The Baseball Desert

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Human Touch

The tickets have been purchased.

The end-of-year bonus is winging its way to me as I write (Note to boss: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your loyal, caring employee, Iain).

All that remains is for me to book a flight and find a hotel and we’re set to go. After all my aborted trips I have a good feeling about this one. As Major League Baseball reminds us every July: this time it counts.

After 19 years of following baseball from afar – casually at first and then with increasing intensity – I’m finally going to be able to sit in a major league ballpark and watch a game (or four). Since the trip is still a good four months away, I’m trying to remain calm about the whole thing, but every time I see a picture of Fenway I get a jolt of excited anticipation.

The anticipation is partly due to the games, but the games are only a part of the story. If it were only about the games, I could easily stay at home and watch them on the Internet. This trip is about the whole experience, about being in a city where your baseball cap is not a fashion statement but a pledge of allegiance, where nobody is going to ask if the "B" stands for Baltimore or who this "Robert" guy is.

But more than any of that, I’m looking forward to meeting Red Sox fans. The Internet is a wonderful thing, which has allowed me to ‘meet’ baseball fans from all over the world, but no matter how much time you spend going back and forth with people in forums, e-mails and comment boxes
, there comes a point where you crave a real baseball conversation with a living, breathing baseball fan, and I’m hoping that this trip will allow me to have many of those.

For those of you who live in baseball towns, just think for a second of the number of baseball conversations you have in any given week – at home, in the office, at the grocery store, on the telephone. Now subtract those conversations from your life as a [insert team name here] fan and think just how much would be missing. As you can imagine I am looking forward to contacting some of the people I 'know' from out there in cyberspace and trying to get together over a couple of beers to talk baseball. So this is an open invitation: if you're going to be in the Boston area between May 3 and May 6 and feel like talking baseball with a guy with a funny accent, please let me know - I'm open to all offers.

Oh, before I forget, one last key piece of information: the beers are on me!