Weekly Shocks' Blog



Aw Crap, It’s Only the Governor.

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You’ll forgive me (or you won’t, that’s cool too), but today is Opening Day and I’m carefully monitoring my heart rate to make sure the old ticker doesn’t explode inside my chest, then leak out of my nostrils.

Finally, after a long, dark winter of sketchy reports from some bizarre place called “Florida,” endless injury-watches on aging, hurting men, and months of mega-million dollar trade talks falling through at the last, miserable second, finally, finally, finally, baseball season begins here in Boston. As a life-long Red Sox fan, this is basically Christmas in April, except Santa is being played by a bald man named Francona and includes an elfish second baseman MVP, who probably stands in at about 5’4″ and weighs 120lbs soaking wet. God love ’em all, I can’t wait for that opening pitch. And for the first time in, oh, ages, I’ll actually be in the city to enjoy it.

It’s not easy being a baseball fan in England. The Brits have some sweater-wearing, tea-drinking, pansy-ass pseudo-sport called cricket, which is enough like baseball, sort of, that they pretty much ignore the real thing over here. Cricket is a monstrously complicated, yet soul-crushingly uninteresting game that goes on for days and is often prescribed as a sleep-remedy for incurable insomniacs. For the life of me, I fail to understand its appeal in any other capacity. But, after three years in the UK, I’ve come to accept that there will always be oddities about that strange and wonderful country and its mildly insane inhabitants that will forever perplex me. Besides, I haven’t got time to delve into the attraction of cricket: I’m too busy trying to figure out how Pop Rocks work.

Anyway, if you’ve been a Red Sox fan long enough, you’re bound to have more than a few memories that you just love boring into the skulls of OTHERS, i.e., the non-fans, the people who are slowly but surely starting to hate you and your massive, pulsating, ubiquitous tumor of a team. I’m no exception and now you’re all going to have to suffer through my favorite Red Sox memory. You poor suckers. Of course, seeing the Sox win the World Series in 2004 after that epic comeback against Satan the Yankees is a classic. And watching cars being set on fire as a means of celebrating said victory was perhaps the highlight of my senior year in college. But that’s too easy. I gotta tell ya, the best memory I’ve ever had of my boys occurred on May 1, 2006, which was really just a run-of-the-mill, early season, fairly forgettable game at Fenway…OR WAS IT?!

Of course it wasn’t, you fool! This was the first head-to-head match-up of Sox vs Yankees in 2006! This was the Light vs the Dark Side, this was Innocence, Trust, Teamsmanship, and Consummate Love of the Game vs Soul-Sucking, Money-Grubbing, Devil-Worshiping, and Fun-Hating Banality! This was real baseball! And this was also the first time that that traitorous, throws-like-a-girl doorknob Johnny Damon would return to Fenway Park after his mercenary defection to the Evil Empire. The crowd was already in fine form, jeering loudly at our once beloved Johnny and the Bleacher Creature Faithful were busy throwing dollar bills onto the field in order to shame the troll-like beast for his hypocrisy and sordid infidelity. Well, either that or they were trying to get the saucy center fielder to strip. It’s always a little hard to say with Fenway fans, especially after the alcoholic third-inning buzz sets in.

Regardless. Jeering on Johnny was not my favorite part of the game. Big Papi David Ortiz blasting a Mike Myers’ (another former Sox) fastball into New Hampshire to put my boys on top was not my favorite part of the game. The clean cut Red Sox win, sending them into first place in the AL East was not my favorite part of the game. My favorite part of the game actually occurred before it had even technically started, but it demonstrated just how incredibly awesome (and absurd) it is to be a Red Sox fan.

See, once upon a time, there was this catcher named Doug Mirabelli. I liked Doug. He was unassuming, cheerful, had the speed of a walrus on land, and he hit around .200 in a decent season. But Doug could catch a knuckleball and he could do it better than perhaps anyone else in baseball. And it just so happens that my all-time favorite Red Sox, in fact, my all-time favorite baseball player, is a knuckleball specialist named Tim Wakefield. I had never seen a knuckleball pitch before, had never even heard of it, in fact, until Tim joined the Sox way back in ’95. Immediately I was hooked. Watching a knuckleballer pitch is, for me, baseball at its best. At the very least, it’s never, ever boring. When Tim’s on, he’s damn near unhittable, and it’s an absolute treat watching batters swat hopelessly after this softly-tossed ball that dances around at about 55MPH before dropping out of nowhere deep into the strike zone. The problem, of course, is that when Tim’s off, it’s like a pig to the slaughter, and batters have a field day launching his pitches out of the park like golf balls. Perhaps even more nerve-wracking is that the knuckleball is almost as impossible to catch as it is to hit, which is why many in Red Sox Nation groaned miserably when they learned that our dear Dougie had been traded to the Padres in the 2006 off-season. Who was going to catch Timmy now?

For a while, the Sox tried a kid named Josh Bard who showed some potential by only having about 479 passed balls in seven games with Tim, which actually isn’t too shabby for catching a knuckleballer for the first time. But rumor had it that Dougie seemed a bit unhappy out in the San Diego sun and was lonesome for his battery mate and old team, a team that actually had a fan base who gave a toss about it. So the Sox got him back. On May 1st. The very day Tim was scheduled to pitch against the filthy, slimy, disgusting Yankees who had also tried to get Dougie on their team that day, for no other reason than to screw over the Sox. (Wikipedia tells me this is true, and as we all know, Wikipedia never lies.)

The question, the drama, the excitement, of course, was, would Doug make it to Fenway in time to catch Tim? And if he didn’t, who the hell would? The televised pre-game festivities were an exercise in raising blood pressure. I remember sitting in my living room, rocking back and forth with my knees clutched to my chest, wishing, praying, pleading with the Big Guy to get Dougie into Boston as soon as possible, to zip him down into the Fens via turbo jet if necessary. Nothing was too good for Dougie. The announcers were beside themselves, hopped up like crack fiends,  practically ripping their hair out over the anticipation of this game (this regular season, one-out-of-162 game) and all that it might mean to the Sox. And where the hell was Mirabelli? Would he get his ass to the PAHK in time?! I think three of them died of sheer nervous exhaustion and stress-induced aneurysms before the National Anthem was even sung.

Then! Suddenly! A Black SUV flanked by state troopers picks its way down the Fenway traffic zoo! Could it be Doug?! Was he going to make it after all?! Would he stride out of that car, manfully returning to his proper home, and quickly punch Johnny “Judas” Damon in the face before storming out onto the field and single-handedly winning the game, the series, the season?! The driver of the SUV hustled out and quickly and efficiently opened the back door, and, and, and!

And, aw crap, it’s only the governor.

And I’d be a fool not to laugh at this. In fact, I worked myself up into a nice, heady stream of hysterical giggles over my epic, completely disproportionate disappointment over the arrival of the Commonwealth’s leader to a regular, run-of-the-mill baseball game. On television, the surviving announcers laughed at the pure silliness of the situation too, but it reminded me how utterly amazing and obsessive baseball can be in this town. Seriously, where else would this happen? Where else would the appearance of the governor – who, by the way, is a guy named Mitt Romney and is already starting to explore a very serious run for the Presidency –  be entirely eclipsed by the anticipated arrival of some backup catcher for your number four starting pitcher? God help us, if it happens in any place other than Boston, I think we’re all doomed.

Anyway, for the record, Dougie made it in time. Apparently he had to change into a Sox uniform on the ride over to Fenway and caught all of the first inning without protection for his, ehrm, man bits. But these are small prices to pay for Red Sox glory. He threw a runner out in the second inning of the game and the cheers that greeted him at his first at-bat could not have been more boisterous and adoring if he were the second coming of Jesus.  And, as I said, the Red Sox won. Perfect game.

So, yes, I am very excited about tomorrow, but more than a little unnerved as well. See, Opening Day was supposed to be yesterday, and I had this blog post all typed up and ready to go for you good folks. But, again, because this is Boston in April, the weather decided not to cooperate at all: the heavens opened up early in the day and took a giant leak all over the city, washing out any chance of a game for the afternoon. The forecast for tomorrow predicts sun and partly cloudy skies without a drop of rain in sight, but weathermen are known charlatans and liars and I don’t trust a damn one of them any further than I can toss their sorry asses.

Still, tomorrow’s game has to happen. It has to. I’m starting to get the baseball withdrawal shakes here and if I don’t see some ball-playing soon, I may just lose it and start searching the BBC International channels for cricket matches. No one wants to see that happen, so really: if you’ve got a spare minute, wish for some good weather in Boston tomorrow, will ya? Please? I’ll owe you one and maybe I’ll spare you another long, rambling Red Sox-related post in the future. Maybe, though. No promises or anything.

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Red Sox Season « My Wandering Days pingbacked on 8 years ago

Comments

  1. * Joe Raygor says:

    As a Cubs fan, it’s my yearly tradition to start every season with the statement, “This is it! We are going all the way this year!”

    Come on, you guys won plenty earlier this decade. Let us have one now. 🙂

    Haven’t seen a game in Wrigley yet, sure would love to. I wouldn’t mind seeing a game in Fenway too, just for all the history behind that place.

    I think we can, at least, agree on one thing: Nothing in professional sports is more evil than the Yankees. I would root for Stalin before the Yankees.

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  2. * WeeklyShocks says:

    Joe, you guys gotta get rid of your fey and creepy goat curse first. Let the loud and smelly creatures wander freely in Wrigley and munch on the beloved ivy. It’s the only way!

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  3. * Mike says:

    Yesterday’s game was awesome. The game you described: even better. I had a friend who was there and threw $20 worth of real money onto the field before he realized everyone else was throwing fake stuff. 🙂

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago


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