Home > Interact > Blog

Cruising With Sale

Monday, June 26, 2017

Red Sox 4, Twins 1

After going to two games over the weekend, Monday found me headed back in to Fenway again. And this time it was Sale Day, only the third time this season I’ve been able to watch the ace at work.

The red lights on the scoreboard figured to get a lot of work tonight.

The red lights on the scoreboard, brighter after having been replaced earlier in the homestand, figured to get a lot of work tonight.

This was also the third of four games in my Sox Pax that had included Opening Day.  Unfortunately my view from that seat is less than ideal.

View from the

View from the (almost) back row of Section 32. Who needs to see home plate anyway?

At least I could see Sale!  (I flashed back to Opening Day of 2002, when I was so excited that the Red Sox opened at home because it meant I’d get to see Pedro Martinez, and then the only part of the field I couldn’t see from my seat was the mound.)  No one ever came and sat in the seat next to me, so I was able to move over and see everything.

It turns out you do need to see the plate when Sale is pitching, because not too many guys advance beyond it. Here's Miguel Sano walking back to the dugout after fanning to end the first.

It turns out you do need to see the plate when Sale is pitching, because not too many guys advance beyond it. Here's Miguel Sano walking back to the dugout dejectedly after fanning to end the first.

Unlike at the beginning of the year, when there was never any run support for Sale, the offense got to work early tonight.  Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia singled to lead off the first, and a run came in the back door on a double play.  Well, better then nothing!  Mitch Moreland followed with a home run into straightaway center, his third straight day with a homer in his first at-bat.  That put the Sox up 2-0, and Sale went on cruise control.

Moreland homerd for the third straight day.

Moreland homered for the third straight day.

Sale’s first baserunner came on a single in the second inning, but the runner, Jorge Polanco, was quickly erased when he tried to steal.  Chris Gimenez hit a solo homer in the third (which was promptly thrown back onto the field from the Monster seats), but there were only a handful of baserunners the rest of the way.

Pedey applies the tag as Sandy Leon cut down yet another baserunner.

Pedey applies the tag as Sandy Leon cuts down yet another baserunner.

Sale was his usual dominant self.

Sale was his usual dominant self.

Tzu-Wei Lin made his first start at third base, and picked up his first Major Lague hit with a single in the second inning.

Tzu-Wei Lin made his first career start at third base, and picked up his first Major Lague hit with a single in the second inning.

The only time the Twins had two runners on base at the same time was the seventh, when a single and a walk brought Gimenez to the plate with one out.  John Farrell opted to go to the ‘pen and bring in Heath Hembree.  Naturally I was nervous, even knowing that Gimenez had homered off Sale earlier, having seen the bullpen blow a couple of Sale gems in the past.  But Hembree induced an inning-ending double play, started by the sure-handed Tzu-Wei Lin at third.

Sale finished the day with 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, and 9 K.

Sale finished the day with 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 9 K, and 1 standing ovation.

Pedey had 2 hits and an RBI.

Pedey had 2 hits and an RBI.

Pedroia’s second hit of the day drove in an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh, and Moreland’s sac fly added another.  Matt Barnes struck out the side in order in the eighth, and Craig Kimbrel came on to close it out in the ninth.  All that was left to do now was dance, and since Mookie had had two hits and scored two runs, he did the honors.

June 26, 2017 • Posted in: 2017 Games • No Comments

Summer Doldrums

Sunday, June 25, 2017 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Angels 4, Sox 2

In the excitement of Friday’s ceremony to retire Big Papi’s number, it would have been easy to miss the news that the Red Sox had claimed veteran righty Doug Fister off waivers.  He would be taking over the fifth starter role most recently occupied by Hector Velazquez, and eventually when Eduardo Rodriguez returned from the D.L., the plan was to move Fister to the bullpen.

Doug Fister made his first start with the Red Sox.

Doug Fister warms up before his first start with the Red Sox.

It took me a long time to find a parking spot at a meter because the street and side streets in my usual area were blocked off until noon for a road race earlier.  I did find one a few blocks down eventually, but by then it was 11:45.  It was hot, and my seat was in the bleachers where it’s always a lot hotter than the rest of the ballpark.  I waited in the shade until Fister came out to the bullpen to warm up, then went to my seat right before the start.  It was “Family Day” for the Red Sox, so the players’ kids all joined them on the field or in front of the dugout for the National Anthem.

A bunch of Red Sox kids: Dustin Pedroia's three sons, Mitch Moreland's son and daughter, Jackie Bradley's daughter (in his arms), plus Andrew Benintendi, and Deven Marrero.

A bunch of Red Sox kids: Dustin Pedroia's three sons, Mitch Moreland's son and daughter, Jackie Bradley's daughter (in his arms), plus "kids" Andrew Benintendi and Deven Marrero.

More Red Sox with their kids: Brock Holt, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Pablo Sandoval, and Heath Hembree with their children.

More Red Sox with their kids: Brock Holt, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Pablo Sandoval, and Heath Hembree with their children.

Fister opened the game with three quick outs.  In the second, he gave up two singles then induced a ground ball that could have been in inning-ending 3-6-3 double play.  But the call at first base was challenged and upheld, the inning continued, and a run had come in.  The next batter doubled in a second run, and the next batter drove in a third, before being thrown out trying to take second base on the throw home.

JBJ went 1-for-4 with a homer.

JBJ went 1-for-4 with a homer.

Solo home runs by Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. inched the Sox closer, but once again there wasn’t a lot of offense to be found in the home dugout.  For Fister’s part, he worked quickly and faced the minimum over the next three innings.  The only baserunners over that span came on two walks, but a double play erased one and Christian Vazquez threw out the other.  (Seriously, why do people still try to run on him?  Thanks for the out, though!)  The game had started at 1:35, and at the end of the fifth it was 2:39.

As my grandfather would have said, "Fister's not tall, he just has long legs."

As my grandfather would have said about the 6'8" Doug Fister, "He's not tall, he just has long legs."

Pedey hits a pop fly into left.

Pedey hit a pop fly into left to open the sixth.

Fister’s outing was solid.  He gave up three runs in six innings, and when the first two batters resched to open the seventh, Robby Scott and Heath Hembree came in to get him out of it.  The Sox were only down by one run, so the game was still within reach.

The outfielders discuss important outfielder things during a pitching change.

The outfielders discuss important outfielder things during a pitching change.

The infielders gather as Robby Scott throws his warmup pitches.

The infielders gather as Robby Scott throws his warmup pitches.

It was hot in the bleachers, and while not completely stifling, it still felt good when the occasional cloud floated by.  But eventually the little fluffy clouds were replaced by a big gray one.  The forecast had only called for a slight chance of a stray thunderstorm, so I figured we’d head for the grandstand if it did start to rain.

View from Section 43 as the clouds rolled in.

The view from Section 43 as the clouds rolled in.

After Sam Travis pinch-hit for Deven Marrero in the seventh (and struck out to end the inning), Tzu-Wei Lin came in to play third base in the top of the eighth.  Lin had been called up directly from Double-A when Josh Rutledge was placed on the concussion D.L., and he had made his debut as a pinch-runner the night before.  (I remembered seeing Lin play in Portland, exactly a year ago.)  This was his first appearance in the field, and the second batter of the inning hit a grounder that rebounded off Joe Kelly and rolled toward third.  Lin ran in and made a barehanded grab with enough time to get the runner out.

Tzu-Wei Lin made a nice first impression at third base.

Tzu-Wei Lin made a nice first impression at third base.

At the end of the eighth we felt a couple of raindrops, and seats had started to open up under the cover of the grandstand, so we moved over.  The Sox were still only down a run, and if they tied it up I wanted to be comfortable.  Alas, it was the Angels who added a run in the ninth, and the Sox went down quietly to end it.

June 25, 2017 • Posted in: 2017 Games • No Comments

Thirty-Four

Friday, June 23, 2017 – Fenway Park, Pavilion Standing Room

Red Sox 9, Angels 4

I left work early on the day of Big Papi’s number retirement ceremony, and even with worse than usual traffic, I got there just as the gates were opening.  I grabbed an early bite to eat and went out to the grandstand to take a look at the field.  On the right field façade, a red curtain hung at the end of the retired numbers.

Shhh, no spoilers! Don't tell me what's behind the red curtain.

Shhh, no spoilers! Don't tell me what's behind the red curtain.

I visited a couple of friends who were there, but I couldn’t stay in the grandstand long.  I had Pavilion level standing room, and I needed to go stake out a good spot early on.  The seats in the Pavilion level are mostly the red seats, but the last row is stools with a counter in front, like on the Green Monster.  Behind this back row of seats is another counter, and that’s where the standing room is.  I loved having the counter to lean on and hold my scorecard, and the view was great… for the most part.  When people came and sat in the stools in front of us, their heads blocked home plate.  And when they all stood up for the opening ceremony and raised cameras over their heads, it was even harder to see.  There is a bar along the bottom of the counter that I was able to stand on to see, but I had to lean forward to keep my balance, and then stretch to hold my camera up.  Somehow, I wound up with great pictures of the ceremony, and then once the game started and everyone sat down, only minimal stretching was needed.

Wade Boggs, Pedro Martinez, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski welcome Big Papi to the retired numbers club.

Wade Boggs, Pedro Martinez, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski welcome Big Papi to the retired numbers club.

The ceremony began with a highlight package on the video board.  It was several minutes long, but it needed to be to get all of Papi’s career highlights in.  I’ve been to the number retirement ceremonies for Carlton Fisk, Johnny Pesky, and Pedro Martinez, and at all of those they brought out all kinds of gifts – seats with their number on them and the like.  But Papi had received all those things on the day of his final regular season game last fall, so I wondered what they’d do.

Pedro introduces his compadre.

Pedro introduces his compadre.

What they did was perfect.  They started by introducing a couple of longtime former teammates, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek.  Then came (almost) all the other living players whose numbers have been retired by the Red Sox – #8 Carl Yastrzemski, #14 Jim Rice, #45 Pedro Martinez, #26 Wade Boggs – plus the children of the late #4 Joe Cronin and #6 Johnny Pesky.  #27 Carlton Fisk was unable to attend, and 99-year-old #1 Bobby Doerr isn’t able to travel to Boston but was watching from his home in Orgeon.  There were tributes on the video board for #9 Ted Williams and #42 Jackie Robinson.  They also invited family members of the late Kirby Puckett, the Minnesota Twins’ great whose #34 Papi had chosen to wear as a tribute.  Then they unveiled the number 34 in its rightful place on the façade.  (So that’s what was behind the curtain.)

#34 now hangs with the other all-time greats.

#34 now hangs with the other all-time greats.

Pedro took the mic (he had a prepared speech, but the battery on his phone had died and he’s never been afraid of speaking off the cuff) and reminded us all that he was the one responsible for convincing the Red Sox to sign Ortiz as a free agent after he had been released by the Twins, calling it his “greatest gift to the city of Boston.”  Dustin Pedroia was next, and he got right to the point: “It’s not the home runs, it’s how you made us feel, and that’s love.  You’re not just a teammate or a friend, you’re family.”  Papi had to stop and wipe tears from his eyes before taking the podium himself to thank his teammates, coaches, family, and the fans.

No ceremony would be complete without a selfie of my two all-time favorite players.

No ceremony would be complete without a selfie of my two all-time favorite players.

"The little guy made me cry."

"The little guy made me cry."

The Dominican flag on the Green Monster represented Papi's homeland.

The Dominican flag on the Green Monster represented Papi's homeland.

Big Papi threw out the first pitch (caught by Tek) and then the National Anthems of both the Dominican Republic and the U.S. were sung.  The day was warm and humid, and some thunderstorms had come through west of Boston during my company’s outdoor barbeque in the early afternoon.  It was still cloudy at the start of the game, but there was no rain at night and up in the Pavilion level there was a decent breeze.

View from the Pavilion level standing room.

A full house at Fenway, as seen from the Pavilion level standing room.

I was relieved that Rick Porcello got quickly through the first (thanks in part to an outfield assist by Andrew Benintendi).  His recent starts had all followed one of two patterns – he left the ball up and got knocked around, or he pitched really well but got absolutely no offensive support.  So I was even happier about the reversal of trend when Angels’ pitcher Alex Meyer had a wild first inning.  He started by walking the first two batters.  Xander Bogaerts’ double drove in the first run, and then two wild pitches scored two more.  Even better, the Sox were able to build on the lead.  Hanley Ramirez belted a two-run homer in the fourth inning, and Sandy Leon hit one out in the sixth.  This was more like it!  It seems like I’ve seen more than my fair share of dud games this year.  I know there’s always going to be some, and for the most part I try to view it as taking the good with the bad, but my timing has been exceptionally poor this year.  The team’s in first place, but I have a losing record at Fenway.  At this stage, a well-played game has been rarer for me than a Papi sighting, and it was very welcome indeed.

Mookie Betts led off the game with a walk, stole second, and came around to score on Bogaerts' double.

Mookie Betts led off the game with a walk, stole second, and came around to score on Bogaerts' double.

Andrew Benintendi walks to the plate in the bottom of the fourth. He doubled and scored on Hanley's homer.

Andrew Benintendi walks to the plate in the bottom of the fourth. He doubled and scored on Hanley's homer.

Xander Bogaerts kneels next to second base as the umps review his slide.  He ended up being ruled out because of his slide, but it looked legit to me in the replays I saw.

Xander Bogaerts kneels next to second base as the umps review his slide. He ended up being ruled out because of his slide, but it looked legit to me in the replays I saw.

I thought I was capturing a great diving catch by Andrew Benintendi in left - until I saw the ball bounce past him for a double. Oops!

I thought I was capturing a great diving catch by Andrew Benintendi in left - until I saw the ball bounce past him for a double. Oops!

fenway623

When the people on the stools in front of me left, I moved down and had a great view of the rest of the game.

Porcello started to tire a little in the seventh and gave up a few runs, but by then the Red Sox had built up a big lead.  Heath Hembree, Joe Kelly, and Blaine Boyer finished it up.  Jackie Bradley Jr. ended the night with two hits, a walk, and two runs, so the outfielders’ “Win, Dance, Repeat” featured my favorite move, the ski jump.

JBJ celebrates the win with a ski jump.

JBJ celebrates the win with a ski jump.

June 23, 2017 • Posted in: 2017 Games • No Comments

Sent Home Happy

Monday, June 12, 2017 – Section 33

Red Sox 6, Phillies 5, 11 innings

Knowing that I would be going to a Sunday night game and then heading back in the next night, I had taken Monday off from work.  Sunday’s game had gone past midnight, making it almost 2:00 by the time I got home, so I appreciated being able to sleep in, and I had plenty of time to go in early for Monday.  It was another 90-plus-degree day, 93 on the Fenway board when I went in the early entrance line, but it was a welcome relief from all the awful cold games I went to earlier in the year.  I watched batting practice from the shade, and my seat for the game was under cover in the grandstand.  My seat was actually a fun one, a single seat in a row by itself at the back of Section 33.  I had had it once before and remembered all the comments I got as people walked by before the game, like, “At least you know you’re not going to be sitting next to any jerks.”

It was nice on a hot day to have room to breathe. There was even space for my bag and a ledge where I could put my camera and beverage.

It was nice on a hot day to have room to breathe. There was even space for my bag and a ledge where I could put my camera and beverage.

The only problem with the seat was that it was on the “wrong” side on the aisle, meaning everyone who walked up and down was in my way, even if just briefly.  At least I knew I could stand up to see, if I had to, without blocking anyone myself.  While I was happy about the weather and my location, it didn’t take long to make me grumpy.  Rick Porcello had a really bad first inning, giving up four runs on five hits and throwing 31 pitches in the process.  Last night, Drew Pomeranz had given up three runs on 30 pitches in the first.  Here I was watching a rerun again!  (If I could find an all-Chris-Sale channel to watch instead, that would be nice.)

Hello, old friend!  Daniel Nava did quite a bit of damage against his old team, going 3-for-6 with a double and a run scored.

Hello, old friend! Daniel Nava did quite a bit of damage against his old team, going 3-for-6 with a double and a run scored, plus an outfield assist.

While the Red Sox stranded Mookie Betts in the first after his leadoff double, they got on the board in the second on Andrew Benintendi’s homer.  They added two more in the third, thanks in part to another Betts double.  In the fourth, a good throw by Benintendi nailed Nava at second trying to stretch his two-out hit to a double.  The play was challenged but the call was upheld (his foot came off the bag briefly while being tagged), and the inning was over.  In the bottom of the fourth, Mookie’s third double of the day drove in the tying run, and things were looking good again.

Hanley Ramirez congratulates Andrew Benintendi after his homer in the second inning.  Hanley thought it was so much fun that he homered himself later on.

Hanley Ramirez congratulates Andrew Benintendi after his homer in the second inning. Hanley thought it looked like so much fun that he homered himself later on.

With the ledge on the wall next to my seat to hold my camera still, I was able to try a time-lapse video which covers the bottom of the third, top of the fourth, and bottom of the fourth.  If you look closely, you’ll see the grounds crew raking down the infield (0:12), the umps checking replay (0:19), and the Red Sox’ game-tying run (0:31).  (Also see how annoying it can be when you’re on the “wrong” side of an aisle.  Sit down, people!)

The frustrating thing was that right after the Red Sox had tied the game up in the fourth, Porcello gave a run right back on a double and a single by the first two batters of the fifth.  That’s a real pet peeve of mine.  He did manage to get out of the inning without any further damage, and he completed the sixth, too, which at least helped spare the bullpen a bit.  Joe Kelly pitched a quick seventh, and Robby Scott handled the eighth.

Hanley bailed Porcello out with a game-tying homer in the eighth.

Hanley bailed Porcello out with a game-tying homer in the eighth.

In the eighth, Hanley Ramirez launched a huge home run over the Green Monster.  From where I was sitting, the overhang of the roof blocked my view of the area over the Wall, so while I saw the ball go up, I really didn’t see it come back down.  I’m not actually sure it has landed yet; in his next at-bat they told us it had been measured at 466 feet.  That tied the game up, and it felt winnable now.  By the top of the ninth, the crowd had thinned enough that I was able to move down to the loge boxes in front of Section 29.

My view for the end of the game.

My view for the end of the game.

Dustin Pedroia started his night 0-for-4, but he was just waiting for the right moment to make his mark on the game.

Dustin Pedroia started his night 0-for-4, but he was just waiting for the right moment to make his mark on the game.

Craig Kimbrel reached 101 mph on the radar gun as he pitched in the ninth.

Craig Kimbrel reached 101 mph on the radar gun as he pitched in the ninth.

Beni had a good night at the plate (3 H, 1 HR, 2 RBI) and in the field (an assist at second base) but his baserunning blunder ended the tenth.

Benintendi had a good night at the plate (3 H, 1 HR, 2 RBI) plus an outfield assist to nab Nava at second base. Nava would later return the favor and double Beni off second to end the tenth.

As soon as I moved down, Pablo Sandoval made a great diving play to snare a hot shot to third for the first out of the ninth.  (He made an error on a much more easily-hit ball later in the inning, but it wasn’t costly as Howie Kendrick was finally thrown out on what would have been his fourth stolen base of the game.)  In the bottom of the ninth, Pedroia almost won it with a hit high off the Wall, but it was just shy of going out, and he had to stop at first.  The Sox got the first two runners on in the tenth, but Mitch Moreland was erased on a fielder’s choice and Benintendi was doubled off second by Daniel Nava on a fly ball to left to end the threat.  Still, it felt to me like it was only a matter of time before they broke through.  Matt Barnes pitched the tenth and eleventh, striking out five in the process.

Pinch-runner Deven Marrero takes a lead off first base in the bottom of the eleventh.

Pinch-runner Deven Marrero takes a lead off first base in the bottom of the eleventh.

Finally, in the bottom of the eleventh, Sandoval led off with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Deven Marrero.  Sandy Leon sacrificed him along, but all that did was make the Phillies choose to intentionally walk the red hot Mookie, who already had four hits.  Up came Pedroia, and he lined a hit just past the second baseman into right field.  Marrero raced around and slid in safely with the winning run as the throw was dropped.  Pedey’s teammates chased him around the infield, and Hanley finally scooped him up in a big hug.  (I waited with my camera ready to catch the moment that his teammates dumped the Gatorade bucket on him and NESN’s Guerin Austin, as is the custom for post-game interviews, but they didn’t do it.  I guess the kids are scared to mess with with the venerable dirt dog!)  Here’s how the night ended:

Deven Marrero jumps up after scoring the winning run.

Deven Marrero jumps up after scoring the winning run.

Pedey didn't get the Gatorade bucket treatment, but Christian Vazquez did get him with a smaller bucket of water as the "first responders" chased him across the infield. And look at Xander Bogaerts preparing for takeoff!

Pedey didn't get the Gatorade bucket treatment, but Christian Vazquez did get him with a smaller bucket of water as the "first responders" chased him across the infield. And look at Xander Bogaerts preparing for takeoff!

Hanley scoops Pedey up into his arms (just beyond #18 Moreland) as the rest of the team catches up.

Hanley scoops Pedey up into his arms (just beyond #18 Moreland) as the rest of the team catches up.

It ended up another late night, but this one was totally worth it.

June 12, 2017 • Posted in: 2017 Games • No Comments

Summer Rerun

Sunday, June 11, 2017 – Fenway Park, Section 36

Tigers 8, Red Sox 3

After all the cold games I went to all the way through May, it was a relief to have some hot summer weather finally.  But considering my seat was in the bleachers and the day was over 90 degrees, I was glad it was a night game.  I normally don’t like the 8:05 starts because of the potential to go later than public transportation can handle, but this is one time that I was happy to make that trade to avoid melting in the afternoon sun.  I drove in early to get a spot at a meter down the street, and went in the early entrance line to watch batting practice.  Until the regular gates open, we’re only allowed on the Green Monster or in the bleachers, so I chose to sit several rows back in Section 34, up against the wall, the only spot in those areas that was in the shade.  I wound up with the perfect souvenir when a Tigers batter hit a ball into my section, but admittedly only because I was the only one sitting that far back.

This ball landed a couple of rows behind me in batting practice.

This ball landed a couple of rows behind me in batting practice.

To be fair, this seat deserves the credit for making a nice catch.

To be fair, this seat deserves the credit for making a nice catch.

While the weather (88° at the start of the game, with a nice breeze and no humidity) was a pleasant departure from the past two months, the game action unfortunately was not.  Drew Pomeranz was pitching again, which meant I had missed another Chris Sale start the day before, and he wasn’t any better than the other times I had seen him.  He allowed a single to the first batter of the game and a homer to the second.  Then a walk, a wild pitch, and two more hits combined to drive in a third run before Pomeranz finally got out of the first inning on his 30th pitch.

Christian Vazquez was busy blocking pitches in the dirt and other wild offerings.

Christian Vazquez was kept busy blocking pitches in the dirt.

The Red Sox did get one run back in the first (although Hanley Ramirez ended the inning getting thrown out trying to stretch his RBI hit to a double) and another in the third.

Dustin Pedroia hit an RBI double in the third.

Dustin Pedroia hit an RBI double in the third.

Pomeranz, who always works slowly to start with, labored all night.  He gave up three straight singles to open the fourth, then managed to escape on two strikeouts and a fly ball with no runs scoring.  Again I was having flashbacks to the Daisuke Matsuzaka era, between the pace, the Houdini act, and the fact that he had thrown 82 pitches after four innings.  He started the fifth, but left with the bases loaded and one out in favor of Heath Hembree.  The bullpen has been a real strength for the Red Sox this year, but not on this night.  The first batter Hembree faced was Justin Upton, and he smacked a grand slam off (as I call it) the Bellhorn Pole.  It just got worse from there, as the Tigers batted around and added another run later in the inning.

Hold onto your hat - Hanley Ramirez adjusts his helmet after his seventh inning single.

Hold onto your hat - Hanley Ramirez adjusts his helmet after his seventh inning single.

It really felt like I had watched this exact game before.  On Mother’s Day, Pomeranz had started a very long, cold, miserable game that lasted over four and a half hours.  I was still traumatized by that game; I certainly didn’t need to watch the rerun.  “The only difference between this game and Mother’s Day,” I tweeted grumpily, “is 40 degrees.”

By the end of the sixth, enough seats were starting to open up that I made the move over to the grandstand on the first base side in Section 11, and the next inning I moved over behind home plate.  The game was so long and so bad that I started to play with the special effects on my camera to amuse myself.  Here are a couple:

Chris Young with only red.

Chris Young with only red.

Fenway Park in only green.

View from behind home plate with only green.

Fenway Park in "painting mode."

The ninth inning in "painting mode."

As I moved behind home plate, the clock struck midnight and the warning went up that the last T train leaves Kenmore at 12:25 (which is why I was glad I had parked on the street).

I had a good view in the Section 19 grandstand behind home plate.

I had a good view in the Section 19 grandstand behind home plate.

Dustin Pedroia watches his foul pop-up in the ninth.

Dustin Pedroia watches his foul pop-up in the ninth.

Down 8-3, the Red Sox actually mounted a bit of a rally in the ninth.  Two baserunners reached on walks, and with two outs Mitch Moreland hit a grounder to second.  The play was close at first base – in fact he looked safe – and the Red Sox challenged what would have been the final out of the game.  It turned out the call was overturned.  Moreland was safe, the bases were loaded, and the game wasn’t over yet.  That was nice, but it didn’t take long for Chris Young to line out to short and end the game for real, at just about 12:15.  As I walked back to my car, even the Citgo sign, which turns its lights off at midnight, had gone to sleep.

By the time the game ended, the Citgo sign was dark.

By the time the game ended, the Citgo sign was dark.

June 11, 2017 • Posted in: 2017 Games • No Comments

An Evening With David Ortiz

Thursday, June 8, 2017 – Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Lowell

Middlesex Community College Celebrity Forum

While the Red Sox were on the road, I won a raffle at work, getting two tickets to an event in Lowell.  The Celebrity Forum is held annually to support Middlesex Community College, and this year’s celebrity guest was David Ortiz, interviewed by WBZ’s Dan Roche.  As we waited for the doors of the auditorium to open, we saw that one of the World Series trophies was on display outside.  A closer look revealed that it was the one from 2013, which once spent the day at my house.  It was all over social media that today was “Best Friends’ Day,” so I joked (to my “other” best friend) how appropriate it was that I could see “my” trophy on that day.

Big Papi took the stage at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium

Big Papi took the stage at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

When we had gone in and taken our seats, there were some opening remarks and presentations to scholarship winners, and then the man of the hour took the stage.  A few days earlier Pedro Martinez had teased in a tweet that Papi was still in baseball shape and the Red Sox could use another bat, so Papi opened by joking that he had an announcement to make about that, then giggled and admitted, “No, I’m not coming back.”

Papi laughs at his own joke about making a comeback.

Papi laughs at his own joke about making a comeback.

Prompted by Dan Roche, he talked for over an hour, and had the audience laughing throughout the night.  When asked about having his number 34 retired by the Red Sox later in the month, he told a story I hadn’t heard before.  He said he never thought much about the retired numbers until one day in batting practice he smacked a drive off Bobby Doerr’s number 1 on the right field façade.  That led him to find out more about the other players whose numbers had been retired, and he realized what an honor it was that thousands of players have suited up for the Red Sox and only a handful are immortalized.  He then reminisced what a great influence Johnny Pesky, whose number 6 was retired in 2008, had on him.

Look at those shoes! Dan Roche joked that they were worth more than his house, car, and everything he owns put together.

Look at those shoes! Dan Roche joked that they were worth more than his house, car, and everything he owns put together.

When asked if he had thought about someday being inducted into the Hall of Fame, he told another new story.  His father visited Cooperstown for the first time in the summer of 2004, and he was in awe of Babe Ruth’s bat, knowing that Ruth was one of the best hitters of all time.  “But what about the Curse?” someone in his party asked him.  Papi’s father had never heard of the Curse of the Bambino, and they filled him in on the supposed reason the Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series in 86 years.  So he held the bat in his hands and spoke to it.  When he returned from his trip he couldn’t wait to call David and say, “Did you know about this curse?  I got rid of it for you.”  That fall the Sox went on to win the Championship, and apparently we have Papi’s papi to thank.

"Let me be honest with you, bro."

"Let me be honest with you, bro."

Over the course of the hour, Papi talked about some of his favorite teammates:  Kevin Millar, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia.  He’s famous for not being able to remember anybody’s name, and Dan Roche told his own story about that.  Millar once bet Roche that Papi didn’t know his name.  Roche was confident that he did, as they had a good relationship and he covered the team for many years.  So Millar marched him up to Ortiz’s locker and asked, “What’s his name?” to which Papi responded with a smile and a nice, generic “Heyyyy!”

Papi kept us smiling all night with his anecdotes.

Papi kept us smiling all night with his anecdotes.

Asked about longtime teammate Dustin Pedroia, Papi said “that little guy” doesn’t care about anything besides baseball.  “His wife could be hurting, he could have a kid missing, and he’d be like, ‘Kelli, I’ll be back at 11, figure it out.’”

David Ortiz expounds on his theories on life.

David Ortiz expounds on his theories on life.

Toward the end of the night, Roche introduced the “Lightning Round,” where they would play word association.  Papi’s responses kept us laughing.

Big Papi's stories made for a fun night.

Big Papi's stories made for a fun night.

Roche also asked about David Price’s recent spat with the media.  “Let me be honest with you, bro,” Papi said.  “The media here sucks.”  Roche feigned hurt feelings as a member of the media and asked, “Wait, all media?  There must be some who are good.  Who’s your favorite reporter?”  Papi just smiled, pointed at Roche, and said, “Heyyyy!”

Joe Giza, sports producer at WBZ-TV, posted some video clips from the night.  Here’s Papi talking about his number being retired and a short clip from the lightning round.

June 8, 2017 • Posted in: Events • No Comments

A Memorial Day to Forget

Sunday, May 28, 2017 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Mariners 5, Red Sox 0

Sunday of Memorial Day weekend brought a sunny morning, and my warmest game of the year so far.  (With all the cold ones I’ve sat through all it took was 62° to beat my previous high.)  I drove in early and parked for free at a meter down the street from Kenmore Square.  I went in the early entrance line for season ticket holders and Red Sox Nation members.  I started on the Green Monster, but moved down to the bleachers when I saw that the pitchers were warming up in right field.

Drew Pomeranz threw a side session with Eduardo Rodriguez looking on.

Drew Pomeranz threw a side session with Eduardo Rodriguez looking on.

Chris Young stood in as a batter during the bullpen session.

Chris Young stood in as a batter during the bullpen session.

cornrows1

Brandon Workman stood with a corn-rowed Heath Hembree, who apparently asked his barber to give him "the Bronson Arroyo."

Sandy Leon, along with the rest of the team, wore special uniforms for Memorial Day weekend.

Sandy Leon, along with the rest of the team, wore special uniforms for Memorial Day weekend.

Rick Porcello got the start. He went 6-1/3 innings and gave up two runs.

Rick Porcello got the start. He went 6-1/3 innings and gave up two runs.

Mookie Betts takes the field with a smile in the top of the first.

Mookie Betts took the field with a smile in the top of the first.

You can tell this pitcure of Dustin Pedroia was taken in the top of the first, because there's no dirt on his uniform yet.

You can tell this picture of Dustin Pedroia was taken in the top of the first, because there's no dirt on his uniform yet.

Why so many pictures from before the game started, and so few from the actual game?  Because the pre-game was my favorite part of the day.  I came in in a good mood, as the Sox had won six in a row, capped by rookie Brian Johnson’s complete game gem the day before.  I was comfortable in short sleeves, enjoying the morning sun.  It was all good… and then the game started.

While the morning was sunny, the clouds came as the game started, and it remained overcast.  We even felt a couple of drops of rain in the fourth inning, and I pulled on my jacket.  But it was still the warmest game I had been to this year.

While the morning was sunny, the clouds came as the game started, and it remained overcast. We even felt a couple of drops of rain in the fourth inning, and I pulled on my jacket. But it was still the warmest game I had been to this year.

Rick Porcello gave up 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings, which should be enough.  But the offense had disappeared again.  The Red Sox got people on base, but ended each of the first four innings with a double play.  Very frustrating!  It’s pretty hard to win a game without scoring any runs.  And then the bullpen, normally very good, gave up two homers and let the game get out of reach.  By the end, we were watching the Red Sox debut of journeyman reliever Blaine Boyer, who was only supposed to be on the roster for a day, between sending Brian Johnson back down after his spot start and activating David Price off the D.L. the next day.  (As it turned out, Boyer got the last two outs of the ninth quickly, and got to stay on the roster.)

Andrew Benintendi hit into two double plays.

Andrew Benintendi hit into two double plays.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr. also hit into a double play.

Xander Boagaerts actually reached base three times - which just means that he was erased on a double play twice and stranded.

Xander Boagaerts actually reached base three times - which just means that he was erased on a double play twice and stranded.

All that added up to a frustrating end to what could have been an enjoyable day, and a game I’d rather forget.

May 28, 2017 • Posted in: 2017 Games • No Comments

For The Record

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 – Fenway Park, Section 34

Red Sox 9, Rangers 4

There was an extra buzz heading into my next game.  I was excited to see Chris Sale, only the second time I’ve gotten to see him this season.  He had struck out at least 10 batters in each of his past eight games, a major league record he shares with Pedro Martinez.  If he could repeat that feat again tonight, he’d set a new record.  And starting with a 10-run ninth inning earlier in the month, the offense had finally started scoring runs when he was pitching.  I was also happy that it was a sunny day, making it my warmest game of the year.  (Game time temp was announced at 59°, but it felt warmer.  I had a jacket for later, but I finally didn’t need all the winter accessories.)

Sale Day is always a fun day at Fenway.

Sale Day is always a fun day at Fenway.

It was also the major league debut of first base prospect Sam Travis.  He was called up for a few days as the Sox swapped fifth starters, and would provide a day off for Mitch Moreland, who had played in almost every game because Hanley Ramirez’s injuries prevented him from playing in the field.

Sam Travis made his major league debut at first base.

Sam Travis made his major league debut at first base. He got his first hit in the fifth inning, and ended up 2-for-4.

Sale started off by striking out the leadoff batter.  But when the next batter grounded out to third on the first pitch, everyone groaned.  Even though it would keep his pitch count low, we wanted a 10-K game.  The third batter hit a fly to right to complete a quick, efficient inning, but Sale still had nine strikeouts to go.  He did get two K’s in the second but only one more in the third.  He was perfect through the first three innings, but only had four strikeouts.

It was a beautiful night in the front row of Section 34. It was warmer at this night game than it had been at my last day game, ten days ago.

It was a beautiful night in the front row of Section 34. It was warmer at this night game than it had been at my last day game, ten days ago.

In the bottom of the third, the Red Sox accomplished that rarest of feats – they scored a run in a Chris Sale game.  Deven Marrero singled and stole second, and then Mookie Betts drove him in with a single.

Deven Marrero takes off from second on Mookie Betts' hit, to score the first run of the game.

Deven Marrero takes off from second on Mookie Betts' hit, on his way to score the first run of the game.

But that’s all the Sox would get in the inning, and then in the fourth the Rangers tied it up with a cheesy little run on a walk, passed ball, groundout, and sac fly.  There were no K’s in the inning – “That’s why it’s a record,” said the woman next to me, as the realization set in that he wasn’t going to get to ten – but Sale had something better going, as he had completed four innings without giving up a hit.

Chris Sale strikes out Mike Napoli in the second.

Chris Sale follows through after striking out Mike Napoli in the second.

“Old friend” Mike Napoli got a nice hand when the lineups were announced, when he came to bat the first time, and when he struck out in the second.  He even helped us further by dropping a foul pop fly for an error in the fourth, even though it didn’t end up amounting to anything.  But when he broke up the no-hitter by launching one of his trademarked homers over the Green Monster in the fifth to give the Rangers the lead, I wrote in my scorecard, “Nap’s not my friend anymore.”  They tacked on another run that inning, too, putting the Sox down 3-1.

Mookie tracks down a fly ball.

Mookie tracks down a fly ball.

Texas pitcher Martin Perez was already over 100 pitches when he came out to start the seventh inning.  After getting one quick out, he gave up two singles and was lifted from the game.  (One of the hits was Sam Travis’s second of the game – and of his career.)  The new pitcher was greeted by pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland (in for Sandy Leon), who singled to drive in a run, and pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge (in for Marrero), who drove in the tying run.  After Mookie was intentionally walked, a wild pitch scored the go-ahead run, and then Dustin Pedroia knocked in two more.  Xander Bogaerts followed with a double, and Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked.  Chris Young’s bases-loaded walk pushed another run across, and Andrew Benintendi’s sac fly plated the seventh run of the inning.  (Once the Sox had taken the lead and Napoli dropped another foul popup for an error, I wrote, “OK, he’s my friend again.”)  When it was all said and done, the Sox had sent 12 men to the plate, scored seven runs, and now led 8-3.

Mitch Moreland came in to pinch-hit, and promptly drove in a run.

Mitch Moreland came in to pinch-hit, and promptly drove in a run.

Mookie scores the fifth run of the inning on Pedey's hit.

Mookie scores the fifth run of the inning on Pedey's hit.

Andrew Benintendi had a single and a sac fly in the seventh inning.

Andrew Benintendi had a single and a sac fly in the seventh inning.

Sale came back out for the eighth, and got one out before allowing another run on four hits.  He finished with “only” six strikeouts, so it wouldn’t be a record ninth straight 10-K game, but the important thing was that he was lined up for the win.

Sale got a standing ovation as he came out of the game int he eighth.

Sale got a standing ovation as he came out of the game in the eighth.

Joe Kelly pitched the final inning and two-thirds to seal the win, and I finally got to see “Win, Dance, Repeat” again.

May 24, 2017 • Posted in: 2017 Games • No Comments

A Mid-Season Signing

Saturday, May 20, 2017 – Franklin, MA

In May, David Ortiz’s new book, Papi: My Story, was due out, and he did a handful of book signings in the Boston area.  I saw that there was one on a Saturday, at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Franklin, and pretty much knew I had to go.  It had been almost two months since I last met him at an event to launch his wine label, Arias, and I joked that I had to go to the book signing so he wouldn’t start to miss me too much.  The signing was limited to one copy per BJ’s membership, so I went out the night before and signed up for a trial membership so I wouldn’t have to waste time in the morning.

The line stretched two-thirds of the way down the side of the building before the store even opened.

The line stretched two-thirds of the way down the length of the building before the store even opened.

The event was scheduled for 10:00-12:00, with the store opening at 9.  I got up early and made it there by 8:15.  I couldn’t believe how full the parking lot was at that hour.  The line started outside the doors, went along the whole front of the store, turned the corner, and went two-thirds of the way toward the back, and it just got longer as we waited.  Rumor had it that the people at the front of the line had gotten there at 10:00 the night before!  (Three days after I sat through a 45° game on Mother’s Day, we were treated to two 90° days and an 80° one the day before the signing, so it actually would have been a decent night for them to camp out.)

Papi: My Story

Papi: My Story

When the store opened at 9:00, the line moved up.  Once in the store, I bought my copy of the book and followed the line down the designated aisles.  I was about five aisles down, with the dog and cat food, for the next hour and a half.  As I waited, I got a chance to read the first couple of chapters, on Papi’s childhood and his time in the low minors.

We waited in the dog and cat food aisle for an hour and a half.

We waited in the dog and cat food aisle for an hour and a half.

When I got to the front of the line, they were trying to move everyone through so quickly that I forgot my lines.  I had been planning to say that I was enjoying drinking his wine, but instead all I came up with was a generic, “Thank you very much, Big Papi!”  Oh well.

It was about 10:45 when I made it to the front of the line.

It was about 10:45 that I made it to the front of the line.

If Big Papi wanted to put his autograph on something else, like a contract for the second half of the season, I wouldn't object.

If Big Papi wanted to put his autograph on something else, like a contract for the second half of the season, I wouldn't object.

The book is an entertaining look at one of Boston’s biggest stars, and had plenty of stories about his career that I hadn’t heard before.  You can get your copy on Amazon if you haven’t grabbed one yet.

(For those keeping score at home, this now marked two occasions in recent months that I’ve seen Big Papi, but I’ve only seen Chris Sale pitch once.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Luckily, that was set to be remedied in my next game, a few days away.)

May 20, 2017 • Posted in: Events • No Comments

Mother Nature’s Day

Sunday, May 14, 2017 – Fenway Park, Section 33

Rays 11, Red Sox 2

The weather forecast wasn’t good for Mother’s Day weekend.  Heavy rain was due in Saturday evening and throughout Sunday.  The Rays do make another trip to Fenway, in September, so they would be able to make up a game if they had to, but they wouldn’t want to make up two.  The Red Sox moved the start of Saturday’s game from 7:10 to 1:05 with the hopes that they could get it in before the rain.  I know they’ve said in the past they try to avoid moving game times earlier if at all possible because of people’s travel plans to get there, so to me this extreme measure meant that they knew there was no way they’d play Sunday, and they wanted to make sure to at least get one game in.  (Or maybe it was just so they wouldn’t have to wait an extra six hours to watch Chris Sale.)  The move paid off; Sale dominated, the offense backed him up with run support, and the rain held off until later.  It rained hard all night, and I expected Sunday’s game to be called around 10 am, saving us all the trip.

It was windy and rainy, even under the roof of Section 33.

It was windy and rainy, even under the roof of Section 33.

In the morning, the Red Sox tweeted that they planned to play, but knowing that there’d be no batting practice to watch, I waited until just before noon to start my drive in.  I found a spot a block down from Kenmore Square, and as I walked up to the ballpark it was down to just a drizzle.  Play ball!

My seat in Section 33 was technically under cover, so it wasn’t as bad as if I had been in the bleachers, but that section is open from behind, and the wind was swirling the mist underneath so that my camera and scorecard were getting rained on.  It was a day game in mid-May, but it was the coldest one I had been to this year (not counting the Frozen Fenway hockey games in January of course).  As the game went on, I added all my layers: knit hat, hooded sweatshirt, scarf over my legs like a blanket.  (I try to avoid gloves, though, because it makes it hard to keep score.)  I’ve gotta give credit to the two hardy New Englanders I saw eating ice cream… but only if they stuck it out till the end of the game like me.

L.L. Bean was an appropriate sponsor of this chilly game. I, for one, was wearing my (special 2013 Red Sox edition) Bean boots.

L.L. Bean was an appropriate sponsor of this chilly game. I, for one, was wearing my (special 2013 Red Sox edition) Bean boots.

And this game wasn’t ending any time soon.  Drew Pomeranz works slowly to start with, and he had already thrown 57 pitches and allowed two runs when he took the field for the top of the fourth.  Suddenly the trainers joined him on the mound, and he was on his way out of the game.  We heard later that it was tightness in his left triceps.  Ben Taylor got all the time he needed to warm up, then came in and gave up another run, putting the Sox down 3-1.

Drew Pomeranz exited after only three innings, leaving the majority of the game in the hands of the bullpen.

Drew Pomeranz exited after only three innings, leaving the majority of the game in the hands of the bullpen.

The Sox clawed some of the way back in the fifth inning, but even that ended in frustration.  They sent 7 men to the plate, and Dustin Pedroia’s single pulled the Sox to within one run.  But Christian Vazquez was thrown out at the plate, and Andrew Benintendi flied out with the bases loaded to end the threat with just one run in.

Pedey stands on first base next to Chris Davis.  The whole pink for Mother's Day thing might have been nicer if they weren't so mish-mash with different shades of pink for the socks compared to the batting gloves, and if they had decided to be consistent with wearing either pink or red sleeves under their jerseys.  It looked pretty ridiculous as it was.

Pedey stands on first base next to Chris Davis. The whole pink for Mother's Day thing might have been nicer if they weren't so mish-mash with different shades of pink for the socks compared to the batting gloves, and if they had decided to be consistent with wearing either pink or red sleeves under their jerseys. It looked pretty silly as it was.

Hanley Ramirez reached on an error in the sixth and singled in the eighth.

Hanley Ramirez reached on an error in the sixth and singled in the eighth.

Hanley made it to third with one out in the sixth.  "Hey, Hanley!" called third base coach Brian Butterfield. "I think you got a little something on your pants." With the muddy field, we had a lot of dirt dogs on the team today.

Hanley made it to third with one out in the sixth. "Hey, Hanley!" called third base coach Brian Butterfield (probably). "I think you got a little something on your pants." With the muddy field, we had a lot of dirt dogs on the team today.

Xander Bogaerts left just enough of his face exposed under the ski mask that he could still blow bubbles with his gum.

Xander Bogaerts left just enough of his face exposed under the ski mask that he could still blow bubbles with his gum.

Mookie Betts takes a swing in the seventh. Even home plate ump Laz Diaz got into the Mother's Day spirit with a pink face mask.

Mookie Betts takes a swing in the seventh. Even home plate ump Laz Diaz got into the Mother's Day spirit with a pink face mask.

At the end of the seventh enough people had left that I was able to move over to Section 29, which was under cover and also had a solid wall behind it, meaning no rainy, gusty wind.  The sky even brightened for a few minutes, causing everyone to shout, “The sun’s coming out!” but it quickly clouded over again.  From the new seat I was able to see the clock over the back of the bleachers and noticed that we were already at the three-and-a-half-hour mark, with two innings still left to play.

Early in the game, the bleachers were colorful.  By the end they had emptied out.

Early in the game (pictured here), the bleachers were pretty colorful. By the end, after four hours of steady rain, they had emptied out.

It’s a good thing my new seat was (slightly) more comfortable, because the game still had a way to go.  After Ben Taylor threw two innings of relief, Fernando Abad got the first two outs of the sixth.  Matt Barnes finished the sixth and stayed in for the seventh, giving up the fourth Tampa run in the process.  Robbie Ross notched a strikeout to end the seventh, completed the eighth by stranding two baserunners, and then came back out for the ninth.  He gave up a run on three hits and managed to get two outs along the way.  With two out and two on and the Sox down 5-2 in the ninth, Heath Hembree came in, and the next four batters went like this: RBI single, RBI single, RBI single, three-run homer.  When the inning mercifully came to a close, seven Tampa runs had crossed the plate, and they now led 11-2.

Robbie Ross was charged with three runs in two innnings of relief.

Robbie Ross was charged with three runs in two innnings of relief.

The bottom of the ninth went quickly, and the game finally ended just after 6:00.  The official time of game was 4:32, just 13 minutes shy of the all-time record for longest 9-inning game (which I also had the dubious pleasure of attending, back in 2006.)  I don’t mind sitting through uncomfortable weather when the game play is good, but there was just nothing good to come out of this one.

May 14, 2017 • Posted in: 2017 Games • 2 Comments
HomeDepartmentsFeaturesArchivesMore InfoInteractSearch
www.RedSoxDiehard.com RedSoxDiehard.comRandom page
E-mail the webmasterPost to Message Board


www.redsoxdiehard.com
This page copyright © 2008-2016 by Kristen D. Cornette.