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2001: Diary of a Season

Sunday, June 24, Fenway Park, Section 36

Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 2

Beck warms up

I'm practically obsessive-compulsive when it comes to Red Sox tickets. I check and double-check that I've grabbed the right date. I check that they're in my bag when I leave my house, when I get out of my car at the T station, on the T, and at the gate. I wouldn't want to miss a chance to see the game! It's easy if you only go to one game a year, as I had most of my life. It's another story when you go two days in a row. I guess I didn't check before I left the house that day, because I had already driven to the T station, paid for parking, and paid to get on the train, when I realized I hadn't grabbed my ticket. It's a good 40 minute drive back to my house from there, and I had left really early, since I like to watch batting practice. I debated whether I should go home and get it or proceed to the park and spend another $20 on a new one. Figuring I still had time, I jumped back in the car, drove home and then back to the T, snuck in the back entrance to the parking lot since I had already paid, and then rode the 13 stops to Kenmore. It was after 1:05 when I ran up the steps from the train station, and heard scalpers selling tickets. Because the game had already started, they were going for a mere $6! It turns out I should have skipped the race back home, and just waited to get a ticket below face value. As I rounded the corner onto Lansdowne, I caught a peek at the scoreboard. It was only the second inning, but Wakefield hadn't given up a hit yet! What if I was missing something important?

I got there just in time for the bottom of the second, and it turned out I hadn't missed anything major. Troy O'Leary's two-run homer in the fourth was the only scoring the Sox would do. Wakefield was perfect through three, but gave up a hit in the fourth and blew the lead in the eighth. The Jays tacked on a couple more runs against Rod Beck in the ninth and won it 5-2. At least the tomato plants were looking good!

Saturday, July 7, Fenway Park, Section 41

Red Sox 3, Braves 1

Here it was the weekend before the All-Star break, and this was the first time I'd been able to see Hideo Nomo pitch. He'd already thrown a no-hitter and a one-hitter, so I knew if he was "on", it would be a fun game. When Pedro pitches, WEEI hands out "K" cards before the games, and I made sure to grab one of the Japanese ones they hand out when Nomo starts.

One good thing was the announcement before the game that Pete Schourek was going on the D.L. He had been dreadful in his last several outings, failing even to retire the lefties he faced. Carlos Castillo had been called up to take his place, but he'd soon be replaced by Bill Pulsipher. The game was a good one. There was no score in the first four innings, then the Red Sox broke through with three in the fifth, and the Braves added one in the sixth. Nomo gave up five hits and one run in six innings. Wakefield, Beck, and Lowe followed him to the mound. All in all it was cleanly played - no controversy, just good, solid baseball. The most surprising thing was when Scott Hatteberg caught Rico Brogna attempting to steal to end the second inning. Hatteberg only threw out 8% of would-be base-stealers over the course of the year, yet Jimy kept playing him (batting second, too!) instead of Doug Mirabelli (who caught 36%), even though both were hitting about the same. It wasn't quite as rare as a Grebeck hit, but it was close!

July 15-17, Stade Olympique, Montreal

When the Red Sox headed north of the border shortly after the All-Star break, I followed them to Montreal. (So did 32,000 other diehards, as well as a couple of Expos fans!) What we found was a city overflowing, for that weekend anyway, with Red Sox fans, and three exciting games. My photos are on the Road Trip to Montreal page.

Saturday, July 28, Fenway Park, Section 40

White Sox 3, Red Sox 1

Pedro throws long toss This was a weekend of new beginnings for the Red Sox. Friday night, Bret Saberhagen made his return after being out for a year. He was excellent in his debut: 6 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 0 BB. If he was healthy, he could carry the team in Pedro's absence, and then become the #2 starter we desperately wanted. (It turned out he only made one more start before re-injuring his arm and retiring.)

I always like to get to games early, to watch batting practice and just soak up the atmosphere. When I arrived that day, Pedro was throwing long-toss in the outfield. Word was, he'd be re-evaluated in a couple of days and would possibly be returning soon. He'd been on the D.L. for a full month now, and it was beginning to show. A team can't go forever without its ace. Also on the D.L. was Carl Everett, but that was a different story. He had hurt his knee diving for a ball in a game against Tampa Bay at the end of June. There were questions about his lack of rehab and his desire to rejoin the team, with Trot Nixon (who had filled in admirably for him in both center field and the #3 spot in the lineup) the latest to speak about it publicly. He was supposedly going to come back this weekend, but with Carl, you never know. As I sat behind the bullpen during batting practice, bullpen catcher Dana LeVangie walked by. He was holding the game's lineup card, so I leaned over to take a peek. Carl Everett was indeed in the lineup, batting sixth.

When Everett came to bat, I planned to put aside my personal feelings for him and give a nice, encouraging round of applause. I think my brother and I were alone in that sentiment. There was hardly any reaction from the stands. It was clear Carl was wearing out his welcome in Boston. He went 0-4 that day, which didn't help. Nomar and Pedro are about the only two players who aren't subject to the "What have you done for me lately?" treatment. The Red Sox scored one run in the first (on two walks and two fly ball outs) and didn't score again. The White Sox broke through against Tim Wakefield with one run in the fifth and two more in the seventh. In the ninth, tall, thin lefty Casey Fossum made his major league debut. He had been called up from Double-A, and fared well that afternoon, getting two groundball outs and giving up a single to a batter who was thrown out by Trot when he tried to stretch it to a double.

Fossum prepares for his debut I like to keep score at the games, so I'm always getting asked if someone can borrow my pen. It bugs me, because I'm obviously using it (even if not at that very second) yet I don't want to sound rude saying no. This time, a guy asked between innings, so I passed it over. I thought he was going to write something down and hand it right back. Instead he held onto it. I guess he was waiting for a player to walk past in the bullpen, at which point he imagined that they were going to stop and autograph his son's hat. First of all, major league rules prohibit players from signing during games. They might slip a kid a baseball, but they're not going to sign anything. (Secondly, my theory is, Leave the bullpen alone - they need all the help they can get!) When the next inning started, I asked for the pen back, and went about my business. That's when the guy switched to Plan B. He got a pen from someone else and threw the hat and the pen over the bullpen wall. At the end of the next inning, the bullpen attendant picked the hat up and handed it back to him. And this guy's plan would have been to cast my scoring pen to the same fate? I blame the annoying MLB commercials with the kid and the "Hit it here" sign. Instead of sitting down and enjoying the game, this kid is obnoxious in his attempt to get a ball. Now every kid in attendance thinks they have the right to get a ball at every game, when it's actually a rare, and special, thing.

This was my fourth game in Section 40, and the Red Sox hadn't won any of them.

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