The Red Sox are sucking me in. And I just can’t stop the madness.
When the Sox started 0-76 last season (I know, but it sure seemed like 0-76) it was a blessing in disguise. They were an awful team. And worse – or better, depending on how you look at it – they were boring with boring and unlikeable players. It was easy to give up watching intently early on in the summer.
Oh, I know what you are thinking. But I am not a fair-weather fan. I’ve been rooting for the Red Sox since I was old enough to change the radio station. I’ve lived through Dick Stuart playing first base, Luis Aparicio falling down rounding third, Bucky Bleeping Dent’s weak little homer, and of course Bill Buckner playing the role of one of the harbor tunnels. I’ve seen bad, and endured. I’ve believed.
Naturally 2004 and 2007 healed a lot of wounds and earned what I thought was a lifetime of goodwill. I told myself, no matter how awful things get they can never go back to being as bad as I remember. The Red Sox of my youth (meaning prior to 1967) were a thing of the past.
Then came the “chicken and beer” Red Sox of two summers ago, blowing a sure playoff spot, acting like they just didn’t care and getting the best manager in franchise history fired. That was followed by last year’s squad that quit early in the season on a bad leader. They traded away a lot of talent to free up a lot of salary, and struggled while putting an inferior product on the field and still charging outrageous prices to watch it.
They were not exciting. They were not fun. They did not inspire loyalty. They made watching “Dancing With The Stars” seem like a fulfilling evening and a viable alternative. I actually left the house on Sunday afternoons in July and August. Life was turned upside down.
But I adjusted. I found new interests. Sure, I still watched some games. It was like driving by a horrible traffic accident. I didn’t want to look, but I just had to see how bad it truly was. The images I saw haunted me for a long time.
So when Spring Training rolled around this winter, I scoffed at the excitement. I did not watch the equipment truck leave Fenway. I refused to view so much as an inning of any exhibition games. I paid no attention to the Jackie Bradley controversy. Heck, I didn’t even realize Stephen Drew was on the team.
When they opened the season in New York against “that team”, I barely listened on the radio. The victory made me happy, but I knew “that team” was pretty bad this year. I refused to get even slightly excited.
But they won the next day, then took two of three from a strong Toronto team. I felt the irresistible tug on my emotions. I started to pay a little attention. I noticed Shane Victorino was crushing the ball. Will Middlebrooks hit three homeruns in one game, John Lester and Clay Buchholz each won their first two starts, and there was a crazy relief pitcher jumping up and down in the dugout after ending an inning.
No, I thought. This can’t be happening. I can’t let them do this to me so easily.
Then at the home opener, Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer late to beat the Orioles and keep the Sox in first place. They were suddenly leading the American League in runs scored. And Big Papi is still trying to remember how to run down in Florida.
Suddenly I was checking the schedule again. I was looking at the availability of tickets. I checked the TV listings to see when the game started. And all this after just seven or so contests.
I don’t know if this will last, but I am helpless to stop it. I have once again surrendered to the promise of spring and summer.
My name is Bill, and I’m a Red Sox fan. There’s nothing else to say.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.