Be strong and shout at the devil


Why thank you!

Once I got home on Monday my television was set on nothing but baseball.  I think I’ve heard “God Bless America” at least ten times today.  So my concentration on actually watching baseball took me away from coming back here and writing about Opening Night.

Now that baseball is winding down for the night (although in writing this at 12:51am ET, I’m still flipping between the Twins/Angels game and the Mariners/A’s game.  Note to Yankees fans:  Hideki Matsui?  Not really done just yet.) I can sit back and see if I can make sense of the night I had at Fenway!  Does it go without saying that this will be a long one?  Not only long, but as I continue writing I realize I should break it up into at least two parts…pregame and game game – so this is only part one!

We didn't get to see much of Red Sox BP.  The highlight of what we saw was witnessing Mike Cameron's son shagging flies.  Centerfielder of the future!

We didn't get to see much of Red Sox BP. The highlight of what we saw was witnessing Mike Cameron's son shagging flies. Centerfielder of the future!

Knowing that a Yankees/Red Sox Sunday night game would go on for hours and make it very difficult to get home any time before, oh, 3am, we decided to get a hotel room for the night so we weren’t stressing about finding cabs at 1 in the morning.  Having that one detail nailed down really helped make for a stress-free evening of marathon baseball. (Being greeted in the train station and at the hotel by people dressed as assorted cartoon characters put things into proper perspective as well.  Can’t really take  anything much too seriously when you see adults walking through Boston in furry ears and tails.  And lest you think I’m mocking them, I say more power to them.  We walk around, as Kelly mentioned, pretending to be Jason Varitek or Kevin Youkilis by wearing their jerseys, who are we to judge?)

The walk to the park had the feel of a Red Sox/Yankees game but not really the excitement of Opening Day.  I’m not complaining, my mind was racing on it’s own and I didn’t need everyone else buzzing around me too, but there was definitely a different feel to the day and I’m still a little cranky that we didn’t get the Opening DAY people got on Monday (and some are getting on Tuesday).

Walking into the park, I crossed the path of a couple of cranky Yankees fans (PRE game, mind you) and, apparently, wasn’t apologetic enough when I apologized for cutting in front of them to keep up with Kelly O’Connor (she’s taller than me and moves faster, what can I say?) because she called me an “effing see you next Tuesday” except she didn’t say it the way I wrote it out.

I had to decide in a split second if it was worth getting in a fight and probably being denied access to the game before it even began (and before I was even in the park!) and I made the right decision.  No fight for me and Yankees chick karma’d her team into a loss.  Win-win.

Fan-wise it was pretty uneventful from there.  Even though we sat on an aisle, we weren’t overly inundated with requests to get up.  We had a few Yankees fans around us, but none were terribly obnoxious.  (There was this one guy who was fairly insulting pre-game but seemed to settle down quickly once the game began.)  My favorite Yankees fan sat directly across the aisle from me next to his Red Sox loving girlfriend.  He was happy (but not obnoxious) when they were winning and he was awfully pissy when they were losing.  She rubbed it in good, even chanting “Yankees Suck!” more than once.  They left early and I sense that it was probably due to the impending Sox win and their desire to not have it break up their relationship.



Checking my phone while having a beer before we sat down, I noticed one of my friends messaged me “Did word leak out about who’s throwing out the first pitch?  I know, I’ll tell if  you want, or it could be a surprise.”  While I was responding to him that, yes, I wanted him to tell me, Kelly was looking it  up on her own phone.  We had both said we thought it should be Nomar.  Actually, we were so adamant about it being Nomar that we both were saying that here was NO ONE we could think of who it would be over Nomar.  Kelly got this strange look on her face and slowly showed me what she was reading.  I didn’t get passed the word “Pedro” before I started screaming.  Kelly and I both were standing in front of the Irish beer stand screaming like teenagers because Pedro Martinez was going to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  Let me say again (as I did last night) that, once again, the Red Sox are smarter than I am.  Pedro wins over Nomar hands down (no offense to Nomar).

Here is where I interrupt the story to say that I don’t understand anyone either having a problem with this decision nor do I get people not being excited about it.  I have a blind spot with Pedro, I guess.  While we were screaming, people waiting in line for the ATM started staring at us, so Kelly explained to one woman why were were so giddy.  When she said “Pedro’s throwing out the first pitch” the woman looked at her as if she had said nothing more important or unique than “I have red hair”.  I was extremely cranky that she wasn’t sufficiently excited.  So we left the area rather quickly after that.

My cell phone had started acting hinky (it’s fine now – I really have no idea what the issue was. Opening Day jitters, I guess.) so I made the decision to not really update much from the game via Twitter.  My attention was on the game and hopefully getting some halfway decent pictures.  (It used to be daunting to go to games with Kelly O’Connor since she’s a kick ass photographer and, well, I’m not.  But I’ve decided that, although the photos I take aren’t close to the same level as hers, they don’t need to be.  It sure takes the pressure off.  Incidentally, I’ll post a link here once she gets her Opening Night photos edited and up!)

The introductions were as they always are.  Lots of booing for the Yankees and lots of cheering for the Red Sox (even the clubbies, trainers and bat boys!).  I don’t know how it came across on television but the biggest ovation of the night (even bigger than Pedro’s, in my opinion) was the ovation Mike Lowell got.  It went on a while thanks to Carl Bean Joe Castiglione (thanks to Jere for pointing this out in the comments) letting it go on by not announcing the next player until Mike Lowell tipped his cap to us) and it seemed to touch Mike (and many of us in the stands).

A quick digression again.  Got to talk to my dad Monday about the game and he was disappointed, nay, pissed that Tito didn’t have Jason Varitek play in the game.  Apparently, being the Captain and putting in all the years he has puts him in a place of specialness for my dad.  Considering my dad has spent almost every year Tek’s been with the team yelling at the tv that “You aren’t a switch hitter!  Switch hitters can hit from BOTH SIDES!” his position on this took me by surprise.  Every so often my dad shows a soft side when it comes to baseball (his disgust at Mark Bellhorn being booed at Fenway – which led to him NOT stepping foot in Fenway going on five years now – is another example of this) that surprises me.  I dig it, though.  Not many people, especially men, are willing to admit that sometimes they’re thinking about the player over the game.  I guess I’m more like my dad than I think.

The fireworks after Pedro's first pitch were a great touch (except that I hate fireworks so I missed the better shot!).

The fireworks after Pedro's first pitch were a great touch (except that I hate fireworks so I missed the better shot!).

Pedro coming out was more fun than anything else but, like the Lowell ovation, made me a little teary-eyed.  I’m a sucker for this kind of thing.  He walked from The Green Monster out to the pitcher’s mound, smiling and waving all the way.  This happened after introductions and some of the Yankees had taken the field to warm up.  Now I had a little bit of an obstructed view of this so I couldn’t see Slappy at first so I’m not sure of the way things went down.  Did Pedro see ARod first or vice versa?  In any event there was a handshake and a hug which caused boos to rain down in the middle of the wild cheering.  (Boos for Slappy not Pedro.  Tony Massarotti was on NESN Sunday night saying Pedro was booed for hugging ARod.  No, ARod was booed for hugging Pedro, Tony.)  By the time Pedro made his way to the mound it was easy to see the smile that took over his entire face.  He brought a little bit of the old, mischievous Petey with him when first he did his double point into the dugout (returned by David Ortiz…or was it initiated by Ortiz?  My focus at the moment was solely on Pedro) and then when he stepped off the mound and stepped in front of it as if he decided he couldn’t get the ball to home plate if he was standing on the mound.  After more laughing he got back on the mound, warmed up his arm and let one fly into Jason Varitek’s glove.  Tek seemed as amused by it all as Pedro was.

As he was leaving the field, Pedro spotted Johnny Pesky and literally ran toward him.  Once he got to him, he gave him a hug that they both held for a time much longer than the average man hugs another guy.  THAT was when things got very dusty in Fenway Park.  They posed for some picture, it looked like they let Johnny sit down until his turn came up and Pedro knelt down and gave him another hug before taking off.  He wandered over to the stands, high-fiving folks and shaking hands as he did, and signed some autographs (at least that’s what it looked like) before ducking into the dugout.

We didn’t have time to process  Pedro’s appearance when we heard this young but powerful voice come over the PA system, “Great moments are BORN from great opportunities!” Anyone who spends any kind of time on the Internet probably recognized the voice immediately.  A five year-old named Joshua Sacco who became an Internet star reciting the Herb Brooks “Miracle” speech was standing in front of the Red Sox dugout reciting the same speech (with a few alterations like:  “I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great baseball team the Yankees have!” and “If we play them 18 times they might win 9 but not tonight!”).  As cute as I thought this was online it was a little weird to hear a five year-old yell “Screw ’em” at the Red Sox.  I had visions of my first visit to Yankee Stadium where there was a little girl around 7 or 9 year-old who kept screaming in my face “Red Sox SUCK!  Red Sox SUCK!” while her mother looked on and laughed approvingly.  But, still, I did get a kick out of the reactions of the players and I’m still amazed that they got a five year-old to not only memorize this speech (and the new version of it) but to present it in such a forceful and believable way.  Look for Joshua Sacco on a sitcom near you soon (and then on “Celebrity Rehab” in about 12 years!  I kid.  I’m a kidder.  He’s adorable and I can see a Jonathan Lipnicki-type career for him).  If you can watch this video, my favorite part is about 45 seconds in when the NESN cameras show Clay Buchholz laughing and then looking behind himself as if to say to someone “Can you BELIEVE this?”  (See what I did there?)

Joe Castiglione and Don Orsillo presided over the pregame events as they do every year and for every big night at Fenway – and we were never so happy to hear their voices as we were when they introduced Johnny Pesky to say the “two words” we were waiting for “Play Ball” (actually Johnny seems to always say “Let’s play some ball” making the two words four but he’s Johnny Pesky so who will squawk about that?)!  We watched the relievers walk out to the bullpen to the strains of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme and we knew it was time for baseball.

To be continued…

You can find the rest of my photos from the day at my Flickr account.

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