Friday, August 17, 2007

J. and I had quite a baseball filled 24 hours. Last night, we headed out to Westfield, MA for the first-ever Vintage Base Ball World Series. Last nights game featured the local entrants, the Westfield Wheelmen against the Northeast playoff winners, the Hartford Senators. The World Series continues tonight with the winners of the Michigan and California playoffs. A consolation game is played tomorrow, and the finals will be on Sunday.

The game was played at Bullens Field, a charming little city-owned ballpark near the high school. After we parked and entered the ballpark, we quickly ran into my fellow Vintage Base Ball Federation board members Jim Bouton and Chip Elitzer, along with Jim's wife Paula.

One of the nicer touches (similar to the Hillies game back in 2004) was that Jim contracted with local businesses and organizations to provide the concessions. That gave these folks a chance to showcase their goods and make some money, while the VBBF is spared the trouble of providing food for the fans. It's a great win-win for everyone.

J. and I found a place to sit in the small grandstand and watched the game. I still find it remarkable that the players (or "ballists", to use proper VBB parlance) can make many of the plays they do using the gloves they do. They basically resemble leather gardening gloves.

The game continued on with the Senators leading. J., Chip (who had joined us in the stands) and I walked over to get some ice cream from the local vendor. It was really good stuff, and J. and I chatted with Chip and the ice cream guy while we watched the Wheelmen bat in the last of the 6th. And they batted for a long time, scoring 11 runs to take a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The Wheelmen ended up winning 22-11 to advance to the finals on Sunday.

We left the ballpark after that inning, as it was late and we had a long ride home. It was a great time and, as always, if you have a chance to catch a vintage game in your area check it out!

Part 2 of our baseball (back to one word) adventure took place at Fenway Park today, as J. and I joined my oldest friend and his son to catch the first game of today's doubleheader between the Sox and the L.A. Angels. Top Sox prospect Clay Buchholz made his first major league start against 15 game winner John Lackey. Buchholz gave up an unearned run in the first on a J.D. Drew error, but was very impressive in pitching out of the trouble created by the error. Angels ace Lackey wasn't nearly as good, giving up six runs in the first (including a Big Papi homer) and taking the suspense out of this one early. Buchholz pitched six full innings, giving up 4 runs (3 earned). He was followed by three innings of scoreless relief from Okajima and Papelbon. The Sox won 8-4.

Things didn't go so well in the nightcap. It looked great for a while, as the Sox got four runs in the bottom of the 8th to take a 5-4 lead (Ortiz leading the way again with a two run double. However, Eric Gagne came in to get the save and was once again knocked around, giving up three runs to the Angels in the 9th. Unfortunately, Papelbon was unavailable after a four out save this afternoon.

Francona is going to have to decide quickly if he can rely on Gagne or not. He's now blown three leads in the short time since he came over from Texas. If Gagne can't get it done, we need to know.

All in all, though, it was a great evening and day. You can never have too much baseball, right?


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