The Final 2004 Game At Fenway

These were my seats at yesterday’s game, the final game of the Red Sox and Yankees in the regular season. It was also the last home game of the Boston Red Sox. Normally, I wouldn’t care for these seats, but I was really glad I had them this time. It was a different vantage point that I had not seen, and it was a good view of all the happenings during the game. Usually I sit in Box 34, seventh row behind the Red Sox’s on-deck circle.
I won these tickets at an eBay auction and didn’t know I would have the Pesky Pole right in front of me. I was impressed, and took a picture of my view. While it is a little blurry, in the background, you can see the famed Fenway Green Monster and scoreboard. The scoreboard reads, “September 26th, 2004”. They started doing that this season, and it’s a great way to commemorate your game – you get both the Green Monster and the date!
The crowd was not as enthusiastic as it was in the previous game that I attended, the boos were not as lusty for the introduction of the “Starting 9’s”. The crowd was a lot better during the waning innings, but we’ll get back to that later. Schilling was on from the start. I took two pictures of him. One warming up in the bullpen, and one a few moments later as he walked out to do damage to the Yankees. Damage he did indeed, carrying a one-hitter through seven innings before departing. Why did he depart, you ask? I would say to rest his arm, and plus the game was out of reach. In the fourth, Schilling threw 12 balls in a row to walk the bases loaded, and Jorge Posada singled to throw a two-spot up on the board for the Yankees, who had been held scoreless so far and broke a 7-0 lead by the Red Sox.
Schilling was so angry after the wildness that when he recorded a 3-1 groundball out to end the inning, he spiked the ball in the ground and the ball whipped back up over his head and to the left. Mr. Schilling, we don’t need you with a broken nose. Control yourself. Perhaps hit the dugout wall with your left hand, like your counterpart, Kevin Brown, did a month earlier. Yes, the Kevin Brown that lasted all of 0.2 innings, giving up four runs (zero walks and one strikeout). Perhaps spiking the ball’s a better thing, in retrospect. “I was [angry],” Schilling said. “That inning never should have gotten to that point.”
The picture below the two shots of Schilling warming up is a shot of Jason Varitek squatting on second base as Esteban Loaiza comes in to relieve Brown. Loaiza (seven ER in 4.2 IP) is simply not good. Sorry Yankees, you got hosed on this one. Anyways, I found this humorous because I can remember in ESPN MAGAZINE, Mike Piazza was interviewed by Dan Patrick quite a while ago, in which Piazza says he likes to squat while at parties and other places to survey the situation, and because it is also comfortable. I guess the same applies for Varitek.

The third inning was rather interesting. There were two outs in the inning as Schilling was cruising. Kenny Lofton was at bat. Yes, that Kenny Lofton who apparently the Red Sox harbor a serious grudge against. I say apparently because while I have seen this allegation both in print and via word of mouth, I have no way of showing you the source. So again, allegedly, Kenny Lofton sucker-punched someone during the July 24th Brawl, either Jason Varitek or Curt Schilling. Schilling flipped out and had to be held back – it got very little press because both teams were mum about it, and FOX network showed only one little bit of Schilling being held back. So, when Mientkiewicz caught the ball thrown to him by one Mark Bellhorn, Kenny Lofton (not allegedly) threw up an elbow, offending Mientkiewicz. The two exchanged words. Here, we see the little altercation dispersing.

“It happened in Cleveland, too,” when Lofton played there, Mientkiewicz said. “There’s 700 players in the league. For some reason, he’s the only one I get elbowed by.”
“I was trying to get out of the way,” Lofton said. “I said to him, ‘Why don’t you get out of the way?’ “

The bottom fifth gives us Bill Mueller dialing the outfield stands. Below is a picture of the Red Sox crowd during the Mueller homer, and then Mueller getting congratulated by Dale Svuem. Both pictures are actually the same picture, but I cropped every picture as much as possible while still trying to give you the sense of the game as a whole, and yet also conserving space.

Very nice, Mr. Mueller. And so we go to the top sixth, where I decide I want a shot of a Red Sox player catching a flyball. Johnny Damon graciously allowed me this shot.

And now, the two main events of the game. One not so feel-good, one very much so feel-good. The not so feel-good brewed in the top eighth, when Pedro Astacio came on in relief of Curt Schilling. Astacio was quickly ejected after throwing at Kenny Lofton; the benches had already been warned. Astacio was ejected by first base umpire Tim McClelland, may I add. This is the same McClelland who egregiously blew two calls during Thursday’s game, which I actually did not talk about. These two calls were not even close, and he blew yet another one yesterday. Today he decides to eject Astacio even though the home plate umpire did not find cause enough to eject Astacio. I thereby suggest MLB take a look at McClelland’s savings account in Switzerland and perhaps note who sent McClelland some money very recently. Anyhoo, Francona comes out to argue the ejection, but bye-bye Astacio. Terry Adams comes in and shuts the Yankees down.

Ah yes, the bottom of the eighth. Brad Halsey immediately takes offense to something that sixth-inning replacement Dave Roberts did. Maybe Dave was whistling “Yankee Doodle Dandy” or Brad just didn’t like how Dave stood when out in left field. So Brad decides to give Davey some chin-music. Well, Halsey and Torre quickly became shower buddies about one inning earlier than they had planned … but not before some drama! Drama as in a bench-clearing, which I had yet to personally witness. Now I have. No pictures of this, sorry, I’ve got something else. A video!
The video can be found here, and can only be played in QuickTime format. It is about six seconds long, and I couldn’t zoom in any farther than what is shown. I still think it’s interesting to have a video of someone at the game in certain seats, and it shows realtime footage of the fight, and not “TV Time” footage, so to speak. The QuickTime format is not by choice – i would rather have it be done by Windows Media Player, but I have no choice in the matter. I recommend to everyone out there that they have at least the Windows Media Player and QuickTime programs installed on the computer. You may also have other video programs, but I would recommend the two at least because those play most, if not all, the videos found in the internet, and it’s just easier to click and have either Media Player or QuickTime pop up than a third-party video player that may not play it. But last I checked, this wasn’t a video program column. So! Onto the feel-good story.
We paid homage to Ellis Burks again today. At the game Thursday, Burks pinch-hit to a rousing ovation (myself included). He singled (to prepare us for the warning track shot by Ortiz), and was pinch-ran for by Ricky Gutierrez. Burks walked back to the dugout, again to another rousing ovation, and tipped his cap. Today, in the bottom eighth, the Red Sox ran a message on the scoreboard. Commence rousing ovation, commence Ellis tipping his cap repeatedly, near the dugout.

Fortunately, Burks moved out more to the edge of the dirt, and I was able to capture a shot of him. The best way I can explain how Ellis Burks meant to the Red Sox Nation … (I explained this to both Zoe [who attended with me Thursday] and Mike, who attended with me today and allowed me the use of his digital camera, for he has his transfer wire – thanks, Mike!) Let’s pretend Nomar comes back a decade later, in 2014 for his last hurrah before retiring. He gets injured in April, only seven at-bats, and stays in the clubhouse all year long while rehabbing. He is a clubhouse leader throughout all this. He finally makes it back for the third to last game in September, and lofts a single in a ninth-inning rally. Two days later, in the final Fenway Park game of the 2014 season, he is introduced to the crowd. The crowd would go nuts, paying him homage. Well, Ellis Burks is like Nomar to the generation born in the very early eighties and before.

So, as I mentioned earlier, the crowd became more and more lively throught the game. The near-brawl certainly helped, and at the end of the game, numerous “Yankees Suck!” chants could be heard. My position on those chants: chant it only when the Yankees are below .500 in their record. They are in first place – they clearly do not suck. There were also several altercations between Sox fans and Yankee fans late in the game. Excited yelps could be heard and cops pushing through the crowd could be seen. All in all though, the security was pretty good.
Great game overall, and a great booster for the Red Sox, taking two out of three. I did say earlier I would consider it a victory if we took four of six, but I’m not knocking a tie of 3-3. It’s not a victory, but it’s not a loss either. The Yankees now head to Minnesota, then Toronto for six games. We see the Devil Rays and Orioles for a total of seven games. Perhaps if the Twins can do us some favors, we can win the division crown after all. However, in all columns from now until the time we get into first place, I will operate under the assumption we will win the wild card and face Minnesota in the first round at the Metrodome.
Go, Sox!