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Waiting for the season to arrive

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  February 8, 2011 03:12 PM

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Elaboration probably isn't required around here when I acknowledge that I can't help but peddle in sepia-toned baseball nostalgia. I love the sport, cherish the memories it jogs and the bonds and friendships built over countless innings and beverages.

I miss it dearly in those long months when it's gone, from the last pitch of the World Series to the first lob of the spring. Baseball has been part of my life since I was 8, when I learned about it -- irresistibly, delightfully immersed in it -- because of my dad, with an assist from passionate wordsmiths named Gammons and Fitzgerald and Ryan and Montville. Lately, I find myself hoping more than ever that my young kids fall for baseball too. Maybe this will be the year.

Like I said: Sepia. Toned. I suspect even Bart "It Begins In The Spring" Giamatti, rest his sentimental soul, might tell me to tone down the sappy, purple prose just a tad.

But truck day? I mean, I don't know . . . it's a truck. Yep, this one filled with cool stuff like bats and gloves and Josh Beckett's extensive library of "Guns and Ammo" magazines, but still . . . it's a truck. I'd love the whole scene as a kid, and being the soulless hypocrite that I am, I'll chirp about it on video for fun and profit and because I was set up by my boss. But as an adult in age if not conduct, I'm sort of prone to hating 18-wheelers, given that I usually only see them when they're blowing past me on the right and burying my runty Toyota in a sea of slush during our weekly snowstorm.

A truck. That's what it is.

Plus, this whole thing as currently constituted -- right down to Larry Lucchino signing autographs -- is left over from the Dr. Charles Steinberg Hip-Hype-Hooray manual. It's a wonder Terry Cashman wasn't there with his trusty six-string warbling his latest masterpiece thoughtfully written in the cab ride over from Logan, "This One Is For Mr. Truck Day Truck Driver."

Bitter Old Sportswriter snark aside, though, I get it. I do. It's not really about the truck. It's about its destination. Not Ft. Myers, per se, but the figurative destination -- the beginning of baseball season, the arrival of spring, and perhaps most relevantly, the end of this roof-collapsing, soul-crushing winter. And in the end, any reason to talk or think about baseball is a good one.

Heaven knows we're desperate for that, and not just in our market. If the story of the day isn't Michael Young's bitter apparent breakup with the Rangers, it is this masterpiece that nails down the precise game Ferris Bueller, Cameron and the wonderful Sloane attended at Wrigley Field during their day off.

I guess we could talk about the Red Sox' Alfredo Aceves signing, but that's a topic with a brief span of interest. The broader view will do for today. I spent a recent day or so pecking out a "20 Questions About The Red Sox'' gallery, even though this team will commence spring training with maybe four or five genuine questions worthy of real debate:


  • Can Jarrod Saltalamacchia handle the catching duties physically and mentally?

    (We're skeptical more about the latter more than the former, but the gamble makes some sense since he is just 25 and had considerable promise relatively recently . . . )

  • Will Beckett bounce back, or is this what he is?
  • (We're putting his ERA at 4.29 for no other reason than that's his career number as a Red Sox. And that's not that bad.)

  • Are Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis fully recovered from their serious injuries?

    (Well, of course. I refuse to consider any other possibilities.)

  • Jonathan Papelbon: Bum or not a bum?
  • (Not a bum -- the Red Sox seem skeptical that he will bounce back given their offseason pursuit of Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano, but for now, I'm going to look at is as a great closer who happened to have a lousy year. Have you people forgotten what a lousy closer looks like? Of course, I'm also refusing to look at his baseball-reference.com page and ignoring his trends in walk rate and K-rate.)

Oh, and there's this: Will Jon Lester win 23 games or 24?

(Trick question, of course. The correct answer is 25, possibly 30.)

Hey, if now's not the time for exaggerated predictions and unbridled optimism, when is the time?

At least it's baseball talk. Soon, there will be no need for trucks and all the related metaphors. Those bats and gloves will be unloaded, and -- ah, what the heck, take it away, Bart:

The game begins in the spring/when everything else begins again . . .

I do love that essay. I'm a sap for sap. And you know, if the Red Sox are as savvy as I believe, they'll probably have someone reading the thing to the rest of you baseball lovers and sentimentalists at Truck Day 2012. It just better not be Terry Cashman.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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