I’ve been to a number of great games at Fenway. In 2003 I went to game 4 of the ALCS. In 2006 I was at the only close game from the Boston massacre (it was s good game even though the Sox lost it in the 10th). But today was the best. Try as he might, even Bill Hall couldn’t ruin it.
If you ever are lucky enough to get a press pass, get to the game early. I don’t mean batting practice early, I mean at least four hours before game time early. You see, as soon as batting practice starts, the stadium belongs to the players. Beforehand, it can be your stadium. (Sorry Mr. Henry.) Imagine going to a park on a lovely afternoon, sitting on a shady bench and just enjoying yourself. That’s what I did, except that my bench was the visiting dugout. And trust me, no public park in the US is as pretty as Fenway.
After a half-hour or so, I decided to take a little stroll in the park. By this point Dice-K was throwing a simulated game. Normally this means you should beware of batted balls, but this was Dice-K. I think he’s the first pitcher ever to get pulled from a simulated game. If I had to guess his line probably would have been 4.1 innings, 6 walks. Yeah, that good. And he starts this Thursday in Colorado!
So I wandered down the left field line with my Dad, and headed to the Monster. I’m sure you’ve all seen it on TV, but holy crap it’s big. You can’t really understand the size until you stand at the base and realize that you couldn’t even jump to the top of the scoreboard if you were Lebron James.
Entering the Monster is exactly what you’d expect though. It’s dark, it’s cramped and there are green and white numbers hanging on every wall. If you’re curious, the numbers aren’t repainted every year, some of the numbers and team names are over 30 years old. Before I left, I made sure to ask if I could use his bathroom but was told that there was none. Which completely debunks the myth about what Manny did in there during pitching changes. Never mind, I don’t want to know.
By the time I left, batting practice was in full effect. Our nice calm park was longer. Now we had to play dodgeball to walk back to the dugout. Sadly they don’t hand you a glove for protection when you leave the Monster.
The game itself was also the best I’d seen at Fenway. Bill Hall sucked. Bill Hall sucked. (Once for each of his atrocious errors). Although maybe without his errors, the game wouldn’t have been so close. Wake pitched very well, and thanks to the hoards of Dodger fans there was a playoff buzz in the stadium. Of course the key was Pedroia taking Broxton’s 1-2 pitch to right field for a walkoff single with two outs in the 9th. Watching a walkoff celebration for your team is great, watching Darnell McDonald try to take it literally and carry Pedroia off the field is even better. I’ve got to hand it to Gordon Edes, he called the game perfectly. Beforehand he kept saying “Manny is going to take Wakefield deep, but the Sox will still win it.” Thanks Nostradamus.
Today was the day I owned Fenway. I couldn’t have picked better one.