Friday, May 26, 2006
This is so typical.
I've never been, in person, to a Red Sox/Yankees game in my life. And suddenly I had tickets to two in a row.
And then they go and lose both.
At least they were both (eventually) close games... it would've been incomparably depressing to sit through a Yankee blowout at Fenway. And the weather, although cool later in the game, was nice both nights. And the seats were really good both nights, and I was in really good company both nights. And it was LIVE BASEBALL at FENWAY PARK against the YANKEES so, you know, I have nothing in the world to complain about.
Anyways. The first game. That being Tuesday's Wakefield/Wright matchup.
I met up downtown with my cousins Beth and Leah, their friend Deb and her son Sam. Sam is a kid who has the uncanny ability to imitate the batting stance of any number of major leaguers, which naturally led to a discussion of stances and who batted left- or right-handed. Beth tried to imitate Ichiro's stance and nearly got it right, but she held the straw (bat) out horizontally, whereas Ichiro holds it vertically. I mention this only because it's something I always notice, and not just because I love Ichiro (preemptive 'shut up'). I think Daryl once said it reminded him of holding up a sword, but it's always unavoidably reminded me of an artist holding up their pencil, vertical and at the end of a fully extended arm, to gauge the proportions of a figure they're trying to draw. Every time I see Ichiro bat, it looks like he's judging to proportions of the pitcher. And I realize full well that 0.2 of you actually care about that, but I wanted to mention it anyhow.
As for Sam, well, to demonstrate for those of us who had not seen it before (me), he stood in a wide, solid stance, holding his hands together at a high angle to his head, slowly rotating them at the wrists.
I swear to cats, it was Jason Varitek, only significantly smaller.
He also does a dead-on Papi Face.
Those necessities dispensed with, we headed into the park.
Now, this being Fenway and all, the park is technically exactly as crowded for a Yankees game as it is for a Devil Rays game, because sold out is sold out. But just like at Michigan Stadium when Ohio State comes to town, the sold out big game crowd looks somehow larger than the sold out 'nonconference' game crowd. Maybe more people who have tickets actually show up (although, again, the no-shows at Fenway don't make a significant dent in the crowd even on a normal night) and maybe they manage to squeeze in a few more at the corners.
There is, however, a certain singlemindedness of purpose in the crowd. We're not just there to watch baseball. We're there to watch Red Sox/Yankees. We're there to (with a few exceptions) boo Johnny Damon. We're there to remind Sheffield (in his first game back from the DL) and Giambi (he didn't play in the first game, 'tho he did in the second one) that we know what they did and we haven't decided it's OK. We're there to make ARod's life a living hell.
So of course the very first thing that happened was Johnny Damon hitting a leadoff homerun.
Sort of put a damper on things. I don't think the crowd was ever quite the same after that, although Manny's homer perked people up a bit. But the loud, brash, excited nature of the park had beem tamped down, and the carefree attitude that allowed for multiple "Yankees suck!" chants the next night just wasn't really as present on Tuesday.
Early on, Jaret Wright fielded a ball with his stomach or something similar, causing the coaching staff and trainers to come charging out and the whole infield to come charging in, their usual Pavlovian response when Torre emerges from the dugout. Leah and I were pleased. Surely he was rattled now, all Matt Clement style (ooooo foreshadowing!), and the knuckleball's failure to locate would be rendered painless.
And, true, he only went 5 innings. It was the damndest thing, though. At no point did he look particularly dominant, but somehow he worked his way into something resembling a dominant outing. Four hits and two walks were left on the bases.
I know we do that every so often, that whole "not bringing runners around to score" thing, but it felt like we hadn't for a while and so it was a little shocking and painful to watch.
Gary Sheffield, fresh from his little rest, proceeded to go 2-for-4 on the night, much to the displeasure of everyone within a 20 mile radius of Fenway. There were the usual "Baaaaaalco" and "Steeeeeroids" chants, along with a new, more direct call: "YOU take STERoids!" *clap clap clapclapclap* Present tense too and everything. It's only a small alteration of a classic, but it cracks me up.
Later in the game it was with great joy that we watched Jon(athan) Papelbon strike the snot out of Sheffield. I know he's a free swinger to start with, but it's really impossible to not enjoy the sight of Sheffield swinging around so hard that he collapses back on his heels and hits nothing but air.
In fact Papelbon was one of the best bits of the whole game. The last time I saw him, he got his first loss, which kind of sucked at the time but we knew wasn't representative. Tuesday night was real Papelbonning. It was the kind of pitching that makes you sit back in your seat and go, "Awwww hell no!" in wonder. Which I did, naturally.
Our seats were down the third base side, right where Manny directs his glassy-eyed stare before every at-bat. Tons of people in the section (Leah included) stand and point at him and holler and Manny never ever bats an eyelash. I understand that he's often in his own little world of puppies and birthday cakes and rainbows, but you'd think he would notice that staring into the same section every time causes that section to go batshit insane.
Some other snippets from the game:
Leah: See if you can use your zoom to see who's sitting in the owner's box.
Me: No... no way...
Leah: What? Who is it?
Me: TOM FUCKING BRADY.
And, it seems, Matt Cassel on the left. We saw Tommy leaning over to get someone, I think Curt Schilling, to sign a ball for him between innings.
Mike Myers came back. He was booed on Wednesday night, but not so much during this game, probably a sign of how sullen the crowd was. Although, personally speaking, I would never boo Mike Myers. They played Austin Powers music for him, which was a cute acknowledgement without resorting to the more appropriate entrance music of Halloween.
The opposite of ugh.
I took so many photos of The Farns. When it came down to it, I just couldn't help it. I'll insert another preemptive "shut up" here.
It was another solid night for Youk, who I have to admit is surpassing even my expectations of him right now.
And I must say, it was a ton of fun going to my first Sox/Yanks game with Leah, mostly because you know you're at a Sox/Yanks game. There was none of this "ho hum a baseball game I shall watch impassively" business. She was on her feet at the right times, giving Manny the double point or ARod the business. Although some members of the family had led me to believe that going to game with her was something like going to a game with a rabid wolverine, I found her to be no more embarassing than, well, me, and certainly less so than, oh, let's say a full third of the bleacher sections.
That's my altogether inadequate recap of the game. The rest of the photos are right here and I highly suggest you have a look because, as you may have been able to tell, the seats were fairly freaking awesome and I got some tolerable shots.
Photos and tales from Wednesday's game soon.
Labels: baseball, in attendance, MLB, photoblog, Red Sox, rivalry, Yankees