The stock market is down over 500 points, violence is increasing in Afghanistan, North Korea seems poised to launch a rocket that could figure in its nuclear program, hate crimes in Florida and Oklahoma dominate headlines, spring gardens are threatened by unprecedented drought, opening day at Fenway is a downer! And that’s a problem.
In recent years, the opening of the baseball season has stood in stark contrast to all the terrible things happening in the economy and global geo-politics. The Red Sox prospects were always a sign of renewal. Last year they were even hailed, and not just by local press, as the best baseball team ever. Then they gave us our greatest autumn collapse ever, and this season’s opening is hinting at more of the same. This is very painful for a lifelong fan.
Globe columnist Brian McGrory says he can’t even give away his opening day tickets, while in the past anyone who has had tickets has been lucky to go, no matter how cold it is. But for Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury, there has been little to cheer. Certainly not the closers, who can’t hold onto a lead and indeed gave away wins not once but twice in the third game against Detroit. In Tuesday’s game against Toronto, manager Bobby Valentine admits to making a “dumb” decision in not bringing in Matt Albers to replace rookie Justin Thomas. The details of a decision like that are beyond my pay grade. But it does seem that management was not willing to invest in top talent during the offseason, reflecting a preference for the walking wounded headed for- or already on - the disabled list. Owner John Henry’s heart seems to have moved to his new soccer team acquisition in Liverpool.
I don’t have any choice about being a Red Sox fan. I learned at the knee of my grandmother (she had two loves, the Red Sox and the Metropolitan Opera) and, as a child, spent Saturday afternoons with her watching Ted Williams, Jackie Jensen, Jimmy Piersall. My passion was reinforced watching with my ailing father who, though increasingly frail and legally blind, was glued to the television set, cheering on Yaz. Fenway Park was a trolley car ride away from my childhood home in Brighton, and I was allowed to go there with a friend.
My husband, who loves baseball, derides my home team loyalty as rooting for laundry in an era of corporate sports, cheering for Hessians, mere hired guns who have little commitment to the community. But I can’t help myself.
So I’m reminding myself that it’s too early to feel this despondent, that being in first place at the All Star break in July is often a promise of a downward slide in late season, and that the new manager will figure out how to maximize the talent his players have. On opening day, I won’t be there, but I will watch. And I will hope that very soon the home team will provide an emotional escape from the easily more significant bad news in the world around us.
I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts in the comments section below.