My father at Fenway Park, 1999

You can blame all of this on a train ride.

Over a decade ago, in October of 2003 to be precise, I was on a late afternoon Acela from NYC to Boston. The Red Sox’s 2003 season had just flamed out in spectacularly infuriating but oddly predictable fashion, courtesy of Grady Little and Aaron Boone.

I was in New Jersey when it all came crashing down. The company I was working for had just been acquired by another, and my prospects for continued gainful employment seemed as murky as the Newark air. But that was somehow the least of my worries in the aftermath of game seven of the 2003 ALCS. I spent three days in meetings scratching illegible notes, but my mind never emptied of the image of Tim Wakefield, slumped and slackjawed, walking off the mound at Yankee Stadium. In the belly of the beast, I couldn’t escape the Post headlines, the Jeter shirts, the indefatigable chatter of another Boston choke.

By the time I staggered on to the train to return home, I was drunk. I was hungover. I was sick. I was spiraling. And all I could think was would we ever get that close again?

Pedro Martinez was the best weapon we’d ever had, but he could only take us so far in 1999 and 2003. How much longer could we rely on his slender, fast-ball-firing ass to carry us, I wondered? More importantly, how much more Red Sox-induced stress could my heart and liver take?

As the train slipped briskly up the I-95 corridor and I drained the last couple Bud Lights the dining car could offer, I decided I needed an outlet. Something to channel all this angst and anger into. One phone call to Denton and about two months of drinking cleverly disguised as “planning sessions” later, this blog was born.

Today, twelve years removed, we’re through the looking glass. An improbable three World Series titles in our back pocket. Parades we thought we’d never witness. Lady Luck smiling gladly on our formerly snake-bitten asses. It’s a world I could have never imagined during what seemed the longest train ride of my life. But it’s a pretty f#$king awesome place to be.

And still, for better or worse, this blog churns along, about to cover our twelfth season, God help us. I’m happy to say it’s proven every bit as therapeutic as we hoped it would be. I’m even happier for the people it’s brought together–folks who became fast friends but might have never met had they not stumbled onto our site and shared in the (momentary) commiseration. Denton and I may no longer be possessed of the piss and vinegar that fueled our post-2003 collapse days, but we hope we continue to bring something “different” to the table. Oh, and lots of dick jokes.

One other thing that’s changed since we launched this blog: my father is gone. He lost his battle with cancer in 2006, thankfully getting to see at least one of these improbable World Series wins. As I’ve noted many times in these pages, he’s the guy who baptized me into Red Sox Nation, and he remained my partner in crime for Opening Day hijinks right up until he died. This is the day I miss him most, when baseball returns and hope, as they say, springs eternal. So today, I raise a glass for him, and for all the dads across Red Sox Nation.

I’ll let the pros debate how tough it’s gonna be for the Sox to pull a worst-to-first-to-worst-to-first or how we’ll do without a bona fide ace or whether or not starting Shane Victorino over Rusney Castillo is a good idea. As I see it, no matter how our fortunes swing from here on out, these are better days. We’re playing with house money, people. And even if the Sox never so much as sniff another playoff berth in my lifetime, I’ll never stop cheering. Or believing. And I’ll never, ever take 2004, 2007 or 2013 for granted.

Game starts at 3:05, people. That gives you time to watch this clip from Field of Dreams at least 1,206 times.