Although the 2009 baseball season isn’t over yet, we PawSox fans have already been thrown a bone as far as 2010 is concerned. the PawSox released a tentative schedule of games for ’10 and I have to admit, I am looking forward to it. I look forward to it a little differently than most of you. While you check out the home games, I check the entire slate. I look forward to seeing certain people in different cities, the restaurants, the ballparks and life in general with the Pawtucket Red Sox. April 8th is opening day at McCoy Stadium against Rochester. It’ll be cold, but it’ll be great. Always is. Our first road trip takes us to Buffalo, Rochester and Allentown. Nothing like Buffalo in the spring, except maybe Buffalo in the winter. All the familiar sights and sounds of the International League will be in full bloom, long before the first robin is spotted. There is no way of knowing who will be wearing the familiar PawSox uniform, but they become instant, unconditional friends, travelling companions and partners for the summer. There will be the usual prospects talked about. Bowden, Bates, Wagner and others will more than likely return. The Lars Anderson “watch” will start. All the names that are familiar to us long before we can associate a face with a name will darken the doorway at McCoy. There is a rhythm to the season. Certain things at certain times of the day. To me, there is nothing better than standing down at the batting cage, watching batting practice. Making small talk with the guys, gleaning “nuggets” of information for the broadcast. For a broadcaster, especially one who was never a good baseball player, it provides an inside the ropes look at a world that otherwise, would be off-limits. It allows me a look into a fascinating realm that most of our listeners learn about due to the access I get. As I’ve said before, it is not something I take for granted. I look forward to Spring Training, getting reacquainted with the old fellas, and meeting the new ones. No better feeling of validation than when a former PawSox standout, now successful in the Majors, gives you the big hug/handshake combo (according to my former broadcast partner, ex-NFL running back Raymont Harris- it’s known as “dapping someone down”) and you share a story and some laughs. In a way, it gives you credibility with the new guys. Veterans can help make or break you with a club. For example, if Jeff Bailey didn’t treat me nicely or respectfully, I could have a hard time with new guys. I think guys like “Bails” appreciate what we try to do and realize we’re all in the same boat. I’ve mentioned before in this blog that a ton of credit goes to manager, Ron Johnson for treating us like we’re “one of the guys.” Buffalo wings in Syracuse, barbecue in Rochester, Italian food in Buffalo. Red in Scranton, Marv in Columbus and Thurm in Rochester. Good hotels, long bus rides, early morning wake-ups or late-night arrivals. All a part of the fabric of life with the PawSox, and what I think about when a new schedule is released.