Fenway Park looks better every year. More of the old wooden seats have been replaced. The paint is fresh. The foundation has been capped. It is cleaner and wider under the grandstand than it has ever been. Even the new water efficient men’s rooms add a flush of class.
As I and daughter #1 settled into our roof box seats in sec. 25, the high tech glamour of two new high-definition video boards stared us in the face. These new screens are about 2.5 times wider than a jumbo billboard on the highway. They flank the Centerfield jumbotron. The one on the right is part video screen, part stationary advertising board.
It is almost overkill. The batter/pitcher data on the new CF video board is a little redundant of what is on the others. Together it all looms as an enormous IT miracle dominating the background of a 99 year old ballpark.
Still, with all the flashy videos and R & B tunes, the media mix includes The Whaler’s Brass Bonanza and real old time organ music.
It is not Yankee Stadium, thank God, where morons push the sound system volume up to 12, and the Steinbrenners have long affected an ambience so constantly loud that it offends the senses.
Just occurred to me: Chances are small that the team will ever be nicknamed the Fred Sox as there are no Freds that are top prospects in the Boston farm system. But we do have future stars named Jose, Anthony, Felix, Josh, Drake, Will, Yamaico, Kolbrin, Stolmy and Lars. Work with it !
Daughter #1 and I rolled the dice by parking on a street in Brookline and walking to Fenway. If the Brookline cops were kind, they wouldn’t leave a present on our windshield.
#1 rolls with the punches no matter what. She is serene and laid back. Being our only offspring that actually played baseball, she appreciates the game in person, although she can be caught watching a game on TV about as often as she can be found reading a newspaper.
Our ride to the park was at times conversant, at other times quiet. I did learn two important things from her. When a rapper says “ish” this is code for “sh*t”. And when a rapper says “HAM” it means “Hard As A Mother*****r!”.
So, the next time a rapper asks you to “get your ish out of here” you should gather your things and move at once. And the next time a rapper exclaims, “I’m coming at you HAM !” it would be best to lock the car doors and drive away quickly.
Jim Calhoun, program builder and Head Coach of the 2011 National Champion UConn Huskies wore a home white jersey, standing with wife, Pat, near the on-deck circle 30 minutes before game time. The ever-loquacious Calhoun chatted up everyone who strode up. Some may call him difficult and hard nosed, but he seems to never shut out the public.
When it came time to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Calhoun didn’t cower. He elected to climb the mound. So many chicken out and throw from in front of the bump. Calhoun employed an old-school wind-up, evoking Robin Roberts or Frank Lary. His missile reached Terry Francona, though a lunge to the left was needed. The old bird, who turns 69 in May, acquitted himself nicely. A lifelong Red Sox fan who turned down a first pitch offer in 1999 from the Yankees, Calhoun smiled and hugged Francona, then strode off and faded away.
#1 and I settled in to watch Clay Buchholz fulfill his potential as a man with 5 pitches, a man who won 17 games with a 2.33 ERA last year, a young horse in the race for the 2011 Cy Young Award.
Brett Gardner led off and was humbled. The man with 5 pitches threw nothing but fastballs that varied between 91 and 95 mph. Gardener grounded to Pedroia, 4-3. Then Clay failed to finish off Jeter with 2-strikes, walking him. But Jeter soon erased himself, arriving at second on a steal attempt a split second after Saltalamacchia’s throw. Next, Teixeira whiffed on a 2-2 fastball.
It was a great start. But it was the only inning in which Buch would face the minimum 3 batters. In fact, he would face 22 batters and get just 11 of them out.
Buchholz would yield 5 runs in 3.2 IP’s. Cano & Chavez owned him. Catcher Russell Martin, a guy who would have looked mighty good in Salty’s roster spot, took Clay yard.
Martin would also later homer off Alfredo Aceves, who also served a tater to Cano. In between Buchholz and Aceves, Doubront allowed a 4-bagger by Granderson.
Buch, Doubront & Aceves allowed 9 runs in 7 innings. It wasn’t until 44-year-old Tim Wakefield shut the Yankees out the last 2 innings that order was restored.
The 9 – 4 Yankee win spoiled 3-for-4 days at the plate by both Pedroia and Lowrie.
The day was a reflection of the startling status of the heralded 2011 Red Sox starting rotation. After 8 games, Lester-Lackie-Buchholz-Beckett-Matsuzaka have contributed exactly ONE quality start.
It takes a multitude of quality players that can be effective in small and large roles to win 95 games or more.
It won’t begin to happen for this team until priority #1, starting pitching, gathers itself and delivers.