Monday night’s game was frustrating in the bottom halves of the frames, but the bullpen at last has carried its drumming rhythms to the mound. Justin Masterson and Hideki Okajima pitched better than their Cleveland counterparts the Rafaels, but without runs their efforts fell just short of a win.
For the first I sat in a section where I could see a monitor. Comparing the results of home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman’s judgment and the Amica strike zone was enough to keep me warm on a brisk evening.
I got to the park too late to be greeted by a Red Sox player, but I was handed a nifty over-sized ticket commemorating the breaking of the MLB record for consecutive sellouts by a Fenway Ambassador. Before heading up to my designated standing room only space in the left field pavilion I hung around the left field boxes hoping for a foul ball.
When Josh Kantor played “Day After Day,” a song that means a lot to me, I had a feeling that it was going to special day, not just for the history books but for the AL East standings. Jere came by and we chatted about the upcoming book he wrote with his mom, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Dirty Water), his birthday, and the horror of the John MacCain/Sarah Palin ticket.
As first pitch time drew near, I made my way up the many stairways to the top of the park. I think the staircases alternate between Fenway proper and the neighboring Gino building; they are a mishmash of brick and green steel that could only be a feature of our idiosyncratic park.
Every moment of the evening was near perfect, from the tributes to the game to the weather. If anyone wonders how a venue can fill to capacity for every ballgame it hosts, one only needed to be there last night. Thank you, Red Sox.
Newest member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and Rays fan, Dick Vitale.
When I arrived at Fenway I passed by a television showing the pre-game show and learned that Dustin Pedroia would be batting fourth. I was already excited to be there in person for Michael Bowden’s debut, but just imagining what Pedroia must be saying (and what his teammates were saying to him) in the clubhouse when the lineup card was posted amused me all evening.
I sat in the left field pavilion, or in marketing parlance the Coca Cola Corner. I was in the second row in the last section, under the “o” in “Cola.” These seats are fabulous; they seem less windy than the right field pavilion and the sight line to home plate is better. Of course, any fly balls that are close to the foul line cannot be seen, but crowd reaction is just a good a method to discover the outcome of such plays as any.
One way to get to the seats is to make as if you are heading to the Monster Seats but make a u-turn. You can catch a glimpse of the glistening halls to the private suites as you make your way through walkways bounded by seemingly ancient brick walls.
The buffet featured corn on the cob, Boston baked beans, barbecue chicken, chicken fingers, hot dogs, green salad, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, cookies, and brownies. You get one drink coupon with the $30 price.
A few photos from yesterday’s losing effort.
Ignoring anything that happened on field, this was one of the best games I have ever attended. I didn’t get to attend Opening Day in either 2005 or 2008 and will likely not be able to see the banner being raised later this year at the Garden, so this was a fine substitute.
The Red Sox completed a series sweep yesterday and I had the good fortune to witness it live.
Brad Mills acted as third base coach in DeMarlo Hale’s absence. He made a questionable call in the fourth by sending Julio Lugo home on a David Ortiz single that Mark Grudzielanek had to run down in shallow right.
Last night’s game was for true connoisseurs of baseball. It was not a simple-minded bash fest of homers played under a shining sun with mellow breezes bathing the crowd.
Instead a steadfast crowd of 37,215 braved sub-50 degree temperatures and 15 mile per hour winds, skin numb but emotions raw. The explosion of voices with Dustin Pedroia’s snare of Vernon Wells’s grass-scorching grounder to close the top of the ninth was only exceeded by the growing avalanche of sound with each successive batter who reached base in the bottom of the frame.
Matsuzaka leads the Red Sox in wins in his second season in the majors. The new scoreboards on the fascia are unobtrusive, the antithesis of, say, the video screens on the outfield walls at Rogers Centre.
The Celtics played a tremendous game against the Auburn Hill Pistons last night, perhaps at last silencing sports pundits who have written off the team as untested against the league elite. Rookie Glen Davis broke through with a 20-point performance in just 23 minutes of play; he was also the highest scorer on either team. He’s the second-lowest paid player on Boston’s roster.
I was at his first NBA start back on December 12 against the Kings. Clearly excited by the opportunity, Davis came out early to take warm-up shots that night. As soon as a “Big Baby 11” player t-shirt is available, I’m placing an order.
On Monday, November 26 the world premiere of the 2007 World Series Film was unveiled at Wang Theater. At this showing only, over the majestic refrains so typical of sports documentaries, narrator Matt Damon solemnly intoned, “And so, the 2007 Red Sox are World Champions. [pause] Suck on it, New York.” It accompanied a clip of Daisuke Matsuzaka striding to the mound.
Unfortunately, this version is not available for sale to the general public.
I ran into the fine folks responsible for A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory, Gibberish from the 02145, Red Sox Chick, and Sitting Still. We talked about our favorite parts of the film while looking for esteemed Red Sox alumni.
“Pedro, you’re 5-foot-6, you’re balding and you’re not an athlete…how the hell are you in the big leagues? Figure that out and go get it done.” Arizona State baseball coach Pat Murphy.
I snagged a standing room ticket but was able to sit in the loge seats on the third base side until the middle of the second. It was a good run considering the Red Sox scored six in the bottom of the first.
The caliber of fans in the row in front of me was poor. They came in the middle of the top of the first and as soon as they sat down they whipped out their mobile phones to call their friends and brag about where they were sitting.
“Where are we in the standings? Are we in first?” asked the guy wearing Prada sunglasses of the rest of his entourage. A few minutes later this same clueless clod spouted on about how he was in St. Louis for the final game of the World Series in 2004. His companions weren’t terribly impressed by this tidbit and I quelled the urge to ask him detailed questions about the goings-on.
“We’re like four and a half games back,” replied his pal, despite the standings board being just 50 feet away that clearly displayed “5 ½.”
At that point I knew I wouldn’t mind if I had to move, but lingered as long as I could. For the remainder of the game I was in Section 23, a much more enjoyable and knowledgeable area.
Shocking photographic proof that the Red Sox can beat the Rockies below. The images that follow may be disturbing for some audiences. Click on the picture for a larger version.
Although the Red Sox lost 9-5 in the series opener against the Yankees, it was a loss Boston could withstand given their dominance in the American League East.
Monday was Memorial Day, a day that unofficially marks the start of summer but more importantly honors the people who have served or sacrificed to protect our shared ideals. That day the American League Central-leading Cleveland squad visited and were vanquished, 5-3.
It was also the day of the first Royal Rooters outing of 2007. One member brought his friend who had lost a bet and had to wear a pink Jeter player tee the entire game. He was also supposed to wear a pink hat, but that part of the wager was waived. The hat would make an appearance elsewhere.
We sat in the bleachers. Needless to say, his attire didn’t go unnoticed. The row behind him needled him mercilessly, chanting about the hue of the shirt and the player it represented.
My friend Matt called out cloyingly, “Miss, I for one think you look lovely. Don’t listen to these hoodlums.” Then, in a fake whisper accompanied by an exaggerated wink, “Call me later.”
That unleashed the floodgates of feminine pronoun use by the entire section.
More than a few Type As in the section to our right were obsessed with starting the wave. They relentlessly marched the aisles like a martinet assembling their troops and were unfortunately successful in their gesticulations.
Matt did his trademark “Polite Heckling” routine. When Eric Wedge argued with the crew about the Casey Blake call, Matt hollered, “Eric Wedge, I am disappointed in your lack of courtesy and respect for authority figures! Please return to your dugout!”
Photos from the second game of the Athletics series on May 2, where I was so beset upon by friends who blamed me for jinxing Josh Beckett that I didn’t get very many good shots.
Photos from the first game of the Athletics series on May 1, the evening of Jonathan Papelbon’s first blown save. Click on the thumbnails for a larger version.
A sampling of photos from April 21; click for a larger version. You may see more from Jere at A Red Sox Fan at Pinstripe Territory.
Wednesday wasn’t just Daisuke Matsuzaka’s Fenway debut but also Felix Hernandez’s. I’m trying to find some way to deduct the electricity generated that evening from my federal income tax as alternative fuel credit. Click on the thumbnail for a larger version.
Jere of A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory in a meta moment.
Carl Beane spoke in both Japanese and English when introducing Daisuke Matsuzaka.
My goal was to get photos of each Red Sox players’ first at bat. Hernandez’s quick work made this a challenge. Captions below state the ultimate outcome, not necessarily what is happening in the shot. Julio Lugo grounded out to short.
At last, here is a sampling of my photos from Opening Day. Later on tonight I should have a few pictures of Opening Night posted. Click on the thumbnail for a larger version.
Game 136: September 2, 2006
Blue Jays (70-66), 5
Red Sox (73-63), 1
W: A.J. Burnett (7-6)
L: Kevin Jarvis (0-2)
Yesterday’s game was the second Royal Rooters outing of the season. Other than being happy to see each other, it was more like a support group for a debilitating addiction. One of Rooters lives in the Caribbean and reluctantly bought tickets for the Friday night’s game.
“I didn’t want to,” she said, “but it was like a compulsion. I found a guy that had field box seats for face value.”
One positive aspect of the Red Sox’s descent in the standings is that ticket scalpers have been forced to sell their wares at the advertised price.
Another potentially uplifting perspective is giving September call-ups the opportunity to shine. Two players made their Red Sox debut, Kevin Jarvis and David Murphy. The debut of the latter, Theo Epstein’s first draft pick, was obviously more anticipated than the former.
David Murphy started in right field and batted ninth in the order. He singled to center in his first major league at bat to break up A.J. Burnett’s no-hitter with one out in the third. In subsequent apperances he struck out and grounded out.
The Red Sox traded a player to be named later to acquire Jarvis from the Diamondbacks. Jarvis replaced the roster spot left vacant by Jon Lester, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list because of his recent diagnosis of cancer. With his start for Red Sox, the twelve-year veteran has played for 11 teams.
Jarvis pitched as you would suspect someone of his caliber would: he lasted five innings with seven hits, three runs (two earned), two walks, and three strikeouts.
Game 120: August 18, 2006
Yankees (71-48), 12
Red Sox (69-51), 4
W: Chien-Ming Wang (14-5)
L: Jason Johnson (3-12)
Hopefully a picture does say a thousand words, because that would be 999 more than I would like to waste summarizing this game.
One good memory: a father sitting near me was wearing a Red Sox handerchief on his head, biker-style. His son was playing with a hanky of his own. The child tugged on his father’s sleeve and looked up at him imploringly. The father took the square of fabric and carefully created headwear like his for his son.
Game 102: July 29, 2006
Angels (53-50), 6
Red Sox (62-40), 7
H: Scot Shields (17)
BS: Francisco Rodriguez (3)
L: Hector Carrasco (2-3)
W: Julian Tavarez (2-3)
As I always try to do, I arrived at the game two hours before the first pitch. As it was a day game after a night game, I was surprised to see the batting practice screens out. Camped out near the bend in right, near where the pitchers were going through their pre-game rituals, I overheard a security guard telling someone that the Angels had requested the equipment be put out. They never came out, however, and therefore lost the game.
All that was awful about Game 90 was replicated except for the end result. Yesterday was the first of two Royal Rooters outings this year. Had the Red Sox lost, I have no doubt there would have been a re-creation of the 1903 World Series, when the rabid fans stormed the field when they discovered their seats had been sold. Except we would have invaded the field to get relief from the oppressive heat in the postgame sprinkler cycle.
Game 90: July 16, 2006
Athletics (48-44), 8
Red Sox (54-36), 1
W: Joe Blanton (9-8)
L: Kyle Snyder (1-1)
Yesterday I sat in the bleachers at Fenway. The ordeal proved to be quite probably the greatest heat I’ve endured for a prolonged period, and I’m from Hawai‘i. As Michelle Wie recently demonstrated in the John Deere Classic, heat endurance is not necessarily a given if you were raised in the fiftieth state. In the islands, the temperature rarely gets above 90 degrees and even if it does there are the cooling tradewinds. I actually got to the point of illness and it can’t be attributed to Kyle Snyder’s pitching, although I must say he takes an inordinately long time between pitches. Had Tim Wakefield pitched as originally scheduled, a win would have been more likely and we wouldn’t have been roasting in our own juices for the length of time we did.
Snyder should come with a label that states, “For use only in case of emergency. If pitching needs persist beyond four innings, call your general manager and request rotation assistance.” Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez’s dosage guidelines: “Use when game is no longer winnable. Consult your general manager should more bullpen aid be required.”
You’ll see by the pictures that Mike Timlin sprayed the crowd from the bullpen. The bullpen pitchers would lean against the wall with their backs towards to the game to look at our flushed faces, amazed that most of us stayed into the bitter end.
The single offensive bright spot came from an unforeseen source: Alex Gonzalez jacked a solo shot into the Monster seats in the fifth inning. For a second I thought it was a figment of my heat-addled brain.
Another moment that made yesterday’s game worth attending was that Jason Varitek tied Carlton Fisk for most appearances as a catcher for the Red Sox. As of yesterday, both caught for 990 games. For the Red Sox Legends segment, the “Like a Rock” Fisk montage played out on the center field scoreboard.
A few photos from Pedro Martinez’s return to Fenway Park on June 28, 2006. I’m not one to besmirch the name of a reputable mascot, but Mr. Met appears to be flipping the bird in the second picture.
I didn’t take very many pictures that evening but rather soaked up the atmosphere. If the applause for Pedro weren’t so loud, you would have heard my wistful sighs.
Saturday’s weather stunning although the game results were not. Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated throughout the league to honor the end of segregation in baseball. For the kids, it was Mascot Day and they got to run the bases after the game. There’s a disappointing lack of fundamentals in youth these days; I’d say less than 5% touched all the bases.
Here at last are some pictures from Thursday, April 13th.
It’s difficult to discern the criteria, if any, there are to have a banner on Van Ness. Tris Speaker is included even though he wears a Cleveland Indians cap on his plaque. Similarly, Cy Young wears a Cleveland Naps cap. Harry Hooper does not have an insignia and Jimmy Collins does not wear a hat.
The Monster is newly emblazoned with the logo of the Red Sox’s charitable foundation. The labels on the Coke bottles have also been switched out; instead of vanilla, there are two classic Cokes and a Coca-Cola Zero.
Mojo Matt of NU50 is a total casual fan.
I found the final resting place of “The Father of Modern Baseball” yesterday. O‘ahu Cemetery is nestled in Nu‘uanu Valley. Past visitors have left baseballs inscribed with notes of gratitude for Cartwright’s contribution to the greatest game devised by mortals. There was even a ball with Japanese written across its face.
While in Hawai‘i, Cartwright assisted in the founding of the first fire department and was its second chief. In honor of that achievement, there is a street named for him in Waikīkī. It is just a few blocks away from the existing fire station. It’s a bit of a seedy street, closer to Kapiolani Park than to the upscale shops. To be frank, it’s that area of the tourist’s mousetrap where vices are satisfied. But when you look down the one-way lane, your eyes are greeted by Diamond Head (called “Lē‘ahi” in Hawaiian, which means brow of the ahi, or tuna).
I picked up a copy of Lawrence S. Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times. It’s a bit frustrating to read it without access to Retrosheet, however. I find myself wanting to cross-check the recollections of the players. Not because I think they are willfully trying to mislead, but only because human memory is so fallible.
Game 137: September 6, 2005
Angels (77-60), 2
Red Sox (81-56), 3
L: Scot Shields (8-11)
W: Tim Wakefield (15-10)
SW (Supporting Win): David Ortiz (innumerable)
4 games ahead in the division
1 game winning streak
Oh I used to be disgusted
and now I try to be amused.
But since their wings have got rusted,
you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.
“(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes”
Great song choice by the Fenway Park DJ.
Last night was Green Monster Seat night. Good things tend to happen when I sit there; the last and only other time I was up there Pedro Martinez threw a complete game shutout against the Devil Rays. So I’ll be starting a petition to the Red Sox ticket office: make sure an EE representative is present in a Monster Seat for every home game going forward. I’m sure you’ll all sign.
I arrived in time for batting practice and stalked the first row of GM section 8 for taters. I think it was Doug Mirabelli who offered a few chances for me. One guy with a glove only 10 feet to my right caught one without moving an inch. People further away cheered him, hopefully drowning the epithet I muttered under my breath. Just a few moments later, a ball headed straight towards me, but hit the wall a few feat beneath my grasping hands. Clearly I am no flyhawk.
The all-female a capella group Broad Band opened the evening with an intricately arranged version of the national anthem. It was delightfully textured; one of the best versions of “The Star Spangled Banner” I have heard. I’d describe their sound as a hybrid of Anonymous 4 and Miranda Sex Garden.
John Lackey pitched splendidly albeit slowly for 6 innings. Red Sox offensive outs seemed to last twice as long as Wakefield’s innings, as the knuckleballer worked quickly as usual. Lackey squirmed out of multiple jams, the most notably in the 4th inning where Boston would not score despite Manny Ramirez’s leadoff double.
But one can only stifle the Red Sox lineup for so long. In the 5th inning, Lackey collapsed into a bases loaded situation. For him, the inning started off harmlessly enough with Tony Graffanino grounding out, but then he yielded a single to Johnny Damon and walked Edgar Renteria and Ortiz in succesion to crowd the corners for Ramirez. Ramirez did not get the right pitch to hit his 21st career grand slam to bring him within 2 of Lou Gehrig’s record, but he did walk to plate Damon. With Trot Nixon at the plate, Lackey uncorked a wild pitch to score the Red Sox shortstop. Surprisingly, no other runs were scored as Nixon and Bill Mueller grounded out to quell the uprising.
Wakefield pitched his 2nd and the Red Sox rotation’s 5th complete game of the season. He gave up 8 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts, and 1 home run. Orlando Cabrera blasted the Angels’ only round-tripper in the 6th inning over the Monster, but not towards my section. Given that Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero both have success against Wakefield, if I were Mike Scioscia I would have flip-flopped them in the batting order for this game. Otherwise, you leave Guerrero vulnerable to the intentional base on balls, the exact tactic Terry Francona used to defuse the intimidating bomber in the 1st and 6th innings.
With the score tied, Wakefield gave up a leadoff double to Bengie Molina, who was then pinch run for by Zach Sorensen. It seemed inevitable that a run would score save for the indomitable will of the veteran righty and his infield. Wakefield induced a ground out from designated hitter Casey Kotchman that allowed Sorensen to take third base. Pinch hitting Steve Finley grounded ineffectively to Graffanino, who went straight to home to stop Sorenson from scoring with the aid of Mueller. Wakefield struck out Adam Kennedy to go into the home half of the 9th tied.
With Ramirez and Ortiz in the offing, you knew what would happen. Scioscia knew, Francona knew, 35,060 fans with me knew. The only question was, would it be with Renteria on base? No, he struck out. So Ortiz took the plate with 1 out. Shields went after the designated hitter hesitantly and fell behind in the count 3-0. I felt a brief pang of pity for the Angels reliever, because he would be the latest victim to the ever-growing list of Ortiz’s dramatic wins. Ortiz fouled off the next two pitches, maybe giving Shields a brief glimpse of hope that he might actually get an out. Instead, it was Ortiz who got out, straight out of the ballpark and into the gap between the right field grandstand and the bleachers. Hearing it off the bat I knew it was gone despite my skewed viewing angle.
Can you give designated hitters a “W”? There ought to be a rule....
Sort of elitist, but it was nice having an uncrowded restroom. The mood of the Monster Seats is typically subdued.
You can learn a lot from David Wells, just not about how to win friends and influence people.
Don’t be a Bartman.
Fisk Pole shot.
Most of the time this flag was furled. I waited quite a while for it to wave freely in the breeze.
A Monster Dog that even Kobayashi would fear.
The Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon raised $2.4M.
During warm-ups Ortiz jests with some Angels pitchers. If they only knew what would be happening to them just a few hours from this encounter.
Happy, happy, joy, joy.
Game 126: August 26, 2005
Tigers (61-65), 8
Red Sox (73-53), 9
L: Jason Johnson (7-10)
W: Tim Wakefield (13-10)
H: Chad Bradford (6)
S: Mike Timlin (3)
This season at Fenway I’ve been to two games that I believe had the largest weather swings: the June 13th game of intense 90 degree heat and back-breaking humidity and the 49 degree, drizzly and bone-chillingly windy match-up just two days later, both against the Reds. But last night saw perfect conditions for baseball, despite what those Rolling Stones hooligans did to the field. The entire center field as well as parts of deep right and left fields needed to be replaced because of the damage caused by the concerts. I wonder if the Red Sox organization even generated any profit from the galas based on the amount of field repair required?
Detroit came out of the 1st inning with an early lead thanks to Kevin Millar’s error on Placido Polanco’s grounder towards first base. His miscue generated boos from the crowd, but as much as every nanosecond Millar spends on the field irks me, I won’t jeer a player on the team I root for. Even Millar’s 0 for 4 outing with 2 strikeouts and 3 left on base don’t warrant a Bronx cheer.
The 3rd inning was the offensive key for the Red Sox. Doug Mirabelli led off with a double that just missed being a home run. I was in Section 42 and could see Magglio Ordóñez fumbling to gather the ball. I went down closer to the barrier to take a picture of the right fielder in his haplessness. A drunken fan loudly opined on Ordóñez and Jamie Walker’s parentage and quality of play, prompting an usher to urge him to “take his seat and watch his mouth.” The fellow bolted toward the exit tunnel, tripping on the stairs in his haste and cowed like a scolded five-year old.
Alex Cora singled with a liner into center, setting up Mirabelli to score on Johnny Damon’s (who was wearing knickers, a change for him) sacrifice fly to right. Tony Graffanino also lined into center to single and David Ortiz walked to load the bases. I’ve been on hand for two grand slams this season (Ortiz’s on April 15th and Manny Ramirez’s on April 16th), and I felt fairly confident that I would get a hat trick with Ramirez at the plate. It appeared that Johnson was told not to tempt fate and threw slop to the Red Sox left fielder to walk in a run. Trot Nixon sacrificed to bring the score to 3-1, but Millar struck out to end the inning.
As for the 4th, I have no elucidation on the validity of the call on Curtis Granderson’s home run to right field, but the folks in the sections that had a better view gave the umpiring crew the home run sign each time a ball went into the stands foul. As such, I feel compelled to call out Randy Marsh, the home plate umpire who overruled Jim Wolf’s original ruling of foul and who ejected Terry Francona for questioning him, for making the incorrect call.
The Red Sox rallied in the 5th and 6th innings with 2 and 4 runs, respectively. The 6th was especially exciting with the leadoff double by Bill Mueller, Mirabelli walk, and most notably a Cora sacrifice bunt. Sacrifice bunts are probably more rare for the Red Sox, come to think of it. I’ll check on that and post the results.
John Olerud and Edgar Renteria both received warm welcomes upon their entry into the game, particularly Renteria. The fans acknowledged the shortstop for incredible road trip during which he edged his batting average closer ever closer to .300 and attained .350 in OBP. As for Jeremi Gonzalez, it was a homecoming he’d rather forget. Too bad, too, because without Gonzalez the bullpen would be in complete tatters rather than only slightly threadbare. Overcoming my initial unease with him and his odd spelling, I’ve adopted him as one of my supporting heroes of the season.
Be sure to check out Sam at Blue Cats and Red Sox and her coverage of the series. I’d likely go Sybil cheering for beloved teams playing against each other, but she somehow manages.
Sunset traces and fresh-grown grass.
I’m sure pitchers are already developing superstitions about not stepping on the “crack” in the grass.
Mere photographs do not do the sky justice, although the sentiment on the sign adds to the panorama. How I adore Bank of America’s low interest rates.
Dream of fields.
The radio-telethon’s goal of $2M was exceeded. Even if you missed this event, you can donate at any time by visiting the Jimmy Fund website.
I like to think that the bird prints in the concrete near my seat were
those of the bird that died on Jere back in May.
Fear not, friends, for it is properly and forever memorialized.
It will always be Burma to John O’Hurley. J. Peterman had some pipes.
The scourge of beachballs in the 7th inning. When Mueller was at bat, no less. For shame, woman. Repent.
New Hampshire vs. Portland
Fisher Cats (51-55), 0
Sea Dogs (55-48), 3
L: Josh Banks (7-9)
W: Denney Tomori (1-1)
H: Randall Beam (5)
S: Jim Mann (3)
Insert joke about cats and dogs here.
Six dollars for general admission tickets for adults. Five dollars for parking right next door to the park. Four dollars for an order of large fries that was actually large. One dollar for a souvenir mini batting helmet that will go on top of my monitor at work, right next to the matching Pawtucket and Boston helmets. My biggest expense was probably tolls and gas. I love going to Hadlock Field.
I understand there was a lot of drama at the big club. There’s drama at the AA level as well, but without the media, the daily trials and tumults of lower tier players go largely unnoticed, making their struggles all the more poignant. I came home to hear part of Peter Gammons’s induction speech from Cooperstown, and he told the story of Wade Boggs and how he toiled in the minors for six years. Boggs is the inductee who made his debut at the oldest age of any Hall of Famer, and understood that adversity could be overcome with persistence.
All this profundity is hindsight, to be sure. The game was chock full of minor league shenanigans, most of which were led by the inimitable Slugger. The crowd sang “YMCA” Slugger isolated individuals to do the Chicken Dance with him, and had a race on the bases with a 6-year old girl that he inevitably lost. The Sea Dogs take the field to “Who Let the Dogs Out,” of course.
The minijumbotron (I cannot in all seriousness call it an actual jumbotron) was named the “Ford Board” and also featured kitschy goodness. There were several computer-generated videos featuring the Sea Dogs logo being refracted as if in a kaleidoscope and set to songs like “Billy Don’t You Lose My Number.” Kevin Millar made a guest appearance to present the trivia question of the day. (Who is the only Red Sox player to have hit for the cycle twice? My guess: John Valentin. Correct answer: Bobby Doerr. I was confusing the fact that Valentin has both hit for the cycle and had an unassisted triple play, the only player to have done both.) We were also regaled of Jon Papelbon’s first major league strikeout and David Ortiz’s home run moments after they had occurred.
Hanley Ramirez had solid contact in the 7th inning, but the Fisher Cats’ right fielder Maikel Jova made a good catch. The shortstop went 0 for 4. Second baseman Scott Youngbauer had a triple in the 3rd with 2 outs that didn’t result in a score but was nonetheless exciting. Catcher Jim Buckley was the primary catalyst, going 2 for 3 with an RBI and stolen base. Tomori went for 6.2 innings with 4 hits, 6 strikeouts, and no runs, walks, or home runs allowed. His three-quarter delivery baffled the New Hampshire hitters, but his speed was not the mid-90s ascribed to him when the Red Sox organization signed him in the offseason. Jim Mann of Brockton, Massachusetts closed out the game with tremendous heat, striking out all three of the batters he faced.
Outstanding results, indeed.
Hanley didn’t get the boot and will be hanging around.
Yui “Denney” Tomori on the mound.
Where’s Crespo’s jersey? This guy is as confused as me.
Wacky CG kaleidoscope video.
Victory, keeping the Sea Dogs in first place in the Northern Division of the Eastern League.
The luxurious accommodations in the visitor’s bullpen.
Farewell, Hadlock Field. Wonder who will leave next?
Game 67: June 18, 2005
Pirates (31-35), 2
Red Sox (37-30), 0
W: Rick White (3-3)
S: Jose Mesa (18)
L: Alan Embree (2-3)
I jinxed it. Don’t look to place blame on the field manager, the bullpen, or the men left on base, because it’s all on my head. I alluded to the 5-game win streak in the title of my last game comments post, and it doomed the Red Sox’s chances for this game.
Tim Wakefield played against his former team for the first time. Despite pitching seven scoreless innings with 7 hits, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts, the offense behind him failed to get the well-timed hit and left 11 on base. NESN showed clips of him as a rookie, and he looked eerily like Tom Cruise. He refrained from jumping onto the dugout roof and declaring his unabiding love for Katie Holmes at the middle of each inning, thankfully. The Wakefield retrospective included a clip of slim Barry Bonds putting Wakefield in the same category as Roger Clemens, calling him “great.”
Incredibly, the home plate umpire, Jerry Crawford, did not permit Ryan Doumit to get a base after he was “hit” by a pitch in the 2nd inning. According to 6.08(b), a batter is entitled to first base when:
“[h]e is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball; If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched. APPROVED RULING: When the batter is touched by a pitched ball which does not entitle him to first base, the ball is dead and no runner may advance.”
Finally, there was an umpire with enough integrity to make this call, and it was primarily because Doumit looked as bad as a soccer player faking an injury or an NBA player flopping to get the foul call when he stuck his elbow into the path of Wakefield’s pitch. Wakefield in particular should get the benefit of this rule more often because his knuckleballs don’t carry the intimidation of a Mark Prior fastball. Hitters aren’t afraid to get hit by him and have the recourse of blaming the erraticness of the knuckler’s flight. Doumit struck out swinging at the very next pitch.
Manny Ramirez left the game in the 8th from the after effects of getting drilled by Dave Williams in the left calf back in the 5th inning. It’s not something that I noticed until now, but Ramirez goes to bat basically unshielded. Most other sluggers are adorned with an assortment of elbow, ankle, and shin armor, but not Manny. He does seem to be the type to be weighted down and distracted by anything; for him, it’s all about the swing.
Alan Embree entered the game in the 8th inning with the score tied at 0-0; not the most confidence-inspiring sight. Surprisingly, he gave up no earned runs, got an out, and left a runner at second base for Matt Mantei. Mantei gave up the wall-scraping double to Humberto Cota to drive in Doumit, that faker, with the go-ahead run. So, for the first time this season the Red Sox were shut out, and were blanked in a game that barely captured the historical resonance of the teams’ first meeting.
They played in the first “world’s series” in 1903, an eight-game series that the Red Sox (then known as the Americans, the Pilgrims, or Puritans) won 5 games to 3. The Royal Rooters, a rabid group of several hundred fans with their own band, traveled to Pittsburgh to cheer on their team. To unnerve the opposing team, they sang “Tessie,” a popular song from a Broadway play “The Silver Slipper.” The song was remade in 2004 by the Dropkick Murphys and another group of avid fans continue their obsession virtually on the fanboard named after those that came before them.
The caption says: Photo by Staff Photographer.
THE BOSTON AMERICAN TEAM.
Standing row, reading from left — Winter, p.; O’Brien, utility; Farrell, c.; Dineen, p.; LaChance, 1b; Dougherty, lf.; Hughes, p.; Freeman, r.f.; Criger, c.
Seated — Stahl, c.f.; Parent, s.s.; Young, p.; Collins, 3b, (Capt.); Ferris, 2b.; Gibson, p.
Tessie, you make me feel so badly; Why don’t you turn around?
Tessie, you know I love you madly; Babe, my heart weighs about a pound.
Don’t blame me if I ever doubt you, You know I wouldn’t live without you.
Tessie, you are the only, only, only.
Although the Royal Rooters were most strongly associated with the 1903 American League team, some members also cheered for the Boston National League team, known by many names, including the Red Caps, the Beaneaters, and the Braves. In his Third Base Saloon, Michael T. McGreevey would settle disputes between the Americans and the Nationals fans by yelling, “Nuff ced!”
Game 65: June 15, 2005
Reds (26-39), 1
Red Sox (36-29), 6
L: Aaron Harang (4-5)
W: Bronson Arroyo (5-3)
I just can’t keep up with the blogging efficiency of Witch City Sox Girl, Reb Sox, and A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory. We were all at the game and they’ve already posted about this. I’m the last one to write about it, and I can’t even say it was because I was up all night developing a Blogger Efficiency Rating Factor (BERF). If I did try to derive a formula, I would get McCarty’s expertise and we would probably come up with something that takes into account number of words per post divided by the time elapsed from actual events subtracting for travel duration. Which would make me really pathetic, since I live less than 10 miles away from Fenway Park. I can expand upon how the MBTA Orange Line has shuttle buses from Sullivan Square to Wellington (where I park my car for afterwork games) that added to my travel duration. But that’s a pretty lame excuse considering Jere now lives in the Big Malus pumila, Rebecca is in the state named for an Algonquin word meaning “on the long tidal river, ” and WCSG lives in the town named after the Hebrew word for “peace.”
So, I’m a big zero in BERF. I could be traded at any time. My listings in blogrolls across the globe will plummet, because people will tire from reading my ruminations on a game that happened over a day ago.
You might recall that I was also at Monday night’s game, so you could say that I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. You may also remember that I am originally from Hawai‘i, so large fluctuations in weather used to be foreign to me. But since I’ve been here since 1997, I can come close to saying that the variations in weather are almost fun. Talking about atmospheric conditions in New England is a lot more interesting than it is where I’m from. Not much small talk in Hawai‘i about the temperature or precipitation, and surf reports replace pollen counts.
To propose a 70s television show analogy (which, truth be told, is how I live my life), it was a Red Sox bloggers meets “Charlie’s Angels” kind of night. (The real television, not the recent movie retreads.) Give me a pack of Marlboros, I can get that Kate Jackson voice down, although secretly I’d love, for once, just once, to be cast as the blonde. (Heather Locklear, hear my prayer. Immaculate Queen of the Most Holy Night Time Soap Operas and of Guest Appearances on Middling to Excellent Sitcoms, hear the prayers of brunettes. Teach me to bleach, to tease, and to coif. And forgive us our visible roots as we forgive those whose roots appear to us.)
The Red Sox swept the Cincinnati Reds, but consider the stature of the opponent:
The Boston club should beat this team soundly, and they did so, consecutively and convincingly. Varitek had the opportunity to finally hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 5th, but struck out looking. The other captain, he of the intangibles, still hasn’t, either, so that takes some of the edge off. The Pirates are next; we’ll thank them for Tim Wakefield and Bronson Arroyo, but beat them to a pulp for pawning off Scott Sauerbeck on us.
The illusory ladder.
Bob Loble isnt a lyar! Old Hickory in the background. (If this caption doesn’t make sense to you, you don’t go wyaback on redsoxnation.net.)
What the sign really means: “Hey, you. Yeah, you, lady. Stop stalking the players.”
Door in a door. What will they think of next?
Dave Wallace thinks to himself, “Why can’t I work in a normal town where they don’t know the pitching coach’s name?”
Wednesday, she’s looking for a friend....
The Red Seat.
Game 63: June 13, 2005
Reds (26-37), 3
Red Sox (34-29), 10
L: Eric Milton (3-8)
W: Matt Clement (7-1)
Yes, it really was as hot and humid as the announcers probably kept on telling you. Even while sitting perfectly still I sweat continually. As far as that old saying that horses sweat, men perspire, and women merely glow, I offer you photographic proof below to refute this.
I got to Fenway Park right at 5:00 PM hoping that the Red Sox would take batting practice. Since they had a Sunday night game and it was sweltering, they skipped it. Perhaps they sensed that Milton would be throwing BP during the game. So instead, the BP fans got a show from Ken Griffey, Jr., Sean Casey, and Wily Mo Peña. Junior’s swing is as sweet as they say in person, but the way the ball sounded recoiling from Peña’s bat was thunderous. He launched more than a few completely over the Green Monster, arcing into Lansdowne Street.
Before the game started, the left field pole was officially named the Fisk Pole. I have no living memory of the 1975 series, but thanks to NESN’s replays this past winter that team is almost as familiar to me as the current one. Fisk throwing out the first pitch to Luis Tiant was a poignant role reversal. It seems that I also missed another touching ceremony in which Jerry Remy’s Wally beanie was awarded his own replica trophy and ring.
That’s the thing about attending a game in person; in some cases you know less about the game than if you watched it on television or listened to the radio. Because of my angle from Section 11, I had no idea that Manny Ramirez’s home run in the 6th was the result of Peña botching up the fielding. I do know that my heart was in my throat when he slid head first into third to advance on Javier Valentin’s throwing error in the 4th.
Clement, the replacement ace, went 8 innings and had 3 earned runs, 1 walk, and 9 strikeouts. The first 4 or so innings he seemed to be working at a painstakingly slow pace, but started to pick it up towards the end. Which was nice, since I was at that point considering taking out a loan to pay for my $3 bottles of water.
From my seat, I could see Hazel Mae in canvas alley. She would high five the grounds crew as they left the field. In fact, she was almost Cabrera-like in that she would have special patterns for some of the guys.
I didn’t realize until later it was the Kelly Barons that got nailed by an errant ball; I thought it was a random fan. I wondered what the hold up was, and may have even yelled out the suggestion that whoever got hurt should walk it off. Then Chang-Ho Lee and Jim Rowe came running, and realized it was a bit more serious than I originally thought.
Game 29: May 6, 2005
Mariners (12-17), 2
Red Sox (17-12), 7
L: Jamie Moyer (4-1)
W: Matt Clement (4-0)
David Ortiz’s home run landed 7 rows down and 5 seats to the right of me tonight. From my viewing angle, I didn’t realize it was a homer until I looked at the field and saw the umpire give the sign. The folks in my area were cheering for the guy that caught the ball (barehanded and effortlessly) almost as much as they were for Ortiz. I wish I had a tape recorder, or, to be more current, an iPod voice recorder device, to capture the conversation I had with the one good Yankee fan I know (the one that got me free tickets to that game in May of 2003). He was trying futilely to have me say that I would want Derek Jeter at the plate in a clutch situation. This was sometime during the 2003 season, Ortiz was mashing, and doing so in key situations. I blurted out, “Ortiz!” and he laughed a bit, because all of the pivotal runs that Ortiz had drove in hadn’t happened yet.
And if I had a track of that conversation, I’d do some additional dialogue recording to enhance it with my laughter.
For the first time ever, I left the game before the final out. As you age, certain parts of the body are gradually upgraded, but others most definitely face precipitous decline. My formerly cast iron stomach can no longer withstand the rigors of a Fenway Frank.
The nice thing about leaving early was that I got to hear Bill Mueller give a postgame interview. He was humble as always, giving credit to the Mariners and taking none for himself on his 2 for 4, 4 RBI evening. When he hit the single and double in consecutive at bats, I began cheering for him to hit for the cycle in natural order, even as my stomach withstood the trials of processed meat. The only players to do this for the Boston Red Sox were Leon Culberson in 1943 and Bob Watson in 1979, according to the Baseball Almanac.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out for Piney that Bronson Arroyo was the Red Sox Hero presented on the jumbotron.
(“Abode” is an interesting word. Its Indo-European root, “bheidh-,” means to trust, confide, or persuade. The Germanic deriviation, “*bīdan,” carries the connotation to wait, but also with trust and expectance. It is borrowed from the Old English “bīdan,” meaning to wait or to stay. It is also the past tense of “abide,” a great verb with irregular conjugation that recall the days when English was much more complex. Now there’s texting and L337.)
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre vs. Pawtucket
Red Barons (12-11), 1
Pawtucket Red Sox (10-13), 6
L: Pedro Liriano (0-2)
W: Tim Kester (2-1)
Mister Kester was dealing today. He is on the older side; I wonder if the younger players make fun of him because of his age? He pitched for 6 innings with only 4 hits, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Mark Malaska and Jack Cressend finished out the game. Cressend gave up a home run to Marlon Byrd in the 9th, ruining the shutout.
Tim Hummel and George Lombard hit homers in the 6th and 7th respectively. Lombard made up for being picked off first base. I was saddened to see that Alejandro Machado wasn’t in the lineup, since I really enjoyed watching him play the last time I was at McCoy.
Triple A games are a great mix of serious baseball and family fun. A father and son to the left of me were totally into the game, scoring it and listening the radio broadcast at the same time. Meanwhile, a family with two small boys were in the row in front of me. The y0unger son would copy his brother and cheer “Go Ged Dox!” when something good happened.
Other things of note:
Go Ged Dox! And I really didn’t step on the kid.
Buffalo vs. Pawtucket
Bisons (5-6), 4
Pawtucket Red Sox (4-7), 9
L: Francisco Cruceta (1-1)
W: Scott Cassidy (2-0)
Paws, the Pawtucket mascot, is so much more approachable than Wally ever was. To get in touch with the Boston mascot I had to go through a gauntlet of agents, spokespeople, PR flacks, and attorneys. He wonders why he is being ostracized. On the other hand, Paws mills with the hoi polloi, knows the regular fans by name, and even had time to pose for a picture with me. Now that he is in a stable, longterm relationship with Sox, we’ll probably be hearing the pitter patter of little pawlings soon.
Chris Narveson started for the Pawsox and went 3.1 innings with 3 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He got through a rough spot in the first inning. After striking out the first batter and inducing the second to fly out, he hits Mike Kinkade. He then walks the next two pitchers, loading the bases. With the designated hitter Jeff Liefer hitting, Narveson then balks in a run. He hangs on to get Liefer to line out to Kevin Youkilis.
Scott Cassidy then pitched the next 3.2 innings and was shaky. He gave up 2 home runs and 3 walks, striking out only 1. At that point, however, the Bison’s pitching was worse, with 4 runs in the 5th inning providing an adequate buffer. left-handed pitcher Jason Kershner came in the 8th to shut down the Bisons, allowing no runs.
Alejandro Machado was an offensive sparkplug. He doubled in the 3rd and then stole 3rd base. In the 5th he legged out a triple when the right fielder fell down fielding the ball right near the foul line and wall, scoring on a single hit by Luis Figueroa. At this point I was hoping that he’d hit for the cycle, and he nearly hit a home run in the 7th, but only got a ground-rule double. Reading the scouting report on Sox Prospects, they say he has minimal power. I wonder if it’s something that he’s been able to improve since then, because he looked like a force yesterday. He also made a fine defensive play in the 7th, fielding a ball that was sharply rapped by Ernie Young and then hustling to 2nd base to get the force out.
Game 11: April 16, 2005
Devil Rays (4-7), 2
Red Sox (6-5), 6
L: Dewon Brazelton (0-3)
W: Matt Clement (1-0)
Clement finally went long enough in a game to be part of the decision, going 7 innings, walking 2, striking out 6, and and allowing only 1 earned run. All that natural movement that Clement has was harnessed in this game. I looked up at the pitcher info board and at one point in the early innings his strike percentage was 80%, a fact that shows the he was locating well and also that the Tampa Bay team is fairly free swinging.
I’m sure we’ll be hearing from David McCarty at some point this Friday about the awesome play he made with Mike Timlin on Carl Crawford in the 9th to get the 2nd out of the inning. With any luck, he’ll be distracted by some other topic before then.
Again with the observations thing:
Game 10: April 15, 2005
Devil Rays (4-6), 0
Red Sox (5-5), 10
L: Hideo Nomo (1-1)
W: David Wells (1-2)
Jackie Robinson Day
My first live game of the season. Just a Tampa Bay game, to be sure, but it was nice to be back. Some impressions and observations:
Baseball-wise, it was the night of the Davids, with Ortiz’s grand slam and Wells looking as if he is returning to form. Even McCarty contributed with a 2-RBI single in the 7th. He’s not your typical late innings defensive replacement.
Below are some of the better photos I took last night, including the new warning sign to fans in right field.