06 August 2008

Good times never felt so good

A week ago this past Sunday, and nearly ten years to the hour that kid number two emerged into this world, we left our downtown Beantown hotel under the gray skies of a threatening thunderstorm. We’d seriously overpaid for a set of unrefundable tickets to see the the hometown Red Sox challenge the MF’n Yankees at Fenway Park, in part to celebrate the kid’s first decade, and in larger part to appease her Dad’s 35 year obsession with all things baseball, and the Sox in particular.

From the tinted window of a nondescript PF Chang’s, we watched as the New England skies darkened, inner city trees bent sideways, and artsy urban fountains carelessly sprayed the sidewalks in ominously foreshadowning winds. Then the Gods, who we reckoned at the time are not true baseball fans, unleashed a torrent of raindrops the size of buffalo nickels. Rush-hour walkers ducked for cover into the nearest shop, bar, or eatery, while our hearts sank. There was no way, even if the rain stopped, no way they could play a game after this kind of downpour.

Now I’m no great believer in fortune, especially those dispensed in stale factory wrapped cookies, but as the deluge continued, and our bithday girl blew out the lone candle on her complimentary scoop of ginger coconut ice cream, I cracked open my fortune cookie. It read:

“Good news of a long-awaited event will arrive soon.”

I put on my finest phony fortune happy face and announced it was time to break free of Chang’s chains and embark on the short, wet hike to Fenway. Rain or no, we're on the road to the Promised Land, kids.

We walked through the showers, heavy at times, joined on each passing block by other soggy yet hopeful pilgrims. Rounding the corner of Boylston and Massachusetts Avenues, the bright lights of the ballpark glimmered through the drizzle above Boston's brownstones. And at the precise moment we handed our tickets to the little old man draped with a cheap Red Sox poncho at Gate E, the rain stopped.

I’m convinced that a large part of the magic of Fenway Park eminates from the experience of walking through the archaic and chaotic stadium bowels, emerging through through the narrow breezeway into the magical world of America's baseball cathedral, with the greenest grass, the whitest uniforms, and the happiest fans. The one hour rain delay gave us time to enjoy an amazing sunset rising over the Green Monster and left field. Paraphrasing Kevin Costner, if there's a heaven, it has to look an awful lot like Fenway Park in late July.

The game did not disappoint. Our valiant Red Sox, mired in disappointing 3-10 post-All Star funk, and losers of the last two to the MF’n Yankees, took control of the game in the early innings. Jacoby Ellsbury's 1st inning running climb up the center field wall to steal a hit from Jeter; a pair of RBI doubles from Manny (the newest Dodger) Ramirez – my now-heartbroken daughter's favorite player; and an Ortiz home run hit on a line directly to us. If only we’d sat in row Q not row QQ we’d have brought that ball home!

9-4 Sox Win!, sending the boys from the Bronx slithering back to NYC.

And, as we returned to the hotel through the dark Boston streets, surrounded by hundreds of exuberant Fenway faithful, the rain began to fall once again. I don’t think anyone cared about gettin' wet at that point. And the Gods were forgiven for their earlier outburst.

Postcript: There’s a curious tradition at Fenway Park, dating all the way back to the late '90s. In the middle of the 8th inning, the chords to Neil Diamond’s 1969 almost number one hit, "Sweet Caroline", pour from the stadium loudspeakers, quickly drowned out by 37,000 voices singing along in unison and hopelessly out of key. It is in some regards the most joyous part of the evening. Please sing along with us, albeit a few days later,as a damp summer Sunday night crowd of Fenway's faithful croon themselves and their team to victory over the MF’n Yankees. I know you know the words......


dead_terrapin over at LJ said...

I'm a bit behind in reading posts so I'm commenting late. I loved reading this - I just felt as though I was right there with you!

Haven't always been a Red Sox fan but anytime they can send those NY guys slithering back is good with me!

Bob Flame, Ranger said...

I'm so glad to see someone besides me follows these scribblings. My beloved Sox fell short this year, but we've got the memories of an actual Yankees-Red Sox game firmly stashed in our collective memories that will outlive remembering who won it all this year.