So. Tonight NESN (owned by the Red Sox) broadcast the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park by some NASCAR guy driving (I think) a souped-up Ford Fusion around the warning track, for Roush Fenway Racing (now co-owned by John W. Uh, Henry, who also owns the Red Sox). NESN rarely broadcasts pregame ceremonies; this time it wasn't for an occasion like Opening Day or the memorial for Ted Williams. No, today it was one giant, awkward, vulgar marketing push. To even call it thinly veiled would be impossible.
Look, I have many relatives (including my sister) who live in the Midwest. I know from Red-State people. And Boston, Massachusetts is about as un-country as you can possibly get, which basically means we are naturally immune to NASCAR. Maybe there was something wrong with NESN's sound, or they dimmed the background noise behind Don Orsillo, but as he made his scripted pauses for applause there was a Tiger-Woods-sized round of weak clapping had by all.
There have been many things unfurled on that wall--a giant American flag, while policemen and soldiers saluted and I got goosebumps; the 2004 championship banner, while I got teary-eyed...now there was a big advertisement for Roush-Fenway, NASCAR, and Lumber Liquidators among other things. NESN doggedly rolled on covering the introduction of "our" NASCAR "team", each of whom was given an honorary Red Sox number, to more crickets from the stands.
It was clear that Red Sox fans were not, as they say, embracing the message. Me among them. I for one think it was an ill-advised, ham-handed move on John Henry's part.
Then again, it was clear the appearance of NASCAR stars made both Joshie and Mike Timlin's day as they both crouched to catch ceremonial first dribbling-fifty-foot-throws. (Josh in particular appeared to have perma-smirk.) I will give it at least that much credit.
P.S. Don Orsillo to Carl Edwards, who threw a passed ball to Jason Varitek as his ceremonial first embarrassing-throw, "Nice arm!!"
P.P.S. Don Orsillo seconds later as they showed Jerry Remy putting on a helmet to take a ride in the Red Sox car: "There's no shaking the Dawg--he's heavily medicated, you know." It took Remy a good forty-five seconds of muffled hoarse giggling before he could recover and continue with the NASCAR coverage.