19 Hours to Takeoff
The last couple weeks have been very busy for me, all with the Olympics, school, sports, and life in general. I know this happens a lot, and I always end up apologizing for stopping every few weeks. Life is busy, and mine is very busy right now, but I have to face the facts that I don’t have a lot of time on my hands and that I should use whatever free time I do have to do the things that matter most to me, one of which is blogging.
MLBlogs is always one of my top priorities, but I sometimes just don’t get around to it. During baseball season, there is more to write about, so everyone posts more, but during the winter months things have been straight up dull. The few huge trades of the offseason came early on, and most of January up until now have drifted along at a sluggish pace, with nothing much going on. However, we have now nearly reached Spring Training, and then the season.
As the countdown clock on the MLB.com homepage alerted me this afternoon, we are roughly 19 hours away from the entrance of pitchers and catchers to all Spring Training camps (some are already there). On the eve of this glorious day, as I really have nothing negative to reflect on involving the offseason, I must say that things are good in the baseball world.
The Red Sox are looking like an above-average team at this time. All baseball fans know that the sport we love is at times extremely unpredictable, so there’s really no telling what will happen to the Sox this year. Who knows what I’ll be saying in the middle of August. Last year, we consistently “had the Yankees’ number” in the beginning of the year, but spring turned to summer, and then… well, you know what happened then. Last year, a certain team from Boston was also expected to have a fabulous pitching staff. This dream was soon forgotten, as Dice-K conveniently chose not to disclose the details of an injury suffered during the World Baseball Classic.
After the Matsuzaka’s collapse, the rest of our staff slowly declined. We had a good pitching staff, but not a great one. Additionally, these next couple years will be some of the last in which guys like Josh Beckett will be able to pitch at top form. I hate to admit it, but he’s aging, and no one lasts forever. In the end, surprisingly, it was relief pitching (even our closer, Mr. Papelbon, of all people), that really killed us, both literally (e.g. Game 3, ALDS) and figuratively.
If the pitching staff can stay strong throughout the season and hold on for that final push at the end into the playoffs, we will be helped enormously just by that effort. However, there is still a gaping hole that has been occupied by Manny, Ortiz, and Bay, respectively: the power hitter. We need an offensive spark, someone that can clean up the bases and drive in runs. There aren’t many types of offensive players that directly translate into wins like a power hitter does. Several guys could step into that role, but right now no one seems to be ready. I’m still hoping that we might acquire someone that fits this role, but it seems unlikely.
So, aside from the normal griping and doubts about the team, I am pretty happy right now. Because, in 19 hours, we will have takeoff. Away we go!
I was prompted to write this entry because of something overwhelming I noticed today. As I was walking through the halls, and going about my business, I couldn’t help but notice that just about every third kid was wearing some kind of sports jersey or shirt. Although this is not true of every day, it is undeniable that the jersey of your favorite player has become as integral to their sport as the jersey itself. With sports items becoming more and more popular, I thought it would be a cool idea for a blog entry to talk about why I love jerseys and why I think other people do.
Possibly the best part of jerseys is the team support and spirit they allow one to showcase to the world. Wearing the jersey of your team is a sign that you are a true fan, and that you really love your team. It is a matter of pride for many serious fans (and even players).
Wearing a jersey can also bring a sense of comradery and common loyalty to complete strangers. Imagine that you’re at a party with many people you don’t know, and you notice that some guy is wearing the same jersey as you. That’s a great conversation starter, and you may have found yourself a new friend, or at least someone to relate to. I’ve been high-fived by random people on the street on Red Sox gamedays in the Fenway area, just because I’m wearing a Sox jersey. I think one of the best aspects of wearing a jersey is this feeling of friendship and common support of one team that it brings. It is good to know that hundreds of other people are living and dying with the team just like you, and are wearing the same jersey as you.
Jerseys can also show humor and some are very funny. Some popular Red Sox favorites include:
The “BIG PAPI” shirt
Not exactly a jersey, but still an awesome shirt, it stands for Dice-K
One of my favorites, this is what Sox fans always cheer when Youkilis comes up to bat (little quote from “Moneyball” on this one too)
And whether it’s an official replica jersey or not, it doesn’t really matter, because the spirit and support is what counts. But why not discuss comfort, the essential factor in buying any clothing. Although some may not agree, I find jerseys to be some of the comfiest things to wear. There’s always the feeling of pride when wearing a jersey, but they are additionally comfortable to wear. Some of the comfiest items include:
Red Sox slippers
Or how about a Red Sox snuggy?
But now I’ve strayed a little from jerseys, so to get back on track and finish up this post, I thought I could share one of my favorite “jersey stories.”
As a little kid, I became a huge Red Sox fan sometime during the 2002-03 season. Throughout my first year of loyalty to the Sox, I longed for a jersey to show my support and make me what I considered an “official member of Red Sox Nation”. It didn’t matter what player it was, I just wanted that Red Sox jersey. Finally, on my birthday (during the offseason, unfortunately), I was counting on receiving the jersey as a present. Trying to not get too excited so that I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t get it, I came to the last present, without having found the jersey in one of those boxes yet. I opened it carefully, trying to hold back my excitement, and when I saw the flash of red and white, I burst into joy and jumped around cheering and holding my new Nomar Garciaparra jersey (it was a good choice on my mom’s part). Who would have ever thought that a simple cloth shirt could bring a smile to a kid’s face.