For this Red Sox fan, it’s too early to tell | AspenTimes.com
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For this Red Sox fan, it’s too early to tell

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado

The fridge was stocked with beer and bacon. The retro jersey was off the hanger. The anticipation was palpable. Tuesday, some 6,000 miles to the west, the Red Sox and Athletics prepared to open the 2008 regular season in the Land of the Rising Sun. I awoke in the dead of night, long before the lifts sprung into motion and long before the alarm. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world, even if the first pitch really was at 4:05 a.m.Sound crazy? It was. Here’s how it all transpired:• 3:42 a.m. – Slightly disoriented, I rub my eyes and roll off my futon. I wonder when I last woke up this early; I think it was during last month’s Steven Segal movie marathon, or the time I thought eating two frozen chicken and beef burritos sounded like good idea. It wasn’t.• Approximately 4:09 a.m. (the first few innings are still a blur) – David Ortiz pops weakly to third in his first at-bat. Boston fans take solace: At least Big Papi’s hair is in mid-season form.• 4:15 a.m. – Daisuke Matsuzaka induces a groundout to second on his first pitch. I lean back, put my hands behind my head and think to myself, “This is going to be a good year.”• 4:25 a.m. – After 30 pitches and two Athletics runs in the first inning, it’s time for a Bud Light.• 4:35 a.m. – Sports editor Nate Peterson arrives with his girlfriend’s cockapoo, Isabel Louise. Two minutes later, the dog somehow manages to lock herself in the bathroom. • 4:40 a.m. – As Matsuzaka struggles through another 30-pitch inning, long reliever Julian Tavarez starts to warm in the bullpen. I remark that Tavarez bears a striking resemblance to Magua from “The Last of the Mohicans,” and garner the first laugh of the morning. I’m off and running, unlike the Boston offense. • 5 a.m. – When Boston’s Julio Lugo lines Joe Blanton’s offering for a single in the third, I figure he’s filled his hits quota for the first month of the season. He’ll single again in the top of the 10th, prompting me to peg him as the frontrunner for comeback player of the year. I know the award is typically reserved for those who overcome some sort of personal peril, but I figure batting .237 in 2007 and being the bane of my existence for six months more than qualifies.• 5:07 a.m. – Nate and I both wonder if Manny Ramirez knows where he is.• 5:15 a.m. – I feel for commentator Gary Thorne, who undoubtedly picked the short straw in ESPN’s “Who gets to go with Steve Phillips to Japan,” drawing. If you thought sharing a booth with Phillips for four hours was agonizing, imagine an 18-hour flight. (That’s still not enough time to explain the Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir deal, however.) • 5:30 a.m. – Nate attempts to broach the subject of Japan’s cultural views on cleanliness, asserting that many of the country’s players find American dugouts repulsive. I’m largely unconvinced, considering Matsuzaka’s hair looks like it has rats burrowing inside. I can only assume he’s preparing for a role as the lead singer of an ’80s band on CBS’ new show “Secret Talents of the Stars.” • 5:45 a.m. – The Red Sox battle back to take the lead with three runs in the top half of the sixth. Ramirez doubles to left, then surprise starter Brandon Moss singles to right. Right fielder J.D. Drew, who hurt his back during batting practice and was a late scratch, is off to his best start in years.• 6:05 a.m. – It’s time for some eggs and bacon. And more bacon.• 6:12 a.m. – Red Sox reliever Kyle Snyder surrenders a go-ahead two-run home run to Jack “Hannah” Hannahan (I’m thinking of copyrighting this) in the bottom of the sixth. The pitch prompts me to utter “I hear Pawtucket is nice in April” under my breath. • 6:17 a.m. – Nate says Mike Lowell looks similar to George Clooney for at least the third time. I have a momentary lapse and think I’m watching the game with my mother, then brace myself for a comment on Oakland’s uniforms.• 6:18 a.m. – Nate comments on Oakland’s uniforms. • 6:45 a.m. – The camera pans across the Red Sox bench, a vast expanse of blank stares and little movement. I wonder if the footage was taken live or was looped, like the bus scene climax in the award-winning film “Speed.” I bet Ramirez is sleeping in the clubhouse between innings – and immediately regret my decision to reference “Speed.”• 7:05 a.m. – Moss brings the Sox back from the dead. With one out in the ninth, he reaches out and golfs a pitch from A’s closer Huston Street over the wall in right, tying the game at four. Initial reports say Drew’s injury isn’t serious, but I secretly hope he has a bulging disc.• 7:15 a.m. – Nate, now feeling the full effects of two stout Bloody Marys, contemplates leaving his car in the West End and walking home. Thinking it would be amusing to see someone pick up a DUI at 7:45 in the morning, I tell Nate he’ll be fine.• 7:25 a.m. – Lugo brings the crowd to its feet (OK, it was just me) when he reaches in the top of the 10th and advances on a Dustin Pedroia sacrifice. Oakland opts to intentionally walk Big Papi and pitch to Ramirez. • 7:27 a.m. – What a thing of beauty. Ramirez sure thinks so. He stops for a full five seconds to admire his towering fly ball off Street as it soars into right center. No matter. He slides safely into second after the ball hits the top of the wall, picking up his third and fourth RBIs to give the Red Sox a 6-4 lead.• 7:38 a.m. – Closer Jonathan Papelbon tries to kill my buzz when he surrenders an RBI double to Emil Brown, cutting the lead to one. Brown returns the favor when he, the potential tying run, strays too far off the bag and is caught in a run down. That’s what you get when your major off-season acquisition is a former Royals outfielder.• 7:43 a.m. – I bask in the glow of a 6-5 win and a half-game lead over the Yankees as Nate retreats to his house and to his bed. He doesn’t bother taking his belongings. What’s a single guy going to do with a lemon, some V-8 and two stalks of celery? I figure I’ll stick them in the fridge and worry about them in June.• 10:45 a.m. – My alarm blares, I check the clock then cover my head with the comforter. Better luck next week, editorial meeting. • 1 p.m. – The sun is burning my eyes, I’m confused, I can still taste beer and my head aches. I wonder, “Am I really going to do this again tomorrow?”• 1:01 p.m. – I set my alarm for 3:45 a.m. I probably won’t need it. Jon Maletz, a.k.a. “The Hammer,” invited everyone in editorial to his opening-day soiree. He and Nate are the only ones without lives. E-mail him at jmaletz@aspentimes.com.

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