Monday, January 2, 2012

Afghanistan-bound until 2013

Dear fellow Rays fans,

I am very sad to say that I won’t be joining you at Tropicana Field this season. I recently got a job working with the military and am going to Afghanistan in late January or early February.

For sure, a year is a long time to be gone. I’ll definitely miss going to see the Rays, watching them on TV, or listening to them on the radio. I’ve averaged going to 20 games a season for the last few years and now I’ll have to wait until 2013 to see live baseball again. For a year there will be no Longoria homers, no Price strikeouts, or no seeing BJ race into the gap for a flyball. There will be no Maddon ejections, no Jennings electricity, or no Shields mastery. No Raymond, no promo videos featuring Network and Rocky 2, and no getting dinner at the Boars Head Spaghetti Bar on the fourth floor.

Most importantly of all, however, and probably what I will miss the most, is the inability to be with other fans for a year. There will be no seeing the friends I go to games with, no seeing the friends I’ve made at the ballpark, and no chatting with other fans through twitter. There will be no meeting new people at Fergs, in the parking lot, or in the stands. No frolicking about with a three-foot afro on my head.

Way back in 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing Roger Maris’s single-season home run record, I was deployed to Bosnia. News of who homered when was a common conversation between baseball fans and even non-baseball fans as it was THE news story and news stories of home are great ways to pass the time. I’m sure following the Rays will serve the same purpose. Two weeks after I leave, by the time I get acquainted to my new environment, pitchers and catchers will be reporting. Two months after I arrive, the season will start and following baseball will carry me through the summer and into the fall.

Bart Giamatti once wrote that the end of the baseball season “leaves you to face the fall alone” and “when you need it most, it stops”. In 2012, however, I will use baseball to serve the complete opposite purpose. The season’s passage will mean I am that much closer to coming home. Baseball will be my way to pass the summer and when the 2012 World Series Champion is crowned, my tour will be on its downhill path. And if by chance the Rays are the team to hoist the trophy, I’m sure the glow of being a fan of a championship team will carry me a few weeks further.

As for my contributions to Rays Index, I’m not sure I’ll be able to blog when I am in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, I am not sure how frequent or infrequent I will be able to get on the Internet. Perhaps I will be able to email Cork posts that he could post here. Perhaps I will be able to tell you what it is like to try to follow the Rays from across the world. In a best case scenario, perhaps I’ll be able to keep up with the team and blog here as normal, just from miles away. If I can’t find a way to blog or get something posted here, I’m really going to miss that.

All that said, I’m not leaving for a few weeks and I hope to have a post or two up before I leave. I just wanted to let folks know my big news for the upcoming year.