season. I'm happy my nephew likes baseball and I'm happy Dalbec, Houck and Bogaerts will be there for him to root for and enjoy. Hopefully the Sox can reward kids like him by getting the right people put into place to win sooner rather than later.