Today is the beginning of the All-Star Break in Major League Baseball, and it comes not a moment too soon for the bruised and battered Red Sox, who have 11 players on the disabled list. So many Sox players are injured that it’s getting hard to tell the difference these days between a Sox broadcast on NESN and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
As an article on NESN.com points out, the rash of injuries that have befallen the parent club means that the Sox have relied on their farm system to provide replacement players. Daniel Nava, Dustin Richardson, Darnell McDonald, Gustavo Molina, and Felix Doubront are among the players who have been called up from Triple A Pawtucket to play for Boston.
It just goes to show that for short money you can watch a game at some of Boston’s minor league affiliates and catch some of the future Sox stars on their journeys to the big leagues. The Sox have three minor league affiliates within an easy drive of Boston: the Triple A Pawtucket Red Sox, the Double A Portland Sea Dogs, and the Single A Lowell Spinners. All three teams provide a very family-friendly environment, and for the cost of one grandstand seat at Fenway, you can get tickets, food, and parking for a family of four. Pick up a program or a roster sheet because it’s fun to look back in a few months or years and see which major leaguers you saw down on the farm.
Not only can you watch future Sox stars in the minors, but some of the team’s current and former starters as well. The Sox will often send some of their stars to play a few games in the minors before getting them back on the field at Fenway. Yesterday was a great example. I went to last evening’s Lowell Spinners game, and former Sox starting shortstop Jed Lowrie was on the Lowell roster. Also yesterday, Josh Beckett pitched four innings for Pawtucket as he does his rehab from injury.
Even if there aren’t any Sox stars doing a rehab assignment, going to a minor league game is great fun, particularly for kids. The teams usually have a lot of entertainment before games and between innings. In Lowell, for example, there is a kids’ area with a giant slide, bounce house, speed pitch game, and more. The team’s alligator mascots are favorites with little kids. (I think they were my 2-year-old’s favorite part of the game.) Last night, they also let kids run the bases after the game and had a themed night of take your dog to the ballpark. It was quite a dog day afternoon with the steamy weather until the rain came in during the seventh inning. The downpours were a bit of a disappointment, but not as much as the cancellation of the special entertainment: the Baha Men (one-hit wonders with “Who Let the Dogs Out?”), who were stuck in customs. Oh well. When I look back at last night’s program in a few years, I’m sure we’ll find out that we were watching some bigger stars anyway.