Thursday, April 02, 2020

Play ball...

I wasn't as looking as forward to baseball season as I normally would have been.

I love baseball, but the Olde Towne Team has been on my shitlist.

Last season, they were god-awful. I went to a handful of lackluster games that gave fans precious little to cheer about. Sure, I had been expecting a droop after their big, winner-take-all season in 2018, but 2019 was droopier than droop. It may not have been as bad as 2011 season, when they collapsed in September, blowing what seemed like an almost insurmountable lead in their division and failing to make the playoffs. That was the year of the fried chicken and beer scandal, when it turned out that during their month of epic collapse, players who weren't on the field were gorging on Popeye's chicken and beer while playing video games in the clubhouse. Yay team!
Although last season was pretty much a suck fest, I still bought tickets for a few 2020 games, including what is always my favorite game of the year, the Patriots Day morning game (11:05a.m. start time) played on Boston Marathon Day - with the exception of 2013, the best day of the year in this city.

And today, I would have been sitting there at 2:05 p.m., parked in front of my TV, watching the home opener vs. the White Sox.

Yes, I would have been watching, even though I'm mad the Red Sox let Mookie Betts go. Even though I'm mad they paid Chris Sale a fortune to not play. (He had Tommy John surgery the other day, so will miss whatever ends up remaining of this season.) Even though I'm mad about whatever they were doing with stolen signals - but I'm mad only if it turns out to be true. In that case, I will remain mad at former manager Alex Cora, the supposed ringleader of the cheating scandal, whom I like well enough, even though I think he helped blow the 2019 season big time.

I like baseball. I like the game. I understand and appreciate the game pretty well for someone who never played it. (But who grew up with a baseball player father - high school, semi-pro, Navy League during the War - and a ballplayer brother  - high level high school and Babe Ruth League - who both loved baseball, were extremely knowledgeable about the game, and were excellent athletes.) I actually like the slow pace, the boringness of baseball. I can appreciate a pitchers' duel, but I really love a slugfest, especially a one-sided one. (Our side, of course.)

I like the history of baseball, the lore. I like that, as a kid, I listened to the games on the radio with my father back in the day when most weekday games weren't televised. I like my memories of our annual pilgrimage to Fenway Park to sit in the bleachers to see the Sox play. I like that I got to see Ted Williams hit a home run in my first game, which was during Ted's final season. I like that I got to see Mantle and Maris hit back to back dingers during the year they battled it out for the home run crown, which Maris won with 61 HR's.

I've seen some truly awful games at Fenway, and some gems, but I have never not enjoyed being at Fenway Park. Aside - maybe -  from the game in which they blew a 10-run lead in the 9th, and that Yankees game that we left during a rain delay (a cold, windy, early May rain delay).

I've watched some truly awful games on TV, some games that were great and broke my heart, and some pure gems. Although I'm such a chicken, I refused to watch much of any of the comeback games against the Yankees in 2004 when, down in the ALCS 3-0, the Red Sox came battling back to become the AL champs and go on to win their first World Series in 86 years. I did see the tale-endings of those games against the Yankees, as my husband would come and drag me out of bed (where I was hiding under the covers) when it looked like something exciting might happen. Which in three battle-back games, it did. And I fully watched the seventh game in that series, knowing that, at that point, there was no way that the Red Sox were going to lose to those damn Yankees. No way, no how.

But today's game, and the foreseeable season, are called on account of coronavirus, so today at 2:05 p.m. I won't be sitting in front of my TV. As it turns out, heavy rain is predicted for this afternoon, so the game would probably have been called anyway. Still...

I'll be missing baseball.

During the season, I watch at least part of pretty much every game. I take in a few in person. I read the baseball news. I even watch post-season games when the Red Sox aren't in the play-offs. When baseball ends in late October (and sometimes even in early November), I miss it. I always look forward to the season starting up again, to the home opener.

When the world is in such a terrible place at the moment, it seems sort of wimpish to fret about baseball. But I'll be missing it, and, in honor of the season that isn't (and may never be), I'll be sheltering in place wearing a Red Sox fleece. And looking foward to hearing that eternal cry, the sound of summer, the sound of spring: "Play ball!"

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