Two things should be fairly obvious to even casual readers of this blog. First, I’m a bit of a drunk. Second, I love me some Xander Bogaerts. Ever since he came up and hung tight in the 2013 postseason, becoming one of the more reliable bats as we churned our way to the World Series trophy, I’ve been a fan. His softspoken demeanor, his pie-eyed love of the game, the fact that he speaks more languages than some Harvard professors, the maturity and professionalism that makes us sometimes forget he can just barely purchase a round of Miller Lites at the Baseball Tavern. It’s all good stuff.
2018 is a year of some pretty big and bad ass promise here in Red Sox Nation. We got revived David Price. We got Chris Sale, year two. We got JD Martinez and Rafael Devers. But if there’s one thing I’m happy to see, it’s Xander Bogaerts looking so good out of the gate.
In the haze of his struggles, most notably in 2014 but resurfacing last season, it was easy to lose sight of just smoothly he slid into our hearts and minds during the 2013 postseason. Cast among the superstars and journeyman players on the sport’s biggest stage, he looked at times like a seasoned vet. Calm, cool, collected and making shit happen. And, on top of it, a sweetheart of a guy by all accounts.
One of my favorite Bogaerts moment came in game six of the 2013 ALCS. And, yes, it’s impossible to look at that game as anything other than The Shane Victorino Happy Hour. But earlier in the fifth, when there was still no score and Max Scherzer was making a pretty good case for a game seven, going 14 batters without surrendering a hit, Bogey stepped to the plate with two outs and nobody on. On a 3-2 count he launched a screaming drive to left center that, had it been just a few feet closer to dead center (or had John Henry invested in a goddam wind gun for the Monster seats), would have ended up in the bleachers. Instead, he got a double and was knocked in on the next pitch to Ellsbury. But the seal was broken. Making that double all the more important.
It was that moment that kept replaying in my head as Bogaerts fumbled through 2014, amidst “L’affaire de Drew.” I knew he had it in him. I knew that guy from the 2013 postseason was in there. It was just a matter of reconnecting with him. Since then, we’ve seen a lot of steps forward. Last season seemed a step back.
Now, in 2018, everything seems Xanderful again. With eight hits and one home run across three games, it seems Classic Xander AKA All Star Xander AKA almost-won-the-batting-title Xander may be back. Which just makes me anticipate each game even more.
Like I said, we’ve got a lot going on this season, with new superstars, promising young’uns and the best rotation in baseball. But I’ll just keep rooting my balls off for young Xander B. You probably should, too.