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Home » May 2007 Game CommentsMay 2007 » Narrow


Game 39: May 17, 2007
Tigers 1 L: Zach Miner (0-1)
24-15, 1 game losing streak
8-2-3 series record
WinRed Sox 2 W: Julian Tavarez (2-4)
H: Hideki Okajima (10)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (11)
27-12, 1 game winning streak
10-2-2 series record
Highlights: Tavarez pitched a season-high seven innings even as he walked more (4) than he struck out (3). The mantra for 2007 is “Okajima in the eight, Papelbon in the ninth.”

An odd mix of miscreants inhabited the stands for yesterday’s makeup game. Five rows down from my friend Matt and I there was a throng of extremely inebriated guys whose raison d’être was to stand at inappropriate times, raucously cheer for the most mundane of fly outs to the shallow outfield, and jeer at Gary Sheffield. (Actually, that last item should be on any true baseball fan’s “Things To Do” list, but it should be about the performance-enhancing drug allegations, not just because he is a former Yankee.) These must have been the kinds of fans Lee Elia ripped in his 1983 tirade on the mobs at Wrigley Field when he ranted, “That’s why they’re out at the f*ckin’ game. They oughta go out and get a f*ckin’ job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a f*ckin’ living.”

Most of the remainder of the crowd were befuddled parents with their children, flocks of familial units that wanted to get an early start to the weekend and thought a jaunt to Fenway would be the perfect way to kick off their days off. These Fenway tyros are pleasant enough but tend to clog the aisles as they desperately clutch their tickets in search of their seats.

There was no notation on the tickets I bought in Section 16, Row 5, Seats 25 and 26 that they were obstructed view. But when I got to the location it was apparent the batter would be blocked by a post. Knowing that a weekday nooner wouldn’t be jammed to the gills, I slid over one section towards home in the same row and secured an infinitely better vista that allowed me to watch the drunkards mingle with the nuclear families.

Inexplicably, one of these families sat for the entire game in the seats that I had forsaken. In fact, the mother sat in the best seat of their block and she made her toddlers sit in the lousy seats, their little necks crooking the entire nine innings. Aw, heck, they won’t remember anyway, right?

The Tigers were in a cattish mood and that demeanor may have cost them the game. In the first inning Coco Crisp singled to left with one out. David Ortiz nubbed a grounder to Carlos Guillen, who was shifted to the right since Ortiz was batting. The path of the ball intersected with Crisp’s run from first to second but Detroit’s shortstop missed the tag when Crisp hit the dirt. As the Tigers argued the call, Crisp jogged to third uncontested since the defense was aligned on the right side of the field. The shift, capricious as Jim Leyland’s temper.

Leyland had emerged from the dugout’s depths to argue with the umpiring crew but to no avail. That run proved vital as the only other Red Sox run came in the third. Julio Lugo reached base because of his counterpart’s failure to corral a grounder. Lugo was driven in by the candent Kevin Youkilis. Boston’s two-corner infielder rode a nine-game hit streak with seven of those games being multi-hit appearances.

The Tigers only run was tallied in the fifth; Placido Polanco’s RBI single to center came with two runners on and two out. The damage was minimized even though Julian Tavarez walked Sheffield to load the bases. Pitching coach John Farrell visited just before Magglio Ordóñez got in the box and a more placid Tavarez induced an inning- ending fly from the cleanup hitter.

Matt is a wordplay fan like me, or at least pretends to be so when we go to games together. We devised some puns and also played our game of “Player Factoids” as we mocked the drunk guys (which consisted of chanting “Drunk guys! Drunk guys!” to the two-clap cheer that gradually increases in speed as the strike count increases). We also sing every other Neil Diamond song but “Sweet Caroline” during “Sweet Caroline.” Some memorable morsels from our pun battle and factoid face-off:

  • Placido Polanco: Lake Placido Polanco
  • Tim Byrdak: Byrdak of the Killer Tomatoes, The Byrdaks of Life, One Byrdak in the hand is worth two in the bush, The early Byrdak catches the worm, Mars Byrdaks
  • Hideki Okajima: Ohhhhhh-kajima where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, Okajimama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock and roll
  • Curtis Granderson: Has a newly-discovered species of penguin named after him, Curtii grandiosislenii.
  • Sean Casey: Is one of two major league players born in a submarine.
  • Julio Lugo: His hobby is the Japanese dance form, butō.
  • Alex Cora: Is attempting to master origami

When dinged on the multiple Japanese cultural references, I defended my position by stating the Red Sox have been inspired by the arrival of Hideki Okajima and Daisuke Matsuzaka and as a result have committed themselves to expanding their cultural horizons. This weekend there will be some mochi pounding in the clubhouse. Ortiz swears by it, believing it has given him more versatility to the opposite field and has, along with vitamin water, significantly improved his badminton game.

Photos from yesterday’s game to be posted later this evening.

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