Monday, May 21, 2007

It would be my luck to get the one crappy game of the weekend.

As you probably know, the Sox lost game 2 of the day/night doubleheader to the Atlanta Braves 14-0. John Smoltz was outstanding for the Braves for 7 innings, as befits his probable Hall of Fame status. He gave up 3 hits, 1 walk and had 7 K's during his outing, as his teammates on the offensive side built a massive lead off (very) temporary Pawtucket call-up Devern Hansack and a succession of relievers including Joel Pineiro, Javier Lopez, J.C. Romero and Brendan Donnelly. Only Romero escaped without giving up multiple runs during his outing. Chipper (pronounced Chippah in Massachusetts-speak) Jones, Matt Diaz and Kelly Johnson had home runs for the visitors.

I can only think of one Red Sox defeat I have ever witnessed in person that approaches this one. I remember seeing a Patriots Day game against the Brewers back in high school where the Sox lost 12-0. I also remember sitting through that game until the bitter end, as I did on Saturday.

Not that the evening was a total loss. Along with my work-provided ticket came dinner and a guest speaker at the Players Club at Fenway Park. The guest speaker was none other than former Red Sox backup catcher and color analyst Bob Montgomery. Monty, for those of you who may not remember, spent about a decade with the Sox, mostly as Carlton Fisk's backup. He then moved onto the broadcast booth and was the Red Sox color analyst on the free TV games before virtually all the games moved over to NESN. Monty now does color for some Pawsox games on Cox Cable in Rhode Island.

Monty was quite a genial host. I went up before the dinner to say hello and we chatted for a few minutes. After we ate, he spoke for a bit and did a Q&A. I asked two questions, and he remembered my name from our earlier conversation.

The questions, in case you were wondering, were: "Who was your favorite pitcher to catch? (Luis Tiant)" and "Why do you think Jim Rice isn't in the Hall of Fame? (Monty felt that if Rice had hit 18 more homers to get to 400 he would have been enshrined many years ago; he's hopeful that Rice will get in next year.)"

I also got Monty's trivia question right: who was the first MLB player to make $1 million per year. The people in the room who know me were not the least bit surprised I knew the answer, which is below so you can think about it for a while.

Dinner was pretty good: Fenway Franks, pulled pork, chicken, a variety of salads and cookies and brownies for dessert. There was also free beer, although the only choices were Bud and Bud Light. I'm not complaining for free, however. I was sitting with some co-workers and we were joking that we had probably eaten about $80 worth of food each at ballpark prices.

On the way out we were each given baseballs autographed by Monty. The woman who was running the dinner asked me how many kids I had, so I walked out with three autographed balls. The kids were pretty happy to get gifts, even though they have no idea who Bob Montgomery is.

So, even though the game itself was a bust, it was a fun evening. We were under the roof in right field so we avoided the intermittent rain that fell throughout the game. It's always fun to be in Fenway and people-watch. After the ballpark cleared out late in the game I even spotted my friends Deb and Paul sitting about 6 rows in front of me and was able to say hi to them. I was able to get on the T pretty quickly, since roughly 3/4 of the crowd had cleared out by the end of the game.

Fortunately, the Sox recovered to win yesterday behind another rookie starter, Kason Gabbard to take the series from the Braves. Tonight it's down to the Bronx for a series with the Yanks. It seems to have much less urgency than usual with New York 10.5 games behind the Sox, but it's a good opportunity to bury them even further if the Sox can take 2 out of 3. Anyone willing to bet on Joe Torre's job security if the Red Sox can manage to sweep?

Trivia answer: Nolan Ryan


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