Sometimes circumstances come together in such a way that I get to enjoy a mini-oasis of baseball in the midst of the drudgery that is my life. So it was this week, when I attended Red Sox games on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. I’ve been to consecutive games before, but this time included a little extra adventure.
It started Monday when one of my online Red Sox friends from a private message board I belong to posted that he had an extra ticket for Wednesday night’s Baltimore game and put it out there for the first person who claimed it. "Jim Ed Rice in HOF," as he is known on the board (JimEd for short), has two season ticket out in section 36 of the bleachers, and he didn’t have anyone lined up to go with him for that game. As luck would have it, by the time I checked the board six hours later, no one else had claimed it. I figured that already having taken a day off to go to the Thursday afternoon game, it wouldn’t be a bit deal to be out late the night before.
I had intended to leave work at 4:15 Wednesday so I would have time to drive to Riverside Station, ride in to Boston, meet JimEd and possibly a few of the other board members for a drink at the Cask ‘n’ Flagon, and get into the game on time. Unfortunately, work being what it is at the moment (i.e. sucky) I didn’t leave until 4:50 and still had to go to the bank because I hadn’t gotten out for cash at lunch time. When it became apparent that doing the T thing wasn’t going to work time-wise, I drove all the way in and parked at the Landmark Center garage on Brookline Avenue, a few blocks from Fenway. I met up with JimEd, Neena, and SoxGirl79 for a beer, parted company with the two girls, and went into the park.
I had heard about new Celtic Kevin Garnett throwing out the first pitch, and as it turned out we were walking to our seats just as he was coming onto the field. He got a enormous standing ovation. I couldn’t help but think about the game I went to right after the Bruins signed Joe Thornton to that big contract extension and he threw out the first pitch at the next Sox game, but by the end of that season he was winning the Hart trophy for someone else. But I digress.
It was toasty out, but fortunately JimEd’s seats are close enough to the monster that they are in the shade long before the rest of the bleachers are. Between that and the fact that I had disencumbered myself of my bra before the game even started, I was fairly comfy. It ended up being a perfect night for baseball and there was a lot of great stuff to see in the game. For example: Coco going 0-for-0 with 4 walks; Pedroia 3-for-4 plus a sac fly and 3 RBI; Papi, Youk, and Tek all hitting doubles in the seventh; and of course the win. When Javier Lopez came on in the 7th with two out and a runner at first to pitch to Nick Markakis, JimEd asked me how many pitches I thought it would take Lopez to get out of the inning. Lopez does have a habit of throwing one pitch and getting the out, but I figured that was asking too much so I predicted two. The first pitch was a strike and the second was a grounder back to the mound. Hee!
Another funny moment happened in the middle of the game when, between innings, Eric Gagne walked from the dugout out to the bullpen. He got big applause from the people in the bleachers and down the right field line. I’ll bet he has never gotten a standing ovation just for walking out to the bullpen. Welcome to Boston. There were some guys behind us who, at the beginning of the game and at every pitching changed, chanted, "We want Gagne." Obviously we didn’t see him in that game, but we did see a Sox win and that was good enough for me.
After the game, I said good-bye to JimEd and walked back to the parking garage, where…my car wouldn’t start. The key turned, but instead of the engine turning over, the needles on all the dashboard guages started going up and down, the inside dome light flickered off and on over and over, and the headlights, fan, and radio didn’t work. I won’t go through the excruciating details of what followed, but the Reader’s Digest version is that I had to call AAA (best $48 I spend every year) and waited over an hour for a help to come, during which time I totalled my scorecard from the game while the Triumphant Mama drove to Boston to take me home. Before we could leave, however, I had to steer my car out of the garage while the tow truck guys pushed because their truck was too high for the garage clearance. I told them to tow me to the closest garage, which was at the corner of Yawkey Way and Boylston Street, and I finally got home at 2:45am.
I had to get up at 8:15 Thursday morning so I could drive out to my brother’s house and pick up my niece and nephew for the afternoon game, which we got to via the T commuter train, on which the air conditioning wasn’t working. We were drenched in our own sweat by the time we got to Fenway at noon, but I had plenty of time while I was sweating to mentally compose an irate letter to the T, the governor, my state representative and senator, and the newspapers. The Triumphant Mama, who had to sing a funeral this morning, had my father (who is not Triumphant, as he’s a Yankees fan—oh, the embarassment) drive her to Riverside after she was done, and she took the Green Line, which due to track work, consisted of a bus all the way in. But the air conditioning on the bus worked so she got no sympathy from me.
The pre-game ceremony honoring Bobby Doerr (1937-1951, HOF 1986) was really nice, and when it started with the music from Field of Dreams (the music at the end when Ray asks his father to have a catch) I knew I was a goner. By the time Bobby was driven out in an antique car and to the song "Sentimental Journey," I was crying like a baby. I’m such a sap. It was the 60th anniversary of the first time they had "Bobby Doerr Day" at Fenway, and he talked about all the wonderful gifts the team and fans had given him, including a heater from the Yawkeys for their cabin in Washington which didn’t have any heat. (This is where he spent the spring fishing and his wife would cook and can the salmon. He didn’t talk about this, but back in the day when I was working for the local cable company and interviewed him for a special project, I heard these stories from Mrs. Doerr.) He kept talking about how much these gifts "helped us out," the unspoken message being that ballplayers at that time made crap for money unless they were the big superstars. Then he thanked a bunch of people, including the current Red Sox team who he said he enjoys watching on TV. So it was fitting that John Henry gave him a high-definition TV. He also made a comment about how great our "little second baseman" is doing this year, which might have been insulting to Dustin Pedroia if it had come from anyone except another little second baseman who just happens to be in the Hall of Fame. The only thing I was disappointed at was that Dom DiMaggio wasn’t there. An article in the Boston Globe mentioned that DiMaggio has trouble with his legs and couldn’t make it.
The game itself was great, except when Baltimore tied the score at 3. That was Tim Wakefield’s only rough inning. He finished at 93 pitches according to my count, and he stayed in long enough for the Sox to take the lead while he was still the pitcher of record, so he now has 13 wins! Hideki Okajima pitched the 8th and Gagne pitched the 9th because it wasn’t a save situation. Gagne got another thunderous ovation, so loud that I could barely hear that his entrance music is "Panama" by Van Halen (note to self: add "Panama" to my .mp3 player). He gave up a run on a couple hits but really did look good overall, hitting the low 90s on the fastball in between 70 mph curves. Despite the hits, his stuff looked great. Before the game, I told the kids I predicted a 7-5 Sox win, and it was 7-4 so I was close.
One more thing about the game. We were sitting behind four guys, three of whom were fairly normal and the fourth of whom was totally obnoxious. He wasn’t nasty or swearing or drunk or anything like that, but he was booing the Red Sox at every turn (good naturedly, I’m sure he thought), heckling all the players, griping about every ball/strike call that didn’t go against the Sox, and generally yelling about something for the entire game. If you guessed that this man was a Yankee fan…you win! He was wearing a Yankees shirt and thought he was so clever. I lost count of how many times he yelled, "Hey ump, try looking out of your good eye." See, this is why people hate Yankees fans—they’re the only fans who go into a ballpark where their team isn’t playing for the sole purpose of booing the home team. This guy was trying to hit on me the entire game and I was being frosty, but the idiot just didn’t get the message. At one point, a woman sitting across the aisle from us took a picture of him, which he posed for when he saw her pointing the camera at him. She said she was going to post it on MySpace with the caption "obnoxious Yankee fan at Fenway Park" and the dimwit thought she was joking. Ay-yi-yi.
After the game, we walked down to the mechanic so I could pick up my car. The ignition switch needed replacing and they totally gouged me—$450 for a repair my mechanic said would cost $250 or so from him. Message: DON’T GO TO FENWAY AUTO SERVICE! It would have cost me more than $200 to have the car towed from Boston to Shrewsbury, so I really had no choice at the time. But I am going to file a complaint with the Attorney General‘s office, which investigates price gouging if enough people complain. The Triumphant Mama also suggested I drop a dime to Susan Wornick, who loves to do reports on places like that. Who knows, maybe I’ll get some money back.
By last night, I was completely exhausted and felt grimy from sweating all day. I finish totaling my scorecard and wanted to take a shower, but was too tired even for that. I slept like the dead last night and feel like a new woman today. This evening, I’m meeting up with Sistah Booklady in Wareham a Cape League game. Baseball, baseball, baseball!