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Road Trip to Chicago

June 16-18, 2003

U.S. Cellular Field

On Wednesday night, there were no special pricing promotions, so I had to spend a whopping $20 to sit in the second row in the outfield, right near the Red Sox bullpen. When I got to the park, it was raining, and the tarp was on the field. I hoped it wouldn't be rained out, because tomorrow's game was during the day, so this was the last one I could go to. I couldn't just trade in the ticket stub for another day. Luckily, the rain stopped, and the game got underway about an hour late.

After being baffled by John Burkett the night before, the White Sox went up against Tim Wakefield's knuckleball. Wake was great, striking out two in the first, two in the second, and one more in the third. In the top of the fourth, the Red Sox got a run on hits by Johnny Damon and Todd Walker and a grounder by Nomar Garciaparra. In the bottom of the inning, all three outs were long fly balls to the warning track in center, but Johnny was able to haul them all in. Wakefield had given up two walks, but had not allowed a hit yet.

U.S. Celllar Field The only thing marring the game so far was an obnoxious group of kids in my section. It looked like a bunch of little league teams who had a trip to the ballpark. There were only a couple of chaperones, and they were sitting further back. The kids kept running up and down the aisles, climbing over everyone in the section several times per inning. When a couple of kids tried standing at the end of the aisle, a security person told them they had to sit down. As soon as he turned his back, a couple of different kids ran down and stood there. The security guy was getting annoyed that he had to keep telling them to sit down. On one of his trips back, I said to him, "They probably don't even know who's playing, let alone who's winning." What was really irritating was the adults, who instead of talking to the kids about the strategy of the game or the positioning of the fielders, were encouraging them to ignore security and stand at the end of the aisle. There were plenty of empty seats in the area, and it would have been fine if they had just picked a seat and sat in it. I really wanted to move to a different seat, but Wakefield hadn't given up a hit yet, and I didn't want to break the spell.

White Sox third baseman Joe Crede singled in the fifth inning, ending the bid for a no-hitter. After a walk to Jose Valentin, Miguel Olivo hit a double to left field. Crede scored to tie the game, but at least Valentin was thrown out at the plate. In the top of the next inning a pre-teen girl in the row in front of me, who was not with the annoying group of boys, turned around and politely asked, "Excuse me, do you know who's winning?" I told her it was tied and showed her where the scoreboard was, but finally decided it was time to move. I moved down to the front row across the aisle, directly behind the Red Sox bullpen, where no one was climbing over me any more. But if I ever go to this ballpark again, I know to spend the extra $9 and sit in the good seats in the infield, where people actually have a clue, like I had done the first night.

In the sixth, Wakefield walked two more batters before Brian Daubach, who had started at DH that night, hit a double to knock in another run and give Chicago the lead. At the end of the seventh, Wake was done pitching. Doug Mirabelli, who always caught Wakefield's games, was due to lead off the eighth. So when Jason Varitek left the bullpen for the dugout between innings, I was certain he'd be pinch-hitting. "Hit it to me, Jason! Let's get a rally going," I yelled as he ran in. But Mirabelli hit for himself, grounding out to third. The White Sox tacked on an insurance run off Rudy Seanez in the bottom of the eighth. The Red Sox couldn't score any more off Esteban Loaiza, who picked up his tenth win of the season that night and went on to start the All-Star Game the following month.

The next day the two teams played a matinee, so I couldn't go. I checked on the score during all my breaks in class (which was fine because my White-Sox-fan instructor was doing the same thing). My Sox took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, on three walks, an error, and a single, but Chicago came back to tie it up. Finally Johnny Damon's single in the tenth - just the third hit of the day for Boston - gave them the lead and they went on to win. They had split the four-game series. It was fun to get to see that many Red Sox games so inexpensively, but I was disappointed that I had only seen one win.

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This page and all photos copyright © 2003-2004 by Kristen D. Cornette.