Weather permitting, the Red Sox will begin the 2009 regular season this afternoon at Fenway Park. It kicks off a huge sports week, with the NCAA mens basketball championship set for tonight, and the Masters to start up later in the week.
Sean McAdam explores how opening day is still special for Terry Francona. Joe McDonald says that the Red Sox are young, strong and pumped for the new season. Bill Ballou has the Sox getting an early shot at redemption against the Rays on opening day. Jon Couture has a look at a rare opening day at Fenway Park.
Michael Silverman gives us five reasons to hope and five reasons to worry as the Sox open 2009. Brian MacPherson still has a few questions about the 2009 Sox as the season begins. Couture says that this Sox team has the right mix of depth and firepower, though he still comes up with nine questions facing the 2009 Sox.
Adam Kilgore has a feature on Jason Bay, who becomes the first man other than Manny Ramirez to start left field on Opening Day for the Red Sox since 2001. John Tomase has a mini-feature on Josh Beckett, who he says is the epitome of an ace. Rob Bradford has Beckett out for revenge against the Rays. Joe Haggerty says that Beckett is the key for the Red Sox.
Dan Shaughnessy expresses the belief that now that the Red Sox have bee successful for a number of years, and are just all about baseball now, they’re getting bland, and their popularity is starting to wane, giving that TV ratings were down 20% last season. Gerry Callahan lusts over Dustin Pedroia, who has proven all the doubters wrong on the way to the top of the baseball world.
Amalie Benjamin has a healthy David Ortiz set to resume his place as a premier power hitter in the league. Steve Buckley says that more than anyone else, Ortiz gives the Red Sox their swagger. Mike Fine has Ortiz thrilled to be able swing free and easy and looks forward to being the real David Ortiz this season. Bill Ballou says that there are still plenty of questions about Ortiz. Alex Speier runs down the rest of the Red Sox lineup and their championship ambitions. Sarah Green thinks J.D. Drew might be the best choice as leadoff hitter for the Sox.
Joe Fitzgerald says that timeless, precious memories are the best thing about rooting for the Red Sox. Lenny Megliola says that Red Sox opening day gives us a little break from the down times of the economy. Silverman has John Henry saying that the economic crisis hasn’t hit the Red Sox to hard yet.
Dan Duggan has Mike Lowell set to resume his full workload and just get back to playing baseball. McDonald has Rocco Baldelli healthy and ready to start the new season. He also has Chris Carter‘s intensity the reason why he is on the opening day roster. Dan Lamothe looks at Curt Schilling predicting 105 wins for the Red Sox in 2009. Schilling and the rest of the WEEI.com staffers attempt to predict what is ahead for the Sox this season.
Bill Burt says that he is a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, which is not to be confused with being a Rays fan. Right. Got it. Jim Donaldson says that the Rays are still the scrappy underdogs to the big spending Yankees and Sox. Tomase has the Sox and Rays resuming the rivalry early this season. Paul Doyle says that the Rays represent a shift in power in the AL East. Mark Farinella looks at the times and venues changing around baseball.
Kristin Erekson and Alysis Richardson has fans lining for for the chance of getting opening day tickets.
Benjamin’s notebook has the AL Champion Rays coming into Fenway for the opener. Tomase’s notebook has Jed Lowrie enjoying the view from his new locker. McDonald’s notebook has Ortiz helping needy families to be able to attend a game at Fenway Park. Fine’s notebook looks at the excitement of opening day for the Red Sox. Ballou’s notebook has Jason Varitek back behind the plate for the Sox on opening day.
Steve Bulpett has Danny Ainge loving his team as the playoffs approach. Frank Dell’Apa has Kendrick Perkins anchoring the Celtics defense during the absence of Kevin Garnett. Jessica Camerato looks at a Jerry Rice-like offseason conditioning program for Ray Allen that he credits for his stamina and performance. Scott Souza has Rajon Rondo’s jump shot getting better and better. Tim Weisberg looks at Tony Allen’s return to the Celtics.
The Bruins clinched the top seed in the East over the weekend, marking a sharp regular season turnaround a year ago. Mike Loftus says that the Bruins have come a long way in just one year. Stephen Harris has the Bruins just worried about themselves right now, not who they will play in the postseason. Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins depth allowing them to rest some key players. Mick Colageo notes that Saturday’s Bruins/Rangers game could be a playoff preview.
Chris Warner continues to crank out the interviews with draft prospects for Patriots Daily. He’s talked with Norfolk State cornerback Don Carey and North East Carolina defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell. Both prospects talk about their meetings with the Patriots, and what the team asked them to do in workouts and what they projected their roles to be on the club.
Rich Garven says that the Patriots have improved this offseason.