But overshadowing the Red Sox current edition is Keith Foulke's retirement announcement. Foulke deserved the World Series MVP. Not that Manny Ramirez was undeserving, just that Foulke merited it more. Foulke's rise wasn't meteoric, as the dart-delivery closer had excelled for years before 2004. But his spearing the Edgar Renteria grounder to end 86 years of frustration and defeatism became THE Red Sox moment of the modern era. Foulke erased memories of Bill Buckner, Jim Burton, and Grady Little.
Sure, Foulke had clay feet, with Johnny Burger King, the WEEI truck, and his personal struggles. And a panoply of injuries ended his major league career. But Sox fans owe Foulke more than a footnote in Sox history. So give it up for Foulke. Fair winds and following seas.
Meanwhile, Fort Myers won't lack for subplots. Let's just list them for now, and later we can rank 'em, chew 'em up, and spit 'em out.
- Who's up first? To close that is.
- Will Japanese imports upstage the domestic brands?
- Will Lugo be The Man at shortstop?
- Will the real J.D. Drew please stand up?
- Were injuries the real story behind Coco Crisp?
- Can Jason Varitek return to form?
- Can Dustin Pedroia turn the DP? Can he hit?
- Matsuzaka fever? Catch it.
- Will Jon Lester complete his comeback?
- Is this the year for Craig Hansen or Manny Delcarmen?
- Has Papelbon's shoulder returned to full health?
Oh, to be a baseball beat writer. There's never enough time to do the beating adequately.