A Nation rejoices
I handed over nearly one month’s rent to secure my spot in Coors Field for Game 4 of the World Series. I paid seven times the face value for a ticket in row 28 of the Rockpile – there are 30 rows. If I were sitting any higher, I might have been asked to change the bulb on the aircraft warning beacon atop the Qwest Building.Sure, I couldn’t see the jumbotron or tell Dustin Pedroia from Manny Ramirez. But, if you ask me, it was the best seat in the house. It was the ideal vantage point from which to witness the spectacle that was my first Fall Classic.Crazed fans crowded Coors. A well-lubricated middle-aged man in front of me seized every opportunity he could to burst into song. A smattering of boos prompted his off-key rendition of “Who are you?” Then he took some liberties with a Cheap Trick classic when he belted out, “I want Schill to want me.” The air guitar was a nice touch.I had trouble hearing the impromptu performance. I blame that on the woman sitting to my right who spent two full innings using her index finger as a spoon to scoop out every last bit of cheese from her plastic nacho container. I can still hear the sound – like an aardvark sucking ants out of a hollow tree stump. A ski sweater-clad 10-year-old sitting behind me periodically shouted “Rocktober” and pelted my back with peanut shells – I hope they were peanut shells. One guy in my row disappeared for innings on end – I must’ve stood up to let him pass five or six times. Each time he ambled up the aisle, his cheeks were a darker shade of red – either he was taking cuts in the batting cage, running laps on the concourse, or he was single-handedly trying to finish off the state’s batch of Coors. I was worried, albeit briefly, that he might trip and fall on the fans in front of him, or worse, flatten center fielder Ryan Spilborghs.I also could have done without the paunch Rockies fan who thought going topless would incite the Rockpile and his team – although I did enjoy the “shave your back” chant.The sights and sounds of the crowd provided the backdrop – and some free comedy – to the main event, a play of sorts replete with drama, uncertainty and a conclusion Andrew Lloyd Webber could not have scripted. Sunday was about beer, peanuts, key home runs, high fastballs, and red, white and blue bunting – oh, the bunting. Sunday was about bearing witness to my beloved Red Sox chasing baseball immortality. The game was rife with plotlines. Sox starter Jon Lester, who overcame a bout with lymphoma last year, went 523 sparkling innings. There was even a little luck of the Irish; red-headed Bobby Kielty made the one swing he took in the Series count, giving Boston a 4-1 eighth-inning lead with a home run off Brian Fuentes. Then there was the Papojima show – Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon might just be the greatest duo since Abbot and Costello or Siegfried and Roy. When Okajima uncharacteristically faltered in the eigth, surrendering a two-run home run to Garrett Atkins, Papelbon – the Grim Reaper who just so happens to dance a mean jig – burst out of the bullpen to stifle the Rockies. Colorado didn’t go down easily. My stomach leapt into my throat when Jamey Carroll stung a Papelbon offering in the ninth that nearly cleared the wall and tied the game. All doubt was soon erased on a high fastball to Seth Smith. And right about the time Papelbon’s feet sprung from the rubber, I tossed my World Series collectable cup in the air, let out a yelp, then shared an awkward male hug with a guy from Dorchester. This, not Syracuse’s 2003 national title or Emmitt Smith’s Dancing With The Stars championship, was the greatest moment of my life. I didn’t see Papelbon dance (Coco Crisp’s hair obstructed my view), and Curt Schilling didn’t spray me with champagne, but I didn’t care. I had the opportunity to share a second title in four years with a few thousand of my closest friends.The Nation rejoiced.Sunday was about years of anguish and frustration yielding triumph. Sunday was about turning Blake Street into Yawkey Way, if only for 90 minutes after the final pitch. Sunday was about fulfilling a lifelong dream.I could get used to this.Jon Maletz, a.k.a. “The Hammer,” hopes Boston makes a trip to Coors next October. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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