A little more than six hours from now, Daniel Nava will step into the batter's box against the Baltimore Orioles, the first member of the Red Sox to see action this season. But he will do so as a member of the World Series Champion Red Sox—and there are few sweeter phrases in the English language for a fan of the team that calls Fenway Park home.
In all the ways that count, Opening Day is truly the start of spring: the training is done, and the games are no longer merely exhibitions. (Yes, there were those games over in Australia, but seriously, is that really baseball? That's more of a cruel tease. And what about those night games? It's Opening Day, not Opening Night. Of course, none of that even matters in any case, because of the most crucial factor of all: the Red Sox weren't playing!) Instead, every game will matter, no one at-bat meaningless, no infield fly insignificant.
But even with the arrival of a new season, there are some things that we, as baseball fans—and especially as Red Sox fans—know to be true:
- Our manager will present us with a few lineups that will at the very least befuddle and bewilder us.
- There will be victories that are pulled out of the Sox's proverbial posteriors, and games where they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
- More than once, the Red Sox will have bases loaded, nobody out, and end up with zero runs to show for it, as we all beat our heads into the wall in frustration.
- The AL East will be stubbornly close, the nearest to an arms race as you can get in Major League Baseball.
- Wacky hijinks will ensue when the Sox wander westward, while we wearily watch.
- We will have laser shows from the Elf, and bombs from the Large Father.
- Astros gonna Astro, and Mariners gonna Mariner.
- Koji's gonna Koji.
And then there are all the other little things we can hope for: more Navacarp bouncing, more rookie debuts (with bonus points for a Christian Vazques sighting), and possibly another nice long run through the playoffs (eleven wins, if possible, or twelve wins' worth, if necessary).
Of course, title defenses are hard work—note that no team in the twenty-first century has managed to repeat as World Series champions. Not that it can't be done; it's by no means impossible. However, there are too many if's and but's that have to break the right way; sometimes it's just as much a matter of luck as skill and talent, especially when it comes to health and having everything clicking come October.
But the beauty of the hunt is what makes baseball so wonderful: every day is another step in the road to October, another chance to take a step forward, or possibly get pushed back a step. Even the off-days offer the spectacle of watching foes falter. And while we can certainly hope the Red Sox pull a FC Bayern München and clinch the division in August, we'll more likely have to wait for those last weeks in September before we can finally exhale.
In the meanwhile, though, we'll have a season full of Don and Jerry, and Joe and Dave, and your resident
asylum inmates friendly staff here at OTM. So here's looking forward to one hundred and sixty-two games with no injuries, plenty of fun, and baseball! And, of course, it wouldn't be OTM without one last rallying cry: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi! This is why it's a bad idea to have Opening Day in a country where your league is actually based. (Exceptions can be made for Toronto.) Crush your enemies, drive them before you, and hear the lamentations of their women! No, that's not right, either.
Oh, yeah, got it now: