I’ve never worked on Fenway Opening Day.
From internships to getting-my-ass-through-grad-school gigs to “real” jobs, I’ve always kept the home opener a holy day of obligation. The obligation being, on my part, to forsake work and get my sorry ass to the ballpark to soak in the true start to the season.
So I went, year after year, always remembering to get a ticket for Dad, because who better to take in the home opener with than your Dad, especially since Gwen Stefani won’t be taking me up on those invites anytime soon.
But after a while, the tickets started getting expensive. Like, “can I give up food and shelter for a week” expensive. The last time I attended in person was 2001, the game in which Manny, on the first pitch of his first at-bat in a Boston uni, knocked a three run home run. The next year, we started a new exciting tradition of — going somewhere else to watch the home opener. Like a bar, or, as has been the case for the past two years, my place. Where we can eat and drink and curse and cry and barbecue meat until it contains, ounce for ounce, more carcinogens than actual protein. But we don’t give a shit because it’s Fenway opening day and there’s the Green Monster and there’s that scoreboard and there’s that sugar-sweet green grass and, as an added bonus, we’ve got the Rem Dawg to guide us through it all, because everything in our futzed up lives just makes a little more sense when we hear his voice.
Today’s home opener would have cost me a second mortgage to attend. So, again, I’ll be watching it on NESN. But that’s cool, because there’s a flag to raise and rings to pass out and Yankees to taunt and A-Rod’s return to Boston and replays on the big screen and cheers and tears and catcalls and Yaz and D-Lowe and Terry Francona, fresh from the hospital and deserving of the loudest ovation ever heard in Fenway Park.
This afternoon, we’re born again. Team’s at 2-4? Bats slumbering? Can’t get the big hit when we need it most? Feh. Today is the reminder that we needn’t panic. That nothing is impossible. There’ll be excitement at Fenway the likes of which hasn’t been since that late night in October when Ortizzle’s lazy fly ball landed softly in front of Bernie Williams, and somehow we just knew we weren’t going to be getting a good night’s sleep for a long, long time. There’ll be no shortage of good vibes coursing through our fair city over the next 24 hours. I’ve got a feeling those cheers will jolt our boys back to life just fine.
I’m sure the Yanks and their fans would love to lay down an 11-0 pasting to put a blemish on the day, but I gotta be honest: Ain’t gonna happen. Dude, Regis Philbin could do naked cartwheels up and down the third base line, and we’ll still be in our happy place. October 27, 2004 was the single greatest day to be a Red Sox fan. Today is going to be the second greatest day.
So I won’t be at the office today. Don’t call me. I’m not there. I’ll be at home, in the “shoutin’ room,” watching the opening day ceremony I’ve spent my entire life dreaming about.