Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We do not need to buy seats from Fenway to keep in this house

So, a few weeks ago we decided we wanted tickets to this game, and we ended up with these lovely seats.* As it turned out, the Red Sox had a magic number of one that night, but they were going to have to get through the man whose name has been engraved on the Cy Young since April to clinch their postseason berth. And, while Wakefield's been money for us** all season, we were understandably less than confident about the offense. The Red Sox have had their problems scoring runs against good pitching all season, and visions of a heartbreaking 1-0 loss danced in our heads.

Tense game. Terribly tense game. Wonderfully tense game. The Sox got two runs while we were waiting in line for food, then Wake--with the help of some uncharacteristically sloppy defense--surrendered four runs in one inning, the fourth crossing the plate just as we returned to our seats. We ate, drank, explained the scoreboard to the guy from New Zealand behind us. The bullpen band played. We knocked on our chairs, danced to Coco's at-bat music, and watched as they managed to score three more runs, way more than we expected off Lee. They took that one run lead, and they clung to it. Cleveland kept putting runners on; the Red Sox kept squeaking out of it. The crowd spent more time on its feet than in their seats.

Top of the eight, bases loaded, two outs. Cue Wild Thing. Cue I'm Shipping up to Boston. Cue a first pitch ground-out, another Houdini moment. The game continued; the thin lead held into the ninth. Papelbon got the final batter to pop the ball up, and started jumping up and down while it was still in the air.

Then there was a big shouting, hugging dogpile on the field, which never gets even one bit old.

We rushed to get down close to the field while the team was partying in the dugout, and ended up right behind the home plate net. Bullpen pitchers emerged carrying tiny babies and champagne to spray. There was Kevin Youkilis with his cherubic blond child*** jogging around the bases. There were players being interviewed, all drunk and happy and grabbing each other. There was Papelbon hugging himself and gesturing to the crowd, strutting about in a belly shirt, and actually digging the bases up and giving them away to random fans.

And then Jason Varitek decided to greet every fan left in the park. Personally. He is the Captain, after all.

He made his way around starting at the dugout by first base, down to the area back of home plate, where he gave us the world's most gentle high fives. His eyes were crinkly. His hands were big and warm and surprisingly soft. He went all the way down to the left field corner before he rejoined his teammates for more back-slapping and lite-beer drinking in the middle of the diamond. We didn't manage to take pictures in our glee. He looks amazing in person. In real life.

We went to ten Sox games this year, and we sat through rain delays and heat waves, come-from-behind wins and inexplicable losses to the Orioles, Julio Lugo forgetting how to catch a batted ball as if the knowledge was surgically excised from his brain****, and Jed Lowrie learning to hit at Fenway. We sat through the lows and the highs of a very long season. And we know that as long as it was for us, it was longer, more arduous and stressful and punishing, for the guys on the field. There's been a lot of baseball.

So it's astounding, and wonderful, that the greatest moment***** we shared with them in person was the moment that confirmed we will see more baseball. The season won't end in September. We have another chance at the brass ring. And this isn't cause for exhaustion, it's cause for a champagne celebration. Big strong men cheered and hugged their teammates and danced with their children and, at Fenway Park on a suddenly warm autumn night, they reached out to us to share the joy.

Red Sox Win, the scoreboard said.

And we sang and danced all the way home.

*Sometimes, you buy tickets from the official site and end up standing on your head behind a pole somewhere in Medford. Sometimes, you end up with pretty awesome seats.

**By which we do, in fact, mean us, personally. If Wake only pitched while we were in attendance, he'd be 800-3 or something crazy like that.

***Is it weird or wrong to think they're extra cute because it's his fiancee's kid and not, biologically, his?

****Sigh. But it's mean to pick on a dude who's down with a nasty calf injury, so this is a mercy footnote.

*****We missed being at Jon Lester's no-hitter by one day! But we were at the crazy game with the 19-17 score. Definitely got several Broadway shows' worth of drama.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We do not have words that are not "woo" and "hoo" in this house

We were at Fenway tonight STOP Jason Varitek high-fived us STOP More when we smell less like champagne FULL STOP.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We do not seduce and destroy in this house

Apparently, the Red Sox are not in the business of distracting the New England masses from their "Matt Cassel is our quarterback" woes.* Unless, of course--and bear with us while we spin the crazy here--their cunning plan involves making September baseball so stressful and panic-inducing that we're all left far too cotton-brained and bleary to remember that there's a football team 'round these parts. In which case: mission accomplished, guys, thanks for playing the LOB and Relief Corps Failure Parade game (safe for all ages, available at K-Mart, comes with a special John Madden voiceover track)!

We'll be at Fenway on Friday, and we're hoping to relocate the mojo that allowed the home team to win in our presence on Monday night.** Jennifer's switching out her pretty Fenway desktop wallpaper as we speak; she took the picture herself, so it really pains her to admit that it is obviously a jinxy jinxer that jinxes, but facts must be faced. She put up the wallpaper Tuesday morning, and the Red Sox haven't won since.

And it's not just that they haven't won. It's that Papelbon blew a save; yes, yes, dude's human, blah de blah, nobody's perfect, but every time he blows a save it feels like the kitten you were playing with turned into a pissy mountain lion, slashed right through your arm, and destroyed your whole house while you called 911. It's that Beckett pitched a good game, the bullpen held it together for an insane number of innings, and the offense managed to do jack shit.

Of course, you could also look at it like this: Lester was awesome, Beckett was pretty fucking good for a guy in his second start after seeing the dreaded Dr. James Andrews, and most of the bullpen was lights out. We all expect Pap to bounce back, and, well, can anyone honestly say they didn't call Wednesday night's game once Timlin took the mound? We love the Admiral, don't get us wrong, but we do sometimes wish he was only around in some sort of coaching and/or hawk hunting capacity.

So, no, we're not freaking out (too much), because even in this demoralizing series, there are still positive signs indicating the potential for October kickassery. The postseason is the goal, and we all know that everything changes once you get there. Hell, the Sox had their problems with The The Angels Angels of Anaheim last season, but you wouldn't know it from the ALDS. So: get there. And anything's possible.

Plus, maybe you haven't heard, but Tampa Bay? Actually good at baseball these days.
Although we really wish Tom Seaver would show up and kick their asses for referring to themselves as amazin'.

*Full disclaimer: we aren't really Patriots fans, but we've reached a point in our sports fan development where we will say, without any irony, "hey, let's watch a football game today." This is a huge step for us. Y'all should be proud.

**Now, here's a question: should we wear the same jerseys we wore on Monday, even though they're completely not relevant to Friday's game (Lester and Varitek, neither of whom will be starting), or is that just crossing the line from serious sleep deprivation into full-on crazytown?***

***We tarried too long in writing up that experience. Here are the important highlights: Caroline got to shake hands with Johnny Pesky (!), our nearest neighbors were plotting to steal Coco Crisp from his wife, and a uniformed member of Boston's finest threatened to kick us out and relieve our benefactor of her season tickets if we refused to participate in the wave.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

We do not make 11-year-old pop culture references in this house

Photo: David Butler/US Presswire

Dustin Pedroia is a shark with a frickin' laser beam attached to his head.

Okay, maybe he's more like an ill-tempered sea bass, or a red snapper. But the laser beam? It is definitely for real.