SPORTS

Fall sports mark return to normal

Posted 8/26/21

The high school fall sports season is underway this week as teams began tryouts on Monday and will begin practicing as the days go on. I said back in the spring that I felt like this would be the first season that felt like we were truly back to normal,

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SPORTS

Fall sports mark return to normal

Posted

The high school fall sports season is underway this week as teams began tryouts on Monday and will begin practicing as the days go on.

I said back in the spring that I felt like this would be the first season that felt like we were truly back to normal, and for the most part, I believe I was correct in that prediction.

Sure, there are still a few rules regarding masks and there is a bit of a ripple effect in terms of the pandemic’s impact on last year’s schedule. But if a partial mask mandate and the fall season being pushed back an extra week are the most inconvenient items this season, then that is pretty darn good considering where we were this time last year.

In the next couple of weeks I will be getting into predictions and my forecast for our fall teams. For now, as we are just getting started, I just wanted to take a moment to welcome back the fall season – the true fall season – and express my excitement and relief to be back to what is almost entirely normal.

I do also have to say one more thing, and that is that I hope that we all continue to do our part in the next couple of months to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.

Heck, there are going to be very few restrictions out the gate so it should not be difficult, but please, for even such a small list, let’s follow the rules and make the most of what we have.

The reason I say this is because I hear a lot of upset fans, parents and coaches speaking out against masks, just as an example.

I understand the frustration, but it is what it is. Last year at this time we weren’t sure if there would be a season at all. Let’s not forget that and enjoy a full slate of sports. I am excited to get back out there and to see some familiar faces.

Here’s a topic that I have been meaning to touch on here, but it has to do with the Worcester Red Sox.

For those of you who do not know this, I am from the Worcester area as is most of my family. I have had some people down this way ask me what my thoughts on the WooSox have been and what it’s been like the past few months during their inaugural season.

I’ll admit, I have not attended a game yet. I did get to take a look at both the inside and outside of the newly-built Polar Park, but have yet to be there live in action.

In terms of how I felt about the team leaving Pawtucket, I felt bad for the area. The PawSox were a staple in Rhode Island for decades and it seemed like a blink of the eye and they were gone.

Now, I do feel like the city could have done a little bit more to help its cause. I know that things such as parking were an issue and it seemed like the big club in Boston was ready to move on from McCoy. There were even talks for awhile of the team just moving next door to Providence and building a new venue there. Ultimately, it just seemed like Worcester beat it to the punch and was the hungrier candidate.

However, at the same time, there were comments made by the Red Sox front office that kind of make me think that their minds were made up prior to negotiations anyway. I don’t know, it just seemed like a mess of a situation from start to finish and I feel bad for the local fans that saw their team ripped away.

I know plenty of people that have been to the WooSox and the results have been kind of a mixed bag. The park is beautiful, the team is fun to watch, they have some neat promotions to offer.

The other things though? The ticket prices are high depending on when and where you purchase them. The concessions are ridiculously expensive, even more expensive than Major League ballparks.

If I had to mold the dozens of stories I have heard, I would sum it up by saying that it seems like it could be a fun thing to do once in awhile, but with the Red Sox being a mere 45-minute drive away, you might as well keep heading to Fenway.

As a Worcester native, I can’t exactly sit here and advocate for the city as a great place to host professional sports. In terms of the logistics and amenities, it has plenty to offer, especially now with a brand-new ballpark. But when it comes to devotion from fans, it has always been tricky.

Since the time that I was a little kid, the city is on its third hockey team and third baseball team. It is also on its second arena football team. All of this turnover has occurred within the last 25 years or so.

Don’t get me wrong, Worcester residents love sports, and I am proud to say I am in that crowd. But at the end of the day, we are just more interested in the big clubs down the pike in Boston and have never seen a pro team give us something to pull us in for the long haul.

The closest was the Worcester Ice Cats, an AHL hockey team that was in Worcester throughout the 90’s and into the early 2000’s. The Worcester Centrum, now known as the DCU Center, was sold out every night and they were the talk of the town. Unfortunately, their parent club moved them to be closer to home and Worcester hockey has never been the same.

Will the WooSox be different? Will they be the ones to find a long-term home for more than a few years? I think there is potential, but the issue is going to be price.

When the PawSox were cementing their legacy and establishing their place in Rhode Island, it was during a time where things weren’t as commercialized as they are now, money was not the end all, be all quite like it is today. Plain and simple, back when the PawSox were getting started, teams were doing it right.

Now, with the WooSox, I think that as long as the team does not go overboard with greed, there is a chance for it to do well, but we’ll see.

In hindsight, I think that the team would have been better off figuring things out in Pawtucket. Sure, they are probably doing very well financially in their new home, but Pawtucket and Rhode Island deserved more.

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