It was the day after a loss to the Yankees. In fact, the Spanks took two of the three games while in town. A huge setback for the Sox who desperately needed slow down the second half tear the Yankees were enjoying. Giving up two of three at home...probably not gonna do it. Of course, when anyone from the Central Division comes to town, there's a feeling of optimism and resilience because, well, we're gonna whoop their ass. Nothing says rebound like the Chicago White Sox and their batting practice-quality starting pitching. Good thing we didn't have to face Buerhle in this series. We spent the better part of the day just walking the streets of Boston. We went through the Back Bay near the commons. Checked out some of the old beautiful churches. I hit a few stores...namely City Sports...and looked at some running shoes. Talked to some statues.
As for myself? Easy. The American Idol which had bacon, cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions. Yep. Mushrooms. Finally have trained my taste to accept mushrooms.
Something very weird in the city. I'm from places with parking lots. Restaurants with tons of space, big booths, large bathrooms with stalls you can do cartwheels in. Texas has tons of real estate. In some eateries in the Northeast, you don't get your own table. You sit on a long bench next to someone you don't know. It's like a cafeteria. It was a little bizarre at first because, well, I grew up in a place where you got your own table. A little privacy. Here, there's a kid next to you throwing crap at you. Strange. I could get used to it, but it was a little strange.
Boston is largely considered one of the most academic cities in America. It has Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Berklee School of Music, Tufts University, Boston Conservatory, UMass, New England Conservatory of Music, Art Institute of Boston, Massachusetts College of Art, Emerson College, Suffolk University, Northeastern University, Newbury College, Cambridge College and a host of others. Just worth noting.
After lunch, we headed downtown to check out Mike's Pastry for a cannoli which my wife described something like a donut or some sort of fried bread that's stuffed with a filling of a sweetened cream cheese variety er something. Whatever. Let's do it. Then we'd go check out the North End. Mother Nature had other plans. The second we started devouring our cannolis, it began to pour. Great...on game day. No reason to worry, except that I purchased these tickets in February, have had them secretly tucked away in a book on a shelf somewhere in our house. I picked a date on the calendar some seven months prior of a game we were to attend, got the best tickets for that game which, at least on the seating chart, appeared to be decent tickets and now it's raining. Not only is it raining, it's coming down "hah-dah" than many of the locals have seen in recently. Awesome.
Not to be deterred, my lovely wife made the most out of it by enjoying a nice beverage--some interesting orange drink...a carbonated drink...that she drank with a straw out of a can. It wasn't Crush though. Something Italian.
The cannolis were pretty good. I opted for chocolate. I kinda reminded me of the chocolate pies I used to enjoy as a young boy. You know, the kind you could get at 7-11. They were wrapped in some sort of waxy paper and it was just like biting into a chocolate pudding pie. Kinda cold. Had to do it though. It was then I started thinking that next year, one of my New Years' resolutions would be to never turn down eating a new food for a year. Not that I would never turn down food and balloon to a whopping 300 pounds. No, I would never say no to a food I've never had before.
A check of the watch suggested it was time to head back to the Back Bay as batting practice and pre-game festivities were underway. We headed back to our swanky hotel and I threw on my traditional game garb--my red Youkilis shirt--and we headed down to Yawkey Way.
I love it down there. For a guy from Texas, the experience of Yawkey Way is unmatched. In Texas, we tailgate which largely works for football, but not really for a paced and sometimes excrutiatingly slow game like baseball. This is like one big tailgate. Even sweaty Jim Rice showed.
You know, for a Hall of Famer, dude's got an unusual glisten. Someone throw Jimmy a towel. We made our way down into the park. We follow the signs on the concourse and I was partly using my internal navigational skills. I knew we were close to home plate. We dodged through crowds on our way to our ramp. As we walked up the ramp, we were greeted by the ominous frame of the Green Monster. The Fenway experience is a claustrophobic one. With it's Green Monster, tightly seating and humble street-level disposition still makes it one of the few stadiums that doesn't share any of the characteristics of the supersized turf shopping malls that now dominate the landscape. Like Wrigley, I'm sure, the first time you see the field is when it hits you how completely badass some of these old stadiums are. It's unapologetically uncomfortable, cramped, dirty and has no parking but it's Fenway. You just deal with it. This is what I saw when we came up the ramp. There's nothing like it. The smell of freshly cut grass, hot dog water, beer, a cheap musk on the dude next to you, thirty years of gum under the paralyzing seat you now squeezed your ass into. We find an usher to help us with our seat. He glances at our tickets and then says in an obvious tone, "You're right here," and points to two seat not but an arm's length away. Sure enough, we were right there.
Early bird gets those Stephen King seats. These were Ben Affleck in the Good Will Hunting-days seats. You gotta get up early to get these seats, kid. It ain't about cheddah, homie. It's about a good alarm clock. I got in my seat, my lovely wife went to get some beers (she offered, really) and I readied my lineups and freshened up on my scoring to make sure I could hang during the game.
Tonight we'd be taking in Buchholz vs. Contreras of the Chicago White Sox. Nothing gets a winning streak started like bringing AL Central teams to Fenway. Although Buchholz would get shelled early, the Sawx hung on in a wild one, winning 12-8. Plenty of offense and that keeps the lovely wife happy. The ladies don't like pitching matchups. They like homeruns. I love the game. What can I say?
We went deep in the bullpen bringing Saito, Ramirez, Okajima (who had his own cheering section), Bard (who fired about six pitches at 100 mph) and Papelbon who I think my lovely wife fell in love with from this vantage point. Dude, how hard up are you to make a poster for a middle relief pitcher? This hawd.
Wait. Did you catch the gasface?
A few beers, a Lowell homerun and three hits from Pedroia later, we were leaving with a win. This is always a welcome sight in Fenway.
Fast forward to tonight, we're getting our ass-ends handed to us by the Blue Jays as we trying to painstakenly reduce our magic number for the wild card from two to zero. After getting swept by the Yankees over the weekend and then having to watch them yesterday clinch the division in front of us, you'd think that we'd have enough fire in us to punch our tickets to the playoffs. This team acts like they don't want it. Better find some sort of inspiration because likely we'll be playing the Angels first round. That won't be pretty.
The next morning, we headed to South Station to catch a southbound Amtrak train to Manhattan. Plains, trains and automobiles, kid. And a ferry too. More on that later.
Listening to Showbiz and AG. And you're not. That's when y'lost.