Saturday, October 4, 2008

Drew, baby, Drew!

J.D. Drew is many things - a $14 million man of mystery, an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum and supported by a bad back, a ballplayer apparently so even keeled he shows almost no emotion at the plate. Most notably this season, he's been an invisible man during the second half. He can be absolutely infuriating to watch - striking out and then turning back to the dugout like an automaton. Fans aren't asking for every player to be a volcanic competitor like Kevin Youkilis (really, one per team is enough) but at least show something, that you care, anything. His record of injuries has also worked against him from the perspective of the fans, who want to see their players grit through pain and set a higher standard for performance. Drew? Not so much in the eyes of the fans.

That seemed to be changing in 2008. After crushing a grand slam in Game 6 of last year's ALCS, he began to gain more support. After carrying the Red Sox and winning Player of the Month honors in June (12 HR, 27 RBI, .337 BA) while Big Papi was injured, it looked like he was on track for a monster season, one that might justify the $14 million a year that the Sox are paying him. Fans were going nuts for him. He was settling in and really becoming a part of the Red Sox. Early comments from sportscasters talked of a potential MVP season.

Then he vanished, sidelined by stiffness in his back and a herniated disk, back on the disabled list where he has spent much of his career, and leaving him doubtful for the post-season. All of the old questions resurfaced.

Now, Red Sox fans around the country woke up this morning grateful that he did make it back. In Game 1 against the Angels, his timing at the plate seemed off but that's to be expected after only playing 3 games since early August. Thankfully, he managed to shake off a bit of the rust in time for Game 2, hitting what turned out to be the game-winning home run off of the Halo's all-world closer Francisco Rodriguez in the top of the 9th. That anyone hit that home run of off K-Rod (62 saves and giving up only 4 home runs all season) is mind-boggling enough. That it was the rusty Drew, even more surprising.

The Red Sox are now up 2-0 against the Angels and headed home. J.D. Drew is with them. I'm not sure if that give me more confidence or not but he does seem to have a flair for the dramatic in the post-season. Speaking as a Red Sox fan who has been on the rollercoaster more times than I care to remember, I'd like to see the Sox keep the drama to a minimum, however, and wrap this up quickly and easily on Sunday night. Hopefully Drew can help make it happen.

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