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2002: Diary of a Season

Saturday, September 7, Fenway Park, Section 36

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1

Before the game, Luis Tiant was on Yawkey Way signing autographs. I had him sign my scorecard book, even though I had already gotten his autograph when he spoke at the SABR convention in June. I also bought one of the "Fenway Park from A-Z" children's books written and illustrated by the Red Sox wives. Karen Varitek and Kathryn Nixon were selling and autographing them on Yawkey Way, and they sent me into Twins souvenir store to collect additional autographs. (I did purchase the book for a child, but I also bought one for myself the next time I went to a game.)

I was in the third row of the center field bleachers in Section 36. I sat there for batting practice, and then shortly before the game started, I went downstairs to the restroom. When I came back, two kids (sipping beers, so they were at least old enough for fake ID's, but I can't exactly call them men) were in the seats next to mine. I had had that seat before, and I knew they were not the owners of the seats, because they belong to season ticket holders. There was no one directly in front of them in the first two rows, and they were spitting, from the third row, trying to aim over the wall in front of the first row. Fortunately the true owners of the seats next to me came, and the kids moved to the second row. Soon the man who really had the second row seats came, and they moved to the first row. They never got up for more beer, or cheered or shouted, or even talked to each other, but about once an inning one of them would spit over (or onto) the railing. Everyone else in the section was disgusted, but we didn't know if we could say anything because they weren't being loud or profane, and figured the usher would have to actually catch them doing it to kick them out.

Casey Fossum was starting, and after hitting the first batter and walking the second, he struck out the side in the first. He struck out the side in the second, too, but with a solo homer to Tom Wilson in between. But the Blue Jays only got two more hits, a single in the fourth and a double in the fifth, and Fossum wound up with a career-high nine strikeouts in his six innings of work. The Red Sox had only had two hits of their own in the first five innings. At the end of the fifth, the man sitting next to me finally decided to get an usher to get rid of the spitters. The usher just asked to see their tickets, and they got up without saying a word and left. The rest of us thanked the usher and the fan who had told him. (A few innings later, we saw them one section over and about twenty rows back. Someone said, "I hope they're not spitting from there!")

The departure of the spitters made the game more enjoyable, and it coincided with an even better reason to be happy. Johnny Damon led off the sixth with a double. A couple of outs later, Manny Ramirez doubled him home, and Cliff Floyd followed with a single driving in Manny. The Red Sox had taken the lead. In the eighth, with Nomar Garciaparra aboard, Manny hit a homer to right to give the Sox a 4-1 lead. Wayne Gomes, Alan Embree, and Ugueth Urbina each pitched a 1-2-3 inning to close out the game and preserve the win.

Sunday, September 15, Fenway Park, Section 10

Orioles 8, Red Sox 3

Section 10 viewIf anything, this game made me appreciate my decision to go to the August 10 game, which was only the second Pedro game I had witnessed all year. Meanwhile this was going to be my seventh John Burkett outing, and he had only won one of the first six.

This game was not much different. The Red Sox got off to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on RBI singles by Cliff Floyd and Brian Daubach. But Burkett gave it up in the third, when two doubles, a single, and a homer accounted for four Baltimore runs. They tacked on two more (another home run) in the fourth, and the call went out to the bullpen. Willie Banks pitched three and a third scoreless innings, and the Red Sox managed their third run in the seventh, on Nomar Garciaparra's single and Manny Ramirez's double. But that was all they would get, and the Orioles scored two more off Dustin Hermanson in the ninth to finish with an 8-3 win.

Tuesday, September 17, Fenway Park, Section 35

Red Sox 4, Indians 2

Though the season winding was down, the Red Sox were not out of it yet. Granted, their chances were now slim, but until it's mathematically impossible to win, I still believe it will happen, especially with the final two weeks being against below-.500 teams. Tonight they took on the Cleveland Indians, with Tim Wakefield going against C. C. Sabathia. Although pennant hopes were fading, the races for the batting title and ERA champion were picking up steam. Coming into the game, Manny Ramirez's batting average was .340, which tied him with Kansas City's Mike Sweeney for the league lead. Just last week Manny had finally gotten enough at-bats to qualify for the title, since he had missed six weeks earlier in the season. Wakefield was third in the league in ERA, behind teammates Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, but he would need to pitch 22 more innings to qualify, with three starts left.

Urbina warms upManny started the second inning with a single, raising his average to .342. After Cliff Floyd reached on an error, Benny Agbayani singled Manny home for the game's first run. Manny grounded out to open the fourth (dipping momentarily to .341) but the Red Sox grabbed two more runs on Rey Sanchez's double later in the inning. Manny singled again with two outs in the fifth, to get back to .342. Meanwhile Wakefield was cruising along, having given up no runs and only three hits through the first seven innings. The Tribe scored one off Wakefield in the eighth, but he left the game with a lower ERA than he started with and needing only 14 more innings to qualify in the ERA race. Manny came up with one out in the eighth. He had 99 RBI so far in the year, but hadn't had any at-bats with runners on base all day. No matter, he launched one over the Green Monster and onto the roof of the parking garage across the street. It was his 100th RBI of the season, which was even more impressive given how much time he had missed. Going 3-4 also raised his average to .344, and put him in the lead for the batting title, since Sweeney had gone 2-4 to finish the day at .342. In the ninth, Jim Thome hit a home run off Ugueth Urbina into the stands behind the bullpen, and the fans there threw it back onto the field. But it was OK, the Sox won, 4-2, and I still had reason to believe.

Sunday, September 22, Coors Field, Colorado

Rockies 11, Diamondbacks 7 (Red Sox 13, Orioles 2)

Coors FieldAt the end of September, I traveled to Denver for work. I was there in time for the final home game of the Rockies' season, against their National League Western Division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Although the Diamondbacks had a magic number of three to clinch the division, and the Rockies were 22.5 games back, Colorado had taken the first two games of the series, and was going for the sweep. Coors Field was the ninth different ballpark I've been to, and while the game was interesting, I kept one eye on the out-of-town scoreboard, because in Baltimore, Pedro Martinez was going for his 20th win. See the rest of my Colorado photos and read about the game here.

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