Remembrance and reflection how allied!
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!
-Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
NESN reruns ALCS game 4 tonight. I've seen it multiple times on my recording, but I will be watching every minute of this one tonight. As I said, there's just something about watching things "live". And this game holds even more special memories for me. I was there. Three rows behind first, next to the photographers pit. And as Leigh Montville says, in his book Why Not Us? "the stories are the story" and every fan has his/her story. Well this is mine.
I suppose I need to begin with the Patriots game that Sunday. For the past while, I get together with a few other female sports fans in a chat room on a mutual friend's private server. And we either get in #pats or #sox to watch the game. Well we were gathered in #pats that day to watch the Patriots win their 20th in a row. We virtually cheered them on to victory. The game had just ended and I was just waiting for the post game show, when my friend Sheltie * totally freaks out in channel.
Her-"Oh my god!"
Me -*thinking * Yes they won. Woohoo "Yes?"
Her - "Want to go to the game?"
Me- "But the game just ended . . . The Pats won."
Her- "No, silly, the Red Sox game tonight.
Her father has season tickets (great seats. We've sat there before) and he didn't want them. Didn't . . . want . . .
Me-"I'll meet you in Kenmore Square in two hours"
I live almost exactly two hours south of Fenway; it takes me two hours to the minute from my driveway to the gates of the park. (Barring traffic jams, accidents, etc). So I figured since we were meeting "closer" to me than the park, if I ran around like a mad woman, we could be at the park in plenty of time for the 730 time on the tickets. (Turns out the game didn't get off until after 8 so we had plenty of time). I changed out of my sweats, threw on my Schilling jersey, grabbed my binoculars and a jacketand I was out the door.
I didn't want to listen to WEEI on they way up, I knew they were going to be trashing the team. I hate that. I'm a glass is full kind of fan. We can be down 10-0 in the bottom of the ninth with two out and if the batter walks, my brain goes "rally time". All day I had been thinking much like Millar turned out to be. "If we win tonight, we have Pedro. Then Schilling. And then Game 7. And Game 7 is Anything Can Happen Game. I was so excited that drive-I made great time. Parked myself at Riverside (I wouldn't be caught dead driving into Boston ), put the last of my cash into the parking and the T fare in and boarded the train. Got off and Sheltie was waiting for me. Had to go to the ATM because I had about 5 cents in my pocket. Hadn't had time to get to a bank (or reason to, before that phone call.) She gave me my ticket. Man, was it pretty. Outside the park they were giving out those little signs. These said "We Still Believe." We grabbed them and headed in. I bought a soda in a playoff cup (man is it pretty too) and made our way down to those incredible seats. Ordered some food and we were ready to go. I began that mantra "if we win tonight . . ."and then I stopped. Bad luck to get ahead of things. Bad karma. So I switched. "If we win tonight, they won't sweep us. No sweep. No sweep for them. Not in our house." I leaned over to Sheltie and said, "No matter what happens, we were here for it.
And then we waited. And waited. Apparently they had moved back the start of the game, but we didn't care. I love watching warm ups anyway, and we had a bit of a view into the Sox dugout, so there was plenty to watch. DLo started to make his way from the dugout to the bullpen for his warmups. From his first steps out of the dugout, people started to stand and clap and chant his name. By the time he got out to the pen, he had a full standing ovation going. It was a really powerful moment. Happy and nostalgic at the same time. We all knew it could have been his last time in a Sox uniform. And there was years of appreciation in every clap. Thank you DLo. Thank you for everything. And good luck. We trust you.
Soon it was time for the pregame.. The Kingston Trio. I love the Kingston Trio. We stood to the National Anthem and then danced and sang along to Charlie on the MTA. The place was rocking. And then the first pitch. Smokey Joe Wood's son threw to Bill Carrigan's son. A very nice moment. And then a little gap in time where you just knew they were going tocommercial on the network. And then DLo made his way back to the dugout. Another ovation. We're behind you, Derek.
And then the game finally started. Both pitchers did well. Lowe was pitching great. There were more than a few dLO dLO dLO chants. I laughed when I watched the recording after at the immortal words of Joe Buck, "DLo. That's a nickname for Derek Lowe. Duh, Mr. Buck. The place erupted in the second when Matsui was thrown out at the plate. Man, that was a great play. The cheering seemed to go on forever. The mood was very positive. Then, in the third inning Arod hit a two run homer completely over the monster and into the street beyond. The entire park groaned, almost in unison. But before despair could set in, wvoop! Back came the ball, landing in centerfield. As one, we laughed, tension just about broken. Damon ran, picked it out and rifled it back over the wall to the street. Hey, he DOES have an arm. Wvoop. Back came the ball. Now the tension was totally gone as we laughed, almost hysterically, bad feelings rushing out in our mirth. Thank you, whoever you were. You made a difference.
Mood up, the place erupted again when the sox scored three in the fifth with a bunch of walks and a few timely hits. Then, Matsui hit his triple and Francona went out to pull Lowe. The park went nuts, and not in a positive way . BOOOOOOO. Nobody wanted to take out Derek. But out he came. As soon as he stepped up, the boo's stopped and we all rose for a standing ovation. Thank you, DLo. Great job. You deserved a win.
Sadly it was not to be. I believe it was the very next batter, a hit, the run scored and the lead, and Derek's win was gone. The fans had so wanted Lowe to get that win. The crowed deflated quite a bit. We had emotionally invested ourselves that game with Derek and when he lost his chance for the win, it almost felt as we had lost something. But, there was still a game to be played. And the mood picked up a bit, after Varitek threw out a baserunner. Lots of cheering for Tek.
Unfortunatly, Bellhorn couldn't handle a grounder (and I have to admit,from where I was sitting it looked hard to handle) and the go ahead run scored.
Lots of fans chanted for Pokey then, but I didn't. I don't like things like that, personally. And I like Bellhorn. As I said, I' m a glasses half full kind of gal. The inning ended soon after and I leaned over to Sheltie. "Only one run. That's not too bad."
I bounced in place until the ninth. Rivera was still on. I wasn't afraid. I lost a lot of fear about Rivera that season, what with the Mueller walk off game and that multi-rain delay game in September. He no longer seems immortal to me. And I think no longer to the Sox, which I think meant a lot in this game. Millar walked and the park rose to its' feet cheering and whistling and clapping and stomping. Now. Now was the time. Dave Roberts came on and all the commentators are right. We all knew he was going. Now was the time. Pick. Pick. Pick. . . Run . . SAFE! Bonkers. Mueller up. Now. Was. The. Time. Basehit! Roberts sprints home! Tie game! That driving music kicked in and fans danced and hopped in unison. We had them. It was only a matter of time but we had them
And it was getting that time where the T usually stops running. I wasn't about to leave however. I was going to stay there to the bitter end, no matter how many extra innings it took. Sheltie would have to leave before too long to catch the last train north. She had just started a new job and couldn't risk missing it. Me, I've been at my currant place for years and my boss is a rabid Sox fan. I was planning, if the T had stopped, to take a taxi out to Newton no matter what the cost, or failing that, try to find a hotel room *somewhere* in the city. But I was NOT going to leave.
They teased us for a few innings, both teams threatening but not scoring. The pitching was amazing. Foulke was incredible. Embree was good too. Then Leskanic. Nobody panic, we've got Leskanic. And he held them. Sheltie left at her last possible minutes with instructions to call when it was over. At the end of each inning, a few more fans would leave, but there was still an extremely large number, considering it was after 1 am.
Before the 12th, the PA blasted out that old 80s song "Holding Out for a Hero" and my section got up and danced. What a perfect song, I thought. This would be a perfect time. Leskanic held them again in the top of the 12th. And then it was our turn. Manny singled and the place went nuts. I think that song had put things in our minds. And then . . . words fail me. Ortiz swung. Heads turned. Eyes followed the ball. Would it it? Was it? As soon as the ball landed over the bullpen wall, screams erupted from thousands of throats. I leaped into the air screaming at the top of my lungs. Nothing coherent. Just sounds of pure joy. Ortiz reached home and was mobbed. Dirty Water throbbed from the speakers and people danced. I climbed on my chair waved my sign in the air and danced, singing along. Love that dirty water. Boston you're my home. Others danced on theirchairs with me. I particularly remember an older woman behind me, red clothes, red face paint, a straw hat. We high-fived and danced. We sang along to Tessie. To Joy to the World. A few more songs I no longer remember. We sang. We danced. There was joy in Mudville. We had won. There was no sweep for those damned Yankees. Pedro tomorrow. We wouldn't lose in our house. Schilling the next day. He'd get his redemption. And then Game Seven. Wednesday. Anything Can Happen Day.
We had WON.
All too soon I climbed off my chair. It was time to see if I had a way to get home. Ms Straw Hat asked if I would be okay. She said that they might have held the T, but if they didn't it would be easy to get a taxi out to Newton. I learned later, from reading Why Not Us that this was most probably Kate Rielly. So, Ms Rielly, thank you so much for being a dance partner, a high-five partner and for caring that I got home safely. Thank you.
So I made my way out of the park. There was a group of us fans, all moving in a big boisterous herd across the pike, through BC and BU and other college students heading over the bridge in the opposite direction. The herd moved past the ATM machines. I didn't stop. I had a token and we were moving towards the T stop. Maybe it was still running? We made our way in and down. Yes. Still running. My luck was running over that night. Or perhaps morning.
Soon we were all gathered at tracks. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. People kept coming down the stairs to wait with us. Then an officer came down with a radio, asking them to send trains for Xhundred of people. Then at a little before 2am, one set of trains from each line showed up in turn. There were lots of seats. I think they held them just for us. I found a seat next to the only visible Yankee fan, who had his head turned to the window. I sat next to him and he was pretty much left alone, except for a few "hey, good game/you played hard/maybe we can get you tomorrow too. Very friendly. Good for the fans. Lots of talk on the way out. Some on the incredible game we had just seen. But a lot of talk on the lateness of the hour, the length of our commutes home and what time we had to be at work the next morning. And who was going to call in sick. It was voted that I had the longest commute, with the Worcester contingent coming in second.
We got to Riverside at about 3am. I got in my car. I was so wide awake, still jazzed up. I don't ever remember a lot of that drive. Quickest drive home from a game in my life. I got home a little after 4. I was supposed to be up at 6 to be at work at 7. Why bother going to bed, I thought. So I took a nice hot bath to both warm up and wash. Changed my clothes. Drank some caffeine. And I just went to work. Was bumping into more than a few things, but rather enjoyed telling people why, Then it was home for game 5. And the rest, they say, was history.
So. That's what Game 4 means to me, and why I'll watch every second of it tonight. Thanks for indulging me in my reminiscence. Go, Sox.
*Her online name, but I call her that in Real Life, so that's who she is in my head. And yes, she calls me "Hoo".