Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Papelbon Steals Second Base!

That's right, I saw him do it! Only moments earlier, Alex Cora hauled in a harmless infield fly ball for the final out of the game. The Red Sox defeated the Indians 5-4, and in doing so, clinched the American League Wild Card spot, while simultaneously eliminating the Yankees from postseason play. Then, the celebration ensued! Knowing this would be fun, I worked my way around from right field down to the first base line and found a spot a rows off the field right by canvas alley. Players were celebrating, champagne was flying, and smiles were readily found.

Jonathan PapelbonThen, we looked out and Jonathan Papelbon, doused in champagne, wearing a ladies-pleasing sleeveless Red Sox jersey, marched over to second base, bent over, and started tearing it from the ground. From the look of it, it was not easy. Like King Arthur once drew Excalibur from the stone, so did Papelbon extract second base from the very foundation of hallowed Fenway Park (not being frivolously torn down any time soon, by the way). With the base held in one hand high overhead, Papelbon marched directly towards where I was standing. A huge cheer went out, and as he approached, he reached out and handed the base to someone in the front row. Yes, Papelbon did indeed steal second base. I never saw what happened to the base after that. I wonder if they actually let the fan keep it?

Papelbon Steals Second BaseSo, I did get my wish after all, being present at the playoff clinching game. My friend brought both his father and father-in-law to the game, which turned out to be pretty fun. His father-in-law confided in me that it had been a long, long time since he had been to Fenway Park. When I asked him how long ago it was, he thought for a moment and answered, "I really can't remember exactly, but I do remember that I saw Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle both hit home runs in that game. Ted's landed right around where we are sitting but Mantle's [he said pointing up towards the Dunkin Donuts sign] landed way back there". My jaw dropped, just for a second, and I realized someday that might be me, telling a grandchild that I sat here the day David Oritz hit two home runs in the first inning, or the time Papi hit a home run that broke my friend's thumb, or the time, in 2008, when we watched the Sox clinch a playoff birth.

Final OutAnother fun moment in the celebration was when 3 players jogged out of the dugout, all soaking wet and carrying fresh bottles of champagne. They were (if I recall correctly), David Aardsma, Javier Lopez (who is really tall up close), and Manny Delcarmen. The three of them headed out to right field, towards the bullpen where the Boston policeman (who bumps knuckles with Papelbon each time Paps gets called in from the 'pen) was standing. We all watched as they got closer and closer. I felt like that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when Arthur and his men (hmm, another reference to King Arthur?) were charging the castle and the two guards just stood there watching, and the shot of them charging kept repeating as if they were never getting any closer. Suddenly, they reached their target, still standing rock still, and proceeded to douse him with champagne amid hugs and high fives.

So, that's it. The Rays won both halves of their double header yesterday to reduce the Red Sox' elimination number to a mere 2 for the Division Title. If the Sox lose just one more game, and the Rays win just one more game, the Rays take the title. So, I think, while it is not technically over, we can relax, and concede the Rays have earned that one. Now, continue to play hard, and try to win every remaining game, but rest everyone who needs it, get work in for everyone who needs it, and line up the rotation so that we'll head in to LA with all guns blaring.

My next game to attend is Friday, against the Yankees, the night the Red Sox have announced they will retire Johnny Pesky's number! We'll also be able to say a sad farewell to the Yankees for 2008. Way back in 2002, sports radio host, Eddie Andelman, tried to organize a Yankee Elimination Party. That party got canceled, and no such party has been possible until last night. The Yankees have had quite an amazing run. Understand this. Derek Jeter has never, up until now, played in a game that had to playoff meaning. Never. Pretty impressive.

(Photos Courtesy of Boston.Com)


Suldog said...

Wow. That Jeter fact IS mighty impressive.

Congrats on being there! Wake wasn't as magnificent as I had hoped, but the job got done.

Rooster said...

I think it might also be true of Mariano Rivera as well. Plus, since they had already finished playing at Yankee Stadium, Jeter never will have played a meaningless game in that park! That's cool.

Wake was pretty good. Got out of silly trouble in the 5th, and then ran into trouble in the 6th.

The bullpen was shakey too until Oki and Paps. Papelbon was on fire! Not like last time I saw him. He just knew he was winning this one.

Jere said...

Watching on TV, you could see Papelbon steal each base, first, second, third, and bring each to the crowd. Awesome. Glad you got to see it live.