Game 14 vs. Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays: Rocco Baldelli

Nomar Garciaparra was supposed to have #5 retired up on the right field facade of Fenway Park, like Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, Johnny Pesky, Yaz, Ted Williams, Jim Rice, and Carlton Fisk before him. He was supposed to be his generation's Hall of Famer. The guy who gets 3,000 hits for the home team, outlasts Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. You get the idea. 

Well, that didn't happen. Nomar broke down, and his magical career ended much sooner than anyone expected. Despite the unfulfilled dreams, Nomar will forever have a place in the hearts of Red Sox fans who saw him crushing the American League in his peak. For five years after he was traded away from Boston, no other player wore number five in a Red Sox uniform. 

That changed when the "Woonsocket Rocket", Rocco Baldelli, arrived in Boston in 2009, coming off a World Series appearance with the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. Baldelli was a member of the Rays going back to their days as the last place stumbling team known as the Devil Rays. In a lot of ways, Baldelli was the face of the transition between the last place laughingstock Devil Rays and upstart Not-Devil Rays. By the time the 2008 post season rolled around, Baldelli's ailments were already catching up with him. That didn't stop him from cranking a postseason home run against the Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS. Baldelli's ties to New England made it a lot easier to see someone besides Nomar Garciaparra wearing number five. That doesn't mean Allen Craig should be wearing number five, but it does mean that perhaps it's not as big of a deal as it was when no one wore it for five years.

In a twist of pathways, Rocco Baldelli ended up spending just 2009 with the Red Sox(blasting his first and last Red Sox homers versus the Rays), before returning to the Rays in 2010. Though he retired in the 2010 off-season, Baldelli can be found hanging out next to first base at every Rays game. He was named the Rays first base coach prior to this season. 

Rocco Baldelli is one of just three players who have only played for either the Red Sox or Rays. He's clearly best, as the others are Mark Malaska and Ryan Rupe. 

It's unclear if the Rays have high hopes for the 2015 season, with Joe Maddon taking his talents to Chi-Town. It's too early to tell if we can start busting out "Rocco Baldelli Ain't Walking Through That Door" jokes, but hopefully we'll find out early and often that the Red Sox offense can take care of business. 

Game 2 vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon logged 10 years in the big leagues before he had a breakout season in 1998 as the stopper for the Boston Red Sox.  Like many members of that team, Gordon caught lightning in a bottle. That isn't to say Tom Gordon wasn't a serviceable major league pitcher, but 1998 was a career year for him. Second baseman Mike Benjamin also had a career year. Along with a peak season for Darren Bragg, Darren Lewis, and Scott Hatteberg to go along with strong seasons from Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra and Mo Vaughn, the 1998 Boston Red Sox were truly lightning in a bottle. 

Unfortunately for that team, they ran into the steamrolling 1998 Cleveland Indians and were defeated in the ALDS 3 games to 1.

Tom Gordon's career had a few bright spots, and after missing all of the 2000 season he reemerged as a solid late inning stopper and occasional fill-in closer. By 2006 he found himself on the Philadelphia Phillies, logging 34 saves. He lost his job as closer but remained a key member of the bullpen. He earned a World Series ring with the 2008 Phillies, though spent the rest of the year on the disabled list after landing on it in July. 

The Red Sox face off versus the Phillies tonight in Game 2 of the 2015 season. Here's hoping the Red Sox harness some of the career year energy from the ghost of Tom "Flash" Gordon's Red Sox past!