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New England's own special groundhog day

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  February 5, 2013 09:53 AM

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There is a truck leaving Boston today, bound for Fort Myers, Fla. Please contain your excitement.

I have to say, Iím a little disappointed in the spectacle that has become Truck Day this year. Itís hardly mentioned on the Red Soxí official website. Larry Lucchino has been on radio silence since Terry Franconaís tome made its debut, and Wally the Green Monster hasnít been seen since he hit the slopes at Waterville Valley over the weekend. What gives?

Are the Red Sox, dare I say it, keeping a low profile?

Coming off a 69-win season, it stands to reason why they would not exactly celebrate Truck Day with the fervent energy with which they have done so in the past. The brand is at an all-time low, and fans are tired of being force-fed schlock and other Chuck Steinberg-induced nonsense. Can you remember more apathy here heading into spring training since, maybe 1997?

Still, it is indeed Truck Day, and as much as we mock it, it is New Englandís own special Groundhog Day, a sign that spring is around the corner, even as we conveniently forget how freezing cold those mid-April games will be at Fenway Park. What better harbinger of warm weather ahead is there than a rig filled with bats, balls, gloves, and sunflower seeds?

Once just a mere photograph of a truck on A1 of the Globe, Truck Day has grown into a marketing phenomenon, a manufactured celebration of things ahead. Much like everything the Red Sox do, itís over the top and mocked roundly by everyone who doesnít own an alternative hat.

Pitchers and catchers report in five days. That is the beginning of spring training. The truck is nothing but media-driven nonsense, a faux holiday created by hype-driven coverage of the Olde Towne Team. Go behind your local Shawís or Stop and Shop, and watch the tractor trailers depart after dropping off Pillsbury products. Same deal.

Still ...

Weíre to blame for making a mockery out of an equipment truck leaving Boston for Florida, but if we just remove the dubious nature of what the day has become, it is, at its core, an innocent beacon indigenous to baseball in Boston. The truck reminds us that our passion isnít far behind. It signals sunny evenings ahead with the grill heating up as the game plays in the background. It reminds us that thereís a beach day on the horizon when youíll sit in the sun with your earbuds plugged in, listening to a Red Sox-Yankees game. The truck urges us to finally purchase those tickets so that you can bring your son to his first Red Sox game.

Maybe. Itís really just a truck.

But if Red Sox fans take some solace in the fact that it is a sign of things to come, well then what is the harm in Truck Day? It may be stupid, contrived, and embraced to an inane degree by the franchise, but it is a signal of optimism and life anew.

And it also means the initial days of a Red Sox camp without Bobby Valentine are just days away. For that alone, we should love Truck Day.

So, embrace it. Make fun of it and deride it all you want. Thatís part of the tradition. Truck Day is an inane institution that makes outsiders question our sanity, and with good reason.

Itís a bleeping truck, people. But if you find some comfort of the oncoming spring in rejoicing its departure, knock yourself out.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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