Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Rogers Hornsby said it better than anyone way back when. The offseason's the worst.
One of the stranger things you find as you fumble your way into adulthood is that you've picked up odd phrasings and references along the way. We all, of course, speak and write in a manner just lousy with catchphrases and pop culture references at this point, but sometimes the ones that stick aren't particularly notable, they're just perfectly suited to however you happen to look at things. One tiny quote's been stuck in my head all day, and I finally figured out why.
Years and years ago, there was an episode of Frasier that focused on a wine club. I'm not going to actually find out how many years, lest I make myself feel even more decrepit. (I was watching "Marge vs. the Monorail" last night, laughing mightily about how well that episode predicted the sad tale of the Miami Marlins and their owner,
grifter Lyle Lanley art dealer Jeffrey Loria. That episode's twenty years old. Augh. Anyway.) As Frasier eps tended, the entire thing focused on the hyper-competitiveness of the title character and his brother, in this case over the presidency of the wine club. Assorted farcical silliness ensued, arcane parliamentary tricks were brought to bear on the election, and quietly, in the background, the eldest member of the wine club muttered into his glass, "I remember when we used to come here to drink."
"I remember when we used to come here to drink" is about where I am with the baseball offseason right now. The Red Sox roster is basically constructed, it's been less than 20 degrees all week here in Boston, and dammit, I just want there to be baseball again. A few months back, we had baseball. And yes, it was terrible, and it meant watching our team get their heads kicked in on a nightly basis, but it was baseball. We could talk about real, active, as-it-happened baseball. As it is, we're trapped in the last few weeks of the offseason, with no real moves to predict or hope for anymore, but no games to watch, either. There's not even a full equipment truck to wave at yet.
This is why the local shouters have spent so much effort deconstructing Terry Francona's "revelatory" new book lately. (Full disclosure: haven't read it, working off the thusfar published excerpts. If I'm feeling particularly masochistic this month, I may seek out the whole thing.) Did you guys know that the business-oriented portion of the Sox front office occasionally made decisions for business reasons? Or that sports franchises who earn revenue by placing asses in seats (whether stadium seats or couches in front of lucrative cable TV) hire people to recommend ways to put more asses in more seats? I myself damn near fell over at that news. Next thing you know, they'll have an "official beer" or an "official bank."
Here's what desperation for baseball looks like from the amateur end. On Saturday morning, I woke up at 8 am to head over to Fenway for their FanFest, to take a crack at the auditions they were holding for the still-available public-address job. Longshot? Sure. But for one thing, it was a chance at a dream gig, and for another, it was a chance to be at Fenway Park for the first time since September. It was 15 degrees, and there wasn't a game, but the field was right there, and this time of year almost anything will do. As it turned out, I wasn't able to stay long enough to audition, the demands of a real-world job once again crept up and stabbed ambition through the neck. Another reminder that baseball is wonderful, and everything that comes between us and baseball is terrible. Work, winter, unscrupulous owners, ginned-up controversy, chemically-enhanced cheaters and their now-avenging media enablers... Terrible.
This is the time of year when it's hardest to remember that we used to come here for baseball. But it's also the best time to really start talking it up again. Instead of worrying like crazy about Mike Napoli's hip, let's take a moment to imagine how many balls he's going to deposit on the other side of Lansdowne. Let's dream on the ridiculous K-rates we're likely to see out of the bullpen this year, and maybe even hope that they'll have a lead to protect once in a while. We should set an over/under right now on how many uniforms Dustin Pedroia soils beyond repair this season (I'm figuring 15 works, but am open to suggestion). Hell, let's even have a day where we all go completely nuts, imagine a best-case scenario for this ballclub, and see what it looks like.
Baseball's about to be back, all. And it certainly won't be free of media absurdity or heavy doses of metacriticism (I know my stuff certainly won't be), but it'll still be actual baseball. Baseball season doesn't get rid of the aggravations that come between us and the game. But it makes those aggravations a whole lot easier to ignore. It can't possibly be here soon enough.
(A quick personal note: did the math, and today's my one-year blogoversary around here. Thanks for reading, folks.)