When I watched baseball as a kid, it was a really simple affair which basically boiled down to “I hope the Mets win”. My friend Matt Hansen and his father were WAY into baseball, and that’s where I became interested. I didn’t know anything about statistics, rosters, or even the minor league (beyond it’s existence). We’d watch a game on TV or listen to it on the radio, and occasionally go to Shea to watch a game. At some point, though, I stopped paying attention to Baseball. As an adult, I had convinced myself that I stopped caring around the infamous strike, but the math on that doesn’t work out, because the strike was in ’94 and I’m pretty sure I stopped caring much earlier than that. Regardless of when it happened, it happened.
I managed to avoid Red Sox fever for many years of living in Boston… When I moved here in 2001, it was amazing to me how serious Boston sports fans were… The startup I was working for, Rovia, had it’s office right on the corner of Yawkey Way and Brookline, across the way from Fenway (and, troublingly for my waistline, directly above the Best Sausage Company). It was a madhouse in the summer, you either had to leave the office at 5pm or wait until the 2nd inning or so before the streets calmed down enough to make it to the T. I’d be walking to the office from the T at 10am on a day with a 7pm game, and I’d already be getting harassed by scalpers (“NEED ‘EM?? GOT ‘EM???). This city breathes it’s sports, especially baseball.. You see team colors all over the city on game days.. Every bar with a TV is showing the game.. People simply assume you’re at least familiar with what’s going on with the team.
When I was working at Goodrich, I won two sets of tickets to the company seats. The first was in August of 2004 in what would turn out to be the lead up to their World Series win. I really enjoyed the game and got my first glimpse into what it is about this team and this park that made people crazy.. But it faded quickly, and even though the Sox were in the playoffs and ultimately the Series, I didn’t pay much attention… Local friends had parties to watch some of the games, and I attended, and cheered on the home team, but it didn’t stick.
The second set of tickets was in 2006, and this time around things were a little different. The first game I attended was with coco_b, and neither of us were particularly into baseball… But when I got tickets to the 2006 Patriot’s Day game, Corinna suggested I bring roryk along, because he was into the team. It was at this game that the flint was sparked, although it took awhile for the fire to take.
It was after attending this second game that I slowly started paying more attention to the sport. It was Spring of last year when I first started to recognize “the symptoms”, but the finishing blow was the new HDTV. Rory, adamfletcher and friends started coming over to watch games all of the time, and I found myself checking the scores even when I was unable to watch the game.
I’m fairly certain that the World Series win last year was what set the hook in my cheek. This year, I followed all of the off-season dealings, watched a bunch of spring training games, woke up at 5am to cook pancakes and bacon for a bunch of guests for the Opening Day game in Tokyo, and have seen or listened to at least a few innings of almost every game this season. I pay attention to scouting rumors and news, I have read books on the game, I read Baseball Prospectus and the local sports sections baseball coverage, i discuss player statistics, sabermetrics, and scouting rumors… It has gotten completely out of hand. And I love it.