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Walk It Off

Monday, June 14, 2021 – Fenway Park, Section 33

Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1

Monday afternoon brought heavy rain as we were driving in to Boston, but it stopped long enough for us to walk in from the car, and then our seats were under cover in left field. Unlike the rainy afternoon game we went to in May, this time the stadium lights were on, and the grounds crew came out right on time, 40 minutes before the start of the game, to remove the tarp and get everything ready. After a wild win at my last game on Thursday, the Red Sox had opened their series against the Blue Jays with a walkoff win on Friday night, then were dealt blowout losses on Saturday and Sunday. (I usually like to go to Sunday games because parking is free at meters, but I was on-call for work and opted for the Monday instead. That ended up being a great choice, even though it meant we had to pay for parking.)

A rainy Flag Day celebration.
Marwin Gonzalez checks the note card in his hat. The super-utility man who has played six positions this year – including pitching an inning in Sunday’s game – was in left field tonight.
With the Red Sox rotation battered around in their last few starts, and the team nearing the end of a stretch of 17 games in 17 days, Nathan Eovaldi came up huge with 6.2 innings of shutout ball. “Nasty Nate” didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth inning, and left with a 1-0 lead.
Matt Barnes gets a dramatic intro when he enters a game at Fenway. He’s been great as closer all year, but tonight he had the tough task of facing a Blue Jays lineup that had blasted eight home runs the day before, with only a 1-0 lead. As rain started up again, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who was leading the league in homers, took him deep over the Monster to tie the game.

The Red Sox have become known for their late-game rallies and come-from-behind wins, and they had the right batters due up in the bottom of the ninth. Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez each singled to start the inning. Xander Bogaerts flied out to left, but then Rafael Devers launched a hit high off the Green Monster to drive in the winning run. The walkoff celebration ended up being in right field, as Raffy ran from his joyous teammates until they finally chased him down.

The chase.
The celebration.
Raffy and his teamates return to the dugout after an exciting walkoff win.
Posted on June 14, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

Wild Night

Thursday, June 10, 2021 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Red Sox 12, Astros 8

This was my first game of the year in my Tenth Man Plan season ticket seats in the right field bleachers. It was worth the wait – it ended up one of the most crazy and entertaining games in a few years, and the enthusiastic, near-capacity crowd was into every pitch. Several lead changes saw the Red Sox go from down 1-0, to up 2-1, to down 3-2, to up 4-3, to down 7-4, then tied 7-7 followed by immediately going down 8-7, to finally taking a 12-8 lead for good. But that’s only half the story.

View from the bleachers in the early innings when it was merely a crazy roller-coaster of a game, before things got truly bizarre.

In a wild sixth inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Rafael Devers hit a fly to shallow center. The crowd roared as it clanked off the shortstop’s glove, then booed as the ump made the out sign. Confusion reigned as it was unclear who had been called out (Xander Bogaerts had gotten to the the second base bag just as the throw came in from the outfield) but finally the scoreboard showed IF6. We finally realized the infield fly rule had been called, so it was Devers who was out. Two batters later, with the game tied and the bases reloaded, a shirtless fan ran on the field and was tackled by security in front of home plate. Then Christian Vazquez was hit by a pitch to force in the go-ahead run, and Christian Arroyo walked to force in another. Bobby Dalbec followed with a double off the Monster to cap off the scoring with two more runs.

Hunter Renfroe and Kiké Hernandez on their way out to their outfield positions. Kiké made a nice diving catch late in the game.

But the craziness didn’t stop there. In the top of the seventh, the Astros had a runner on first and one out. The batter hit a dribbler that rolled just in front of the plate. He stepped out of the batters box like it had hit him, and I assumed it was a foul that had hit off his foot and rolled. The batter must have too, because he sauntered slowly back toward first. Vazquez was apparently the only one paying attention, because he realized the ump had signalled that the ball didn’t hit the batter and that it was, in fact, fair. So Vaz threw to first to retire the batter, then Dalbec chased the runner back toward second base, where he was tagged out by Arroyo for your classic 2-3-4 inning-ending double play. (Because it was the seventh inning stretch, the scoreboard never said what had happened; I had to look at the postgame comments and tweets to sort it all out later.) Astros manager Dusty Baker was ejected after expressing his displeasure over the play.

Matt Barnes came in to nail down the victory, and we celebrated a very wild and entertaining win. My favorite pictures from the night are below.

Christian Arroyo had a clutch three-run homer to tie the game in the fifth.
I spy in the dugout… Chris Sale!
A half-dressed trespasser is led off the field during a wild sixth inning that saw the Sox score five runs.
Fenway Park was rocking with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Posted on June 10, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

Heat Wave

Monday, June 7, 2021 – Fenway Park, Loge Box 137

Red Sox 5, Marlins 3

It was fun to be back to a mostly-full Fenway Park! Today’s makeup game was 47 degrees warmer than last Sunday’s rainout (46° then and 93° today) and I got to see my first win in person since September of 2019. While Fenway was now allowed to be full capacity, we knew it wouldn’t be completely full. So instead of baking in our original bleacher seats, we found some nice ones that were not only shaded but spaced out enough from other fans that there was no one else in our row. My favorite pictures from the day are below.

Impressive how many people were able to make it, given the rescheduled date and 5:10 start time. It’s great to see Fenway back to almost full capacity again.
Alex Verdugo went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
I love this fact about Christian Arroyo: “As a kid, his mother used to read him ‘The Science of Hitting’ by Ted Williams.” I guess he was listening, as he reached base three times from the leadoff spot, drove in two, and scored twice.
Garrett Whitlock got the final out of the fifth.
Jason Varitek was on the top step to greet each player as they returned to the dugout. I was hoping someone would hit a homer so I could see them ride the laundry cart, but I guess I’ll have to wait till next time.
Xander Bogaerts had two hits and scored a run.
Hirokazu Sawamura ended both the sixth and seventh innings with a K as a nearly full house cheered him on.
Fenway Park stands as one in the ninth.
It’s been way too long since I’ve seen a Fenway victory. It was good to be back!
Posted on June 7, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

Back to Normal

Sunday, May 30, 2021 – Fenway Park

When we bought tickets to this game in March, it was limited to 12% capacity, so our seats were in a socially distant “pod” halfway back in the bleachers. Since then, the Red Sox had raised capacity to 25% in mid-May, and then as of Saturday allowed full capacity. A few days earlier, I was officially fully vaccinated, and excited to start being able to do the things I enjoy again. It had been almost two months since my last game, and the Red Sox were playing really well, only half a game out of first place, so I was really looking forward to this game.

The tarp was on the field when we arrived.

Despite being Memorial Day weekend, which should herald the unofficial start of summer, it was cold and rainy all weekend long. They had played Friday night’s game through a steady rain, and managed to get a break from the rain on Saturday, when it was merely cold and windy. Sunday’s forecast was for rain starting around 2:00 and getting heavier as the day went on. If they wanted to get the game in, they’d have to start on time at 1:00 and hope to get five innings in before it became unplayable. So when we got to the park and the stadium lights were off and there was no sign of the grounds crew, that was a bad sign.

When they send the guy out to bring the stuff back in from the bullpen, that’s a very bad sign.

It was only 46°, and we were bundled up in our early season gear. We found a place under cover and had some hot chocolate (because, as everyone knows, New England summers run on Dunkin’ hot chocolate). Finally at about 1:30, the announcement was made that the game was rained out. After getting back to the car, we heard it would be made up on a common off-day the following week. Only 8 days later, the forecast for the day of the makeup game was 95°. I think I’ll pass on the hot chocolate!

To no one’s surprise, the game was postponed.

With all the rainouts I’ve had tickets for over the years, today’s just felt like one more way that life was finally getting back to normal.

Posted on May 30, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

Parade Day!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

World Series Victory Parade

After their historic 108-win season was capped off with a World Series Championship, the Red Sox took to the streets of Boston for their victory parade.  As a season ticket holder, I was invited to the ceremony at Fenway to kick off the festivities.  I didn’t get an invite last time, but I had seen it on TV, and we were excited that we’d get to see the whole team get on the duck boats without having to camp on the street before sunrise just to get a good spot.

The display in the right field concourse that showed photos representing each of the 108 regular season wins was updated to include 11 more from the postseason.

The display in the right field concourse that showed photos representing each of the 108 regular season wins was updated to include 11 more from the postseason. (It was updated some time during the ceremony, because the final photo was missing when we first entered the park. Good thing we walked by it again on the way out!)

The ceremony was fun.  Kicked off by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, we got to hear from and cheer for Red Sox ownership, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, manager Alex Cora, World Series MVP Steve Pearce, ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly, and Brock Holt.  It ended with a surprise visit from Jerry Remy, who missed the end of the season after undergoing cancer treatments.

Red Sox ownership Sam Kennedy, John W. Henry, Linda Pizzuti Henry, and Tom Werner now have four trophies to cart around to events. But Werner set it down facing to the side, and no one on the stage noticed. From the stands, people yelled out, "Rotate it," as our pictures all looked silly. Finally, one of the photographers on the stage sneaked over and fixed it, eliciting a cheer from the crowd.

Red Sox ownership Sam Kennedy, John W. Henry, Linda Pizzuti Henry, and Tom Werner now have four trophies to cart around to every event. But Werner set the newest one down facing to the side, and no one on the stage noticed. From the stands, people yelled out, "Rotate it," as our pictures all looked silly. Finally, one of the photographers on the stage sneaked over and fixed it, eliciting a cheer from the crowd.

First year manager Alex Cora pulled all the right strings all year long.

First year manager Alex Cora pulled all the right strings all year long.

Nathan Eovaldi got a warm welcome after his impressive performance, pitching multiple innings on back-to-back days as a starter and a reliever, including a record 97 pitches in relief in the 18-inning Game 3. His young son Jace also took to the mic to say, "Let's go, Red Sox!"

Nathan Eovaldi got a warm welcome after his impressive performance, pitching multiple innings on back-to-back days as a starter and a reliever, including a record 97 pitches in relief in the 18-inning Game 3. His young son Jace also took to the mic to say, "Let's go, Red Sox!" (You can also see that the trophies are lined up properly now.)

World Series MVP Steve Pearce, who grew up a Red Sox fan, addressed the crowd.

World Series MVP Steve Pearce, who grew up a Red Sox fan, addressed the crowd.

Brock Holt brought his son Griffin onto the stage.

Brock Holt, who became the first player to hit for the cycle in a postseason game during the Division Series, brought his son Griffin onto the stage.

It was great to see Jerry Remy onstage, and he looked like he was thrilled to be there.

It was great to see Jerry Remy onstage, and he looked like he was thrilled to be there.

We thought we’d get to see everyone board the duck boats inside the park like they’ve done in years past, but they didn’t; the ceremony ended and they went to board the boats in a roped off area outside the park.  From there it was a scramble to find a place where we could see the actual parade.  We ended up dashing up several flights of stairs (and around a barrier that may or may not have been meant to keep us out) to the top level behind the right field roof deck.  That turned out to be a good vantage point to see them all, though we were too far away for them to hear our cheers and acknowledge.

Cue the duck boats! We couldn't find space on the spiral staircase that goes down to the Big Concourse, so we went up to the right field roof deck to overlook the intersection of Ipswich and Boylston streets.

Cue the duck boats! We couldn't find space on the spiral staircase that goes down to the Big Concourse, so we went up to the right field roof deck to overlook the intersection of Ipswich and Boylston streets.

Pedro Martinez, who serves as a special instructor, holds one of the trophies aloft as he rides on a duck boat with Red Sox management.

Pedro Martinez, who serves as a special instructor, holds one of the trophies aloft as he rides on a duck boat with Red Sox ownership.

The duck boat with Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Nunez, and Eduardo Rodriguez rolls past.

The duck boat with Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Nunez, and Eduardo Rodriguez rolls past.

Lots and lots of people gathered at the intersection of Ipswich and Boylston, even climbing on the roof of the gas station.

Lots and lots of people gathered at the intersection of Ipswich and Boylston, even climbing on the roof of the gas station.

Heath Hembree, Brian Johnson, Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, Tyler Thornburg, and Bobby Poyner go by in their duck boat.

Heath Hembree, Brian Johnson, Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, Tyler Thornburg, and Bobby Poyner go by in their duck boat.

Blake Swihart waves as his duck boat passes.

Blake Swihart waves as his duck boat passes.

When the last duck boat passed, we got the brilliant idea to hop on the T and go a few stops up to the Arlington/Boylston area ahead of the parade, and experience it again that way.   (Let the record show that if they had driven all the duck boats inside Fenway so that we didn’t have to go outside to watch the parade, this plan would have worked.)

On te way to the T station, we saw the 2018 banner flying over the John Hancock building. Its weather beacon was lit up with flashing blue and red to commemorate the World Series win.

On the way to the T station, we saw the 2018 banner flying over the John Hancock building. Its weather beacon was lit up with flashing blue and red to commemorate the World Series win.

But unfortunately the T was so packed it was going very slowly.  At both the Copley and Arlington stops, people dressed in Red Sox gear were packing the train because the parade had already passed them.  Not so at Boylston (yet), so we hopped off, ran up more flights of stairs, and saw the last duck boats were just coming through.  Not wanting to give up, we started rushing through Boston Common, dodging food trucks, skateboarders, and dogs in Halloween costumes along the way, trying to overtake the parade.

The duck boats pass by Boston Common, while my mother and I try to outrun a parade.

The duck boats pass by Boston Common, while my mother and I try to outrun a parade.

We (sort of) caught up as Mooke Betts' duck boat passed. In the back of the boat, Tzu-Wei Lin holds up the trophy.

We (sort of) caught up as Mookie Betts' duck boat passed. In the back of the boat, Tzu-Wei Lin holds up the trophy.

We did end up catching the last few players as their duck boats passed the Park Street station, albeit with my telephoto lens.  But hey, no one ever said Championships come easy!

Posted on October 31, 2018 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2018 Games, Events

The Fenway 500

This week I reached a personal milestone – my 500th game at Fenway Park.  When I realized a year ago that my current pace was getting me close, I pulled out all my old scorecard books and ticket stubs and totaled them all up in a spreadsheet.  The big day came Monday, August 20, a game against the Indians.

Happy 500th to me!

Happy 500th to me!  That necklace that the Red Sox gave out after Big Papi hit his 500th home run comes in handy for all sorts of formal occasions.

It all started May 9, 1987.  Here’s the story of my first game at Fenway Park: May Ninth.  (The funny thing is I wrote this in 1998, when I had been to a whopping total of 15 games at Fenway.)

My second game (don’t worry, I’m not going to list them all) was the following month, with my school’s 8th grade Boston trip, where we came down from Maine to see the Aquarium, Science Museum, and a Red Sox game.  That’s why we we had gone as a family in May, so my first game wouldn’t be with my Yankee-fan science teacher.

The Fenway skyline and "skybox" seats as they were in 1987. I remember picking out that outfit so I could wear red socks to match.

The Boston skyline and Fenway’s “skybox” seats as they were in 1987. I remember picking out that outfit so I could wear red socks to match.

Over the next few years, we’d try to get to a game every summer, and then when I started at Providence College, there were school trips up to Boston once a year.  I remember borrowing a Class of ’94 sweatshirt from a friend (I was ’95) one time so I wouldn’t look out of place on a trip sponsored by a dorm of upperclassmen.

Ticket stub from my 4th game at Fenway, a 10-5 loss.  Certainly wouldn't have guessed at the time that 15 years later I'd have season tickets a few rows in front of where I sat that night.

Ticket stub from my 5th game at Fenway, a 10-5 loss. I certainly wouldn’t have guessed at the time that 15 years later I’d have season tickets just a few rows in front of where I sat that night.

After college, I went to grad school in Kentucky, then worked in Atlanta for a few years.  I always worked in a game at Fenway when I’d fly home to visit.  In 1998 I went to my first Red Sox road games, seeing them in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Anaheim that year.  (The 24 Red Sox road games I’ve seen in 10 ballparks over the next 20 years are not counted in my 500.)  Here’s the story of the game I flew up for in August 1999: Red Sox vs. Mariners.

I flew up to Boston for a game in August 1999. Remember when Pedro was late getting to the ballpark and Jimy Williams benched him and started Bryce Florie instead? That was my Game #14 (8/14/99).

I flew up to Boston for a game in August 1999. Remember when Pedro was late getting to the ballpark, and Jimy Williams benched him and started Bryce Florie instead? That was my Game #16 (8/14/99).

My favorite game of the 500 I’ve been to at Fenway was also my first playoff game, and only the 17th I’d ever attended.  It was Game 4 of the 1999 ALDS, in which the Sox staved off elimination by beating the Indians 23-7, and again it involved an improbable flight up from Atlanta.  Full story here: My Favorite Game.

Ticket from 1999 ALDS Game 4 on 10/10/99. The Red Sox won, 23-7.

Ticket from 1999 ALDS Game 4 on 10/10/99. The Red Sox won, 23-7.

After the 1999 season was over, I finally moved to Massachusetts.  My first act was to splurge and get tickets to 7 games at Fenway Park during the 2000 season.  It started as one game per month, but I added a second September game to see Carlton Fisk’s #27 retired.  That was game #23.

Game #22, on August 23, 2000, was the first time I kept score.  NESN was handing out K cards (competition for WEEI’s red K’s in the height of the Pedro Era) and there was a scorecard on the back.  Scoring had always fascinated me, but I thought it would be too complicated while focusing on the game.  Turns out it’s not, and a new obsession was born.  My other memory from that game is that there was a long rain delay before it started.  I was joking about making stuff up to write onto the scorecard, but then when the game finally got underway after 10:00, I was glad I hadn’t filled it all in fictitiously.  That was back in the days when a huge chain link fence separated the bleachers from the rest of the park.  Because that game started so late, they actually opened the gate and let the bleacher people sit anywhere they wanted.  When it finished up at 1:04 am (as conveniently noted on the scorecard), the T had stopped running, and we had to take a cab back to the car – the first of 3 times out of the 500 where I needed to call a cab.

In the lineup on the night of 8/23/00 were Jose Offerman, Trot Nixon, Brian Daubach, Carl Everett, Troy O'Leary, Lou Merloni, Jason Varitek, Mike Lansing, and Manny Alexander.  Mo Vaughn played first base for the Angels.

In the lineup on the night of 8/23/00 were Jose Offerman, Trot Nixon, Brian Daubach, Carl Everett, Troy O’Leary, Lou Merloni, Jason Varitek, Mike Lansing, and Manny Alexander. Tomo Ohka started, with Derek Lowe recording the save. Mo Vaughn played first base for the Angels.

I started buying a scorecard magazine every time I went.  I kept the first couple, but remember throwing out the one from September 9, 2000, (Game #24) because the Red Sox lost to the Yankees.  The next year I planned on going to 24 games, so I made my own scorecard book. Now I have a stack of 18 years’ worth.

Lots and lots of scorecards!

Lots and lots of scorecards!

Game #25 was Opening Day 2001. I’ve been to every Opening Day since (with a 13-5 record).  I went to 24 games in 2001 (12-12 record).  In 2002, my record was even worse (11-16), but Game #51 was an all-time classic – Derek Lowe’s no-hitter.  Full story here: Diary of a No-Hitter.

The first of many Opening Days. For me, 4/6/01 was Game #23.

The first of many Opening Days. For me, 4/6/01 was Game #25.

The Cowboy Up season of 2003 was successful for me – I went 21-9, including the night they clinched the wild card (Game #104, 9/25/03) and a dramatic win in ALDS Game 3 (Game #105, 10/4/03).  A walk-off win on April 15 (Game #77) finally brought my personal record above .500 to stay.  (My record after 500 Fenway games is 285-215, 70 games over.)

Game #107 (4/15/04) was the first game in the “Tenth Man Plan” package I bought for the 2004 season.  It was supposed to be a one-year package, but when the Sox won and the offseason became hectic, they made them renewable, and that’s how I became a season ticket holder.  (I’m 74-70 in those seats.)

Daniel Nava posed for pictures with fans on Yawkey Way on 8/3/10, before Game #289.

Daniel Nava posed for pictures with fans on Yawkey Way on 8/3/10, before Game #291.

I’ve been to some memorable games in the years that followed.  Game #135 was the ring ceremony on Opening Day 2005, when I got the last available ticket in the day-of-game line.  Games #185 and 186 were when Big Papi tied and broke the franchise home run record in 2006.  In Game #191 (4/22/07) the Sox hit four straight home runs.  Game #216 (10/5/07) was Manny Ramirez’s walk-off homer in the ’07 ALDS, which I got to see after camping out all afternoon in the day-of-game ticket line.  Game #303 (5/4/11) ended at 2:45 am after rain delays and extra innings, another time I needed a cab.  Game #326 (4/20/12) was Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary.  Game #373 (9/18/13) was Dollar Beard Night.  Game #379 (10/24/13) was the only World Series game I’ve been to (2013 Game 2, alas).  Game #458 (10/2/16) was David Ortiz’s final regular season game.

When the Red Sox have a promotion that anyone with a beard gets in for a dollar, you gotta do what you gotta do.  (Just ignore the fact that I spent an additional $6.99 plus tax on the beard.)

When the Red Sox have a promotion that anyone with a beard gets in for a dollar, you gotta do what you gotta do. (Just ignore the fact that I spent an additional $6.99 plus tax on the beard.) Game #373 was officially the cheapest ticket I ever purchased.

So now after 500 games, my record at Fenway is 285-215.  That includes a 7-5 postseason record.  It doesn’t count two that were rained out in less than five innings and had to be replayed in entirety, or twice that I had a ticket for the second game of a doubleheader but got let in early to see the end of the first.  Here are some more stats from my Fenway 500:

Fan Photo Days over the years have given me the chance to get pictures with Keith Foulke (Game #106, 4/18/04), David Ross (Game #348, 4/14/13), Xander Bogaerts (Game #425, 9/6/15), and Hanley Ramirez (Game #490, 5/20/18).

Fan Photo Days over the years have given me the chance to get pictures with Keith Foulke (Game #108, 4/18/04), David Ross (Game #350, 4/14/13), Xander Bogaerts (Game #427, 9/6/15), and Hanley Ramirez (Game #492, 5/20/18).

In 500 games, I’ve seen 34 walk-offs, 18 Opening Days, 12 postseason games, 4 uniform numbers retired, 3 clinching celebrations, 2 triple plays, and 1 no-hitter.  And no sooner was my milestone game in the books, than I was getting ready to come back two days later for Game #501.

Posted on August 20, 2018 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: Personal

Game Day

Thursday, February 22, 2018 – JetBlue Park

Red Sox 15, Northeastern Huskies 2 – Game 1

Red Sox 4, B.C. Eagles 2 – Game 2

On Thursday the workouts were all over and it was time for some actual games for the first time in 2018.  This was my first Opening Day of the year (which sounds a little like when they have a “second ceremonial first pitch,” but I’ll also be at the season opener in Tampa Bay and the home opener at Fenway).  Gates open at 11:00 for a 1:00 game, but we arrived at 10:30 and went around back to the practice fields, where we found some of the players taking batting practice.

Eduardo Nunez and Xander Bogaerts wait for batting practice to start.

Eduardo Nunez and Xander Bogaerts wait for batting practice to start.

Mookie Betts shares a laugh with Eduardo Nunez and Lee May, Jr., the hitting coach for the Sea Dogs.

Mookie Betts shares a laugh with Eduardo Nunez and Lee May, Jr., the hitting coach for the Sea Dogs.

When they finished up, we went into the park and found our seats, nice ones in the section behind home plate.  The netting was extended in the off-season to go behind the dugouts and beyond.  Many more seats are now behind netting, so if we have to sit behind it, we might as well be close to the plate.  Dave Dombrowski was sitting a couple of rows ahead of us on the other side of the walkway.  (It’s good the netting was there, though, because during the game a bat flew from a hitter’s hand and went over the dugout, where in past years it would have hit a fan.)

For the first time in 2018: Baseball!

For the first time in 2018: Baseball!

Given that these games are against college teams, we know the Red Sox are going to play mostly minor leaguers.  The first game had about half of the regulars starting, and in the second game, Sandy Leon was the only one from the major league roster.  We also know the starters are only going to get one or two at-bats this early in the spring.  So let me summarize the games this way: the first game had major leaguers who were replaced by guys from Double A, and the second game had Triple A guys who were replaced by players from Single A.

Jalen Beeks started the first game and allowed one hit and one walk while striking out three in two innings of work.

Jalen Beeks started the first game and allowed one hit and one walk while striking out three in two innings of work.

Highlights of the first game included a grand slam by Kyri Washington, who spent last year in high-A Salem, and a triple by Blake Swihart.  Righty reliever Ty Buttrey, who split last season between Portland and Pawtucket, struck out the side in his one inning of work.  Jalen Beeks started the first game, and Chandler Shepherd started the nightcap.  Both are projected to open the year in Triple A.

Boston College players warm up in front of JetBlue's Green Monster before the second game.

Boston College players warm up in front of JetBlue's Green Monster before the second game.

Highlights of Game 2 included doubles by Sam Travis, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Oscar Hernandez, a catcher who was serving as DH.

Highlights of Game 2 included doubles by Sam Travis, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Oscar Hernandez, a catcher who was serving as DH.

For some reason we had an easier time than usual keeping score.  It’s generally really difficult to keep track of all the substitutions, especially with so many players who are not in big-league camp and duplicate uniform numbers (Game 1 had three players wearing #18) but there was only one I had to look up later, so that’s a win in my book.  By the time the second game was over, we had seen a total of 36 position players and 10 pitchers from all levels of the organization, so it was definitely a day well-spent.

Posted on February 22, 2018 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2018 Spring Training

Final Workout

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 – JetBlue Park, Ft. Myers

Spring Training Workout

On Wednesday the string of hot Florida weather continued, and we returned to JetBlue Park for the final workout before the real fake games begin.  Today we got to see a pop-up drill and watched several of the pitchers throw live B.P.  We also hung around until the very last player had left the field and picked up some good autographs in the process.

Brock Holt nabs a grounder during infield practice, while manager Alex Cora looks on.

Brock Holt nabs a grounder during infield practice, while manager Alex Cora looks on.

Pedro Martinez has been in camp all week to work with the young pitchers, including Eduardo Rodriguez. I heard that Pedro had spent over an hour signing autographs and taking selfies with fans earlier in the week before I came down, but today he was all business. He spent some time watching this fielding drill, but most of his day was spent in the bullpens, which are out of view of the fans.

Pedro Martinez has been in camp all week to work with the young pitchers, including Eduardo Rodriguez. I heard that Pedro had spent over an hour signing autographs and taking selfies with fans earlier in the week before I came down, but today he was all business. He spent some time watching this fielding drill, but most of his day was spent working with pitchers in the bullpens, which are out of view of the fans.

Catcher Dan Butler, who's been in the organization for years and got a cup of coffee in the majors in 2014, waits his turn in a drill. Behind him, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, Williams Jerez, and Roenis Elias line up on the mound.

Catcher Dan Butler, who's been in the organization for years and got a cup of coffee in the majors in 2014, waits his turn in a drill. Behind him, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, Williams Jerez, and Roenis Elias line up on the mound.

Hanley Ramirez smiles during batting practice.

Hanley Ramirez smiles during batting practice.

Jackie Bradley Jr.'s wife and young daughter were among the fans watching batting practice. Jackie smiled in their direction as his daughter waved to Daddy.

Jackie Bradley Jr.'s wife and one-year-old daughter were among the fans watching batting practice. Jackie smiled in their direction as his daughter waved to Daddy.

Joe Kelly throws live batting practice. A few picthes later, he was hit in the leg by a comebacker to the mound. He walked off under his own power and was sent for precautionary x-rays.

Joe Kelly throws live batting practice. A few pitches later, he was hit in the leg by a comebacker to the mound. He walked off under his own power and was sent for precautionary x-rays, but we heard later that he was expected to be OK.

Another pitcher who threw live B.P. was reliever Robby Scott, and he helped clear up one of the questions that’s been bugging me all week.  Scott had worn uniform number 63 last year, but he was one of the players who switched to a lower number this year, wearing 36 in practice on Monday and Tuesday.  Meanwhile Eduardo Nuñez had re-signed with the Red Sox over the weekend.  He had worn 36 last year, but that wasn’t available now, and he was just wearing a plain blue workout shirt.  So today when I saw that Robby Scott had switched back to 63, I figured out that Nuñez will be getting his old 36 back.

The other number switch today was Alex Cora, who had been wearing number 28.  That’s the number J.D. Martinez has been wearing, so with his contract just pending a physical, Cora switched to number 20 today.  (Those who follow my website know how I obsess over uniform numbers.)

We got autographs from Mitch Moreland as he was coming off the field. While I'll ask any player in big league camp for an autograph, and I follow the whole organization so I know who most of the prospects are, it's always fun to get someone who's actually on the major league roster. In the background, JBJ signed too, although not where I was standing.

We got autographs from Mitch Moreland as he was coming off the field. While I'll ask any player in big league camp for an autograph, and I follow the whole organization so I know who most of the prospects are, it's always fun to get someone who's actually on the major league roster. In the background, JBJ signed too, although not where I was standing.

Rafael Devers awaits his turn running the bases after batting practice.

Rafael Devers awaits his turn running the bases after batting practice.

The last players left on the field were the catchers, taking batting practice of their own after spending the rest of the day catching live B.P. and bullpen sessions and participating in fielding drills. We had gotten autographs from Sandy Leon and Dan Butler yesterday, but we hung around until they were done, and got Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart to sign today.

The last players left on the field at the end of the day were the catchers, taking batting practice of their own after spending the rest of the day catching live B.P. and bullpen sessions and participating in fielding drills. We had gotten autographs from Sandy Leon and Dan Butler yesterday, but we hung around until they were done, and got Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart to sign today.

After practice, we made sure to check out the new 34 in front of JetBlue Park, representing David Ortiz, whose number was retired at Fenway last season.

After practice, we made sure to check out the new 34 in front of JetBlue Park, representing David Ortiz, whose number was retired at Fenway last season.

Posted on February 21, 2018 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2018 Spring Training

Working Out In The Fort

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 – JetBlue Park, Ft. Myers

Spring Training Workout

It was another day of great Florida weather, and we went back to the Red Sox’ Spring Training complex to watch the workout. The highlight of the day for me was getting an autograph from Mike Lowell, who’s in camp to work with Rafael Devers at third base. After each of the Red Sox’ World Series wins, I’ve taken a picture of me with the trophy and tried to get autographs from as many players as possible who were on the team that year. I just missed getting Lowell’s autograph in Spring Training of ‘08, and I’ve been carrying the photo around for the past ten years, so it was fun to finally get to see the MVP of the series and add his signature to the photo.

My favorite photos from the day are below.

All aboard! The catchers hitch a ride to the far side of the complex for their drills.

All aboard! The catchers hitch a ride to the far side of the complex for their drills.

Brock Holt and Xander Boagerts take turns fielding grounders at shortstop.

Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts take turns fielding grounders at shortstop.

Alex Cora discusses a base-running drill with Christian Vazquez.

Alex Cora discusses a base-running drill with Christian Vazquez.

Craig Kimbrel warms up.

Craig Kimbrel warms up.

Three-fifths of the Red Sox rotation line up for a drill.

Three-fifths of the Red Sox rotation line up for a drill.

I can't wait to watch Chris Sale pitch this year.

I can't wait to watch Chris Sale pitch this year.

A day after making a much-anticipated move, Dave Dombrowski could finally walk around without people asking if J.D. Martinez was ever going to sign. (Now we just want to know when he's going to show up in Ft. Myers, and what uniform number he's going to wear.)

A day after making a much-anticipated move, Dave Dombrowski could finally walk around without people asking if J.D. Martinez was ever going to sign. (Now we just want to know when he's going to show up in Ft. Myers, and what uniform number he's going to wear.)

Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi return from the batting cages to take B.P. on the field.

Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi return from the batting cages to take B.P. on the field.

Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts chat while waiting for batting practice to start.

Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts chat while waiting for batting practice to start.

Several players signed autographs after practice. Here, catchers Oscar Hernandez and Dan Butler interact with the fans.

Several players signed autographs after practice. Here, catchers Oscar Hernandez and Dan Butler interact with the fans.

This photo was taken after the 2007 World Series, and I've been bringing it around with me for the past ten years trying to get autographs of anyone who was on the 2007 team. Today I finally got to add Alex Cora and Mike Lowell, the MVP of the '07 World Series, who is in camp to work with Rafael Devers at third base.

This photo was taken after the 2007 World Series, and I've been bringing it around with me for the past ten years trying to get autographs of anyone who was on the 2007 team. Today I finally got to add Alex Cora and Mike Lowell, the MVP of the '07 World Series, who is in camp to work with Rafael Devers at third base.

Posted on February 20, 2018 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2018 Spring Training

Reporting Day

Monday, February 19, 2018 – JetBlue Park, Ft. Myers

Spring Training Workout

According to the baseball calendar, it was the first full squad workout, but for me, it was finally time to report.  I flew in last night, excited about the forecast for a warm, sunny week.  The players were a little later than usual coming out due to a team meeting, but then they participated in the usual assortment of fielding and batting drills.  It was great to see the whole team* assembled together.  Opening Day must not be too far off!  My favorite pictures from the day are below.

The infielders gathered for fielding practice. Soon they were joined by the pitchers, who also participated in the drill.

The infielders gathered for fielding practice. Soon they were joined by the pitchers, who also participated in the drill.

Rafael Devers fields a ball at third. Behind him, in left field, Jason Varitek watches as the catchers participate in a pop-up drill.

Rafael Devers fields a ball at third. Behind him, in left field, Jason Varitek watches as the catchers participate in a pop-up drill.

The Brockstar is back!

The Brockstar is back!

Eduardo Nunez got a big cheer as he came out for batting practice. After sparking the Red Sox lineup down the stretch last year, he became a free agent. He had just re-signed with the Red Sox, and today was his first day in camp. (Robby Scott switched uniform numbers from 63 to wear 36 this year, so Nunez will need something new. He wore a plain shirt today, so I'm still waiting to find out what number he'll wear this year.

Eduardo Nunez got a big cheer as he came out for batting practice. After sparking the Red Sox lineup down the stretch last year, he became a free agent. He had just re-signed with the Red Sox earlier in the week, and the fans were happy to see him back. (Robby Scott switched his uniform number from 63 to 36 this year, so Nunez will need something new to wear. He wore a plain shirt today, so I'm still waiting to find out what number he'll have this year.)

Mitch MOreland is another player who left as a free agent and then re-signed with the team this winter. He's joined for batting practice by Mookie Betts and new bench coach Ron Roenicke.

Mitch Moreland is another player who left as a free agent and then re-signed with the team this winter. He's joined for batting practice by Mookie Betts and new bench coach Ron Roenicke.

Andrew Benintendi takes some swings during B.P.

Andrew Benintendi takes some swings during B.P.

"Flow Bros" Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi were reunited... some with more flow than others.

"Flow Bros" Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi were reunited... some with more flow than others.

John W. Henry put in an appearance in camp.

Team owner John W. Henry put in an appearance in camp.

I'm looking forward to seeing Mookie back to his M.V.P.-caliber form.

I'm looking forward to seeing Mookie back to his M.V.P.-caliber form.

After practice we enjoyed a trip to Englewood Beach in the afternoon.

After practice we enjoyed a trip to Englewood Beach in the afternoon. We get tired after all those workouts!

*On the way home from the beach we heard that the Red Sox had finally struck a deal with free agent slugger J.D. Martinez.  I’m glad that they waited it out for what seems like a reasonable contract, rather than panicking early on and bidding against themselves.  But now there’s one more player who still needs to report to camp.  I’ll be back at JetBlue every day this week, so I hope to see him soon.

Posted on February 19, 2018 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2018 Spring Training

 

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