First-Hand Account

The following is an email sent to me by my former co-worker David. He was lucky enough to attend Friday night’s game.

The account you’re about to read is a real one.

::cue “Unsolved Mysteries” theme::

As it happens, I was at Friday night’s Sox-Yankees game. The one scripted by a TV writer, apparently. Because goddamn was that a crazy game to be at. Celebration. Panic. JD Drew having a completely futile great night at the plate. Coco Crisp nearly dying, and then SPRINGING back up over the wall. The sixth inning and seventh inning, pure dread. People were actually leaving. As if they’d learned NOTHING about the Red Sox and late innings. It really felt like we were doomed, but you JUST DON’T LEAVE. You don’t do that at Fenway. I don’t care where you parked.

And then, at the beginning of the bottom of the eighth, I mention, “Hey, if they climb back into this thing, it could come down to Papelbon vs. A-Rod,” not knowing that Papelbon wasn’t available for the game. The INSANE series of hits off of Rivera, and the sight of that ball beyond Doug Meintkiewicz’s reach, from the bat of OH MY GOD, Coco Crisp is a real professional baseball player all of the sudden. Alex Cora? I like him. I’ve always liked him, sort of the way I liked Dave McCarty. So this Alex Cora-driven game-winning RBI thing is a very nice thing. Like that Dave McCarty triple I’m so proud of, like he’s my buddy or something. The right field roof deck, above us, was shaking in a scary sort of way. I’d never looked up in previous moments like that, and I never will again. Thoughts of your mortality don’t mingle well with the excitement of the big inning.

And then Okajima. I was seated next to a Japanese man who was absolutely silent and calm through the whole game. He’d occasionally smile when a Yankees batter would strike out, but that was it. And then he heard me say, “That’s not Papelbon. Is it Piniero? No… no, I think it’s Okajima.” The dude SWIVELED and jumped from his chair. Seriously. The camera came out, and his smile was enormous. He told me, “Boston doesn’t know him. He’s stingy. He’ll be very good.”

That last out, you’d think it was an ALCS game, the way everybody at Fenway was acting, including me. Seriously. That was some exciting stuff.

Much less exciting, at least on the face of it: I’m going to Tuesday’s highly anticipated Tavarez/Halladay rematch. You know, America’s greatest pitching rivalry?

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