I’m facing a big dilemma with the Red Sox this year. I’ll be back in Boston at the end of May, right in time for their home stand against the Rays and the Tigers. And the tough decision I have to make is whether to buy a ticket to see them or not. As soon as I write those words, I want to chop off my fingers because this is absolute blasphemy. How could I possibly be in Boston for nine days and NOT go to Fenway at least once? If this was any other year, I’d be getting tickets for two or three games, with the distinct possibility that I’d get kicked out of at least one of them.
And I’ve got a pretty nice streak going where I’ve been to Fenway at least once a year since 1998. Why would I want to screw that up? Well, I don’t. And I probably won’t end the streak, but for the first time in many years I’m not saying to myself, “I’m going to Fenway this year no matter what it costs.”
I’m the same guy that went to 25 games a year in college, spending all of my money (at least the portion that wasn’t going to alcohol and Slim Jims) on tickets. The day I moved into the BU dorm freshman year, I shooed my parents off before my mom could even get her third tear out because I needed to go scalp a ticket to Pedro vs the Yankees that afternoon. I’ve slept on a sidewalk outside Fenway for a chance to get tickets to a Sox/Yankees game. I’d categorize myself as a devoted fan.
The problem is that the Red Sox are off to a “blazing” 1-5 start, and they have another 39 games to play before I’m in Boston. Do I want to buy tickets now to see a team that might be 5-40 by that time? Can anyone promise me that injuries won’t ravage the starting rotation and I won’t be forced to watch Kyle Weiland implode in a four-inning spot start? (Oh, Weiland isn’t on the Sox anymore? Bummer, really gonna miss that “I just shat myself” look he has whenever he pitches to major league hitters)
At this point in my life, no magical comeback in sports could surprise me, not in a single game and not over the course of the season. So even if the Sox started 1-20 in a typical season, I wouldn’t panic or count them out. But this isn’t a typical season because of last year. Even though it’s only 1-5, it is not out of line for Sox fans to be panicking a little. If any team needed to get off to a fast start in 2012, it was these guys.
It’s not that I question the team’s talent or personnel. And it’s not that injuries are already a problem (which they are). It’s that I can’t trust this team because all the key players were involved in last year’s mess. And anyone not involved in the 2011 meltdown is new to the team, and it’ll take a while to see if we can trust them. Two guys who we always knew were giving 100% effort are gone in Varitek and Wakefield. We have no clue on a yearly basis what Beckett, the shortstop position or the entire outfield (healthy and unhealthy guys) will bring to the table. The entire team keeps calling the bullpen a “work in progress,” and they’re trotting guys out of the pen nightly who I’ve never heard of….Justin Thomas? And we are all extremely uneasy with the manager situation. I also don’t know anything about the General Manager, and I no longer feel like I know the owners. It’s like the entire team/fan relationship is starting from scratch.
This is our first impression of the newly non-reliable Red Sox. And as soon as we shook their hand, they shoved us to the ground and ripped a nasty fart all over us. It’s not irreparable, but it stinks.
Am I going to shell out the $30 for a crappy bleacher seat and another $60 for eight beers during the game? Of course I am. I might even talk myself into seeing two games. But if the Bruins or Celtics have a playoff game on that same day, I might gladly hand over my Red Sox tickets and watch the two teams that I know and trust.