Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Going to the World Series (Game 2)

Note from Cyn: When my friend Tru told me he was going to Game 2, after expressing my joy for him, I asked him if he would consider contributing a write-up of his experience for me to publish here. He graciously agreed – so here it is!  I hope you enjoy reading it as  much as I did.*

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I’m sitting in my office, too tired to do anything productive, which according to some is usual, but does not mitigate the utter exhaustion; I’m bone tired. It’s been about 12 hours (2ish as I write this), since I got home from game 2 of the World Series. It seems like such a blur now, almost as though it was a wedding day, where the anticipation of a truly great event was about to unfold. It had all the elements; nervousness, excitement, and the preparation fades and gives way so quickly to being over, it’s surreal, and almost as if I had not been through the experience.

I spoke to Brenken this morning, rambling on like a loon about the game. She, as always, was patient to listen to my nonsense and then proceeded to remind me that I had attended at least one game in each of the playoffs; LDS, ALCS and now the World Series. Of course what she said is true, but I did not string those thoughts together, at least not as I should have. So, it comes to pass that Cyn, the Beazer, mother of Johnny Damon’s children, and all things Mike Timlin asked me to write a recollection of thoughts about going to the World Series. She did this via the marvel of text messaging, as I sat in seat 21, row 1, and section 25.

The first thing I guess should be mentioned is who do you go to a game with? My wife, who is a saint, does not like baseball, and for her to go would mean reading a book in the chill October air. I could only imagine a befuddled FOX reporter coming up to ask pressing questions about reading books between innings, and if they were her published works. But for that to happen would mean she’d look like Stephen King, which she doesn’t, but it would also mean the question asked would be so mind numbingly stupid, Buck and McCarver would spend hours pointing at one another asserting it was “he” who came up with them in the first place.

I chose a lifelong friend, a guy I grew up with in Connecticut who lives nearby me in New Hampshire. Like me, he’s a devout fan of the game and is a long time Sox follower. He’s a cancer survivor, rode in the Mass Pan Challenge, and is seeing life entirely different these days. We had dinner near the Prudential Center then hiked to Fenway for the game. We were all of sixteen again, flush with the excitement of what was to come, the whole while jibber jabbering about the players we had versus those that the Rockies had.

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We walked up Ipswich Street until following Lansdowne, looping around the front of Brookline Avenue and onto Yawkey Way to take it in from all sides of Fenway. The moon was already in the sky, with the Hood blimp hovering over the park. People were looking back towards Copley Square, pointing their cameras, and snapping pictures to capture the angles of Fenway, with the “Go Sox” lit windows of the Pru. I have such an image on my cell phone. There is only one other time I can recall Yawkey Way so over congested with wall to wall people. That was game seven of the ALCS. But then, the mood was much different than last night.

The anticipation of the game I saw last night had an air of confidence to it, which when contrasted to the final game of the ALCS was much more apprehensive. People last night seemed sure and confident in their team and the differences were rather palpable. The Sox were playing the brand of baseball that we saw at the beginning of the season, with right mix of good pitching, defense and offense. This was the conversation I was getting bits and pieces of wherever it was being discussed. And while the game was clearly a tremendous tussle over who could extort the other’s pitching, you never got the sense of dread that usually hung over the park in days gone by; the Red Sox were not going to lose.

Although this was my first World Series, and I have no other to compare it with, there were a lot of other things taking place that did not appeal to me. Upon entering the park, DHL was giving away yellow square towels that had their logo on it, along with MLB’s trademark and the World Series logo. It struck me that DHL’s gaudy yellow color was the point, not the World Series participants, as neither team’s logo’s were anywhere to be found. I don’t know about you, but the whorish nature of MLB was in full view for me, where anything is possible for a buck; it’s no wonder the things were being given away for free. “How do you do, devout baseball fan, and welcome to historic Fenway Park. Here is a meaningless trinket as a memento of your World Series experience, from a company who you should patronize.

It was also distracting to see how the game flow was disrupted by the influence of FOX broadcasting it. I’m by no means naïve, and do understand that to undertake a world wide telecast of the games, it requires a lot of careful coordination so that everyone gets their chance to hawk their product. Watching the FOX people cuing the umpires as to when they could resume the game caused players to stand round for an addition 10 ~ 15 seconds, which was garbage. More than once, Fuentes and Okajima approached the mound after their warm up tosses, only to walk off and wait for the ads to end.

I ‘texted’ the Beazer that there were some people waving those stupid yellow towels around when something good happened. It was to me a sacrilege. Okay, I know that people were showing their unbridled enthusiasm for the play on the field, but I also could not help thinking that hold up a second, this is not your ordinary ball park. This is Fenway, one of the very few places that does not require prompting or cues from an electronic sign to tell when you something important is about to happen or going to. So watching those smattering of yellow towel wavers, it felt out of place and not befitting the Sox. Since the Rockies team colors are not remotely near yellow, I could only guess it was people who happened to be in Fenway because it was the best show in town, or the best place to be seen in town. There’s a DHL receptacle at the end of the street in my office park. I deposited my yellow towel into the receptacle this morning, bowed my head for a moment, sipped my Dunkin Donuts and headed over to the office for much needed rest.

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Yet, despite these trivial annoyances, the actual baseball rose to the top, as it always does and holds the superior position to all other things that are going on around you. You notice that people leave their seats a lot less than they do during a regular season game, or that their focus is total baseball and not what’s going on at the office that week, or anything other than the game. I spent a lot of time on my feet, and on every critical play, be it a foul ball, or superb pick off at first base, everything had the full attention of the packed park. And when certain occurred, the cheers were deafening; Tek’s sacrifice to tie the game and Lowell’s winning RBI. But there were three other moments that stood out beyond that, when Fenway thundered beyond anything I’d ever heard in all the years being lucky enough to get inside to watch the Sox play.

First was when Schilling left the game. His outing, while not vintage Curt, where he blew by batters in days of yore, was more than good enough. He went 5 1/3 and allowed one run. I could not help feeling weird, knowing that this might well be the last time Schilling pitches in Fenway and, for the Red Sox. He has become legend here, for all the reasons we know, but there he was, giving everything he had, and got it done. The woman who was in front of us was using a handkerchief; I thought she was wiping her nose. My friend said no, she was crying. It was a moment that will live in my memory for a long, long time.

Okajima brought the house down a second time, with his peerless performance. His pitching was spectacular. Cyn ‘texted’ to me that FOX gave him player of the game. They got it right.

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The last time Fenway shook was when Papelbon came in and closed out the game. His entrance into the game is so terrific, so showmanship, it requires everyone to do their part. Cue up the Troggs Wild Thing, then Bill Dunn, the Boston cop who stands in the pen and fists Papelbon as he emerges from the pen and races across the outfield. Stopping just before the infield grass, he puts his head down, dressing his toes to the grass and square his shoulders, Papelbon makes his way slowly to the mound. Before stepping on the hill, the infielders depart, while he stretches his glove hand out for Francona to deposit the ball into his mitt, never once looking at each other or exchanging as much as a word. And as Francona heads back to the dugout, there is his battery mate, standing with his toes dressed to the rubber, while his pitcher gets a few inches from his masked face. It’s always the same and I never get sick of seeing this happen. Fenway always goes out of its mind. And why not? It is all about what was to come, and did. The place was rocking.

From our seats, we had a clear view of center field, and in particular the people who were dangling these large Sox socks. In between innings, they had the socks running, or walking, or jumping. Flash bulbs went off all the time, and people, aside from being chilly seemed happy; very happy. Several of our cyber friends were at the park, scattered about from the SRO section behind home plate, to the bleachers and elsewhere. My neighbor, who was gracious enough to take me to the final ALCS game, was there, and we talked about how great the team this year was. And this team is that, are they not? I’m at once lucky and happy and a little bit humbled by the whole experience. Baseball and the Red Sox have infused themselves into my life, well past wearing a cap or jacket. It’s as though the World Series experience is an affirmation of me through them. The ups, the downs, and all the struggle along the way that culminates in what becomes a life story. They make me feel good, and have let me down. They’re good and bad, yet the whole time I believe in them. But they never quit. Going there reminded me of that, reminded me that this is why so many great minds have written so beautifully and affectionately about baseball, and why it is so personal and all consuming to try and live up to being the very best you can be. It was a great night, and not just because the Sox won the game. It’s taken a very long time for me just to be able to get here and it was well worth the trip.

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Two more games. Faith in two.

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 *All photos in this post were lifted from Boston.com

 

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October 27, 2007 Posted by | Guest Blogger, World Series | 6 Comments

Breaking News

Cuyahoga Daily Sentinel

October 6, 2007

New York Yankees Bugged

By Erwin Schlemmel

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(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

 

The New York Yankees registered a complaint with Major League Baseball last night, officially requesting game two of the League Division series game against the Cleveland Indians be replayed. At the center of their request is an issue of inappropriate conditions for play.

As temperatures were unusually warm in Cleveland, site of last night’s second in the best of five game series, gnats became a factor for Yankee pitchers and hitters, creating a distraction. New York’s General Manager Brian Cashman, phoned other Yankee executives from his seat in Jacobs Field to ask about lodging the protest.

The Yankees lost in extra innings, 2-1 to the Indians, and now trail two games to none.

Joe Torre, manager for the Yankees complained to home plate umpire Laz Diaz , as the game went into extra innings. “It was great weather”, Torre said. “The conditions for playing were ideal; low 80’s and not terribly humid. It’s pretty unfortunate that other factors interfered in a game the way they did.” Torre believed the game should have been called, agreeing with the decision to file a protest. “I asked Laz [Diaz], if he was able to see pitches clearly. I thought if the bugs were causing havoc with the players, it might be hampering his ability to call balls and strikes”, Torre urged. Apparently, the late season pests were not a concern to Diaz, or crew chief Bruce Froemming, as the game continued without interruption. While no official word was heard from New York’s senior management team, sources suggest principal owner George Steinbrenner is incensed.

Insects, causing game delays, or in some cases postponement are not new to baseball.

On September 15, 1946, in the second game of a double header between the Chicago Cubs and the Brooklyn Dodgers was called in the fifth inning because of gnats. Conflicting news accounts published then had differing views, where one umpire was quoted as saying the game was called because of darkness. The New York Times quotes the game account from 1946, which demonstrates the Yankee point. “The game was called at the end of five innings when, with darkness falling, great swarms of insects descended on the field. These insects first made their appearance in the stands when Kirby Higbe started for the mound to pitch the sixth inning and began slapping about with his glove, the thing became clear and the umpires, after two conferences, one about the darkness, the other about the insects, decided to go home.“

However, in June 1959, in a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox, the game was delayed; forcing grounds crew to use smoke bombs to clear the insect infestation. After thirty minutes, the game resumed without further incident. Neither team complained about the conditions.

Conspiracy to cheat is claimed.

While it remains a judgment call for game officials, unnamed sources within the Yankees organization believe the Indians tilted the scales unfairly. “We received word that unmarked trucks had gathered in Erie Street Cemetery. These trucks were filled with gnats and we believe they were released at around 8:30 PM.”, claimed a Yankee senior official who declined to be identified. The cemetery is located northeast of Jacobs field and is a few moments walk from the ball park.

Meanwhile, Alan Chang, Esq. Associate General Counsel for the New York Yankees is insisting a test be conducted on Indian players for illegal use of DEET. N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, abbreviated DEET, is an insect repellent chemical. Although widely considered the safest form of prevention against bug bites, Chang contends the substance is not allowed under the rules of Major League Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, which bans certain types of substances.

Alex Rodriguez, star third baseman for the Yankees says the insects were the size of small animal s . “They were like rats with wings”, he complained. “Joba [ Chamberlain ] , had to fight to get his pitches to Jorge [ Posada ]; it was ridiculous to play under those conditions . The Indians cheat and everyone knows it.” he asserted. Cleveland first baseman, Ryan Garko scoffed at the allegation and chuckled; "I think that was my favorite part of the game," Garko said. "Fausto didn’t step off the mound, because he’s tough. That’s what you’ve got to be here: Tough. Fausto didn’t flinch. There were guys acting like those were bullets flying around their heads. They’re not bullets. They’re just bugs. This is the big leagues." Rodriguez, a perennial all star and potential American League MVP has not had a hit in the two games and six at bats.

Mark Shapiro, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Indians would not comment on the Yankees allegations, but did indicate he was proud of his teams play. “You work all year for these moments. Our fans have been fantastic and our players are showing why we deserve to be here.”

Game three of the League Division Series heads to New York and will be played Sunday evening, where the Yankees will attempt to prevent a sweep.

MLB formally accepted the protest by the Yankees, but has refused to comment on it pending review.

 

 

Albert Sapplewhip contributed to this story…

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Guest Blogger | 8 Comments