Wade Boggs in the ugly Tampa Bay Devil Rays jersey is almost as jarring as Wade Boggs atop a horse celebrating a New York Yankees World Series title.
For some Red Sox fans, watching another player wear #26 is jarring each and every time. Brock Holt is the latest in a long line of 26 wearers. In total thirteen other players have worn #26 for the Red Sox since Wade Boggs left town.
The belief that a number belongs to a certain player after a certain level of fame is reached is strong. Perhaps none stronger than the New York Yankees belief that everybody should have a retired number. It seems there's some difference in belief, depending on the terms of which a player leaves. Nomar Garciaparra, for instance, wore number 5, which remained unused for five full seasons, and put on mothballs for another three years after Rocco Baldelli's brief time as the wearer of number 5.
Dwight Evans's #24 went unused for six seasons, and eventually was given to Manny Ramirez. If I were deciding retired numbers, I'd retire #24 in honor of both Dewey and Manny. Number 21 has not been worn by anyone since Roger Clemens following the 1996 season.
So how did Wade Boggs, arguably one of the top five hitters in Red Sox franchise history, end up with a uniform number so easily discarded to Aaron Sele and Rob Stanifer? Even with an ownership change, Scott Podsednik donned the Boggsian number. Boggs was a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for two seasons, and his number 12 has been retired. What gives?
What Gives? That's the same question we can ask about the 2015 Red Sox. Through 26 games, the man currently wearing Wade Boggs's Red Sox number is tearing up the American League, while playing all over the field. Brock Holt is averaging more than a hit per start, just like his numbersake. Meanwhile, the lowest ERA for the starting rotation is 4.71. The highest is 7.15. Add in the rest of the pitching staff and the team has a 5.04 ERA.
Yes, it's a small sample size. However, most teams begin establishing whether they need to upgrade their team or downgrade their realistic season expectations by the time June rolls around. This means the team has a few more weeks to work out some kinks, but after five turns through the rotation, signs of worry abound.
The exception is within the scope of #26. Everybody knows Brock Holt is a super star(Brock Star) in the making, Maybe the next Ben Zobrist, even. Just like Wade Boggs. Everybody knew Boggs would smash at the big league level, whether it was during the regular season or the post season. It's too bad Brock Holt hasn't given pitching a shot yet. Wade Boggs did, twice in fact, in 1997 with the Yanks and 1999 with the Devil Rays. Sure, both times he came in for mop-up duty, but he has 2 career strikeouts under his belt.
If Boggs is any indication, maybe Brock Holt pitching and the magic of 26 holds the answer to winning a ball game!