Suffering through the hot stove season

I'm excited to watch Shane Victorino in Boston in 2013. But it can wait.

I’m excited to watch Shane Victorino in Boston in 2013. But it can wait.

The other morning, I had the radio dialed into 98.5 FM in Boston, typically a fun antidote to the screaming banshees of the other stations, and the other screaming banshees that infiltrate that same station after 10 a.m. I won’t delineate between them, because they’re all aggressors of the amazing and endless lack of discourse on sports radio. But, again, Toucher & Rich are usually better than that.

On this morning, they were talking Red Sox, about their various positional holes, about the potential for 80, 85, 90 wins, about how much money they’ve dished out on short term deals to the likes of Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew and Ryan Dempster, about where the young guys fit in, about the goals of the front office, and on, and on, and on.

And, in a move that’s increasingly rare for me before 10 a.m., I turned off the radio and went back to Neil Young and Crazy Horse on my iPod. Because, in the winter months, I find little quite as annoying and pointless as baseball talk.

Living in a region obsessed with all things Red Sox and looking for headlines, however, baseball talk seems to dominate the landscape. And when those headlines, forced or otherwise, are talking place when I’m waking up to Fahrenheit degrees in the single digits, it feels out of time.

I appreciate the idea of following sports with the seasons. Baseball lives from April to October, with some teaser trailers in March during Spring Training. The fall belongs to football, winter belongs to hockey and basketball, and when a favorite team extends their season in the playoffs, the entire structure is happily thrown off-kilter, a thrilling deviation from the norm.

The notion of following just one sport religiously, then, year-round, including the months when that sport is dormant, feels ridiculous. I have enough friends and follow enough intelligent people, though, that do just this, whether they’re breaking down the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation in December or sorting through NFL draft picks in March. Whatever gets you through the night, I suppose.

But the pounding from different sides, whether it’s radio, writers or friends, makes me feel like this happy little image from The Big Lebowski: am I the only one around here who watches multiple sports? Can we focus on the folks who are active right now?

On the radio side, I understand that they have programming holes to fill. The NHL and the Boston Bruins are stubbornly refusing to do the only thing they’re supposed to do, which is play hockey. The New England Patriots have a bye week before the second round of the NFL playoffs. The Celtics are playing, and struggling, and they certainly can’t be discussed for four hours at a time.

It’s not as though I’m unaware that the baseball offseason is fascinating for so many. And I can understand the intrigue and the guessing games, playing Connect Four with imaginary lineups and dreaming of playoff rotations. I’ve even written a bit about it. But listening to pundits summon up the passion of October in discussing the Sox’ right field situation in January is too much for me.

If this space has seemed quiet for a couple of months, this is why. My love of baseball hasn’t ebbed much in the past few years, and I don’t expect that it will. But my disdain for off-season posturing only gets stronger with every winter. Baseball is great, and it’s at its best when it’s actually being played.

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