Oh, boy. Itís truck day.
New Englandís answer to Pennsylvaniaís Punxsutawney rodent comes this afternoon when the Red Sox equipment truck leaves Yawkey Way, bound for the teamís spring training site in Fort Myers, Fla. Its departure is an annual sign of spring, an added measure of hope for many still digging out from what now seems to be the annual blizzard.
Mark Newman of MLB.com revisits what Dr. Charles Steinberg had to say on Truck Day, 2005:
"In any baseball city, the truck's departure for Spring Training connects with a lot of fans. In Boston and in New England, that is magnified so many times over. Instead of just making it our little private fireplace of warmth, you want to connect with the fans, resonate with the fans, share it with the fans, give them a chance to celebrate spring as well.
"When you see the images of snow at one end and sunshine at the other ... this trip is a metaphor. Winter is going to end. Spring is going to come. And baseball is the robin. Baseball heralds spring. You want to celebrate that."
Sure. Itís also a day when a truck leaves.
Truck Day has gone from a simple caption cut photo on A1 to a media event. Somehow. The Red Soxí Saturday afternoon press release forewarns any media members who want to cover the event to arrive at Gate D around a half-hour early. In related news, Logan Airport has just issued a press release that says if anyone wishes to see off any Federal Express flights carrying parcels bound for Arizona, they may show up at various intervals throughout the day.
Of course itís dumb. Itís also wildly entertaining to witness the fervor a bunch of bats and balls can create. This afternoon, between 1:30 and 2 p.m., fans will line the street to see off the truck on its journey. TV reporters will be on hand, Wally will likely be tossing souvenirs. Truck Day, much like everything else that comes out of the offices at a new and improved Fenway Park, is now an event.
Except none of this six-week nonsense like the groundhog makes you wait. Spring training kicks off in a matter of days. The truck is off, and so is the unofficial start of the 2006 baseball calendar.