Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Red Sox on Patriot's Day - Daisuke's Revelation

The anticipation had been building for days in the JMR Household all week.  I was stranded by work for the week, so an April vacation was out of the question.  But Monday was Patriot's Day and what better way to spend a morning in April than fighting Boston Marathon traffic getting to Fenway Park for the annual Patriot's Day baseball game.  11am is early for a baseball game, but I was excited about this game too since I had never seen a game this early.  But the day was filled with questions.  Can my stomach take a 9:30 sausage and beer?  Can the kids handle eating that much junk food that early in the morning (I'm a notorious softy when it comes to this kind of stuff)?  And most importantly - when I saw that Daisuke Matzusaka was scheduled to pitch - can the Red Sox actually win this game?

The day started off auspiciously enough as we were actually 20 minutes early to Fenway Park.  Unfortunately we couldn't get into the park.  We all know what that means as the Yawkey Way Store beckoned us with all of those neon lights...T-Shirts and baseballs for the boys!  The older one got his favorite new player Adrian Gonzalez.  And the younger one?  Yes, He got Jacoby Ellsbury.  Apparently he forgot Ellsbury's problems last year, as Ellsbury was vilified for skipping games due to injury (by the boys even).

9AM.  Boston, MA.  There is nothing like getting into the park early to watch batting pract...oh crap, no BP today?  "Seriously?  There's no batting practice?" I ask one of the ushers, who appeared to be as old and weathered as the seats in the Infield grandstand where we asked him the question. 

"Players don't want to practice that early, there isn't enough time."  He answers.  I dream about using that same excuse for the 9am little league games I'll be enduring this Summer.

Never mind though.  We walk over to the Pesky Pole, hoping that one of the pitchers will sign the newly purchased baseballs being held by my expectant boys.  I point to each of the guys I recognize - Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Aceves.  My 8 year old then asks me who one of the guys was, the one walking away from us toward the dugout.  I can't tell, I explain, because I don't recognize the guy from behind.  When one of the other dads tells me it Bobby Jenks, we both share a laugh when I joke that all fat guys look alike to me.  It's only funny if you know who I am.

We're getting Bloody and Ridiculous!
Eventually, after walking around the Park, soaking in all of the sunlight (it's not poetry, it was just really cold), the boys talk me into going to our seats up by the Coca Cola Pavilion.  I relent as soon as I see people milling around up there.

After walking for 30 minutes up ramps, switchbacks and stairways (the elevator wait would have been quicker) we get to our seats in the last row of the Section 18.  Only a crowded SRO crowd behind us stood between us and Game On fifty feet below.  I admit that I love these seats, you get a birdseye view of the game, you have a good vantage point and you can see the plays developing in front of you.  The boys take on it?  Kinda cold and really high up.  When the six year old looked apprehensive climbing the stairs to the top of the the pavilion, I explained the bright side to him.  Pointing out the minutemen with muskets holding the Canadian and American flags 100 feet below, at least we wont hear the musket fire.  That didn't help.

Matsuzaka comes out to a smattering of applause and boos.  We all remember the 2 inning, 7 run stinker last Monday against the Rays.  Will we see a repeat of that performance?  Or will we see the Dice-K that we saw last May going 7 innings giving up only 1 run?  It started out well as Dice-K got the first two batters to fly out.  After a Jose Batista single, Adam Lind grounds out to end a scoreless first inning.  We were all cautiously optimistic.

Up 2-0 in the second inning, thanks to a Jed Lowrie bases loaded single, the old Matsuzaka gives up a walk to a guy hitting .190, Travis Snider.

"Oh here we go..." the lady sitting next to my 6 year old sighs.  I agree.  But as soon as my 8 year old asks me why everyone is booing Dice-K and Carl Crawford, the Red Sox get out of the inning.  A murmur begins in our section.  That would be the last batter that Dice K gives up for the rest of his outing.  Maybe we could sense it.

An Ortiz RBI single in the 3rd and a Jed "The Natural" Lowrie 2 run home run in the 5th brings the score to 5-0.  But that's not the story this morning.  Daisuke is pitching an absolute gem.  Challenging all of the hitters, making good pitches when behind in the count, everything was clicking.  Even the 30 year old women talking about their boyfriends and weight watchers behind us were getting excited about Dice K and "Jeff" Lowrie.

The sixth and the seventh innings were highlighted by Youkilis and Ellsbury home runs and an RBI double by Carl Crawford.  The party is just getting started.  We've endured some really poor play this year so playing a big lead finally felt right.  The boys were buoyed by the crowd too, wanting to stay even after the game was out of reach.  Even a meaningless Wakefield home run in the ninth couldn't stop the cheering.  What a great game.  This is Red Sox baseball in 2011.

We all walk out, exchanging high fives with some drunk fans who were probably on their way to celebrate further.  It didn't matter, we all had big smiles on our faces.  Keep it up boys. 

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