When the Boston Red Sox
host the Chicago White Sox
tonight at Fenway Park, there will be more sub plots attached to the occasion than to your average day time Mexican soap opera. A fully charged night of emotion is almost guaranteed as a number of potentially dramatic talking points play themselves out across the diamond.
First to the most glaringly obvious. ‘Youk’ is back. The bearded one is almost guaranteed a terrific response from the Fenway crowd thanks in large part to his classy exit from The Fens, almost as much as the years of graft and World Series wins behind him. Kevin Youkilis
was always a fan favourite in Boston, and most likely always will be. He probably didn’t need to take out a full page advertisement on ESPN
thanking the Fenway faithful, however the fact he did, shows he does care about his relationship with his former fans. Just remember, that loud droning noise you will likely hear as he takes his first at bat is not booing, it's Yooooooouk-ing.
Interesting quick side note on that page, notice Youkilis went out of his way to thank Tito?
‘’To Terry Francona, who led us to 2 World Series championships in 2004 and 2007, I thank you for your support and personal guidance through my career with the Red Sox.’’
Read into that what you will.
Second, to the return of one Jacoby Ellsbury.
The dashing young outfielder looks like he has hit the ground running and he had three ringing hits in last night’s big win against Tampa. A healthy Ellsbury, playing at even a fraction of the incredibly high level he played last season, would mean an awful lot to the Red Sox attempts to dig into the Yankees AL East lead. A healthy Ellsbury brings average, speed, superior defence and also a little power\pop in his bat. He also bring s a healthy slice of ‘clutch’ to the occasion, and finally he brings a serious ‘presence’ to the spear tip of the Red Sox lineup, on a nightly basis.
Ellsbury should get a healthy ovation tonight in his first at bat.
Finally, Carl Crawford
, barring a last minute setback, should take the field for Boston for the first time in 2012. The Red Sox outfield will suddenly have much more star power to it, and the lineup gets that little bit ‘longer’ with the inclusion of Crawford, who did not suddenly turn into a bad baseball player overnight. If he is healthy, he should contribute. Hopefully the Fenway fans recognise that Crawford has worked hard to recover from injury and he should be given a clean slate to work off of.
The possibilities that a truly healthy Crawford bring to the Red Sox are limitless, a return to even a percentage of the amazing talent that was Carl Crawford in Tampa would be a giant boost to the Red Sox.
So there it is. Plenty of storylines, against the back drop of Boston trying to struggle back into the AL East race. Chances are tonight they should see a boost in the win column, as the White Sox started, Axelrod, has gone 0-2 with an ugly 7.11 ERA in his last five starts.
Then again, this is baseball, and as the Red Sox have shown us the last 18 months, anything is possible!Follow Cormac on Twitter