Martha Ackmann, die-hard Red Sox fan and senior lecturer in gender studies, recently shared her views on the upcoming baseball season with Questioning Authority. Ackmann is working on her latest book, Curveball, about the life of Toni Stone, the first woman to play professional baseball on men’s teams, in the Negro Leagues of the 1950s. Ackmann’s days as a baseball fan go way back. “The only day I ever skipped school was to go to a 1967 World Series game--Sox vs. my hometown Saint Louis Cardinals,” she said. “Cards won.”
QA: What do you think about the Red Sox opening the season in Tokyo?
MA: I'm "old school" when it comes to baseball. I'd like to see the Sox open at Fenway with the faithful huddled around overpriced coffee in the bleachers. The Tokyo Dome opening is about money, merchandising, and making Asian connections. After two 17-hour flights, we may have a weary bunch of ballplayers for the games in Oakland.
QA: Should the Sox have made a big trade this summer?
MA: I'm glad they didn’t lose Mike Lowell. Let the Mets spend money on Santana. If we had found a good shortstop, I would have been pleased.
QA: Should the Sox be worrying about the Evil Empire, or is there a dark horse out there?
MA: Cleveland and Detroit will be the ones to watch this year, although it will always be cathartic to boo the Yankees. A season wouldn't be half as much fun without the Evil Empire breathing down our necks.
QA: Who do you think is going to be the star of this year's team?
MA: Jacoby Ellsbury looks like he'll have a good year. Of course, Manny (in a rare interview) declared 2008 would be great. "Not if," he said. "I'm going to have it. No doubt. Hey, I'm Manny Ramirez." He's been spending the off-season reading The Secret and meditating. Maybe that will be the key to Manny topping 500 home runs.
QA: Do you have a favorite player?
MA: Jason Varitek is my favorite. Hardworking, quiet, a grown-up, "leads by example," as Pat Summitt would say.
QA: Will the Sox repeat?
MA: That's a difficult feat to pull off. If the Sox stay healthy, especially the pitching staff, we might have a chance. No team has done that in almost a decade. Now, who was that....? Oh, right, the Evil Empire.