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A Royal Pain

Sunday, May 30, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 36

Red Sox 8, Royals 1

After my game on Thursday, the Red Sox dropped another poorly-pitched game on Friday, and then won on Saturday behind a strong Clay Buchholz start.  On Sunday, I was headed back to Fenway Park, as the Red Sox and Royals wrapped up their 4-game series.  Since it was a Sunday, I drove all the way in, and I found a good, close, free spot at a meter on Comm. Ave. just outside of Kenmore Square.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and it was expected to get hot in the afternoon.  I got in the Red Sox Nation line to go in early, and noted that this was my first afternoon game of the year that wasn’t raining.  I have yet to be able to see batting practice from the Green Monster, because the tarp is usually on the field on the days I can get there early.  But even with the good weather, I figured the fact that it was a day game after a night game and they had the next day off made it a prime candidate for them to skip B.P.  Sure enough, when they let us in, I saw that they had indeed decided to forgo hitting, but it’s still cool to be able to go up on the Green Monster and watch what goes on in a quiet park before the bustle of the game.  The grounds crew was doing a lot of prep work, and Daisuke Matsuzaka was throwing a side session in the bullpen.  After a little while, Mike Cameron came out to jog in the outfield.  By the time we had to leave the Monster, the pitchers had come out to right field to do their long-tossing, so I went around to get some pictures.

Besides being one of the most consistent starters for the Red Sox this season, Clay Buchholz has other talents too - like bouncing a baseball on his arm.

Besides being one of the most consistent starters for the Red Sox this season, Clay Buchholz has other talents too - like bouncing a baseball on his arm.

The pitchers always stand in the same spots to do their throwing, so I seem to have a lot of pictures of some guys and not many of others.  After standing in my usual Section 1 spot to watch for a while, I decided I wanted to try a different spot, down beyond Pesky’s Pole, to try to get some pictures of the guys who were throwing down that end.  While most people stood in front of the first row to watch, I walked around a few rows back.  When I saw that there were people seated in the row I was walking in, I did what I always do – climbed over the seats to an empty row so they wouldn’t have to all get up to let me through.  I’ve been climbing over seats at Fenway for 23 years, but this time I didn’t stick the landing.  I rolled my ankle and fell completely over.  It was completely embarrassing, and I was hoping that no one had noticed.  (As I hopped up, a guy behind me did ask, “Are you OK?”  I replied, “Yeah, I’m fine.  You didn’t see that,” and he played along, “Right, I didn’t see anything.”)

The distraction of twisting my ankle caused me to miss getting the pictures I was hoping for, because the pitchers turned and headed in at that point.  But Jonathan Papelbon stayed behind, walked over toward Pesky’s Pole, and started signing autographs.  I was further down, near Canvas Alley, and I had no idea if he’d make it all the way over there, but I started to think what I could get him to sign if I was lucky enough.  Some people were having him sign their tickets, but mine was a big print-at-home one today.  My scorecard book was also a little large to stick out in front, since I was positioned behind some other people, and I didn’t think he’d keep signing long enough to get to me anyway.  But he did keep going down the line, and when he got down my way, I handed him my hat and actually got it signed!  (I’ve gotten autographs at Spring Training and various road games, but that was only the second time I’ve gotten a Red Sox player’s autograph at a game at Fenway.  My first was Danny Darwin in 1993.)

Paps signs autographs before the game.  Look closely at the reflection in his shades and you can see the magazine he's signing.

Paps signs autographs before the game. Look closely at the reflection in his shades and you can see the magazine he's signing.

Suddenly my ankle felt a whole lot better.  I walked around behind home plate to get a coupon for a free soda from the Designated Driver booth, then to the pizza stand behind third base because that’s the only one that has grated cheese.  Then it was up into the stands to sit and eat, out to Yawkey Way to check out the lineups, and around to my bleacher seat.  I was in the third row in centerfield, a single seat among groups of season ticket holders where I’ve sat before in past years.

Jon Lester sported a goofy Memorial Day hat ("Looks like we're selling ice cream," joked Terry Francona) but that didn't stop him from doing some serious damage to the Royals' lineup.

Jon Lester sported a goofy Memorial Day hat ("Looks like we're selling ice cream," joked Terry Francona) but that didn't stop him from doing some serious damage to the Royals' lineup.

I was happy to be able to see Jon Lester pitch, now that he had established himself as the ace of the Red Sox rotation.  He was less sharp than usual in the first few innings, and old friend Bruce Chen, who was making a spot start for the Royals, actually matched him through the first three innings, with both pitchers allowing one run and throwing exactly 59 pitches.  But after that Lester settled down and started mowing through the Kansas City order.  The Red Sox offense picked it up, too.  Bill Hall’s single, Mike Cameron’s double, and Marco Scutaro’s groundout in the fifth gave the Sox the lead.  Big Papi followed with a blast right in my direction.  It carried and carried, a 2-run shot that ended up hitting off a guy in the front row of my section, just 5 seats down from me.  It bounced off him and rolled, where it was picked up by someone further down the row.  The guys right next to me were friends of his, and they teased him mercilessly for the rest of the game: “Error!  Error on Bobby!  I can’t believe you dropped that!  No wonder they used to stick him in right field in Little League!”  He tried to defend himself: “I put myself in harm’s way to protect everyone behind me.  I’m a hero!  The beer stand is downstairs and to the right, if you want to salute a hero.”  Then he switched to excuses, “I just put sunscreen on, and my hands were slippery,” but they were having none of it.  They saw that I was keeping score and asked, “Are you going to put ‘E-Bobby’ there where he made the error?”  I just deadpanned, “Gee, I don’t think that will fit in the little box.”  But they kept going, “She’s giving you an error.  Want to autograph the scorecard?”  Then his other friend interrupted, “Don’t do it, he’ll probably just drop your pen.”  Rough crowd… and these were his friends!  (I thought for sure I’d be visible on TV, but when I got home and watched the replay, the camera didn’t zoom in and it only stayed on the crowd for a couple of seconds, so there wasn’t much to see.)

Jason Varitek warms up in the bullpen wearing the camouflage catcher's gear he'll auction off after the game.  He drilled his 7th home run of the year in the 8th inning.

Jason Varitek warms up in the bullpen wearing the camouflage catcher's gear he'll auction off after the game. He drilled his 7th home run of the year in the 8th inning.

The Red Sox tacked on 2 more runs in the 6th on Cameron’s double.  Just as he swung, a giant balloon twisted into the shape of a Red Sox hat floated down from the roof seats and onto the field.  As the runs crossed the plate, we worried that the umps had called time as the balloon flew by and Cameron would have to go back and do the pitch again, but the play stood.  The following inning, Jason Varitek got in on the fun with a home run over the Green Monster.  With Lester going 7 innings, Manny Delcarmen and Joe Nelson finished it off.

After sitting still for 3 hours, my sprained ankle stiffened up.  The parking space that seemed so close in the morning felt like a long walk on the way back.  And since it was my right foot, the hour-long drive home made it feel worse.  I wound up with a sunburn, too, despite using plenty of sunscreen, but it was all worth it for one of my more entertaining games of the year.

May 30, 2010 • Posted in: 2010 Games • Share on Facebook

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