Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Did I ever tell you about the time I visualized exactly where David Ortiz would hit a home run, but didn't quite trust myself enough to go to the spot where I thought the ball would go?

Camden Yards, August 3, 2003. (Those old articles about the game come complete with St. Louis Cardinals wallpaper!?) [edit: 3/26/07: that article is gone, but here's Yahoo's game recap from that day.] Pat and I were down in Baltimore to see the Sox along with thousands of other New Englanders. We'd seen the Saturday night loss, and were back at Oriole Park for the Sunday afternoon game. It was a classic humid summer day in the mid-Atlantic region. The type of day where it's a normal 85 degrees up in the northeast, and you put on the Weather Channel and say, "Jesus, it's effin' 98 in DC!"

The night before, we'd sat down the first base line and just chilled out there all night. On this day, we'd tour Camden throughout the game. We started in the bleachers. I remember seeing some die-hard Remy fans out there. I should just go find and scan the pictures I took. I'll save those for another day, I guess.

As the game went on, the skies grew darker. They--the skies, plural--were about to unload on Maryland. Thunder rumbled in the distance. It was getting closer. Then, I heard one of the scariest noises Ma Naytch' ever produced. I literally was afraid to look up behind me, because I didn't want to witness the Camden Yards scoreboard end my life, as I was convinced it was coming down. But no, it was just a loud-ass thunder clap. I'm sure you all remember the highlight of Nomar and Todd Walker flinching, which ESPN did a nice job of showing from three different hilarious angles in succession on SportsCenter.

We headed for cover at that point. During the delay, I remember making our way behind home plate. From there, I could see into the Red Sox dugout, which was empty, except for Tim Wakefield. They actually made all the fans leave the "seating bowl." So, if I wanted it, I had a clear shot to run down to the corner of the dugout, get myself soaked, and say hi to Wake, who got his 100th win that day. I had an opening line, too. I know someone who knows Tim. (I later used it when I had my pic taken with him for the C-note I dropped on Katrina relief at Fenway. Note: He didn't give a rat's ass. Mike Myers cared way more about my Bad News Bears jersey than Wake did that I know someone who knows someone whose son was his college roommate.) I excitedly told Pat that maybe he'd see me in the rain and, as if it were, you know, a movie, say, "Why don't you come in here, you'll catch a death of cold. You know, I hear a roster spot is opening up, and Mr. Lucchino said he wanted to reserve it for a random guy. Only thing is, he's gotta be really big fan of the team. In fact, if you can answer this trivia question about Jim Rice..." But I wussed out.

The game started again after an hour, but quickly the tarp came back onto the field. We were drenched, but, hey it was summer. It felt good at first.

After another hour, we were out in left-center field, and the only people left in the park were wearing red. By the third base dugout, a huge, chanting, soaking wet crowd of Sox fans had gathered. We had a great angle on it from out there.

We found ourselves standing above and behind the two-tiered bullpen. Home team gets the ground floor, behind the outfield fence. Visitors are perched above them, set further back. And above that, and set back even further, the open-air picnic area. There, you can walk up to the fence, and look out at the field over both bullpens. These pictures aren't mine, they're from From my detective work, I found out this person's pics are from 9/25/05, another Sox at O's matchup. Fortunately, they had two pics which detail what the hell I'm talking about.

The top pic has it laid out for you from the edge of one of the upper decks. See those people by the tree at the bottom left, at the base of the flagpoles? That's where we were. In fact, we were right at the base of the flagpoles, because we were right behind the roof of the Sox 'pen. Those two green rectangles, with rows of pink flowers on either side, are the covered areas of each bullpen.

The second pic shows you the angle from our spot. You can really see the multiple tiers. (I'm really glad I found these pics. It was almost too perfect...)

We had fun watching sunflower seeds coming out from under the roof toward a paper cup leaning on the front railing of the bullpen--where the two Sox pitchers are standing in the lower pic. (Papelbon and Hansen? Hard to tell. Both pitched the day before. Now back to 2003.) They were trying in vain to get one to land in the cup. We all reacted out loud to each seed, cheering the close ones, booing the ones that were way off: "That must've been Mendoza!" After what seemed like hours, Jason Varitek slowly emerged from under the roof and walked toward the cup. He stamped out the cup, and the game, like a cigarette below his cleat. He looked back at us, deadpan comic that he is, like the cool teacher who's ending the class' fun, but knows he's earned their respect by allowing so much of it to begin with. "This over."

And this is where my story comes back around again. As I looked out at the field, a thought occurred to me, which I voiced to Pat. Despite being about 380 feet plus two bullpens' worth of space away from home plate, I figured out that we could get a ball. It would have to be a mighty blow, and it would have to be struck by David Ortiz. It would be just left of center, so the ball would be slicing toward us. If he could somehow manage to hit the roof of the lower bullpen on a towering blast, the ball would bounce up over the higher bullpen, into the picnic area. I even pictured myself actually jumping up for the ball, to snare it on the big hop up over our heads, as opposed to reaching down over the railing.

Within minutes, David Ortiz had swung and launched a ball exactly where I'd pictured it. High and deep, coming out just to our left, slicing toward us. I had a split-second decision to make.

Option A: trust my instincts and just assume the ball will hit directly on top of the roof. (Look at the pics. That roof is maybe 15 feet wide by six feet deep.) Start edging backwards or even running behind me to prepare to catch the ball on the mammoth bounce that I'm quite certain will occur if ball hits roof. Risk: That not only will I lose my spot at the rail, but I'll miss watching the ball land somewhere out in front of me, miss being able to stand at the rail and cheer, miss the possibility of making the pitcher who gets the ball toss it up to us, or miss the play, should the ball not clear the first fence for a double. Along with leaving hundreds around me to wonder, "What the hell were you running away from the field for?" Reward: Hundreds of people congratulating me on the greatest catch of a home run ball of all-time, as I miraculously run backwards while everyone else leans forward, as if I knew where the ball would go ahead of time. Plus, a David Ortiz home run ball.

Option B: Stay put, don't rely on something that has about a .03% chance of happening. Risk: The .03%. Reward: I'll see everything instead of having run away for seemingly no reason.

Caught between the Moon and New York City, I chose B.

As the ball clunked on top of the hard surface of the bullpen roof, I knew I was screwed. If it bounced over us, like I'd imagined, it'd be too late now. And it was. Over our heads the fall flew. Granted, since I'd prepared for this moment, I was already running back into the picnic area when the ball was going over. But I made the mistake of making sure it hit the roof before turning to run. On SportsCenter, you see everyone along that rail turn their head, while Jere turns and starts his futile run. Everyone else was so surprised, all they could do was follow the ball with their eyes. I sprinted toward the ball. It landed by a picnic table, under that leafy tree, in some gravel. I already saw the lucky-ass, right-place-at-right-time, non-clairvoyant mother pus-bucket who would get my ball. I made a dive, just to get close, and to be right there in case he bobbled it. But he didn't. My dive probably looked like that Gabe Kapler dive at Fenway against the Yanks a few weeks ago. It only got me some scrapes and bruises. No ball.

Somewhere, I have that SportsCenter highlight of me starting to run. Even if I find it and YouTube it, it might be hard to see on the little screen. But if I do find it, I'll throw it up here, along with pictures from that day. (I actually did get the video up: here.) There was a gorgeous rainbow that afternoon, which was captured by

After the game, Christopher Cross played live outside the park. I gotta admit, great job by Cross in saying, "I know it's been a long, wet day, so I'm gonna skip to the hits."Pat and I stayed for "Sailing," but left before "Arthur's Theme." We had to get back to Connecticut, and our clothes were like wet cats latched on to our bodies, forcing us to give them a ride home.

I'd planned to re-enact this moment for my girlfriend, had we gone to Camden Yards this year,but we didn't. So she, and you all, get this. I hope you picked up on the moral of the story: Trust your instincts. In Baltimore. Right before seeing Christopher Cross play live after five hours out in the rain.

And you won't believe this, but my wife and I were at that game. We got tickets outside the stadium in the 'scalp-free zone' about 20 minutes before the game in section 52, row ee, about 8 rows behind the sox dugout for face value, with two friends of ours. I remember the nomar/todd flinch, the thunder, the homers, everything; we used drink trays as umbrellas while we hustled up to the concourse when the security guard finally made us move when the lightning was getting bad. I got drunk during the rain delay, my wife hadn't paid attention to where we parked, and we wandered the streets of Baltimore for a half hour going to each garage I ever parked in for an O's game. Good times. I can't believe you were at that game. What made you think of that game? Those were the best seats I've had at the Yard...what a day...
Cool! I almost mentioned the "scalp-free zone," as we planned to get tix to the game the night before that way, since Chan and I'd discoved the SFZ the year before. But I'm pretty sure we just went up to the ticket office and got sweet seats. No, maybe that was me and Chan in '02. Yeah, cuz we got the seats in the wheelchair row, so we each had a space on either side. That was the game with "the dweeb." (see the photo gallery, 4/6/02)

I'm not surprised you were there. Tell any Sox fan about a game you saw in Baltimore, and they probably were there, too. But, yeah, that's funny. I'll check for you in my pictures.

I have no idea why I thought of that game last night, and why I chose to stay up til after 1 writing about it.
Christopher Cross?

I haven't heard of him in nearly 25 Years:

Since this is "Talk Like A Pirate Day", I saw a picture of Cap'n Slappy:

It was on the back page of the NY Post;

Cap'n Slappy was minus his black Prada Milan Purse;

He probably told his team mates "Arrrrghhhhh Matey, Bite Me Crank";

Cap'n Intangibles most likely, told him that NOTHING was there.
Michael, serious question- how much mescaline do you eat before posting here?
BS, he doesn't need comes to him naturally. And hey, we're getting close to LOST! And Jere, it is and will be these kind of posts that will get us through the winter, on the many days when there is no hard (or soft) off season Sox news. And right now, I'm thanking you in advance for making our winter easier to take, until February. I'll do my best too. at my place. Papi 50 tonight...I have the vibe, plus Santana tomorrow. Go Schill. GOOD JOB. That's why you are the number one stop on my daily "blog jog." Hope I'm in yours. Enjoy this perfect weather. 70 day, 48 night (at least here).
Christopher Cross? What, the Starland Vocal Band wasn't available?
Michael, it's just that one widely known side effect of mescaline is overuse of semi-colons...we're just concerned is all. Hehehe
The sunflower seeds that widely missed the cup were unlikely to be Mendoza's. If you watch the bonus features on one of the Red Sox DVDs, you'll notice Timlin points out that Mendoza is the King of Seed-Tossing.
Wow, what are the odds? That's, like, the one part of the story I made up. I'm sure we said whoever the crappiest pitcher of that month, I just figured Mendoza to be an obvious choice. And you come up with this fact. Amazing. That's really funny.

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