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Thursday, September 14, 2006

  I'm Not a Bad Fan; I Just Need a Vacation

Forgive me if I have to get away for a few days. I know you'll understand.

It's been a trying season for us loyal Red Sox fans. Even when the team was doing well and firmly planted in first place—which was most of the season—there were worries. When will Jason Varitek come out of his hitting slump that began last September? Is Coco Crisp's throwing arm really that bad? Where did Trot Nixon's power go? Will David Wells ever pitch again, and if he does, will it be for us? And what the heck is wrong with Matt Clement?

These and other questions were on our minds, even if relegated to the back while we marveled at Kevin Youkilis' painless move to first base, the unexpected resurgence of Mike "Mr. Double" Lowell, the double-play prowess of Alex Gonzalez and Mark Loretta, the absence of any outrageous Manny Ramirez behavior, the remarkable emergence of Jonathan Papelbon, the offensive wonder that is David Ortiz. Even while things weren't necessarily going our way (Josh Beckett still hasn't figured out how to stop giving up home runs to American League hitters), the Sox got the job done. When they stopped getting it done, all the concerns came to the forefront of our collective consciousness. It has been exhausting.

And so, dear friends, I am preparing for a trek to the Carolina coast, where next week's long-range forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s. I won't be able to see or hear the Red Sox games, I will have no computer access (unless I decide to spring for an hour's worth of internet access at the local cyber café), and I don't plan on reading a newspaper. It won't be all that different from my similar vacation at the same time last year, but unlike this year, last year a week without baseball bothered me.

I know you'll all be fine in my absence. Try not to miss me while I'm gone.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

useful information blog,very good content.

  The Triumphant Red Sox Fan Has a Chick Moment

It must have been the clear blue bedroom eyes.

Let me set the stage. Last Monday, as I have for the past two years, I volunteered at the Red Cross September 11 memorial blood drive at Fenway Park. This time, I was assigned to be a runner in the donor room, which was set up in the former .406 Club. No one expected any players to show up; the team was on the road for the blood drives in 2005 and 2004, and I assumed they left town earlier in the day to go to Baltimore for the series that started Tuesday. Others apparently assumed the same thing because there was quite a stir when Gabe Kapler stopped in around mid-afternoon to greet donors.

Being a red-blooded heterosexual American woman, I realize Kapler is an attractive man. I realize he's a relatively famous man. But he's never made me weak in the knees. In fact, as many ballplayers as I've met, posed for pictures with, interviewed, or gotten autographs from—some of them among the best to have ever played the game—I have never been star-struck. I watched Gabe's trip through the maze of beds with a "Cool, Gabe's here" attitude. We also had walk-throughs by Larry Lucchino and His Honor Mayor Tom Menino, neither of whom is quite as attractive as Gabe but just about as famous. No weak knees for them either.

About a half hour later, Mark Loretta made an appearance. For some reason, I was knocked (figuratively) right off my feet.

Now over the course of this season, I have come to like Mark Loretta. He has been outstanding defensively and has even added a few exciting offensive moments. I also decided he was cute, in a goofy sort of way. I now know that in person, there is nothing goofy about him.

Mark made his way among the beds, talked briefly with donors, shaking hands, and greeting staff. Because of the set-up, I knew he would walk right past me. So I put my tongue back into my mouth and, as he approached me, said, "Hi Mark."

He turned toward me, extending his hand to clasp mine. "Hi, how are you?" he asked.

"I'm fine, thanks," I replied.

It was then that he stepped closer, put his left hand on my arm, leaned in, looked into my eyes, and said very quietly, "Thanks for doing this."

I swooned.

I never swoon. What I do is say, "Hi, [insert athlete's name here], can I have your autograph?" or "Hi, [insert athlete's name here], would you mind taking a picture with me?" Unfortunately, I had no camera and nothing for him to sign. I was, quite literally, rendered speechless. It must have been the eyes.

I later described it this way to my friends MrsBeasley and VaritekChick: "Mark Loretta shook my hand, touched my arm, gazed lovingly into my eyes, and said, 'Thanks for doing this.'" Which prompted VaritekChick to ask, "Um, what did you do?" (hee hee!)

As a serious baseball fan most of my life, I have always mocked women (or more accurately, teenage girls) who get giddy in the presence of their favorite good-looking athletes. Having met some quite famous ballplayers in the course of attending charity events or conducting interviews, I was never "that way." Not as a teenager, not in my twenties, not in my thirties.

It took 42 years, but I have had my giddy chick moment.

Thanks, Mark. I hope it was good for you too.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It was a sunny Sunday at the ballpark. The Red Sox were trying to avoid being swept by the Kansas City Royals (again). Red Sox Chick and I, still stunned about the news of rookie Jon Lester's cancer diagnosis, wore our newly purchased Lester player t-shirts and brought our homemade signs, hoping that the signs might get on television and help lift Jon's spirits.

For those of you who didn't see Lester's press conference last week, he talked about how much he appreciated the fans' support since his cancer diagnosis was announced. He described watching a game and seeing a "Welcome Back Ortiz" sign that also mentioned him. He seemed genuinely moved by that and other expressions of concern by the fans.

So into Fenway Park we went last Sunday, eager to raise our signs in the bleachers after each half inning. Little did we know that our small effort to boost the morale of a sick young man would get us thrown out of the park.

I knew it was going to be a long game when, before the game started, a man sitting two rows behind me complained that he came to see "a game, not a sign." We had just raised our signs for the first time, in that 4-5 minutes of inactivity between the end of the pre-game ceremonies, announcements, starting lineups, and national anthem and the moment when the home team takes the field. A safe and considerate time to raise a sign, yes? Not if you're the Sign Nazi. I turned around and informed him that the signs would come down when there was a game to watch.

And that's what happened. The Sox took the field and—BAM!—down come the signs, to be stowed between our knees and the backs of the seats in front of us. There they stayed until the final final out of the Royals' first inning. The Sox fielders trotted to the dugout. We put up the signs again and kept them up until the Red Sox' leadoff batter walked to the plate, at which time we took them down again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

At this point I will toot my own horn about what a considerate person I am at ball games. While the game is actually going on, I pretty much sit there recording every pitch and every play in my scorebook. I never get up—NEVER—until the end of the inning, unless I have to do let some less considerate fan walk past me to leave or enter the row or to see over the heads of everyone else in front of me who is also standing, which sometimes happens at pivotal game moments. I even made sure I pushed my sign toward Red Sox Chick so that it wouldn't encroach on what little foot room the woman sitting on the other side of me had. After all, the seats at Fenway may be many things, but they aren't spacious.

For the next 5 1/2 innings, the Sign Nazi, his Eva Braun ballgame date, and one other woman sitting behind them droned on and on about how stupid it was to hold up signs, signs don't cure cancer, blah, blah, blah. It was obvious that, despite their claims to the contrary, none of them had seen the press conference or heard Lester talk about how much the fans' support meant to him and his family. As the sister of a cancer victim, I can vouch for that sentiment; since my brother's illness and death, I feel a personal sense of gratitude when I hear about someone trying to spread the word about cancer research and services. Signs at a ball game (or bumper stickers on a car or whatever) help maintain and increase the public's awareness of catastrophic illnesses, and perhaps because of that awareness someone may make a donation to a charity such as the Jimmy Fund that he or she might not have made otherwise. So indirectly, a sign does help cure cancer.

But back to the scene in the bleachers. To make a long story longer, after six innings of listening to all that crap and being subjected to obscene gestures every time I turned around, I finally told one of the chronic gripers to go bitch to security. She did, which brought Security Man over to advise us to refrain from holding up the signs between batters or between pitches. Security man and two Boston police officers assigned to the bleachers had spent the last six innings seeing us hold up our signs between innings, so I found it annoying that he felt the need to tell us not to do something we hadn't done to that point, but I don't think he had the gonads to tell Witchy Woman to simmer down.

That should have satisfied the whiners, right? Wrong. The mocking and belittling banter continued until both Red Sox Chick and I both turned around to tell them to close their pie holes. Security Man didn't like that very much and told us to look forward not back, at which time I glared at him and said that I expected him to do his job and inform the people behind us to shut the **** up.

And that's when he summoned the police to escort us out, stunning even the obnoxious Yankee fan sitting behind Red Sox Chick. We have since heard from others we know from the cyber-world who were sitting in our vicinity and were confused when they saw us being walked out, as they had neither heard nor seen us do or say anything objectionable.

Let's just say that I used the walk out to Lansdowne street to give Security Man and his colleague who met us at the bottom of the ramp an earful about how ridiculous this was. Security Man II tried to tell me there was a "no sign" policy, but he couldn't tell me where or how that policy was communicated to the fans. I'll give you a hint: it isn't printed anywhere on the ticket, it isn't in the "Fenway A-Z" section of the web site, it isn't part of the the security guidelines (which mention signs only in the context of "offensive articles"), it isn't posted at the security stations where bags are checked, and it isn't posted at the turnstiles. The next day, I gave Larry Lucchino a piece of my mind when I saw him at the Fenway Park blood drive, and he acknowledged that although they supposedly do have a no sign policy, they don't communicate it, which is why they just let people bring their signs in. When I told Larry what my sign said, he was horrified that anyone would complain about it or that it would get me ejected. But I digress.

Security Man II, upon hearing about the B.S. we put up with from these people, said that we should have reported it earlier. We shouldn't have to tolerate that from someone else, he told me. That's all fine, but it never occurred to me to report someone for stupidity.

Now I know better. My experience has taught me two important lessons. First, no good deed goes unpunished. No matter how magnanimous you try to be, there awaits you someone who will complain about it. And second, fans at Fenway Park should not be afraid to exercise zero tolerance for pains in the butt. I hate to say it, but you need to be the first to complain or you'll be the one out of luck.

P.S. Jon Lester's family has heard about the incident, and they feel very bad about it. They shouldn't, since it wasn't their fault or their doing. But they're nice people. They have been assured that we don't regret one bit what happened. In fact, we'd do it again. You just can't give in to malcontents.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 2

That's a Yankee Fan's Favorite Tactic:

Start trouble & create an Imaginary Incident, while continuing to act like an obnoxious one;

I give warnings to RSN & Mets Fans, that Yankees Fans instigate trouble, then call Security, as a matter of protocol, when someone dares to challenge them.

When I heard about you & the Beazer getting tossed*, I did not believe it.

Next time I go to a game with you and you yell "DOWN IN FRONT", I'm calling security...

Baseball Criminals is what and the Beazer are... LOL

* I hope your chat with Larry worked out

Thursday, September 07, 2006

  This Sunday: Support Jon Lester

My friend, Red Sox Chick, had the idea to make this Sunday, September 10, "Support Jon Lester" day at Fenway Park. The team is home, and since our rookie pitcher is starting chemotherapy treatment for Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma this week, Red Sox Chick decided it would be a nice gesture if we could encourage as make a visible show of support for Jon as he embarks on the fight of his young life.

The concept is simple: If you're going to this Sunday's Red Sox game, wear a Jon Lester jersey or player t-shirt. If you don't have one, you can buy one at the Yawkey Way Store (formerly the Souvenir Store) across the street from Fenway. You can also try your local Bob's Stores, which carry Red Sox apparel. If you can't buy a shirt, make one using the iron-on transfer papers you can buy for inkjet printers. Of course, no matter what you're wearing, you can make a poster to bring to the game.

For more information, as well as special shirts designed by Red Sox Chick, visit her Support Jon Lester site. To send a message of encouragement, go to this special Boston Globe site.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

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