Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Three Nights in Septober: A Week in Boston Sports

Loss #1: Toronto 8, Red Sox 7

At least the Red Sox made it interesting. Down 8-2 as we finished the last fist-pumping chorus of "Sweet Caroline," the Red Sox fought and clawed and clambered aboard a JD Drew home run to reach a respectable 8-7 score heading into the ninth. But that's getting ahead of ourselves a bit.

This game started with a bang of the wrong kind: a first pitch lead-off home run and the realization that we were sitting in front of the dude who felt the need to prove his mad baseball knowledge by commenting on every. freaking. pitch. Seriously. "Well, they should've gone inside there." "That changeup was too high." "He's teeing off on pitches away." And on and on and motherfucking on. Yeah, he's one of Those People You Meet at Fenway. No, we didn't test the efficiency of the security hotline on him.

We were in Lawyer Larry's seats for the first time since Tim Wakefield's magical start against the Rockies back in 2007, and we were at a possible clinching game for the second year in a row. We possibly got our hopes up a little, is what we're saying. Not enough to jinx things, we don't think, but a bit. We laughed over the fact that, for the first time in our shared game-attending history, the singers did a worse job with the Canadian anthem than the American one. We rolled our eyes when people near us said stupid things. We were ready. This was going to be The Game.

And then the game started, and little old Claybee couldn't keep the ball in the yard.

Before the game, during most of the game, and for a few hours afterward, we were pretty down on our Red Sox. They'd been losing to the Royals and were in the process of losing to the Jays, and they hadn't managed to clinch their division on their own turf. Not quite the 2007 Mets, that's true, but it didn't exactly fuel excitement. But then...they turned it on. They found their offense in one burst, and for a few minutes, even if it wasn't The Game, it was definitely The Team. The team that couldn't be eliminated in 2004 or 2007; the team that pushed their luck all the way to the breaking point in 2008, the team that will not quit until they've got a reason to hug and cheer and pour booze on the bullpen cop.

The park shook.

Called strike three. And we all went home.*

Loss #2: Toronto 12, Red Sox 0

We weren't no-hit!

Yeah, this one was a laugher from the moment they posted the lineup. Hell, from the time the Rangers lost to the Angels, thus clinching a playoff berth for the Red Sox and allowing our actual MLB players to have a closed-doors bacchanal that left everyone with a hangover the size of Big Papi's smile. To say we weren't expecting much would be an understatement. We figured we'd head out to the park, catch what might be Timmy Wakefield's very last start, and enjoy ourselves out in the bleachers with the rest of the crazies. No expectations. No stress. Just baseball.

Baseball against Roy Halladay. Right.

This loss was totally different than the Tuesday loss. For one thing, there was never so much as an inkling of false hope. For another thing, with our ALDS spot assured, all that energy that went to crossing fingers and knocking wood could be diverted to creative yelling. We told Joey Gathright he was our hero (this was after he broke up the no-hitter--before that we were loudly reminiscing about how we used to babysit him), and we reminded the Blue Jays that they're losers because they loooove artificial turf. We even got the guy in front of us to heckle Jose Bautista with lyrics by the Police. Of course, the highlight of the game was obviously Dusty Brown's major league pitching debut; sure, Mr. Autographed Brian Daubach Jersey couldn't believe we even knew who Brown is--never mind that we were the only people in the vicinity who could tell our Josh Reddicks from our Brian Andersons--but that didn't quell our enthusiasm. Dusty Brown, y'all. We've loved that kid since Sea Dogs times.

Dusty Brown

All that was worth the price of admission, and the price of the huge coffees we needed to stay warm, and even the complete-game shutout the Doc twirled at the PawSox. We don't think we've ever had a better time watching a game that was lost before it began.

Loss #3: Capitals 4, Bruins 1


Hockey’s back.

Yes, we are a Red Sox blog, but we are also Bruins fans and we decided that, you know what, we would never forgive ourselves for missing out on Opening Night at the TD Banknorth Fleet Center Garden. So we donned the Black and Gold and wandered out into the autumn night once more.

We were ready. Our fellow fans in the cheap seats were ready. Unfortunately, the Caps fan in the row in front of us and the guy whose shirt she was wearing--some dude named Ovechkin? Yeah, we don’t know either--were also ready. More ready, in fact, than the Bruins. Who looked like they were playing on your dad’s beer league team for most of the game.

Your dad’s over-50 beer league team.

So, yes, the game happened. We cheered, we yelled “Shoot the fucking puck already!”, we cheered some more. And while it would’ve been nice to actually win the home opener—or, hell, to at least make it a game—it’s so early in the season that we just can’t stress about it quite yet. The aforementioned Caps fan turned around as the second intermission drew to a close to tell us that our row was full of good fans. We're not sure if she meant it in a condescending manner or not, but she pointed out that we never gave up cheering for our team and actually seemed to know things. Like players' names. And what was going on. She was nice enough when she said it, but we can't help but think it was a touch condescending in the "aww, look at the little fans watching my team crush their team" sense.

Of course, she was sitting next to Tuukka Rask's boyfriend the entire game, so maybe she really did mean it.

Because, yes, we met Tuukka Rask's boyfriend. Or maybe he was the guy Tuukka Rask has a restraining order against. But his love for Tuukka is true, and strong, and obsessed with the butterfly style. Even when the game was still technically close--in score, if not in feel--he was calling for Julien to play Tuukka. "He's calm in net," he told everyone in the section, "Not like Thomas. Tall and calm and he doesn't flail around." At one point, we're pretty sure he broke into haiku:

Tuukka Rask always
Looks good when he makes a save.
I've seen him naked.

As confirmed Tim Thomas fans, we didn't share his passion. But three periods of watching our guys mishandle the puck while Alex Ovechkin did triple salchows around them was two point five periods too many. That's okay, though--the Bruins have plenty of time to get Big and Bad and figure out their problem, and we'll check back in with them as soon as we get out of playoff mode.

About playoff mode: Hell, yes! Playoff mode! We're ready to roll. We have our lucky shirts, and a selection of lucky socks, and a bottle of Absolut Boston (yes, we're that cheesy) to help us either celebrate or cope. We also have a Twitter, which you can see at left, and which we used to "liveblog," as the kids used to call it, the Twins/Tigers one-game playoff. We'll be posting a lot of things there that are shorter than this thing you're still reading. Follow us and we'll promise not to use the word 'tweet' as a noun.

*Except for Jason Bay. He went out for drinks with his agent. His agent! C'mon, Jay Bay, kick it up!