Today is the official reporting date for all Red Sox position players, and the last of the stragglers are now in camp.
Honestly, I almost forgot today was the official date because the vast majority of Red Sox players have been in Fort Myers for days or even weeks - we're a long way from the days of Manny Ramirez's constant tardiness due to perennial family illness.
It's one of the many reasons I feel great about this team's chances for 2014. Of course, the talent matters, and luck plays a role every year. But it would be a mistake to discount the effects of twenty-five players who truly enjoy showing up to work every day, working toward the same goal.
The Red Sox labored for decades with rosters full of talented me-first athletes; the "25 Players, 25 Cabs" mentality haunted them through the nineties. In the last decade, the Red Sox have won three World Series titles, and though the 2004, 2007, and 2013 squads all had their unique flavors, they also had key moments of (often bizarre) team solidarity.
In 2004, we had the Idiots and team shots of Jack Daniels, and a region-wide exorcism of a decades-long curse. In 2007, the squad reveled in the strange antics of Jonathan Papelbon, extending Dustin Pedroia's Rookie of the Year campaign to the World Series in Colorado. And last year, we had the beards. Some were scruffy, some were glorious, but all were a sign of unity.
Obviously it's impossible to know anything based on the first day of spring training, but his year's team has that feeling of community that always seems to end in good things.