Ahhh, the beginning of April.
That time of year when winter clothing gets put away, umbrellas get broken out and Red Sox fans begin their annual journey from 'This is our year' to 'Wait 'til next year.'
Hailing from Massachusetts, I have been a BoSox fan as long as I can remember. I have spent many a summer afternoon and evening at Fenway Park with a glove in one hand and a scorecard in the other, cheering for my beloved Sox.
My seat on the first base line, near the Red Sox dugout, looking out at the Green Monster seems like a second home. I get goosebumps every time I see the video clip of Carlton Fisk waving his game-winning home run fair in the 1975 World Series. A baseball signed by Roger Clemens resides above the desk in my bedroom at home. Booing the Yankees is second nature.
It's just in my blood.
And so comes Opening Day, when hope springs eternal for all citizens of Red Sox Nation, myself included. The pennant is within reach, as is the World Series title that has eluded the Sox since 1918, a date that every Boston fan knows all too well.
We Red Sox fans know we shouldn't hope because we're setting ourselves up for a heartbreak, but we can't help it. When it's been 80 years since a world championship, any amount of positive vibes will help.
If only that were simple – if only happy thoughts were all it took to break the Curse of the Bambino.
Ever since Broadway producer Harry Frazee, the owner of the BoSox in 1920, sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000, the Red Sox have been snakebitten. Ruth, a Broadway-sized talent, went to New York while the Sox were left with little more than the talent of a fifth-grade production of "Les Mis?rables."
It's not just the fact that Boston hasn't won a World Series in 80 years – the Yankees have won a ton since they got Babe Ruth, and Yankee success is inversely proportional to the happiness of Red Sox fans.
If all were fair in life, the Red Sox would win the World Series this year. (Either them or the Cubs, who have an even longer schneid of futility.) The BoSox have been beaten in so many ways that justice would be served if they won.
Boston made it to the World Series in 1946 and 1967, but lost to the Cardinals both times. Then the Sox lost to Cincinnati in '75. More recently, the firm of Dent & Buckner assured continued disappointment for the Fenway faithful.
It's one thing to lose on a home run by a power hitter. It's quite another if a no-power second baseman named Bucky (from the Yanks, no less) hits one or if an ancient infielder thinks he's playing cricket instead of baseball and he's the wicket.
Despite the Curse, each April brings newfound excitement that this could be the year for the Red Sox.
Slowly but surely (not always that slowly), however, the dance of despair and disappointment begins. Sometime around August, the boys of summer begin to have the summer of discontent. Red Sox fans start looking forward to next year's spring training, accepting the unacceptable – that it will be another offseason without world championship rings for the Sox.
But as much as I expect that will happen again this season, I can't help but fall into the trap of thinking that the Red Sox can do really well this season. If I'm setting myself up for disappointment like Penn basketball fans who thought the Quakers would be headed for the NCAA tournament this year, so be it.
This is the never-ending internal battle within all Boston fans – as soon as a Red Sox fan says something positive, it has to be qualified. A sense of heavily guarded optimism resides within all BoSox fans.
I don't know if the Red Sox can win that elusive World Series this year, but if the Marlins can buy a title, there's hope for all of those Red Sox fans that have suffered for so long.
And should the Sox' streak of ineptitude extend to 81 years, I can only hope for one thing: that the Yankees have a terrible year.
As I said, it's in my blood.