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2003: Diary of a Season

Tuesday, August 26, Fenway Park, Section 16

Blue Jays 12, Red Sox 9

The next day's game wasn't one that I originally had a ticket to, but my friend and I bought them a week in advance. In early August, Red Sox President Larry Lucchino's wife had particpated in a bicycle race to raise money for charity. Red Sox broadcasters had been advertising the event during games, and Jerry Remy said that his Wally the Green Monster beanbag doll would be riding along on her bicycle. Several viewers had sent clothing and helmets in for Wally, including my friend, who had sewn a whole bike-riding outfit. She sent Remy an email afterward, saying that she had additional outfits if he was interested. He replied that she could bring them up to him on the fifth floor the next time she came to a game. I wanted to get in on meeting Jerry Remy, so we picked the August 26 game, because neither one of us already had tickets for this Toronto series, and it was originally lined up to be a Pedro game until he had gotten sick and missed a start.

There had been several running gags between Jerry Remy, Don Orsillo, and Sean McDonough during broadcasts all year. They liked to poke fun at radio broadcaster Jerry Trupiano's loud shirts. They had clothing designer and Red Sox fan Joseph Abboud in the booth. And McDonough teased Remy about his hair, saying, "It's not just a rug, it's a system." Meanwhile, Jerry's Wally doll sat in the booth with them all year and even went on road trips with them. So my friend made Wally a Hawaiian shirt, a Joseph Abboud suit and tie, and a raincoat for rain delays. My contribution was a furry, brown "system" just the right size for Wally. We arrived just as the gates opened, went to the fifth floor, and showed the email to the person at the desk. He disappeared down the hall for a minute, and returned with Jerry Remy. It was really nice of him to take the time to humor us, signing a couple of autographs, posing for pictures, and taking the Hawaiian shirt, raincoat, and "system" back for Wally. We thanked him and went down to our seats to watch the game.

View from section 16 The Blue Jays scored first, on a strange play in the second inning. There was a runner on first and the batter lined a hit to left field. Dave McCarty, in a rare left field start, threw to Nomar Garciaparra, who got the ball home in time to cut the runner down at the plate. But the umpires ruled that Nomar had interfered with the batter as he approached second base (even though replays showed that he never touched him). It was scored an error, and the runner was awarded the plate. It was hard to tell what had happened at the time, so I just wrote an "S" on my scorecard for "stupid" and figured I'd sort it out later. The Red Sox got the run back in the bottom of the inning when McCarty doubled to score Kevin Millar. Unfortunately, in the next inning Bill Mueller's error was followed by a home run by Frank Catalanotto, and Toronto took the lead. Wakefield didn't make it out of the fourth. He gave up two doubles, got a groundout, and then surrendered three more straight doubles, giving the Jays a 7-1 advantage.

I tried to remain confident, telling my friend that they had come back from large deficits before and they were going to do it again, but I knew it would take something big. It didn't take them long to get started. Manny Ramirez led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, Millar walked, and Doug Mirabelli singled Manny home. McCarty followed with a three-run homer, and later in the inning Mueller knocked in another run to make it 7-6. That was enough to knock Toronto starter Mark Hendrickson out of the game, and during the pitching change, the Kevin Millar "Rally Karaoke Guy" video played on the message board. The Red Sox had not lost a game since the video debuted the previous Thursday, and they hoped it would mark another comeback win tonight. Nomar lined into a double play to end the inning, but the Sox were now within a run.

Wally in his Hawaiian shirt Jeff Suppan pitched the next three innings, holding the Jays scoreless. In the sixth inning, the cell phone rang. It was my parents, who were watching the game on TV, and Jerry Remy had just shown Wally wearing our Hawaiian shirt. Some other viewers had sent in real Hawaiian shirts for Remy and Orsillo, and they were modeling them earlier in the broadcast. When they came back from the next commercial break, Wally was wearing his new shirt too. In the bottom of the seventh, Todd Walker and Millar both hit doubles, and the Red Sox had tied the game back up! I had been horrified when the line-up was first announced and Mirabelli, McCarty, Gabe Kapler, and Damian Jackson were hitting sixth through ninth. But the bench players were proving me wrong, and now that they had tied the game, I thought I could relax a bit. It turned out that was just wishful thinking. After all that work to tie the game up, the Scotts - Sauerbeck and Williamson - blew it all in the eighth, giving up five runs. We got our hopes up again in the bottom of the inning when the Sox scored their eighth run, but they left the bases loaded without getting any more.

Millar at bat It's amazing how quickly the life can be sapped out of the game, but it wasn't over yet. A game that had already featured the good, the bad, and the ugly had one more exciting moment left. Millar led off the ninth with a long drive to the 420-foot mark in the deepest part of center field. It hit off the side of the fence that separates the bleachers from the bullpens, and rolled along the center field wall until it had gone all the way over to the Bob's Stores sign on the Green Monster. By the time it was fielded and thrown back into the infield, Millar had scored standing up - an inside-the-park home run! I had seen Junior Spivey hit one for the Arizona Diamondbacks last year, but this was the first for a Red Sox batter since Darren Lewis's in 1998. Unfortunately, it didn't change the outcome of the game. A wild night that had the potential to be one of the more memorable wins of the season had ended in disaster.

Saturday, August 30, Fenway Park, Section 39

Yankees 10, Red Sox 7

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays the next night to split the two-game series. They went on to win Friday night's game against the Yankees and pull to within 3.5 games of the division lead. (And it was only nine days earlier that they had been a season-high 7.5 games out!) Taking over the lead now seemed completely plausible, but it would take another win or two against the Yankees here this weekend. I was going on Saturday, when Pedro Martinez faced off against Andy Pettitte.

Fenway Park I should have known this was not going to go well, when Spike Lee threw out the first pitch - wearing a Yankees uniform. I was appalled that the Red sox would invite such a guest, when there is a long line of great players and fans on our side. A Yankee-hating Red Sox great like Carlton Fisk or Bill Lee would have been much more appropriate. But the game started off well, despite the early omen. Nomar Garciaparra's single and Kevin Millar's double scored three runs for the Sox in the bottom of the first. Red Sox fans started a "Weeeeeea-verrrrrr" chant at Pettitte, who was giving up runs at a pace that resembled his teammate Jeff Weaver. The second inning marked the return of fan favorite and Framingham, MA, native Lou Merloni. After beginning the season with the San Diego Padres, Lou had just been reacquired by the Red Sox, who hoped he would help during the stretch drive. He had had some big hits against the Yankees in his career, but would end up 0-3 with a walk in this game.

The Yankees got two runs back in the third, but David Ortiz hit a home run in the bottom of the inning to extend the Red Sox' lead to 4-2. In the fourth, Pedro seemed to run out of gas. He was probably not entirely recoved from his illness of the previous week. (Manny Ramirez had also come down with pharyngitis, and he missed the whole series against New York.) A home run, a double, and a couple of singles gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Highly-touted but sparingly-used Bronson Arroyo entered the game in the fifth, and held New York scoreless for the next three innings. Alan Embree let in three runs in the eighth, making a Sox comeback a little harder.

This was one of the games in the Value Pack I had bought, so I was sitting pretty far back in Section 39. It was predominantly Red Sox fans in my immediate vicinity, but the Yankee fans who were in the area were getting completely obnoxious. People were still just getting back to their seats from loading up on beers before they stopped selling them at the end of the seventh, and the guy sitting on the aisle two rows in front of me spotted a Yankee fan walking past in the aisle. He stood up and pushed the Yankee fan, who promptly threw his beer at the guy. Security quickly came, and the Red Sox fans sitting with the guy who had started the whole thing tried to blame the Yankee fan. But a Red Sox fan in the row in front of me, who was upset because the beer had wound up on her, ratted out the guy who had started it, and he was thrown out. The girlfriend of the guy who was thrown out now started yelling at the girl in the row in front of me. She had turned around and had her hands on her hips yelling, "You wanna fight? Come on, let's go!" Next thing I knew, the people in front of me and the psycho girlfriend two rows in front were throwing their new, full beers at each other. There was nowhere for me to go to get out of the way, and I got completely drenched - face, clothes, scorecard, purse and all - as did the guy sitting behind me. Security came back and tossed both groups of people.

It was completely disgusting, but the "Rally Karaoke Guy" video played between innings, and the Sox scored three runs. Dave McCarty knocked in two with a pinch-hit double, and Johnny Damon walked with the bases loaded, pulling the Sox to within one run, at 8-7. But the rally ended there. Byung-Hyun Kim gave up a two-run homer in the ninth, and the game ended as the worst one I had been to all year.

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