February in New England Is the Harbinger of the Best Time of Year


Photo taken by Peter Schiller 1/29/11

February in Pittsburgh was never good. I only marginally followed the Pirates, and generally was a sport-hater, as my brother and father were sports-obsessed, and screaming at the television and listening to sports radio made me want to scream. Then I moved to New England.


I worked at a company where I bought cheap tickets to the Sox, and the world changed. Fenway was amazing…you could actually SEE the field, and the players. We had always taken binoculars when we went to Three Rivers Stadium, and once you were there, you might’ve just as well stayed home and watched it on your TV because you still couldn’t see the players.


Also, the Red Sox were good. Yes, the Pirates have had times when they were good, but it didn’t mean anything real to me. As much as Pittsburgh is a sports city (and the fans are definitely obsessed—I can still hear my dad and brother screaming from Tucson and Indiana), the Sox fans were different. It felt different at a Sox game. They were part of the game. They loved it…the wins and losses, the rivalry with the Yanks, the seats that didn’t quite face the field. I was a part of the action, and I reveled in it. And in direct opposition to everything I was in Pittsburgh, I became a Sox fan.

Over the ensuing nineteen years since my move to New England, my life has changed, but my love of the Sox has only increased. I watch the games as much as I can. I know stats and personal information about the players. I try to follow the games that occur when I’m at work. I shush my kids when there’s a good play, and I talk about the ones I like and why, to get them interested as well.


I “talk Sox” with lots of people…sometimes even strangers in line at the grocery store. I actually own videos about the 2004 and 2007 World Series seasons that I willing purchased and watch in the depths of winter. I wear a Red Sox shirt and I mourn player injuries and trades. I still miss Johnny Damon, “Flash” Gordon, and Trot Nixon. I worry about what will happen when Jason Varitek retires.

I print the schedule and mark the days when the Sox are on the west coast, and think evil thoughts about the idiots who schedule the games at 7:10pm PDT, and I wonder who to contact to complain about blocking out a chunk of the population for weekend games at that time (since all weekend games should be played when I can watch them). I share the joy and despair with fans local and afar. And my dad and I watch the games on television when he visits (and he shakes his head that I’ve finally become sports-obsessed…at least for the Sox); we connect on another level.


And during the long, gloomy, miserable New England winters, I longingly think of February… and spring training. I contemplate moving to a warmer climate, where the arrival of the Sox won’t be as monumental to me. But I’m still in New England where it is dark, cold, and snowy. I curse the dark, cold, and snow, but there will be an end to the misery. When the Sox show up in Ft. Myers, spring is near. I can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope…there is baseball to come.


Ah…February in New England. It’s the harbinger of the best time of year.


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