Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Is there anything better than Opening Day at Fenway?

Not too many things leap to mind here. I was at Fenway today for the Sox opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. I arrived at work this morning for a few hours in an astoundingly good mood, knowing my day was ending at noon and I was going to see Josh Beckett live for the first time.

I met my friend The Hey over by the Ted Williams statue and we entered through Gate B. Our seats were...interesting. We were in the box seats in section 3, but we were right on the aisle, and I mean RIGHT ON it. People were walking by us. It did give us the advantage of pretty much unlimited leg room, although people constantly walked by, which was distracting. It wasn't perfect, but I'd certainly sit there again if the opportunity presented itself.

The now annual renovations to Fenway continued over this winter, as the Sox replaced the .406 Club fishbowl with open air seating behind home plate. As with all the recent renovations, the seats look like they have been there since the park opened. The seats are a huge improvement over the .406 Club. I sat up there several times, and it always felt like you were disconnected from the game; like you were watching the game on the biggest, clearest TV ever. I'm hoping maybe my work will come up with some tickets up there this season so I can check them out first hand.

The game itself was a good one. Beckett came out wild and walked in a run in the first, making the crowd nervous. The Sox came back with four in the second and added another run on a patented right field shot (landing about 8 rows in front of us) by Big Papi, the owner of a new $50 million contract through 2010. Mike Lowell (who thus far appears to be bouncing back from a subpar 2005 season) went 4-for-4 in his home debut for the Sox.

Things looked very well in hand until the 8th. Foulke came in and gave up a one-out single to Russ Adams. Frank Catalanotto followed with a long fly to the warning track in right which appeared catchable. Wily Mo Pena had replaced Trot Nixon after Trot had strained his groin. Wily Mo went back to the fence, got his glove up and clank the ball bounced off his glove and into the bullpen for a two run homer.

Wily Mo is definitely an adventure in the outfield. It's going to be a little scary watching play out there.

On the other end of the defensive spectrum was an unbelievable play by Sox shortstop Alex Gonzales. A bouncing ground ball shot off of Mark Loretta's glove toward second base. Gonzales plucks the ball out of midair, steps on second and throws to first for a double play. I can't do it justice describing it here, but it was truly amazing.

Foulke finished the 8th without further damage and Papelbon came in for a 1-2-3 save in the 9th, as the Sox won the opener 5-3. All in all, I can't imagine a much better day.


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