Rather than watching it on television, RSNStats is just back from a road trip to experience the Sox Winter Weekend in person. Here’s how it went. If you’re not interested, scroll down anyway to catch up with the latest Red Sox news.
Friday’s Town Hall Meeting
Festivities for the sold out event commenced Friday night at the Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut with the Town Hall Meeting hosted by NESN’s Tom Caron and recorded for later broadcast. The meeting started with many of the 2017 players coming to stage to welcome and present jerseys to Sox newcomers Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg, and Mitch Moreland.
The introductions were followed by a long question-and-answer session with Sox owner John Henry (who, suffering from laryngitis spoke very little), chairman Tom Werner, president Sam Kennedy, president for baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, and manager John Farrell. Kennedy proved himself an excellent public speaker, taking the lead on most of the questions aimed at ownership, while Dombrowski and Farrell, who really are not dynamic presenters, shared the duty for answering nuts and bolts baseball questions.
The Town Hall Meeting was long, presumably so NESN would have sufficiently interesting content for their edited broadcast version.
Saturday’s Breakout Sessions
On Saturday there were three hour-long breakout sessions as well as a main pavilion with various attractions that was open all day.
Breakouts included the excellent “Call to the Hall” with Wade Boggs, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Pedro Martinez, and Jim Rice, “Memories of 2007” with John Farrell, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, and “Cy Young Award Winners” with Eckersley, Martinez, David Price, and the team’s newest Cy Young award winner, Rick Porcello.
In the afternoon five current Sox players battled the coaching staff in an enjoyable, light hearted game show for bragging privileges. The players participating were Matt Barnes, Mookie Betts, Deven Marrero, Blake Swihart and Chris Young vs coaches Ruben Amaro Jr., Dana LeVangie, Victor Rodriguez, Carl Willis and new Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina.
Sure, the “game show” format was silly, but it gave the crowd a chance to see the players’ and coaches’ personalities outside the lines. Who knew, for instance, that pitching coach Carl Willis was such a fun personality? And while you’d likely have suspected it, Betts proved himself just as adept at winning over the crowd in the ballroom as he does winning them over with his impressive skills on the field. He’s witty, funny, and ideally suited to be the future face of this franchise.
Winter Weekend: Worth the Trip
Breakout sessions were very well attended, so that meant a lot of standing in line to be early enough for a good seat or run the risk that you wouldn’t even get in the room. Autograph sessions, included with each ticket, gave you access to a mystery player who was only revealed after standing in line for an hour or so (mine turned out to be Jim Rice, so no complaints here).
Much of the weekend’s festivities are geared to kids (Wally features prominently), particularly the activities in the main pavilion, where there was wiffle ball, batting cages, and base running simulations but also a live NESN broadcast stage with live interviews being conducted throughout the day and a section spotlighting Sox player awards through the ages.
In all, Sox Winter Weekend was a great experience. I’d like to see a few more breakout sessions, which by definition cater more to the adult fans. Perhaps I’m in in the minority, but more about the business of baseball would offer the fascinating inside access that I crave. I heard several attendees say they’d like the Sox to limit ticket sales somewhat so that less time would be spent waiting in line and for sessions to begin. But these are small quibbles. The event was well organized and fun. If you’re Sox fan, it’s impossible not to recommend.
Red Sox News & Notes
Time now to catch you up on the latest news and notes of interest to Red Sox fans.
- Baseball this weekend mourns the loss of Royals righty Yordano Ventura, who died at just 25 years of age in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. Ventura started against the Red Sox twice in 2016, once in Kansas City on May 17 and again in Boston on August 28. The tragedy was doubly horrific following the news just hours earlier that former major league infielder Andy Marte also died in a car crash in the DR. Marte, once a Red Sox prospect, started his big league career in 2005 with the Braves for part of a season before spending five years with the Indians and finishing up in 2014 with the Diamondbacks. Marté was 33. ESPN reported that both men were under the influence at the time of their accidents.
- Sox starter Drew Pomeranz told The Providence Journal that he received a stem-cell shot in his left elbow following the 2016 season to help deal with “minor elbow discomfort.” Pomeranz hopes to be the club’s fourth or fifth starter. “I definitely feel great,” he told the Journal, “I feel pretty prepared [for spring training].”
- The Blue Jays are said to be interested in former Red Sox catcher Jarod Saltalamacchia says ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Saltalamacchia appeared in 92 games with the Tigers last season batting just 42-for-246 (.171) with 12 home runs. Salty slashed .243 AVG/.307 OBP/.455 SLG over 3+ seasons with the Sox (2010-2013), reaching a career-high 25 HR in 2012.
- 50 years ago the Red Sox and Cardinals met in the 1967 World Series. The Sox went down 3-games-to-1, but battled back to tie the series before losing in Game 7 by the score of 7-2 at Fenway. To commemorate that series the MLB schedule includes four Red Sox/Cardinals games in 2017 with two at Busch Stadium on May 16th-17 and two at Fenway on August 15-16.
- Jerry Remy was on hand for photographs and autographs at Sox Winter Weekend. Last week came ambiguous word that Remy signed “a multi-year deal” with NESN to broadcast 115 Sox games per season.
- Single-game tickets for most 2017 Red Sox home games go on sale January 28 at 10:00 ET at redsox.com and by phone at 877-REDSOX9. Purchases of up to 12 single-game tickets are permitted in a single transaction. Opening Day tickets and tickets for games against the Yankees and Cubs, however, will not be available on that date.