Tuned in for the first-ever game at Citi Field in New York last night, an exhibition between the Sox and Mets. Jon Lester started for the Sox and struggled with control problems. He threw massive amounts of pitches in the first and third innings, especially, and on an 80-pitch count, he was gone after four. (However, for yet another Spring Training night, it was Manny Delcarmen who really stunk up the joint and wound up being charged with most of the runs.)
Even in the first inning, Lester's struggles had Tito, John Farrell and mentor Josh Beckett up and alert in the dugout, peering out at Lester and then gesturing to each other. When Lester came back to the dugout, he wasn't alone - Farrell, especially, used the time during Sox at bats to demonstrate pitching movements in slow motion while Lester, brow furrowed, watched intently.
But he couldn't seem to get it together, despite the extra instruction. Pitch after pitch landed in the dirt over the next few innings while Lester let loose with Beckett-like f-bombs. Maybe the cold rain in Queens after weeks in balmy Florida had something to do with it.
The Sox, with most of their starters in for the better part of the game, would stage a partial rally, and in between NESN technical difficulties and a long rain delay, we were treated to a taut, professional contest that felt much more like the regular season than anything I saw from Ft. Myers.
K-Rod, now a Met, acted like it was the last out of the World Series when he struck out Sox prospect Josh Reddick and did his whole pointing-to-the-sky routine. Even Papelbon shows a little more restraint than that in the pre-season when pitching against minor leaguers.
All closer cattiness aside, what made last night memorable wasn't even a part of the game - it was a video gem NESN showed during the rain delay, where a camera followed the Pedroia / Francona cribbage rivalry in the Sox clubhouse. In scene after scene, Francona fanned out his cards in front of Pedroia, announcing a number (I have no idea how cribbage is played, but this seemed to be bad for Pedroia when Tito did it).
At one point he fanned out his cards with a shocked, saddened, "Aw, Pee-Wee!!"
Second of all, I never would've thought watching other people play a game of cards would be so enthralling.
And third of all, even with all that behind-the-secnes Sox action, I still wasn't prepared for the image the camera captured next of a bulletin board in one of the hallways. One of those things, along with Pedroia calling a blinged-out Papi "Big Pun's Twin" that takes your little IBW, sees you, and raises you.
My husband and I saw that, and laughed so hard we were wiping tears from our eyes. He pointed out, rightly, "You have to have a great sense of humor about yourself to let that just hang up there."