Which is a more reliable indicator of the coming of spring, a filthy half-asleep rodent being tossed about by strange men in top coats and top hats or Truck Day in Boston?
On one hand, we have the Groundhog – Punxsutawney Phil, the latest in a long line of rodents named Phil whom the organizers of Groundhog Day (They have organizers for groundhogs?) claim is accurate about 75% to 90% of the time…
…which would be impressive given the fact that Groundhogs and humans have a difficult time communicating, so we never really know what’s on their minds and they’re probably compulsive liars anyway, being related to rats and weasels and ferrets.
The Canadian Government did a study on this phenomenon, and discovered that Phil was correct only 37% of the time, which shows you how dishonest they really are – either that or they just don’t care and make a guess, or maybe they’re just freaking Groundhogs and they want to go back to sleep.
On the other hand, we have the Boston Red Sox.
Every winter at around this time they load a rig up with about a million baseballs and drive directly south to a city called Ft. Myers to play in a park named JetBlue, where a bunch of guys show up and play baseball for many dollars against teams with scary sounding nicknames like Blue Jays and Royals and Astros…
…and I really don’t have a point to make here, just dipping my toes in the Red Sox waters, trying to get a feel for spring training – but it’s not working.
It’s not going to work while New England is socked in by an arctic air mass that can freeze exposed skin in a matter of minutes. It hardly seems like winter is coming to an end anytime soon, regardless of what that evil Groundhog says or the fact that a truck is heading south filled with everything the Red Sox are going to need to get ready for the season.
Truck Day in Boston is a tradition unlike any other in sport. A bunch of us dull crayons go stand around outside Fenway Park for a couple of hours and watch stuff being loaded onto a truck – then a bunch of guys in suits show up, stir up the fans by tossing a few balls into the crowd – half crazy from exposure and frostbite – who swarm after them like sharks attacking meat…
…and then they all leave for Florida.
No other team in the league does this. Just the Red Sox.
“It is a good reminder to us that fans care so deeply and care so much that we have a responsibility to get it right, to make this team better in as many ways as possible,” said Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said.
And that’s important for fans to remember going forward, that the organization feels that they have an obligation to “Get it right” for them…no more of the silliness of 2012. That 69 win season was thrown into the meat wagon immediately after the final out, because it was obvious to even casual observers that the coaching staff was going to be gutted and big dollars were going to be shelled out.
And these fortuitous moves have Red Sox nation hopeful once again. They got the players they targeted and filled their holes in the line up and hired a skipper that knows what Red Sox baseball is supposed to be all about…
…and it’s been a long time since I felt the warmth of the summer sun on my face. I want to trust that the seasons will change as they always have, that the groundhogs that live underneath the dugout at the local high school field will come out to greet me again every day this year as I prepare to run the adjacent track.
Summer is simple, Baseball is simple….and both are on their way. We know this not because of some almanac or some animal’s perceived psychic ability.
We know it because a truck pulled away from Fenway Park today, headed south.