February is usually the slowest time of year for sports stories for numerous reasons. First off, the ratings machine that is the NFL is finally over and out of the news cycle. The NHL and NBA are either in or just past their All-Star breaks and don’t bring nearly as much juice or passion as the NFL. On the bright side, the MLB is starting up its season and for the Red Sox, there are a lot of high expectations coming off of a AL East title and trading for star lefty Chris Sale (leading to countless Sale/Price puns). In getting ready for the season, here are three great stories I have read from local beat writers that have stood out to me over the past week:
Andrew Benintendi takes Brian Johnson deep after calling his shot (Christopher Smith, MassLive.com): I liked this story from Smith because it was an exclusive that he got from the two players. It also combined a couple of storylines into one, Benintendi’s development into an everyday player and Johnson’s struggles with anxiety and depression. The story was light and entertaining, but also was a great scoop from a lesser-known reporter.
Blake Swihart struggles with throws (Evan Drellich, Boston Herald): A big story coming out of Spring Training so far has been Swihart’s inability to make the throw back to the pitcher. This is something to keep an eye on as only time will tell how Swihart will respond to the added pressure of this. The yips can often sidetrack an entire career and I think Drellich does a good job in acknowledging that this could be troubling for the young backstop.
In Boston, baseball still owns our hearts (Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe): Despite how much it pains me, I actually liked this Shaughnessy column. It was a great illustration of how Boston has become a football-crazed town, but doesn’t forget its roots as the cursed Red Sox who endured 86 years of misery and overcame a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to break a title drought. Another column for another day for Shaughnessy could be which was more improbable, the 2004 ALCS or Super Bowl LI.