I started this entry three different ways, three different times, trying to get a jump on what I was about to write before the game was over, the better to get to bed so I could get back up for the rat race tomorrow. Turns out I just should have waited, because by now I'm so adrenalized it feels like I may not sleep all night.
I was covering another story for the paper, so I missed the first four innings. But I brought along my trusty cell phone, which receives text messages at every score change. I set it to "vibrate" so as not to disturb those around me who were hanging on every word about tax liens and LIP agreements. I was stealthy like the mighty water buffalo.
The meeting dragged on. My phone lay dormant.
Puzzled, I thought perhaps I'd gone over my message limit, or maybe that the service was down. I could barely contain myself as the meeting ground excruciatingly to a close; I was doing the pee-pee dance. Rushing out to my car, I flipped on the radio and listened intently. After a few minutes, Joe Castiglione led into a commercial break: "After four and a half, still no score between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox here at Fenway Park."
Hm. Strange, but not beyond belief.
I drove back to the newsroom. I filed a scintillating story that is sure to be in Pulitzer contention (insert gratuitous eyeroll here). The guys over at the copy desk have a direct view of a wall-mounted TV in the corner, and always have the Sox game on. Usually their grunts and banter tell me what's going on. They were silent except for a few cursory glances from their computer screens to the television, punctuated by dismissive "pffts," after squinting to see the score.
I got in the car. My phone lay silent. Flipped on the radio just as Curt Schilling got his 14th strikeout.
My dad called, the phone crackling and fading in and out due to the crowd noise around him--he was at Fenway tonight. "How about my man!!" I shouted.
"He's pitchin' unbelievable!" he yelled back.
"How do ya like me now!" I hollered.
"How many does he have?"
"Sheezis!" he cried. To his buddy Woody, he said, "He's got fourteen!"
"Sheezis!" came Woody's reply from the background.
I got home. I sat down. I flipped on the TV, logged into the message board, sat back just in time for the bases loaded with one out against Orioles closer BJ Ryan, a mulleted pain in the ass if ever there was one.
"Now pinch hitting for Trot Nixon," the Voice of Fenway was booming. "Number 15. Kevin. Millar."
"And it's all on the shoulders of El Bencho..." Mer wrote, with a little "eyeroll" emoticon.
"PLEASE Kevin," Steve begged.
Millar fouled off what felt like a hundred pitches. On a 2-2 count, he finally made solid contact, and the ball floated out like a dream into the triangle in deep right center.
And a run scores.
And a run scores.
And a run scores.
35,000-plus were speaking in tongues.
The camera showed Curt Schilling in the dugout. For once, he looked peaceful after being pulled. Or maybe it was just exhaustion.
1-0, and Keith Foulke stepped up. Melvin Mora grounded out as I began typing the first version of this entry, which involved the phrase "the Sox won a nail-biter tonight..."
Miguel Tejada singled. Oh, well. Almost before I had the chance to look back at the TV, it felt like, Foulke had gotten BJ Surhoff to ground out and was wrestling down Javy Lopez with a full count.
"It's not beyond Foulke to throw the change-up on a three-two count," Jerry Remy noted. And that's just what Foulke did.
Lopez, anticipating the pitch, sent it screaming over the Monster.
"That sound you just heard was my heart...breaking," I told my fellow fans on the message board.
I promptly highlighted and deleted the "nail-biter" paragraph I'd just knitted together, and began one that incorporated the phrase "heart-breaker" as the Sox came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
Here I'll let Gameday set the scene:
Bottom 9th B:0 S:0 O:0 Offensive Substitution: Pinch hitter Kevin Youkilis replaces Doug Mientkiewicz.
Bottom 9th B:4 S:0 O:0
Kevin Youkilis walks.
Bottom 9th B:0 S:0 O:0
Offensive Substitution: Pinch runner Dave Roberts replaces Kevin Youkilis.
Bottom 9th B:2 S:1 O:0
Bill Mueller doubles (26) on a fly ball to left fielder B. J. Surhoff. Dave Roberts to 3rd.
Bottom 9th B:0 S:0 O:0
Offensive Substitution: Pinch hitter David McCarty replaces Pokey Reese.
Bottom 9th B:0 S:2 O:1
David McCarty pops out to first baseman Jay Gibbons in foul territory.
Bottom 9th B:1 S:3 O:2
Johnny Damon called out on strikes.
Bottom 9th B:0 S:0 O:2
Pitcher Change: Jorge Julio replaces B. Ryan.
"Motherfucker," I typed into the message board's text field. "Bellhorn up."
"And so it all comes down to the king of strikeouts," Mer sniped. "Why on earth would I not feel good about this?"
Julio fell behind, 2-0. "Julio can be very dominant," Remy analyzed. "But he's been known to be wild."
Still, I persisted with my "heart-breaker" entry, despite the fact that Billy and Dave Roberts were tensing to run at second and third. Our best hope, I figured, was for Bellhorn to walk and bring Manny up. And let's just say I've been watching the Red Sox consistently all season, and my experience told me the odds of that weren't good.
The crack of the bat made me jump, whirl just in time to see the ball hit the triangle in center field.
Reason Number 34,348 why we need a new ballpark: A structure built the same year the Titanic sank won't be able to take many more riots of joy that register at 6.1 on the Richter scale.
I turned back to my computer and looked at my second abortive blog entry, blankly, for a good ten seconds. Sighing, I highlighted and deleted. Again.