Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fenway Park's 100th Birthday

Fenway's 100th on the Monster! With my mom and Chuck, Anne and Ian, and Joanna who you know from her blog, Empyreal Environs.

On the way in. The point was to get the Citgo sign in the b-ground.

Got to the park, and there was Larry. As it turns out, most of the employees also wore a rose.

I got a ball early, taking the pressure off for the rest of batting practice--we were right in the power alley and balls were flying at us left and/or right. The wind was whipping straight out to left, too, turning an otherwise hot day into one where I was glad I brought a jacket. Which I'd only done so I could have something to reserve spots along the rail. As you can see, this is a Yankee practice ball, not one of the 100th birthday balls. We were under one of the signs, so as each blast would head for us, I had to make the call to stay in the back or assume it would either hit the sign or land in the seats in front of us. Made the call to head for the stairs, saw the ball headed for row 3, let it slam in there, and dive right in. I narrowly beat out two other people and got this ball, which was hit by...Derek Jeter. My 18th lifetime ball. All BP.

As you know, every living ex-Red Sox was invited. I'll spare you the million pics I took and just show you a few. Above, Pedro. We couldn't see the main scoreboard, but I don't think they showed any names, just close-ups. So we had to use our knowledge to figure out who was who.

Gedman and his catching buddies. At first each guy came out of the CF door and went to his position. Also in this pic is Bob Montgomery--and Carlton Fisk didn't get the "black pants" memo.

I was proudly wearing my Nomar shirt today....

Took me a while to figure out this Jesus-looking guy was Scott Schoeneweis.

Even with his bad knees, Bill Lee was the only guy I saw actually run.

Everybody at their positions.

Tek and Wake walked Pesky and Doerr onto the field, with Papi between them.

Then everybody came together around them. It was fun to see all these guys. I'm sure the radio will tell you how stupid it all was and make fun of it and tell you how the owners just want to make money off you, but we all had a great time.

The day before at the open house, I was at the Royal Rooters club and saw a pic that showed the players at the first game at Fenway and then the players on the 75th anniversary, which was Red Sox-Royals. I knew they were gonna line up today's teams in the same way, straight across in front of home plate. Here's the 1912/1987 thing:

Here's Millar and Pedro during the world's largest toast:

And here's the flyover, which had a WWII plane:

We had a good early moment when Papi hit a dong--here's the moment the umps came out from their review and called it a homer. But the game mainly was shitty, as the Yanks kept hitting dongs.

Another good moment was seeing a bat left standing up.

This was looking down behind us in the parking garage--see the dent A-Rod left in this car?

A look at the 1912 throwbacks. Tazawa on the mound.

The outfield.

The New York Red Socks.

At the very end, we moved down and got out of the wind, which you can tell is blowing out like crazy if you look at the flag.

Youk and Salty with parallel bats, and a yawn in between.

The wind caused a garbage tornado at one point.

So as of the day before, all three boards were made up of all "screen," meaning their entire faces could be used to show vids/pics. Now the RF one seems like the ads are physically there, as they never disappeared all day, and as you can see here, appear as if they've been place over the sides of the board. (Also, yay Janet Marie Smith! Just a coincidence I got someone cool on there for this scoreboard example.) [Update: Boy was I wrong about this. That RF board ALWAYS had a physical ad on each side, going back to the day they unveiled them. Don't know what I was thinking there.]

On the way out, a crosswalk leading to Yawkey Way.

Here's some random footage that shows the Yanks' throwbacks since I didn't get great shots of those:

Friday, April 20, 2012

photo by Jere - - April 19, 2012

Fenway Park Open House Vids: "I Got A Red Shah-pie, Too!"

What a madhouse at Fenway! I took a million pictures which will have to be a separate post. But for now, a couple of videos. Watch the first one before reading the description below, or it'll ruin it.

So Millar is doing his show from the center field warning track, and at one point, a kid 18 feet above him decides he wants to throw a ball down to have it signed. Millar agrees, on the condition the kid doesn't hit his co-host's head, or any of the laptops, or the probably breakable table they're sitting at. The kid is right on target with his throw. MIllar signs, but his throw back doesn't reach. A woman gets the ball, and her throw fails as well. And it goes right to me. The odds of me filming all of this were remote, but for whatever reason, I decided to record just before this all happened. So anyway I catch the ball off the wall on the bounce with my left hand as I film with the right. I switch each item to the opposite hand, and then call an audible to go with the difficult almost-straight-up overhand throw, instead of the underhand lob. I make my throw (you can see my bent arm going past the camera very briefly) and I hit the target. Kid makes the catch and everyone cheers. All these years watching players A. play the carom and B. toss balls up to fans pays off!

And here's a brief look inside the dugout.

We were allowed to go through the tunnel to the dugout, then out onto the field and around the track. The lines were unbelievable. Okay, just one pic so you get an idea of the lines:

And then you had the one on the third base side. It was really two sets of people. My line entered the field through the dugout, then went left around to center. Others entered from center and did a full loop, but weren't allowed to go down the tunnel we had come up. But what you see here is only the line ON the field. You should have seen how long they were underneath, just to get TO the field.

Wow, it's after midnight. Happy 100th birthday, Fenway Park!

Bonus, 1:03 a.m.: Green Monster tix available right on the team web site for Saturday and Sunday. Two together, even. Other seats available too. Sunday had already been available online, but now Saturday has been added, and there's even a T on today's game, so keep watching that if you're still trying to get in for face value.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

First World DVR Problems

Another game where we come out strong and take a 2-0 lead on a dong. This time, our starter actually pitched well. But we still lose, 6-3. Mike Napoli must be some kind of dong robot. This guy has more home runs at Fenway Park than any other (aside from the two parks that have been his home park where he plays half his games). And that includes the parks of his division rivals, where he plays 9 or 10 times a year, as opposed to 3 or 6 times a year in Boston. He has 6 homers in Oakland, where he has about 2.5 times more at bats than at Fenway, where he now has 8 homers. Overall against the Red Sox, he's got 15 homers in his last 27 games, going back to 2008. By comparison, A-Rod has 15 his last 62 games against the Red Sox.

Napoli in games against the Red Sox:

2008: 1 game, 1 HR
2009: 6 games, 3 HR
2010: 9 games, 3 HR
2011: 9 games, 5 HR
2012: 2 games, 3 HR

So if you're thinking this guy homers in "every game against us," you're actually about half right.

Anyway, it's not a horrible loss, but any loss in this crappy Twit-ciety means THE END OF THE WORLD. It is a good thing that nobody in our division is running away early, which would make it look worse than it is and give us a bigger hole to crawl out of. We're 2.5 back with 150 to play.

Why does the official NESN schedule only assume a 3-hour window for Red Sox games? Add to that the fact that the games start at 7:10, and they're thinking each game will be played in 2:50. Do you know how many Red Sox games last year came in under 2:50? About a fifth of them--32. Why do I care? Because sometimes I record the game if, say, I'm watching a sweet Bill Hicks documentary for free online with Kim. Sometimes I remember to tape the next show, and sometimes 2 or 3 shows after the game is "over" starting at 10:00. Sometimes I don't remember, and I miss the all-important end of any game that runs beyond 10:00. Long story short, tonight I went to watch the 6th through 9th innings of my recorded game and ended up having it cut off just as the bottom of the 9th was starting. (As a bonus, for some reason it started me not at the beginning of the recording, but a minute before the end! So I was robbed of the 6th through the top of the 9th, AND it stopped for good about 2 pitches later.) So I just had to check to see what happened. I've been trying to cut down my superstition habit to a don't-step-on-a-crack a day, so I'm not gonna say they could have won had I been able to see it, but come on, I would have at least liked to watch. I pay for this cable and extra for the DVR.

You can tell me it's my fault for not recording a bunch of extra shows at the end of each game--but NESN could make it easier for everybody by making the game window go 7:00-10:30, at least. Or,--and I'm looking in your direction, technology--how about making it so NESN presses a button on their end when a live event ends, and my recording won't stop until that signal is received? Of course, then if it was the bottom of the 9th and we're down by 1 with the tying run at the plate and two outs, and the recording's clock has clicked down to 15 seconds, well I'll know the next pitch will end the game and we'll lose. Boy do I hate that. I got screwed once when I had my sister tape a Jets-Bills game in like 1996. The Bills lined up for a tie-breaking field goal in the final seconds. And the VHS tape's timer was ticking down to its final seconds. Obviously no overtime happened--I knew right then she'd stopped the recording right after the game, which is about to happen with this field goal I now know will be made. So maybe they could have a feature where they automatically add a randomized amount of minutes (minimum: 20) to the end of a game recording. Verizon employees: As Mr. Lippman once said to Elaine, "this is the kind of idea you should be coming in with!"

P.S. I know, I know. I should have known the Jets would lose before the game even started.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

So Then I Wrote A Post About Cat Litter

I was just on the NY Daily News web site, and was about to click on an article about Dick Clark dying, when I noticed an ad on the side of the page. It said "That cute girl has a Boston hat on? Sometimes life stinks." It was an ad for TidyCat, who's apparently trying that whole "funny and hip ad campaign to make light of the potentially disgusting product we sell" idea, complete with the directive to go and "share your fucking cat-litter-related experiences with your friends!"

We have two cats. For their anti-Red Sox ad, they've just lost a customer. I never thought I'd say a sentence remotely like this, but, "fuck you, TidyCat!"

And by the way, maybe they advertise in the Boston area with the opposite ad. But I hate that even more--pandering to both sides, behind the other one's back. I'd rather vote for a Yankee fan politician who is true to their team than for one who wears a Red Sox hat in Boston and a Yankee hat in New York.

(And in a separate issue--in that same ad they do another thing I hate: assuming the reader is a straight male!)

Sox vs. Texas tonight, then the dried litter turds come to town after an off-day Thursday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lester: "I Flat-Out Stunk"

Our first three batters got hits. The second one was a 2-run dong by Pedroia that put us up 2-0. Then we had men on second and third and things were looking sparkly. Then we lost 18-3.

Did you notice NESN showing the crowd reaction to Youk's first at bat? Because it's a WAR between the fans and the EVIL manager, right? So stupid.

Incredible Turn Of Events

A reader named Andrew let me know that $35 Monster SROs became available on the automated line--888 REDSOX6--for the 100th anniversary game on Friday. So get yours and then come back and read the rest of my story...

...okay, welcome back. So obviously this is THE most desirable game on the schedule. I've been thinking about what they might do on April 20th, 2012 for years. Last September, we found out the Yanks would be in town that day, making it even crazier. Surprisingly, tickets for this game were made available to the public a few times, along with the lottery-winner-only sales. I couldn't believe it when I saw it was part of the "digital ticket" upper-bleacher sale. That's when I got 2. Then they went on sale as part of both the SRO and Double Play Pax. In either case, all you had to do was buy one other game. Again, a sweet deal. Each of these times I had tickets right there in front of me, but decided to just stick with my 2. But I'm sure you remember me telling you about these as they came up. I figured I could at least help you people out.

Meanwhile, in January, another reader e-mails me, and says he wants a Monster Seat for that game, or at the very least a Monster SRO. I told him it would be tough--the toughest seats to get, for the toughest game of the century. Still, I kept my eye out. All systems failed though. A guy at the ticket office on the day of the Monster lottery onsale told me that they were literally sold out, and even suggested I try a "scalper" as they'd be the only ones who had any tickets at that point.

In the last week, with me already watching closely on the off-chance that the team releases some more tix to that game, suddenly the person going with me (my mom) tells me her man-friend wants to go too. All those chances I had to get tix to this game for as little as $12! And now we might have to do the unthinkable--buy a $20 seat for over $100 from a scalper site....

So here I was, in need of Monster tickets, and one more single ticket of any kind, to the biggest game of the year, and time ticking away....

Then today, out of the blue, the aforementioned "Andrew" comments on my blog. Monster SRO available! Both problems solved! Because now I can just say Screw my two $12 seats, I'll get 3 Monster SROs for the price of one shitty scalped seat, and the three of us will hang out up there. AND, my random pal who it seemed would not be able to get his wish WOULD. So I sprang into action. Suddenly I'm holding 2 phones at once and e-mailing the guy from my laptop with my third hand. The system wouldn't let me get 4, or 3, so I got 2. Meanwhile I told my mom on the other phone to call right away and I babbled something about trying for 4, knowing we could give them to that guy if he doesn't get my e-mail in time, but also knowing that the system only let me get 2. After blowing it on my first try by entering the valid-from date instead of the expiration date (that shows you what kind of state I was in) over and over until they hung up on me, AND having that phone die, I called from the gmail phone and got my 2. My mom called me back, and told me she was able to get 4! Turns out the guy got my e-mail and got what he wanted. So now we've got 6, which we can easily get 3 more friends for.

So it all worked out. The "stress" of having extra for a huge game is nothing compared to the real stress of not having enough. AND I was proud to come through for a reader who wanted such a tough ticket. I didn't deliver a seat, but standing room, especially for face value, is a close second. Because I'm always telling you to "follow my ticket lessons," so it feels good when it really works out.

Once again, thanks to Andrew, 2012 champion of this blog for making it all possible! I don't even know if it's the old Section 12 Row 8 Andrew, or another one, or what. But he's awesome.

Sox "Back Home" Tonight

Didn't I just write something about the person sending the e-mails from the Red Sox being out of touch with the rest of the team? Yesterday they sent me an e-mail (above) telling me to buy tickets for this week's series against the Rangers, with the subject line "See the Sox when they come home." Problem is, they'd been home since last Wednesday night and had played the last three days at Fenway by the time this mail was sent out.

I can think of a few reasons why this mistake might have happened...but none of them really make any sense. Unless the team took a pre-planned overnight trip to a woodsy Maine retreat last night or something and are "coming home" to Fenway today....

Anyway, Texas @ Sox, 7:10

An Elvis Man Should Love It

You don't know how close I came to not saying any more about this. But it applies directly to my theory about Bobby Valentine, so I can't ignore it. On April 3rd on this blog, I said this about having V as our manager:

[...] my big concern was the possibility of him saying and doing things as my team's skipper that make him "bigger than the team," causing strife that leads to a downward spiral of losing. [...] However [...] I realized something. [...] Who decides if someone's behavior is "bigger than the team"? The media. A public figure could say anything in the world. Even if you read their exact quote or hear them saying the words, the effect it has is all based on how the media spins it.

And now we've reached the first big...well...before I go any further, listen to the initial comments V made, when asked about Youk having a slow start:

At this point, I feel like Mia Wallace: "Marcellus throwing Tony out a four-story window for massaging my feet seemed reasonable to you?" This is what set everybody off? Oh wait, not "everybody," the media. We've got V being asked about Youk shitting the bed (I said myself here that he looked "lost" at the plate during his slump). And V saying that he seems to have been struggling and not himself both on the field and in the way he's carrying himself, but that he's turned it around and will be fine. I take that as a manager defending his player, or, ironically, "having his back," which is what the media turned this into the opposite of.

From there, the sewing circle went right to Youk and asked him....I don't know what their questions were because I don't see that anywhere, but they were looking for a reaction, and somehow Youk starts defending himself as someone who busts his tail and all that. Which he does. But V wasn't saying Youk wasn't trying to be his best or that he was purposely not being the same, attitude-wise. He was saying that what Youk was doing wasn't working...but that it now is and he expects it to continue. So who knows how the media asked him, or if Youk saw the interview as opposed to read or heard a re-telling of it. Because I'm thinking if he had seen it, he would have only said, "That's cool, my manager has my back," as opposed to "hey, how come my manager doesn't have my back?"

Now the stitch 'n' bitchers move over to Pedroia's locker, and continue the game of telephone by asking him what he thinks about V's "calling out" of Youk, and if it was supposed to be motivation! That word came from nobody but the media. So of course when Dustin hears the media's opinion that V thinks Youk doesn't play hard, and is asked if that was a some kind of motivation tactic, Dustin semi-laughingly says it's ridiculous and not the way things are done. And now all the fans, seeing the written words of Dustin, who was responding to something completely made up, are in an uproar! It's player vs. manager, what will we do?! And you've got the "keep it in the clubhouse" people, who A. are being told what happens there by a media that makes up whatever it wants then quotes players on their reactions to it and B. wanted Tito gone so that there'd be an "open clubhouse" in the first place.

So the media has already started the vicious cycle. But fear not! As you recall, I had a solution at the ready. The media lends me their wives for a weekend in Hawaii, and we're square. No wait... it was:

all Bobby has to do is take the power away from the media.

And the way to do that is to keep being his nutty self, to the point that in three months, there will have been so many little moments like this, we won't even remember this one. And to not get caught up in the media's web of lies and start backtracking. And soon all they'll have left to say is the ultra-creative "that's just Bobby being Bobby." He did apologize in this case, but remember, he didn't apologize to us for what he said about Youk, because he knows he meant no harm. He explained how he apologized to Youk if his feeling were hurt. Because he never called him out for not playing hard. Unless of course you have that magic media microscope that lets you "read between the lines" and see that incredibly their opinion of what a guy really means is always right!

Did V "sound convincing" in his explanation? Well of course not, because he's a freak of nature who never learned human-speak. He's like a parrot, mimicking words and even inflections and doing a damn good job of it, but not necessarily knowing what he's saying. But his explanation makes sense, at least to me, no matter how long it took him to come up with the right words.

I shit you not, I read the following quote from Rob Neyer (thanks to Joy of Sox): "If [Valentine] says another stupid thing or two in the next month, he's probably gone. "

Oh yeah! Bring it on, guys! Just go all out here. Get the water cooler crowd to start thinking the Red Sox are about to fire their outspoken new manager in April because he--gasp--spoke out! About fucking nothing. Jesus GD Christ, people. So I'm sitting here going, With V at the helm, there will be countless chances to start controversy, because we all know he speaks his mind, and Rob Neyer is thinking, "Oh my god you guys, the manager said something that could be misconstrued as Youk has no heart, he's gonna get soooo fired!" Has this guy ever heard of Bobby Valentine before this year? Or have the media's attempts to get readers just lost all subtlety?

You know what else is funny? After today's game, Shaughnessey (it sounded like him, anyway) asked V what he felt about the crowd's reaction to him coming out to remove Bard a batter too late. You could tell he was rubbing his hands together, ready to write his "Grady Little returns" article. But you know what V said? He said that he agreed with the fans! That he'd have been pissed too, because he left Bard in too long! That's what I mean by taking the power away from the media. Without "Non Youk Call-Out Gate," today's "controversy" would have been about leaving Bard in too long. Because of course every Red Sox loss has to come complete with signs that the team is doomed. But Bobby would have diffused the situation with his answer. And, again, these guys can still spin it any way they want, but the sooner we all realize V says whatever strikes him at that moment, and that that happens a lot, the sooner it'll numb every single contrived controversy.

Look, we all know how awesome Tito was. I even said we'd start calling him "Grancona" because a few weeks with any other manager would make us realize how much we took him for granted. But we've known for quite some time that V is our guy, and we know exactly what his deal is. This guy's been putting his foot in his mouth since he played for the Spokane Indians. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth. Think about that this way: Br'er Rabbit was born in a briar patch. That means if you throw him in one, he's totally fine. Bobby's had that foot in there so long, he can't fit another one in if he tried. So how's accusing him of putting his foot in his mouth gonna offend him? We hired him knowing about all that. And now people are saying "he thinks he's bigger than the team!"? Now? After I've already recognized the possibility and come up with a remedy for it in the off-season? Come on people, you gotta catch on to what's going on here. I tried to warn you. The media can make anything bigger than the team, and V's the easiest target of all time. We can't let one thing get to us. And the team can't either. Of course, winning always helps. So let's continue to ignore the media and just win.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pats' Day Sox Action RIght Now (Update: Umpire Beats Red Sox, 1-0)

2:15: UMP GIVES RAYS GAME. Rodney throws 5 straight pitches out of the zone, Ross swings at none of them. Ump calls three of them strikes. Game over.

2:10: Intentional walk to Papi. Ross up with 1st/2nd, 2 out, 9th, Sox down 1-0.

2:08: Hard groundout to first. But Dustin was running. Tying run on second, 2 out, Papi up, last hope.

2:06: Rodney in. Adrian up. Another full count....

2:01: Pedroia...full count....crowd on its feet...and he draws a walk. Tying run at first, winning run coming up as Shields leaves after 115 pitches.

1:59: Shields still in for the 9th, leading off is Aviles...and he grounds out to short, one down.

1:56: We go bottom 9, down 1-0. Let's proverbially do this!!!

1:45: Nothing for us in the 8th. It's gonna take a walk-off win today.

1:40: Shields still in for them as we bat in bottom 8, one out, nobody on.

1:31: We trail 1-0 after 7. I am shocked at what I'm hearing. Don and Jerry are talking about the pizza-toss incident. Upon seeing the classic shot of the guy throwing the slice, Don seems amazed and says "I don't think I ever saw that!" What?? You were the announcer while this was happening!

1:12: Justin Thomas gets Scott to end the top of the 7th as the Rays leave 'em loaded but get 1, 1-0 them after 6.5.

1:06: With 2 on, 2 out in the 7th, Bard walks Pena and Longoria on 8 pitches, making it 1-0 Tampa before V finally takes him out.

12:49: 0 runs on 3 hits for each team thru 6.

12:35: 0-0 thru 5.

12:27: Bard 5 scoreless. 0-0 mid-5th.

12:13: No score thru 4.

12:03: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Bard just got out of a jam in the 4th. With 1st and 2nd, one out, grounder right back to him. At which point me and every other baseball fan thought, "oh no, a pitcher trying to--gasp--throw a ball to second base!" Sure enough, the throw was a one-hopper. Aviles bailed him out though, fielding the throw like a grounder and firing to first for the DP. 0-0 after 3.5.

11:48: 0-0 through 2.5. Only 3 baserunners for Bard thru 3.0, none on hits.

11:28: Mid-2nd, 0-0, as Don and Rem talk about the first of what I actually hope will be the first of many controversies (so that the weight of each one becomes lessened as the media realizes they can't keep up with all the stuff V says--you know my theory).

11:08: Bard sets 'em down 1-2-3 in the first.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Put Your Own Touch On Green Death

How do ya like that last-minute addition to the eyes? Classy, right?

Calling all humans: Be a "guest artist"! I want to have one or more Green Death-related pictures after each win in 2012. You can do whatever you want. The only rules are, you have to use a pic from that day's win, and the 100 Years patch has to be visible. From there, turn the pic into whatever your vision of Green Death is! It can be as cheesy or as professional as you want. So after the next win, do one and send it to me before the end of the night, or at least before the next game starts. I'll post them all. Make sure you tell me where you got the pic so I can give credit.

Also, if you're confused, "green death" was an old term players used to use referring to The Wall before it became known as the Green Monster. I discovered it recently going through old newspapers online. As far as I know, nobody's mentioned this term in a half-century. So I thought I'd bring it back for the 100th anniversary. Then when they put that green patch on the uniforms/hats, it became (to me only) the symbol of the Green Death we'll be bringing down upon opponents in '12.

Above, Papi and Cody activate the special electric Green Death rays in today's win over the regular Rays. Photo by Michael Dwyer, alteration by me.

Three Down, Etc.

Sox go up 4-0 as Ross hits a 3-run dong to his favorite parking garage. Rays tie it up against Doubront after he'd gotten off to a good start. But a Papi RBI double in the 6th and an Aviles dong in the 7th give Boston a 6-4 win. That's three in a row over Tampa with one more tomorrow morning. Great job by the pen giving up 0 runs in the last 4 innings. Aceves gets his first home save. Padilla got the win, but NESN still couldn't figure out how to spell his name:

That should read "Vicente." But this is a network that has been known to misspell "shortstop." Still, you'd think, of all things, they'd know the correct spelling of the name of every player on the team.

So Papi is hitting .444 to start the year. By the media's "two bad weeks = career over" logic, they should be talking about his "chase for .400" in a few days...

Today was the first time I ever thought to look at a team's roster on Jackie Robinson Day. Check it out:

So now we've got the O's and Jays at 5-4, us and the Rays at 4-5, and the Yanks at 4-4 and playing tonight.

Oh, and a funny moment from pre-game: They were showing Repko and Spears taking balls off the Monster. One of 'em saw the ball hit, and started running toward the Wall. I yelled at the screen: "It's gonna bounce right over your head!" Sure enough, ball bounces off Wall, hits ground, and bounces right up and over the guy's head. I've been playing that Wall a lot longer than you, son! (Kim witnessed.)

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