Friday, May 4, 2007

A Day at Fenway

Sox game last night was awesome, granted Dice-k didn’t pitch all that well and Papelbon sat out a save opportunity the game was still one of the best I’ve ever attended. So good in fact that I’d say it was the second best, just behind the only Pedro game I saw in person. That was a walk off win courtesy of an Orlando Cabrera double that hit the top of the scoreboard and allowed Johnny Damon to score from first in the bottom of the ninth.

That game notwithstanding last night was pretty incredible. Both Manny homers where the kind that you could feel coming. That’s my favorite part about Manny and Big Papi, sometimes you can just tell they are going to do something amazing. I’ve seen plenty of Manny blasts on TV but watching him just flip the bat and stroll to first live was awesome. He knew it was gone and so did everyone else.

It was really something to behold, I know that sounds a little bit too biblical for a sporting event but that’s why I love sports so much because you never know when you’ll see something incredible. It was almost as if he was feeding off the crowd too, after a long at bat and hearing 36,000 people chant “let’s go Manny” he just decided he was going to give us what we wanted, a bomb over the bullpens.

After seeing Manny send a souvenir into the stands I was thinking we’d get to see Papelbon in the ninth but Tito stuck with Brendan Donnelly (who is the odds on favorite to be my buddy Jon’s favorite player by mid May – his other fav’s include Brian Daubach and Mike Lowell) until he walked the first batter then to my surprise went with JC Romero. Now Romero has been lights out on the old xbox 360 and he’s been solid for the Sox but I was surprised to not see Paps. Anyhow he got a big double play ball then got Richie Sexton to hit a chopper to Lowell to end the game.

Ok that’s enough recapping you get NESN, the Globe and have internet access you know what happened. Here’s my take on all the things you can’t get from the broadcast.

First and foremost, since it’s the name of this blog, the red seat. Holy shit! 502 feet is so far. I’ve seen it before but I forgot how much of an absolute bomb Ted Williams’s homer must have been. I took some pictures and I’ll put them up once I get them off of my camera so you can see how far it is.

I’ve been into the city three times in the past week, Wolfmother and Paramore concerts (which were awesome) and last nights game. Twice I took the T, which I happen to really enjoy. I’m not really sure why I enjoy it after all most of the stops smell like piss and 45 year old axel grease but I guess its just part of the city experience since I live 25 minutes outside of it. There is something cool about riding in and listening to everyone talking about 400 different things, seeing little kids with there gloves and Sox hats and the sound, look and feel of the trains or street cars, depending on which line you are riding.

With that said I have a small issue with the old MBTA. What’s with the Charlie cards? I ask this question for two reasons. One – I like the tokens they added to the rustic, vintage feel of the subway and you didn’t have to figure how to buy them from a BALCO ATM. I’ll get over the coins though; it’s not really that big of a deal. My main issue or the main issue is the fact that the fare system is now on Charlie cards. I don’t know how common knowledge the origin of Charlie is, not that I’m some great genius or something I just wonder if people know the connection between Charlie and the MBTA.

Well if you don’t I’ll enlighten you. The Charlie card comes from an old song, 1948 to be exact (and it was redone in 1959 by the Kingston Trio), called ‘Charlie on the MTA’ or ‘the MTA song’ (Thanks Wikipedia!). Anyhow the song is the tale of a guy named Charlie who got on the subway in Boston and couldn’t get off because he didn’t have enough money to pay the exit fare. It cost a nickel to get on and a nickel to get off back then.

The song goes on to talk about Charlie’s wife who passed him a sandwich everyday. Now this is where my problem is. Why the hell didn’t she just give him a nickel? Seriously according to the song the guy never got off the train so in the entire lifespan of this guys wife she couldn’t figure out that she should just toss him a nickel. That’s almost as dumb as Brian Adams saying he bought his guitar at a “five and dime” no you didn’t broseph you are from Canada, they don’t have dimes.

I mean it’s certainly not that big of an issue and in actuality it’s kind of cool that we have something like that in Boston that has that cool kind of history to it (one of the reasons Fenway should never go). But come on, she couldn’t toss him a nickel? No one on the train could help him out? I guess we really are massholes.

As most people can probably tell I’m a bit of a history buff especially when it comes to baseball. I was a history minor in college (a.k.a. last year) and I’ve always been fascinated with baseball history, mostly due to my relationship with my grandfather. One of the reasons I love Fenway and why David Halberstam’s passing actually hit home for me, when most of my friends just disregarded the news when we heard it on the radio. Not that they are bad people they just had no interest in him where as I did. ‘Summer of ‘49’ and ‘the Teammates’ are two incredible books and ‘the Teammates’ is one of my all time favorite books.

I was turned onto ‘the Teammates’ by a friend of mine, a Yankees fan actually, who after reading five pages told me I’d love it and wouldn’t be able to put it down. He was right. I read it twice in the span of a few weeks. It’s just an amazing chronicle of four of the Red Sox greatest players, playing during a time period that I’ve always been fascinated with. Every Red Sox fan proudly spouts the fact that Ted Williams is the greatest hitter who ever lived but to get a glimpse of his life before, during and after baseball and to have Halberstam doing the story telling is something else. Being at the game last night really got me thinking about this because Fenway is full of little nostalgic bits and pieces.

I already talked about the red seat but there is also Pesky’s pole, Fisk’s pole, the row of retired numbers, the bullpens, Yawkey Way and Landsdowne Street. Yes even the seedy underbelly of the stadium. It’s an incredible experience to take in a game at Fenway and I hope it’s something every sports fan has the chance to do. I mean I had standing room only “seats” and that didn’t faze me at all. 36,000 people singing along to “Sweet Caroline” even after the song was cut by the stadium PA to allow for a batter, it’s an awesome atmosphere. Hmmm…Sweet Caroline, Dirty Water…when can we add Shipping Up to Boston to that list?

On thing that I do have a problem with at Sox games and just in life in general. Why oh why are we making and selling home white Red Sox jerseys with names on the back. I’m glad you’re a fan and you want a Big Papi jersey and those are cheaper, amen to cheaper, but they don’t ever have names on the back of their home white jerseys. Why even bother making them?

Ok that’s enough semi-coherent rambling for today. I’ll just leave you with a few more thoughts before I sign off.

If you like baseball and have any interest in its history go get ‘the Teammates’ it’s an incredible book by an incredible author. If you aren’t down for that then I recommend ‘the Education of a Coach’ about Bill Belechick another one of Halberstam’s great sports books. One of the things that make his sports books so cool is that he was world renowned for his reporting on major issues and sports books were like his vacation. They were a pleasure for him to write and they are a pleasure to read.

I can’t wait for the De La Hoya – Mayweather fight. I will definitely have something about that after Saturday. It’s a real life Rocky 3…Floyd Mayweather Jr. = Clubber Lang the similarities are crazy. Also I think we need Eric Cartman to run around the streets yelling race war before the fight.

Mayweather has met some serious adversity but because he’s studied the Clubber Lang manifesto he’s getting hated on bad core for being a “thug”. I don’t follow boxing closely enough to pass judgment but I hate seeing race as such an issue. I’m not Martin Luther King Jr. or anything I just wish race didn’t have to be at the heart of everything. I wish we could accept that we have cultural differences but work to get rid of all the crazy race issues we’ve had lately.

I’m no expert on black culture that’s for sure but if you want to read further on some of this stuff I recommend Scoop Jackson , LZ Granderson , and Jemele Hill (yeah even if she said Kobe was better than Jordan)

Big thanks go to Adam 12, the finest radio DJ in all of Boston, for giving me the idea to write about changing Papelbon’s entrance music and for giving me a shout out on the air about it. It not only killed a couple of hours at work but also got me fired up to write more and more on this blog.

Post Script – Adam 12 is on weekdays from 9-3 (love that extra hour by the way) on the rock of Boston 104.1 WBCN. Check him out on bcn and at

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