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Opening Day ’10: The Beginning of True Love or Harbinger of a Doomed Romance?

Opening Day at Fenway (photo courtesy of boston.com)

It ended like my most of my relationships—in a meltdown. Things were going along a little rough, but neither of us predicted the catastrophic climax that would cause our break up, though in hindsight, we should have. Maybe we were overly confident—the two of us had faced much bigger problems, we got through them all right and were actually a stronger couple because of it. So we weren’t going to readily admit to ourselves that maybe this was the end—but it was. A beautiful seven-month relationship was over in just a matter of minutes.

It was ugly. Things were thrown. I yelled. I didn’t want it to be it over. Neither did they. But it was. Me and the 2009 Red Sox were no longer a couple.

For a few days after we parted ways, I walked around in disbelief, feeling sorry for myself. I was angry, I blamed the LA Angels of Anaheim, I blamed Jonathon Papelbon. But I soon shook it off and jumped headlong into my next sports relationship.  I convinced myself (as people rebounding from long term relationships often do) that the next team I took up with was the “actual” one, the team that possessed all the qualities missing from my previous team. That this team would finally make me happy, that this team and I would work out.

However, like most rebound teams, it just wasn’t meant to be. My rebound team was last seasons’ Patriots. The precipitous end of my relationship with the Sox had me yearning for stability, and to me there was no more stable partnership than one with the Pats. But unfortunately that love interest ended much like my previous one—suddenly, and with yelling and throwing of things in my living room.

After that I was jaded. I wanted to be in a relationship with a sports team, have a group of guys to devote my time to, share my passion of sports with, drink while watching. But none of them seemed right.

I really liked this mature team, the Celtics. But being a bit older, they’d never have the energy to satisfy me. Sure, the first half was good, but by the 4th quarter they’d be pretty much asleep, and I’d be sitting there with my clicker in hand wondering what the hell was the problem.

I had a two-week fling with some foreign teams during the Olympics, which was an experience. Hooked up with some kinky stuff like biathlon, curling and bobsledding, but in the end, we both knew it wouldn’t last and that we were just together for some quick thrills.

Then there was my ongoing affair with the Bruins, who were the slutty team no one wanted. They were convenient and begging for attention, so of course I threw myself at them in attempts of filling some void. But after a few hours in their company, I just felt empty and swore I’d never do it again…even though I knew I would.

But when this spring came around, I began to come out of my funk. The better weather brings out a better attitude in me and come this time of the year I’m ready to end my winter of athletic whoring and settle down with a nice Red Sox team. And while this Sox team isn’t what I’m normally attracted to, they like defense, I’m more of an offense guy—it’s looking promising so far. We’ve haven’t been real serious, just a few Spring Training games here and there, and I’m still seeing other sports on the side. However, we are doing the whole Opening Day thing this Sunday night, which is kind of a big deal. It’s our first “real” date, and after that it won’t be long until me and the 2010 Red Sox are a serious couple.

At first, everything will be perfect. I’ll spend all my time with this new Sox team. I’ll watch the pre- and post-game shows. I’ll brag about how great this team is and how it’s so much different from last year’s team. I’ll want to hear all their stats and know about their scouting reports. To me, they’ll do no wrong. I’ll overlook their blatant flaws and make justifications to my friends who may not be as infatuated with my new love interest as I am.

“Fine, Mike Cameron doesn’t have the best bat,” I’ll say. “But as long as he plays a solid center field, I’ll adore him.”

“How dare you question Francona’s decision to move Jacoby to left! The man won me two World Series—he’s given me two of the best nights of my life!”

“I know Lynn Jones’ mustache was pretty sexy, but I think Ron Johnson is quite the looker in his own right.”

“I know Papelbon needs another pitch, but really he’ll be fine. You don’t know him like I do.”

As I look past these flaws, the Sox and I will settle down into a nice routine. I’ll come home from work, grab a bite to eat, and we’ll spend the rest of the evening together. Some nights will be pure ecstasy. Other nights I’ll go to bed disappointed. But we’ll always be there for each other, night in and night out. I’ll learn their idiosyncrasies. They’ll learn that no matter how many Sullivan Tire commercials they play, I’ll never take my vehicle there. Weeks will pass. So will months. I’ll see less of my friends, only going out on off-days, West coast trips and the All-Star Break. They’ll understand. I’ve been in these kinds of relationships before.

But then, as the summer gives way to the fall, our once steady and predictable relationship will start to become volatile. I’ll storm out of the room during blown saves and cold spells at the plate. I’ll second-guess the Sox decisions, and those cute little flaws I had no problem ignoring and even viewed as endearing at the start of our courtship will now blossom into enraging patterns of behavior.

“Really Mike Cameron? You’re going to pop out to short center again?”

“Come on Daisuke, would you please stop walking the bases loaded? This crap is getting old.”

“How many times is Beckett going to be put on the DL with blisters? Has he some kind of inability to form calluses on his hand?”

The Playoffs will come. We may make it through all right, but more often than not, it won’t end well. If and when our season together reaches that undesirable conclusion, I’ll snap, like I’ve done numerous times before and yell, “You’ll never be the ’04 or ’07 Sox! I never loved you as much as them!”

And just like that, it’ll be over. A once promising relationship will come to another disappointing end. I’ll drown my sorrows in Miller Lite and head out to the bars to forget about my scorned lover and the reality that months of sports bliss is now suddenly no more. Beer after beer, I’ll sit in the glow of a neon sign, reminiscing about the good times and wondering where we went wrong. Perhaps I’ll look up and see an old flame.

“Oh hey Bruins, what’s up? Haven’t seen you in a while…

Oh, me and the Sox, no, we just broke up actually…

Thanks, yeah, it’s rough, but I’ll survive, always do…

Man, you look pretty good, did you sign some marquee free agents in the off-season or something?…

You did, huh. Oh, and a good draft. Well it really shows…

No, I missed you too Bruins…

How about me and you go back to my place, catch up and enjoy some time alone?…

Cool, let me grab my coat…”

When it comes to love, I never learn my lesson.

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