Boston Red Sox outfielders J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. connected with fans on a Zoom video chat.
Last week, Boston Red Sox season ticket holders were privileged to attend a Zoom meeting with J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and hilariously awesome first base coach Tom Goodwin.
The meeting was hosted by NESN personality Jahmai Webster. Fans were asked to submit questions before the Zoom, and questions ranged from baseball related, to quarantine related, to favorite foods related. It was a nice mixture of getting to know what the players go through professionally, as well as personally.
Lots of chatter between friends. But early in the meeting, Martinez got a surprise call from a fellow player. Let’s just say this particular gentleman did NOT know that the Zoom included hundreds of season ticket holders. More on that later. It was so crazy that I have to save it for last.
As the meeting started, Benny looked like he was in a laundry closet while Goody, J.D. and JBJ were all lounging outside. Martinez was straight up mackin’ on his outdoor couch and as the kids would say, he was looking like a “snack”.
It was really interesting to get some of the insights into the Sox’ different personalities. J.D. was the class clown, JBJ the intelligent, insightful one, and Benny was really quite reserved. Goodwin is a master instigator, and was busting the chops of those on the Zoom call, and those who weren’t there, too. He notably made fun of JBJ’s new afro he had acquired during the quarantine. He also called J.D. a DH, and Martinez came back with “I’m an outfielder,” and Goodwin retorted his nickname should be “Silk” because he’s so smooth out there in the vast right field of Fenway Park (sarcasm of course).
One of the first questions asked if any of the players picked up any new hobbies during the quarantine. J.D. jumped in first and noted that he had joined Twitch, but explained although not a new hobby, he was going on a ton of fishing trips with former Sox first baseman and bearded psycho Mike Napoli, who lives just a few doors down from him in Florida. J.D. noted that being in the middle of the ocean was a pretty great place to be during the pandemic.
Bradley explained that he was just grateful to be around his family during the spring months, as he hasn’t been able to do that since his professional career began.
Benny claimed he hadn’t taken up any hobbies, but J.D. quickly got on his phone and showed fans Benny’s new Tik Tok account, posting a video of Andrew doing the Kid N’ Play dance with his sister (spoiler alert: It was bad).
Here are some other highlights, based on fans’ questions:
What advice would you give to younger players who have lost their seasons?
Martinez jumped in on this one and suggested playing broomsticks and bottle caps, a game that mimics hitting a baseball for better hand/eye coordination. He also advocated for just taking a rubber pinky ball and tossing it against the wall at different angles to work on fielding drills (ah, my childhood).
Finally, and probably the most obvious answer to this question, he urged players to play catch with their siblings or parents. Goodwin jumped in and said to stay mentally strong, take a long walk to clear their heads, and emphasized lifting weights for older players if they had access to them.
Who has the most bizarre in-game rituals on the team?
Goodwin was quick to jump in on this one and go after J.D. Martinez’s slow, deliberate at-bat performance where he breathes out, kisses his fingers, and points to the heavens. He also relayed a funny story that J.D. can never find his batting gloves:
“If we bat around in an inning, and J.D. got on base earlier and gets another opportunity to get to the plate, he’s always badgering me for his batting gloves. He’s like I need my gloves, where are they. I tell him every time that I gave them to the bat boy. But because we batted around, the bat boy has like seven pairs of gloves in his pocket and J.D.’s just stressing out ’cause he can’t find his gloves in time.”
Goodwin added that Xander Bogaerts has some pretty weird rituals, including his dirt kicks and bat taps at the plate. He also relayed some interesting information, that contrary to popular belief, Xander does not have a dip of tobacco in his lip when he’s batting. “Those are energy gummies,” explained Goody. “He pops like five of them in his mouth before he bats. It’s crazy.”
For JBJ: How did you learn to track down balls so well?
Bradley noted that this was really just a God given innate ability. He stressed it was something he was always good at, but emphasized that as he matured as an outfielder, tracking down balls wasn’t enough.
Noting that he was also blessed with a cannon for an arm, Bradley explained that he would work on tracking balls down while also working on arm strength and accuracy by just firing the ball as hard and precisely as he could. Incorporating these skills, he explained, is why he became one of the most elite outfielders in Sox history.
Somehow, the conversation shifted to favorite ice cream. JBJ’s is Strawberry Cheesecake from Ben and Jerry’s, FYI.
For Benintendi: What pitcher do you struggle the most against, and which Hall of Fame Player would you most like to have dinner with?
Both of these questions were easy for Benny. As for the pitcher he MOST struggles against, he named mediocre Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough. He’s not wrong. Benny has faced Yarbrough eleven times and has fanned in seven of them. With zero hits. Benny has been issued three free passes against the Rays’ lefty, but clearly despite Ryan’s 2019 numbers (4.13 ERA in 2019) Yarbrough has Benny’s number. Lefty on lefty crime.
For part two of the question, Benny didn’t hesitate when he said Ken Griffey, Jr. Being a Cincinnati kid, it makes sense that Benny would go with Griffey. His parents grew up watching Senior dominate during the Big Red Machine era, and Andrew got to see his hometown hero return to the motherland in 2000 after his amazing tenure with the Mariners. Benny has a swing as sweet as Griffey’s, but I’m afraid his tenure with the Red Sox has been more Cincinnati Griffey (.271 BA 195 HR) than Seattle Griffey (.300, 398 HR).
There was a lot of banter and inside jokes among the players during this Zoom. There were some funny isolated jokes. Goody mentioned that one of his favorite quarantine activities was racing sticks down a river (Martinez especially busted his chops about that one).
Martinez also noted that he indeed felt that while binge watching Tiger King on Netflix, Carole Baskin DID feed her ex-husband to the tigers.
But the most awkward part of the Zoom was when J.D. got a call early on from Eduardo Rodriguez. Martinez was ill-advised when he answered the call and put the phone up to the camera, notifying E-Rod that he was Zooming with Benny, JBJ, and Goody. What E-Rod didn’t know was that this was not a personal Zoom, and he thought his boys had excluded him. He (jokingly) called everyone “D-Bags” and I knew it was only a matter of time before he dropped an F-Bomb. Which he did.
My sons looked at me and I put my head in my hand, laughing because I knew it was coming. I thought to myself, “E-rod has no idea he’s on a Zoom with 600 plus people. There are kids and grandmothers on this call” And right on cue, J.D. said, “Eddie, we are on a Zoom with season ticket holders.” And that was the end of that call.
Of course, minutes later, Jahmai Webster announced…”OK…we have a question from Sister Theresa (French last name…don’t remember it). A nun was on the Zoom call and Eddie Aces is just dropping F-Bombs and calling his teammates D-Bags. You can’t make this stuff up.
I miss baseball, and although at times awkward, I was able to see some genuine banter between the players on the Sox for what they were. Real humans trying to navigate this madness just like the rest of us. Baseball wants to responsibly get back to playing on July 1. Let’s hope they find a way. These personalities are too rich to be apart from.