Friday, January 24, 2014

Game on!

This is the time of year when baseball fans get antsy.

Oh, sure, there’s Super Bowl (yawn). And basketball. And hockey. And the Olympics coming up, which will give all us sports fans the opportunity to become instant experts in events we’ve never even heard of before.

But, really and truly, there is no sport like baseball to get this girl’s heart start going pitter-pat.

So bring on pitchers and catchers. Get thee to spring training. Let the (baseball) games begin.

Us Red Sox fans are coming off one of the best seasons ev-ah – all the better because it kinda-sorta snuck up on us.

Oh, there will be no season to top 2004, when The Olde Towne Team won their first World Series in 86 years – 86 long years that seemed to have been experienced by us die-hard fans whether we were around for all of them or not. (It reminds me of a company that I worked for for many years. When I joined, which was shortly after the first of the year, employees were disgruntled because they had been given an IOU for the prior year’s bonus. People did so much pissing and moaning about the promised bonus that, after a couple of months, I started to feel that I was entitled to it, too. It almost goes without saying that the bonus never materialized. Even though I wouldn’t have been eligible for it, I still felt that I was missing out, and had been – along with my colleagues – screwed.)

Anyway, for Red Sox fans, the 2004 experience will nev-ah, ev-ah be repeated. (When the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the ALCS, my sister Trish called me, and the two of us just burst into tears and had a good phone cry. The World Series at that point was but a foregone conclusion. The Cardinals did not stand a chance. They might as well have conceded. Come to think of it, they almost did.)

The downside of the upside, of course, was that Red Sox-fans-come-lately started coming out of the woodwork. Suddenly, the Red Sox were the “in thing,” and Fenway Park the place to be seen.

All of a sudden, the real fans were being priced out by pink-hat wearing fans nouveau who weren’t aware of the role that Bucky F-in’ Dent had played in and with our psyches.  Who didn’t know where they were when Pudge Fisk waved that homer fair. (Or even who Pudge Fisk is.) Who didn’t now the difference between an infield fly and a balk.

All of a sudden, the immense pleasure of deciding on game day that it was a good day to take yourself out to the ballgame, and could just stroll out to Fenway and get a ticket.

This situation prevailed for several years after the magical season that was 2004.

Getting tickets was going to cost you time and/or treasure.

Six years ago, I ranted about trying to get tickets, and losing years off my life in the Red Sox Virtual Waiting Rom. (And even got a response from the team.)

But that’s what you get for fielding a dream team. (The Sox won the WS again in 2007.)

Then the team began to trip, stumble and fall.

In 2011, what was billed as the Greatest Baseball Team of All Time – take that, 1927 Yankees – ended the season in the most epic of epic fails.

This was followed by the 2012 season, which was a colossal joke. The team was supremely unlikable, the manager an ineffectual loudmouth.

The upside of the downside was that tickets were easier to come by.

And then the surprisingly likable – did I ever think I would actually be rooting for John Lackey? - surprisingly excellent 2013 edition of the Red Sox won the World Series.

We laughed, we wept, we cheered, we fell in love. (With everything but those yucky beards.)

I even went to the parade, and the flatbed that David Ortiz was riding on stopped directly opposite of where I was standing. Papi led the crowd in a chorus of Sweet Caroline. The fall of 2013 was not exactly the best time I’ve ever had in my life, but what joy I took I took from the Red Sox.

Then the fear factor set in.

Would the pink hats return? Would tickets yet again become difficult to get? Would the Virtual Waiting Room revert to the Virtual Inner Circle of Hell?

Yesterday, my sister Trish – Red Sox fan girl and my usual game-going companion – called to asked if I’d gotten the promo for the advance ticket sales.

I had not – probably because I have a new e-mail since last season’s online purchases – but Trish was, of course, more than willing to share the secret code – JANUARY – for ordering tickets before they became more generally available this weekend.

Trish scored first.

We’re going to see the Red Sox play the Cubbies in July!

I nabbed Tampa Bay in late May, the Angels for mid-August.

Trish scored Blue Jays in September.

Sated, we were able to relax.

We’re covered for the season.

Game on!

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