The mood ought to be one of celebration and not just hope for the next season.
The annual Portland Sea Dogs Hot Stove Dinner will take place Friday night at the Sable Oaks Marriott in South Portland.
A record sellout crowd of 450 is expected to attend.
The talk will be of the Sea Dogs and their parent club, the Boston Red Sox.
In recent years, the conversation concerned how the Red Sox would come back from the previous season, whether it be the collapse of 2011 or the disaster of 2012.
Now the Red Sox are World Series champions.
“It’s been a much different offseason,” Sea Dogs General Manager Geoff Iacuessa said. “People sure are excited about this year.”
And Iacuessa made sure the Sea Dogs-Red Sox connection was emphasized at the dinner, with the invitation of the marquee guests, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and pitcher Brandon Workman.
Bradley played for the Sea Dogs in 2012 and began the 2013 season starting in the outfield for the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium.
He spent last season in both the majors and minors, but is expected to be the Red Sox starting center fielder this season with the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury.
Workman had a dizzy 2013, beginning the year with the Portland Sea Dogs and ending it as one of Boston’s key relievers in the postseason.
Iacuessa always tries to find a guest with a Maine connection and he didn’t have to look hard this year, inviting Maine native (and Standish resident) Brian Butterfield, Boston’s well-regarded third-base coach.
For a bonus to the guest list, newly named Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon, a former Sea Dogs player himself, will attend.
“It’s a great way to introduce our new manager,” Iacuessa said.
Iacuessa’s challenge every year is to find ways to make room for more people. The crowd has grown from about 300 in 2012 to 410 last year, to this year’s record of 450.
“The feedback we get every year is so positive and the people that come, generally come back every year,” Iacuessa said.
To make room for more people, the annual silent auction has been moved to another room in the hotel.
The dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. Afterward, Sea Dogs radio announcer Mike Antonellis will serve as the master of ceremonies.
The Sea Dogs will begin their 21st season April 3 in Reading, Pa. They play their home opener at Hadlock Field on April 10, at 6 p.m., against New Britain.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: