By Dana McClintock for CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) – They say life is a string of experiences – a series of “tent-pole” events that prop up the petty pace in between. For Boston sports fans, attending a come-from-behind playoff win at Fenway Park would qualify. And the stakes would only increase if you could bring your 12 year old… a young man at the sweet spot of childhood memories – old enough to remember for always, but young enough to do so through the prism of innocence.
And there you have my Sunday night. The evening began wonderfully – we sprang for a table in Fenway’s “State Street Pavilion” where we could eat, stay warm and watch the Patriots take on the unbeaten Saints in nearby Foxboro. When Tom Brady improbably connected with Kenbrell Thompkins to win the game with 5 seconds remaining, the place went bananas. Minutes before the Pats had been left for dead. But they found a way to get the job done against all odds. After sharing a high five with my son, I noticed the sushi guy nearby jumping repeatedly as if he’d hit Powerball. We caught eyes and pumped fists at each other in celebration.
When the hooting and hollering subsided, I texted one of my close “Boston friends” who’d been at the game. His only reply: “we stayed.” We Stayed? Of course you stayed. Who would think of doing otherwise?
A bit later we moved to our seats for the main event. The Sox bats had been tepid the night before against Tiger pitching. They had mustered just one hit in the ninth inning during a 1-0 loss and suffered strike out upon strike out.
Tonight was no different. They actually looked worse. For the second consecutive night, the potent Sox lineup had no hits through five innings, and they were falling victim to some of the goofiest looking strikeouts we’d seen all year.
As Sox fans know, then it got worse. Detroit put up four runs in the sixth inning, and my son, dejected, looked at me and said, “maybe we ought to go.”
“Nah, c’mon” I said. “Let’s give it some more time.” After all, there was still the matter of the Detroit bullpen, which was not stellar. And, I mean, we had driven all the way from New Jersey and we were in Fenway Park for playoff baseball!
Then, in the bottom of the sixth, we got a taste of the magic. With two outs, the Sox strung together a pair of hits; their first two of the game. The second hit resulted in a run and the place got loud…and real fun. Celebrating success with like-minded fanatics is electric. And there is no better conductor of that type of human electricity than Fenway Park.
But after David Ortiz struck out to end the rally, and the scoreboard still read 5-1, a demented kind of suburban pragmatism began to take over. After all, these games have all been going past midnight and keeping kids on their sleep schedule during school season is paramount. We had a long drive in the morning, and the earlier I got back to New Jersey the less work I’d miss.
My heart wanted to keep chasing the feeling we’d had when the Sox scored in the sixth, but my head said good luck with that — time to cut our losses. We stayed for the Sox half of the seventh inning and once again the Detroit starter was crazy good, and the Boston hitters were crazy bad. During Saltalamacchia’s at-bat that inning the only sound was a heckler many sections over sarcastically shouting: “Don’t worry, you’ve got Drew behind you!”
So, we bolted. The Sox PA guys unmercifully (yet adroitly) played “Don’t Stop Believin’” throughout the Stadium. That’s when I posed the question to my son: “What if they DO come back and win? How will we feel then? I suppose it’s a win-win, right? We either beat the crowd out of here and get some sleep, or, our team is victorious.”
My son was in full agreement. But inside I somehow felt like I was at once being a stand-up father, and committing a minor form of child abuse.
We reached my parent’s suburban home in 15 minutes. So fast that we sat down in time to watch the top of the Red Sox order set the table for David Ortiz’ ridiculous heroics.
There Big Papi was…spitting in his gloves feasting on the Detroit’s curious choice of the righty Beniot versus the lefty king of clutch. And there I was fully aware of the perversity of my thinking: I kind of didn’t want a home run. I didn’t want to have been responsible for such a horrendous decision. Wait a minute, was I really rooting against my (and my son’s) favorite team? No…Yes…No…
On the first pitch it was gone. Papi did it. The game was tied but it was as good as over. An inning later Saltalamaccia put it on ice.
This was awesome! That really stung.
There are several Twitter feeds dedicated to #FirstWorldProblems. This evening surely fits the bill. But there will be sag in my tent for a while. And it didn’t have to be.
As for my son, he has no regrets. The Sox won; end of story. Maybe it’s because he’s subconsciously aware that he has more time in front of him to build his tent.
Meanwhile, I’ve been offered a pair of tickets to bring my other son to a potential Game Six of the World Series. How great to be able to get another shot at a lasting Fenway memory this postseason? We’d stay to the end of that game at all costs!
Of course, my other son is only nine and it’d be the night before Halloween. So if the game wasn’t close I wouldn’t want him to be too tired…