Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Manny Ramirez' Return To Fenway Park (Words/Pix)

[My Manny tribute video from '08 is here. Other two posts about Friday night here and here. The following post is not done in "caption" style, but the photos are in order and appear throughout the description of the night. Click 'em for big 'em.]

When the schedule was announced, I didn't wanna go near this LA series. Wanted to support Manny (and wanted to have been able to do it without thinking "but he did take steroids..."), but didn't want to be near those who don't. But finally I decided I had to be there for the Friday night game, so I got one of those SRO Pax. Single ticket.

I'd been in New Haven earlier in the day, and saw the blimp come from the west (I think they live in Bridgeport or something), and turn north, up the sky version of I-91. After a trafficky drive, I met up with the same blimp, parking near Fenway for $1.25 in quarters, at exactly 5:00 p.m. Ten minutes later, I was the first one in the second gate to open (as everyone near me flocked to the first one ten seconds earlier--they also terribly thought this was a "line" and not a "mill-around").

So there I was. With Manny returning, people who went in that gate in the outfield were sprinting to get down by home plate and the 3rd base dugout. I instead tried to get balls in center, knowing that I'd have plenty of time to get down close once the Dodgers started their BP. A Sox player threw a ball up, and it hit the empty row in front of me, about 5 seats over. Had it bounced around and stayed there, it was mine. But it ricocheted back toward the suckers in the front row, who therefore turned out to not be suckers since they got the ball and I didn't. I grabbed a few pics, including the one of Vik-E Mart's kid, and some of Manny having a catch, and then headed all the way around to the third base side.

All of us (including Carl Beane, in shirt with old Sox logo) waited for Manny to come out to hit, and at this point it was nothing but supporters, some in red, some in blue. He came out, and everybody cheered. Each time he'd step into the cage, cheers. Home run, cheers. It was constant individual yells of his name, and he had to pick and choose which ones he'd wave toward, or else he'd be waving the whole time.

He went back to the dugout, and didn't come out again during batting practice. (Don Mattingly threw BP for LA.)
Then I got an ice cream cone and walked around. And got the following gallery of Manny shirts (and a few LA Nomar ones)...

I had walked by Steve Lyons and said "psychoooo" to him earlier underneath the stands, and then I saw him by the LA dugout....
Oh, and here's a shot of that new home plate area, you can see how much more spacious it is. Notice how far down Yawkey Way I'm taking this from... (the green behind the Super Pretzels is the Green Monster)

Finally, Manny was out again, doing his runs. I shot this while eating the cone, and moved down closer, by third base. He met up with Papi and Beltre and hugged.

I wanted to get down close for his first at bat--right to the on-deck circle. I had to wait as the governors of Red Sox Nation left the field and came up the aisle. Finally I went down close at 7:00. Seventh row, fifth, kicked out of fourth as an usher seated the real seat-owners, third...and then I noticed one single seat next to a woman in the front who seemed like she was alone. She didn't protest as I grabbed the spot. I tried to ask her if she usually sat down there. She said no. I asked how she got the seat, thinking if she was a straggler too, I could tell her not to fear me kicking her out, or if it was her real seat, I could politely confirm that the seat I was in wasn't part of her party. She seemed to grunt at me between bites of a hot dog, and then grunt again when I couldn't understand her. That's when I stopped talking to her.

I was hoping against hope that the owner of my seat wouldn't show--while also thinking that it'd be good if Manny (batting fourth) would get up in the first--but knowing that I can't be rooting for the other team to get on base. And they didn't.So all my shots from that angle are of Manny on deck, because right after that inning, the guys who had my seat and the one next to it arrived. Who has front row tix and can't get to the game on time??

Of course the stupid radio station's free signs on this day were anti-Manny. I have to say, I was glad to see how FEW people were holding them up, considering they print up thousands of them. (Hey, I wonder what would happen if instead of pushing their opinion on people, they made two versions of every stupid sign they make, then people could choose the one they agreed with.) I thought Boston Baseball (the outside-the-park, unauthorized program) would be anti-Manny too, but they actually gave out free Manny "Legend" bumper stickers. (Then again, they could have just had a truckload of extras from the past or something that they were just getting rid of. But the point is, they didn't make up a negative sticker for the occasion.)

I walked way out to right, and saw Manny's first AB from there. He kept swinging at the first pitch. And since he wasn't playing the field, he just really wasn't on the field of play much at all--for the whole series, as it turned out. We supporters were doing what we could as Manny would come out on deck or be introduced to hit. But the antis were being as loud as they could. Hey, some people just don't like fun-lovin' dudes who win us World Series.

It was also Felix Doubront's debut, and he did a fine job, getting the W. Maybe not being the focus of everyone's attention helped him out....

Watched the game from all over the park. It was a sweatbox that night. I kept hoping for wind to cool me down, but didn't get much. Also, I don't like what they've done with the standing room areas. That third base deck is still good, but everywhere else they've either made it not allowed, or thinned out the markings on the ground so it's only one person deep, or two along first base. So I pretty much did a lot of way-out-in-right action, which at least gives you that little ledge to stand on.

Finally, in the semi-blow out, enough people left where I was able to get back down close.

Manny ended the game, striking out against Daniel Bard with the tying run on deck. I actually filmed the last pitch (I may post vids from this night but I've been lazy about uploading vids in general lately...), and then bolted outta there like a Drinkwater out of a Drinking Glass. It was a long couple of days, with the Colbert taping in NYC the night before, followed by watching the Lakers get all the calls in Game 7 at a bar and not getting to Connecticut until after 2 AM. And then with Chan visiting for the weekend the next morning...pretty nutty four-day weekend for me....

Yanks down four, four outs to go. We could be a half game back!

Update, 12:55 AM: Yanks down 10-3 going to the ninth.

1:09: Yanks lose. We're a half-game out of first place. Closest we've been since April 6th when we were 1-1.

Hey, great story about your front-row seat! Too bad the guy with the ticket showed up.

Great photos, too, btw.
thanks. usually i just go for end-of-game, but i knew i'd have a shot at making it through the top of the first, which was all i wanted..

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Location: Rhode Island, United States