Friday, October 17, 2008

ALCS Game 5 Photo And Video Gallery

Sun setting over Fenway Park, 5:30 PM, a half hour before gates opened for ALCS Game 5. Click each to enlarge.

And again. It was a balmy 67 degrees at game time, but being on the first base side, we had the northwest wind at our faces, making it bundle-up weather. I'm sure the people on the third base side were quite comfy.

Kim met me at our seats, so I was by myself before the game, walking around the park. I stayed on Lansdowne for a while, under the Monster Seats, hoping a BP homer would bounce off the parking garage and right to me, but no balls came over. The Bleacher Bar is great in that you can peer in from the street (or just go in, it's free and you don't need a ticket to the game to go in--and it'll be open year round) and see if they're doing batting practice, on a rainy day or a day game after night game. If you're into BP and you see nobody out there, you can just come back for first pitch. I almost always go in at gates opening anyway. Oh, down the street, see the yellow on the left? That's the GP or Tyvek wrap on the new House of Blues. Two days earlier it was just the metal rods as I showed you in the last gallery.

It's almost become tradition for me to get in, and take an initial shot of Okajima.

Hansack was goofin' around with Manny and Masterson.

Eck visible up in the TBS booth.

The view from the red seat. So, I was was again going for home run balls in batting practice. I had two close calls. On the first, the ball hit in section 43. I ran down the steps and was about to turn into the aisle--I would've been the first to the ball, but it bounced over and into the gap between bleachers and grandstand. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how wet the ground was, and I slipped making my turn and bashed my knee into a seat. I have a huge black/blue mark now. It's like a Gobstopper is in my knee. So again, I get a ball-chasing injury but no ball, leaving me pretty depressed. Later, a ball bounced near the runway between 41 and 42, and bounced up the bleachers, into the middle of an empty 41. Again, I didn't have much competition, but none of us knew which row the ball was in. We looked and looked, but finally someone gave the word it had been snatched up. I never did see who got it.

I can never seem to get a clear shot of the extra media section they add in section 3 for these big games. But it is cool how you can see in this shot that a huge wind kicked up. Look at the section 1 sign. It takes a big wind to make those things sway.

I spotted Kim at the seats and headed up there.

Dice-K stretching.

Did you notice they've cut down that fence on top of the bullpens. It used to be in the way of the first few rows of bleacher seats, and trying to take pictures through it was like trying to squeeze a Nikon into an Ant Ass.

They said the Citgo sign's panel got darkened by the fire the day before, but I saw no evidence of it.

Schilling threw out the first ball.

Dice pitching in the first inning.

The "I Like Baseball" guy had a new sign. On the front, "2004/2007," and on the back, "This is Boston, not Tampa Bay." It's funny, the guy saw his pic on my blog and we have talked by e-mail a few times. And speaking of notable Fenway fans, commenter Rooster (who leads in the ALCS runs contest) wrote about "Kazoo Guy" on his blog, Rational Sox Fan.

Okay, so we're getting killed again. Dice gave up the dong right away, then later two more. Then Papelbon is summoned in the sixth after Manny walks two to start the inning. Pap gives up a two-run double, and it's 7-0. As runs kept getting tacked on, I kept saying to Kim, "we need to demoralize them." I figured the best way to do this was with a great comeback. At 7-zip, I said, "A regular win was not an option tonight, demoralizing them is the key to going on and winning the series." I heard Tim Kjurjkizian say that "every fan in the park was resigned to the fact that the season was over." Correction: All the fans who left thought that. Why the fuck does he think we stuck around? Don't you love when the media lies just for fun?

So then people start getting crazy. One girl gets kicked out of the bleachers and doesn't go quietly. Another man down by Canvas Alley in the front row who earlier tried to start waves and then took off his shirt got up again. People were more into just cheering for him than actually starting a wave--since he tried to start it every five seconds. He didn't even really check to see if it started going around. Here he is:

I really think this crazy, "Hey, might as well have fun" crowd helped the team. So we make it 7-1, and the top of the order is up. I figure by the time Youk homers, it'll be 7-5, so I tell Kim, "It'll be 7-5 before ya know it." I was only a little off. Papi came up with two one, and after I said, "Papi can hit this fastball pitcher," he totally did, rocking one 20 rows up in right field. That ball was more than halfway to that special media section.

Here's the reaction after the dong makes it 7-4:

And here's a shot of how high the ball went. See the usher in the green windbreaker? He's just arriving at the spot the ball landed:

In the eighth, Drew hits a two-run dong. 7-6. Then two get out. But Kotsay, who I always love to see up there, and Coco, who you know wants to kick these guys' butts, are due up. I say to Kim, in another amazing prediction, "we tie it with a double and then a single." And that's how it happened. Kotsay's ball goes off Mr. Nonchalant's glove--another thing I easily foresaw--and Coco fouled off pitch after pitch before knocking in the run. He was thrown out at second, but we were going to the ninth, incredibly tied at 7. Here's the reaction after Drew's dong, and then cut to: the 7 going up on the scoreboard after Coco tied it, while Don't Stop Believin' plays and we all go nuts:

The "believe" signs were out:

Top nine, Pap has gone two, so Masterson comes in. First guy singles. Then with one out and two on, the slow-footed Pena's up. I say, "good, he's more likely to get doubled up than the speedsters." Kim told me she'd never heard the term "speedster." But anyway, Masterson does it. Tailor-made. DP. Now we are out of our minds, as we go bottom 9 with a chance to win it, and Dustin, Papi, and Youk due up. After two outs, Youk grounds to the ass at third. And here's what happened:

That's me you hear not only noticing the low throw (I am the master of noticing right away if a throw is gonna be offline. And yes, I made plenty of incorrect predictions on this night, but overall I was on fire!), and then saying something about "that fuckin' A-Rod dude."

And after a walk to Bay, Drew hits a rocket toward the right fielder, right in front of us. He goes back....and it's over his head! Win! Here's that video if you missed it (I notice it has like 6,000 hits--checked the "stats" and I see Deadspin linked it, that's gotta be why).

The scoreboard showing the great comeback:

And the other one:

And then we finally danced our way back to our cars. It was incredible. Still gotta win two more. Do it!

The Awesome Night And Its Awesomeness

What a night. Remember that scene in Fever Pitch when the Sox have a mythical 10-run comeback against the Yanks, and people were dancing in the streets, and you thought, "Come on, people don't literally dance in the streets"?

Well, they do! Everybody was just so hyped up because there was a whole lotta nothin' for so long. It was as if the game started at 11, ended a little past 12, and we were just getting started, so the cheering and screaming and dancing had to occur outside. Very dream- or movie-like.

Do you know how glad I am that the two big goats for the Rays were Upton and Longoria? Let's talk about those two.

EvaL: There's nothing I hate more than A-Rod...except a person who models himself after A-Rod! My god, what is that guy's problem? At first I thought of him as a mix between A-Rod and Jeter: the obvious self-esteem issues of A-Rod with the pure smugness of Jeter. The worst of both horrible worlds. But now I just think of him as "A-Rod." You should watch this guy do the "oh, you happen to be looking at me? I hadn't noticed" routine. "Well I guess it works out that I'd been posing, then." I mean, forget the fact that his batting stance and hitting motions and facial expressions make him look like he went to A-Rod's school of baseball--it's the self-esteem issues that make it a perfect match. But then he's got that smile that says "nothing goes wrong...when you're this hot." So to see a guy like that mess up is just bliss. I really hope for a career's worth of, well, A-Rod-ness with that guy.

TJ Upton: This fuckin' guy is the king of nonchalance. "I'm so fast and smooth, that I never even need to run fast to get to a ball." ALL NIGHT LONG I was thinking, "He's gonna miss one. He's gonna miss a big one." And there he went, in a key moment, doggin' it back toward the wall, and sure enough, he misses it. And they lose after being up SEVEN to nothing. Nice job, ass hole. I really hope Tim McCarver broke into the TBS coverage last night and called the play "despicable," but I'd guess that instead Chip and Buck just talked about how smooth and glidy Upton is.

So we go to game 6. (Was going to be 4:07 Saturday had the NLCS still been going on, instead it will be 8:07.) This Lester-Beckett decision is one I thought of before the series started--it seemed obvious to me then and it seems moreso now, to go Lester in game 6. Yet some people don't get it. It's not like we're arguing for Lester to go on short rest. Then it would be the perfect argument that could go on all day. But we're talking about one guy being completely unstable, and the other guy being an ace who had one bad outing. Both guys would have enough rest, so you pitch the better guy (over the last few months) in the next game, knowing if you lose you're out. And then game 7, you've got everyone available, and it's still freakin' Beckett, he might come out and throw a gem anyway.

And I do think Maddon effed up pitching Kazmir. When you have a chance to win a series, you try to do it that night. You don't say, "what if we lose?" That's not how you win pennants. The thing about Tito is, even if he goes with Beckett, that still does go with his usual thing, so I can't blame him. Let's just hope both Beckett and Lester throw masterpieces. I'll post some more pics and video from last night later.


I will post a really cool video I shot at Fenway Park here tonight before I go to bed. [UPDATE: Here it is:]

On the way home I heard a replay of Castiglione's call--incredible. You gotta hear it. Everyone who left early tonight--you'll never learn at this point! Please don't come back! Your "let's go Bruins" chants aren't funny, original, or appreciated by any real Red Sox fans.

Again, Wooooohooooooooo! More to come.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Red Sox Make Final Three

The Phillies are going to the World Series. More on that after this message:

An update on the situation with our friend Cathy (wife of commenter Sosock): They're still a few bucks away from getting that car. The details are here. Please consider making a donation. If you missed it, Cathy has stage 4 breast cancer, and is getting serious static from the government of the richest country in the world when it comes to health care. I can't help feel the connection to them--they used to be in the soap business, and my girlfriend Kim makes soap. Cathy has stage 4 cancer, and Kim's mom was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. And of course, the Sox fan thing. Donate if you can.

Okay, now just a little about this Philly organization--here are my Philly World Series memories:

1980: I was five years old. No real memories of the Series, but very clear memories of getting the '81 Topps Sticker Album with the two-sticker picture of the '80 champs. They had a lot of great afro haircuts on that squad. Bake McBride, Garry Maddux...okay, I've just found that team photo online and I guess it was just those two, but favorite year is 1980, so that year's champs are automatically special to me. Also love that old World Series logo. And surprisingly I didn't realize it was their first championship until much later. With all my baseball knowledge, that fact somehow escaped me for a really long time.

1983: Now I was in third grade. The internet still hadn't reared its time-consuming e-head, so us kids pretty much only cared about baseball-related things. I clearly remember that White Sox-O's ALCS. Before the WS, I remember Pat sitting next to me at the Ridgebury School lunch room and saying, "I'm rooting for the Phillies but I think the Orioles will win." Okay, it might have been the other way around. And it might have been me who said it and not him. It was 25 years ago, whadda ya want from me? Anyway, the O's won, and neither team has won since.

1993: First months of college--I was never a fan of those Braves teams, so it was good to see the Phils knock them off after they'd won the previous two NL pennants. They went on to play the Jays who'd won the previous year's World Series. They were the "Phat Phillies," a bunch that I liked--not enough to even care that much, but I was on their side. Ah, the McDonough-as-top-baseball- announcer-in-the-nation years. Sean got to make the call on the second-ever World Series-winning walk-off homer. Unfortunately for the Phils, it was Mitch Williams who gave it up to Joe "See It Go" Carter. Watched it on the fourth floor of the Abel dorm at the U. of Nebraska. (The tall white building in the middle. That's the closest Street Views gets....)

And now they're back. Hopefully Game One is in Boston. I'm at Fenway tonight. See ya on the other side, Ray.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ALCS Game 4

Parking lot price: $50. Price we paid by simply parking at a metered spot: $1.50. Scalper website ticket price: Hundreds of dollars. Price we paid by simply calling ticket office: Face value. Above, Craig Sager says hello while eating a quick dinner outside Fenway Park.

Finally got a shot of Pesky's retired number outside the park. A 6 in the Red Sox font is not an upside-down 9. The way you can tell they did it correctly is to look at these three numbers. The top (smaller) hole of the 8 matches the hole in the nine. The bottom (bigger) hole of the 8 matches the hole in the 6. If you flipped the 6, you'd have a hole that's too big, and if you flipped the nine, you'd have a hole that's too small.

Over on Lansdowne, the new building is coming along. This used to be Avalon and Axis, but I think will be a House of Blues. ("Lowe's Presents the House of Blues"?)

Great sky over Fenway when we got there. My mom went off to get food and I tried to get balls in batting practice. Lots of close calls, but nothing. At one point some Ray went to give the crowd a ball but wouldn't give it to a non-Rays fan. He made people say "go Rays" to get it. One lady actually did it. She joins the "dead to me" list even though I have no idea who she is and will probably never see her white trash ass again.

Two more sky shots as the orange turned to pink.

Mom and I had two separate but equally awesome and unobstructed seats in section 24. Here was my view. It wasn't long before we were able to sit together....

The ALCS logo on the field.

Reflection of the field in the windows that face Yawkey Way.

Looking out onto Yawkey Way before the game. 1975, the year I was born.

Looking down at the concourse that runs underneath the third base grandstand.

Papi pointing skyward.

The TBS booth--finally a use for that space up there, above the space between bleachers and grandstand.

Trot Nixon threw out the first pitch. It's funny, a year ago in ALCS Game 7, I watched Millar throw out the first ball--and supposedly Trot was pissed since he was on the other team at the time. Good to see him welcomed back and willing to come back for this.

Dustin Pedroia hitting a near-dong that was caught.

After sitting among people who refused to clap or cheer, and spent more time texting than anything else, I finally went and joined my mom, since people left the blowout game, and we moved up even closer, eventually ending up in the second row. So the pics now become low-angle closeups. Here's Lowrie on deck.

Timlin on the mound.

Erick Aybar's brother and Carl Crawford's self.

JD Drew missing a ball.

Youk pissed at third.

JD Drew up.

Dustin Pedroia in the box.

Papi giving the crowd a ball as Youk does what people in pictures love to do--"looks on."

Joe Maddon.

The tray! So the game's almost over, we're down by double-digits, and the dudes around us are totally drunk but in the good, funny, "let's cheer really hard for a miraculous comeback" kind of way. They obviously, like us, moved down from crappier seats. However, this blazer-wearin' guy had this tray--a tray in the stands! That's a deadly weapon!--with strawberries and cookies. The drunken guys noticed this and were going nuts about the tray. I pointed my camera at it, leading them to high five me for documenting this ridiculousness. They then started chanting for the one guy to eat the one strawberry remaining on the tray--which I'll post video of later. So we did get some enjoyment out of this game....

Kevin Youkilis up.

Ben Zobrist on deck.

That dude that scored the winning run when Drew rolled the ball home the other night.

It was uni-rific being that close.

A Ray, up very close.

You know you're close to the action when you're looking up at the players.

Sean Casey gets in the game. Look at the Mike Lowell sign. What's with the sky? He's still alive, right?

Coco Crisp.

Coco on first, with Carlos Pena.

The view from row 2.

Jed Lowrie, with the umpire working on his novel.

Looking down into the temporary camera-well at a Japanese camera man's laptop.

And the Red Sox lose, a lot to a little. This Bay fan really went all out.

Blimp over Fenway on our way back to the car.

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