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Another great night to be at Fenway

Before I went to the game last night, I updated my Facebook status to say that I was "ready to catch Papi's first homer".  Since I had written something similar before the last game I went to, I didn't really expect it to come true, but this time it did! 

First there were Tek's two homers to bring the game to 3-0.  Then with two outs in the bottom of the 5th, the big Papi comes up to the plate.  We had all wildly cheered for him during his previous 2 at-bats, and this at-bat was no different, except for the result:  with a 1-1 count, he belts out a hit that had all the potential height and velocity of a home run.  It looks so familiar coming from Ortiz, but it's been so long since the last one.  Could this possibly be...?  I think every pair of eyes in the stadium was tracking that ball as it sailed closer and closer to the center field bleachers.  To my eyes it hit right around the yellow tape, so when I started screaming with everyone else I still wasn't sure if it was a homer or a long double, but as I watched Papi round the bases, my screams only got louder.  And of course, we couldn't let his first homer go unacknowledged, so we chanted "PA-PI, PA-PI" over and over again until he rewarded us with stepping out of the dugout to give us a tip of the hat. 

But that wasn't the end of the inning, nosiree.  I was too busy texting Dan to see when Bay hit his homer, but once the crowd started cheering again, I managed to catch the ball flying over the Green Monster.  And then Mike Lowell stepped up to the plate and gave us a back-to-back.  It was like Fenway had turned into the new Yankee Stadium for a half inning!*

At the beginning of the bottom of the 6th, Lily asked me what a "putout" was.  I had to admit I didn't know, but then she pointed out the jumbotron which said that Ellsbury had broken the club record for number of putouts by an outfielder in a single game.  I was confused because Ellsbury hadn't even come up to bat yet that inning, and he certainly hadn't done anything remarkable offensively that game (except for increasing this hitting streak to 15 games with a bunt single in the 3rd).  But then I started picturing all the fly balls that had gone to him already in the game.  While I had mentally noted to myself that he was certainly catching a lot of fly balls, I didn't know there was a term for making outs or even a record to break.  But I should've known; this is baseball:  there's a record for everything.  And so by catching the last out in the top of the 9th, Jacoby ended up tying the MLB record for most putouts in a game at 12. 

Lastly, I just needed to record the fact that last night I saw one man get 38,000 people to do the wave in only two tries.  Two tries!  It usually takes a whole bunch of people at least 4 tries to get a wave going into the rightfield grandstand, and then another 4 to get it to the infield seats.  But this happened in only 2 attempts.  By one guy.  This, my friends, is where amazing happens this year.

*Of course, I am only referring to the suspiciously high number of home runs that have been hit in the new toilet bowl since it opened this season.
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A Private Tour of Fenway

My friend, Nicole was able to pull some strings and book a tour of Fenway before she left Boston.  This wasn't the official tour given by a tour guide (I've done one of those before, and they're pretty informative) but a favor-for-a-friend tour given by someone from the Fenway Affairs office.  Therefore, instead of starting in the Absolut Lounge which leads directly into Fenway grounds, we walked through the wooden doors of 4 Yawkey Way and got to enter the office areas. 

The first thing I noticed was the framed official pictures of all the players lining the wall in the reception area.

The wall inside 4 Yawkey Way
click here for the bigger version

I think I've IDed everyone except for the upper-right most picture.  It's probably Ramon Ramirez, but the glare doesn't help.  Right across from that is this quote painted on the wall:
On the wall

The grammar cop in me feels like there should be another comma after "in Boston", but what do I know?  And around the corner from the receptionist's desk were these two beauties:
World Series Trophies!

At first I couldn't believe my eyes because it was just so unexpected.  I mean, there were no huge signs pointing at them saying "WORLD SERIES TROPHIES!!!" with blinking lights.  They were to the receptionist.

The tour itself was kind of cool because even though we did the usual walk up the Green Monster, down through the Grand Concourse, up to the Right Field Roof Deck, and behind the Club Boxes, there was like no one else there since it was an Off Day.  So I got to take these shots which I normally wouldn't have been able to get:

Fenway Off Day
click here for the original size
Ted Williams seat

Notice how they're mowing in a new pattern in the outfield and have some crazy pattern going on in the infield.  I wonder if that'll influence how a bunted ball rolls around in there.

We asked if we could go on the field, but apparently that wasn't allowed.  We did find a random pile of warning track dirt on the ground in the concourse, so I grabbed a handful and put some in the pillbox I keep on my keychain.  So I'll always have a piece of Fenway with me no matter where I go.  And when I die they can sprinkle some into the grave with me.  =)  Oh, a fun fact:  the guy giving the tour said that the warning track dirt was just made out of crushed bricks.  Yikes, imagine sliding on that to catch a ball.  Makes me appreciate Ellsbury that much more.  =)
Warning track dirt

When the guy giving the tour mentioned that he ate up in the cafeteria with the media people, I immediately asked if we could go up there and look around.  So I did get to go up to the media booth level and peeked into some of the offices, but we didn't actually get to go into any of them.  I did notice that there was this cute sign outside of Booth F stating that it was a peanut-free zone.  Wonder who has the allergies....

A few from the media booth

On the way out we got to go through the offices again, and I noticed the cutest model of Fenway Park sitting in the hallway, but when I asked if we could go take a look at it (and maybe a picture), the guy got a little nervous and said we probably shouldn't.  So I'm assuming it's a model of some super secret future plans for the park.  But it was so cute; I want one now.

Anyways, thanks, Nicole, for hooking a girl up!
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Good things seem to happen when I go to a game at Fenway

Section 35, Row 11, Seat 20
click here to see larger version

The last time I was there, Ellsbury stole home against the Yankees.  This time, I got to witness the team break an A.L. record for most runs scored in an inning before recording an out.  Okay, granted, it's one of those kind of ridiculous stats like most doubles hit on a Tuesday by a switch hitter during a rain-delayed game.  But seriously.  TWELVE RUNS.  IN AN INNING.  Regardless of when the outs were scored, that's pretty ridiculously AWESOME.  And to top it off, we didn't even have 3 of our starters (Papi, Ellsbury, and Youk) playing.  And Lugo was our DH and lead-off hitter.  Julio freaking Lugo.  Who'd have thunk?

Apparently not even the jumbotron was ready for all the awesomeness because it couldn't handle a two-digit score in one inning:

Final box score

And lest you think the game overshadowed the news about Manny, I spotted this shirt already printed and being sold the same day the news broke:

Manny Being Suspended
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I've Seen It All Now

video courtesy of BorrowedTune72

I've seen it all now.*  I've seen an inside-the-park home run.  I've seen a grand slam.  I've seen two grand slams in one game.  I've even seen a no-hitter.  And now I've seen someone successfully steal home.

I actually saw someone try to steal home at the Giants game last Saturday, but it was so unsuccessful, it had me and Alvin completely bewildered as to why the attempt was made in the first place.  Who tries to steal home in the major leagues?

Jacoby Ellsbury, that's who.  I was sitting in probably the furthest seat from home plate I've ever sat in (we were so high up in the up in the upper bleachers that we were behind the jumbotron).  But whenever Ellsbury is on base you know you have to watch him; he's that exciting.  Still he was at third; where was he going to go?  But then all of a sudden I see him making a mad dash towards home.  He's fast--too fast for anyone to comprehend what's actually happening.  Is he...?  Did he just...?  Even the TV cameramen couldn't catch him starting his attempt.

The pitch is thrown.  Jacoby goes into a headlong slide.  Posada catches it at strike level--way too high for a tag.  He's safe!  And the crowd goes wild.  Everyone is realizing what just happened.  Those who missed it get filled in by friends.  The crowd doesn't stop cheering for a long time.  And the next time he comes up at bat we give him another standing ovation.  Because now, we've seen it all.

*Okay, actually I still have yet to see a triple play and a perfect game.  But I still have a bunch more games to go to this year!
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BP on Opening Day

So remember when I said that you really want to click on the panoramic of Opening Day BP?  (Go ahead, click it.)

If you did, you would've seen this:

See anything interesting?

Notice anything interesting? 

Still don't see it?

Take a look at the lower left corner....

WTF?  My guess is someone decided to try to use their umbrella to get the ball on the ground.  Unfortunately, it also looks like he ended up losing the umbrella.  So guess who went to help him out.

Who's that?

Could it be?

Returning a fan's umbrella

It's Gabe Kapler!

The funny thing is, while I noticed the umbrella on the field and Gabe returning it to the fan, I didn't realize I had captured how the fan had lost the umbrella until I was taking a closer look at the panoramic.

Anyways, congrats to Wake for having a no-hitter through 7 innings.  I was lucky enough to leave work early yesterday, so I was able to catch the whole game on TV.  It was good to get that last W in during this horrible road trip; hopefully coming home will continue the turnaround.  And I can't wait for Masterson to take the mound on Monday.  I have a lot of faith in that kid.  =)
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Opening Day 2009

I couldn't sleep all Sunday night because I was afraid they were going to postpone the Home Opener for Tuesday, and when I woke up at 6 am and saw that they hadn't made the call yet, I thought I was in the clear.  Eight o'clock and nine o'clock passed without a peep, and I was even more confident.  But then at 10:05 am, 4 hours before the game, they finally made the call to push the game back to Tuesday at 4:06 pm.  Which was what I was afraid of because I was supposed to fly out to Chicago that morning.

In the end, everything worked itself out, but at a pretty steep price, making this the most expensive game I'd ever gone to, but I knew it would be all worth it if only I could hear "Dirty Water" and "Tessie" that night.  =)

I headed over two hours before game time so I could be there when the gates opened for the first time this season.  Walking down Lansdowne Street I noticed a new addition to the exterior wall of Fenway:  a takeout window!

This is new on Lansdowne Street

According to the sign, hot dogs are $4 (50 cents cheaper than inside the park!), sodas are $2, pretzels are $5, and fries are $3.  No idea if the window is open on non-home game days, but I'm sure I'll find out.

Once I got into the park, I ran up to the center field bleachers to get this shot of the Rays taking BP (the Sox were already done, boo):

BP on Opening Day
Believe me, you really want to click on the picture to see it bigger

Then I looked down and saw this chiseled jaw and recognized this signature windmill throw; it was Gabe Kapler, back in Fenway (albeit as a Ray)!

Gabe Kapler back in Fenway!

He was nice enough to help a fan out with getting his umbrella back too.  Aww, isn't Gabe the best?

And then I ran down to the concourse to grab my first Fenway Frank of the year before 3 pm so that I could take advantage of Fenway Family Hour when 9 selected concessions are half off.  Walking around I noticed a couple of other changes too.  The Pesky Pole had a fresh coat of paint so there was no more graffiti on it, although I'm sure that by the end of the season it'll be all marked up again.  The right field roof deck was completely different.  Can you spot changes?  (I think there are 5 in all, although you probably can't see them all very clearly from this picture.)
Can you spot the new additions?

And finally, the bestest, most wonderful change to Fenway of all!

Popeyes in Fenway!
Popeyes!  IN the Park!!!

Unfortunately, I wasn't hungry enough to order any, but Dan did try out the new sliders they had added to the concessions menu.  They had fried fish sliders with tartar sauce, frish chicken sliders with Thousand Island dressing, and burgers with Russian dressing plus fries, all for $8.  Except apparently they hadn't added the button for that order to the cash registers yet, so Dan was only charged $7 for the combo.

For the national anthem, apparently Seal had a prior commitment for Tuesday so we just had Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops, but at least we still had the fly by.  Ethan and I both got texts from friends saying they had heard or seen the planes fly over them several minutes before they flew over us.  And it looks like they have a rain proof flag banner to use; it was significantly more plastic looking than the previous two years'.
Rainproof flag banner

Well, the game finally started after Jim Rice and Ted Kennedy "threw" the first pitch, and Johnny Pesky said the two words we'd all been longing to hear for 5 months, "Play ball!"  Pedroia ripped a homer off the 2nd pitch he saw, BecKKKKKKKKKKett had 10 Ks, I called Annie during "Sweet Caroline", Papelbon came out to "Shipping Up to Boston", and all was right with the world again.  Baseball, my friends, is back.  So yeah, it was all worth it, because being at Fenway for Opening Day?  Completely priceless.  ^_^
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Tilt Shifting

I've been fascinated with the tilt shift effect ever since I searched on flickr for Ogunquit Beach last year and found this picture, which led me to this photo of Fenway.  Aren't they super cute?  The term "tilt shift" refers to the special lenses you need to get that effect manually, but thankfully now you can do it digitally using!  Basically, you are manipulating the photo so that there is a very tight plane of focus, thus making the contents of the photo look like a miniature model.  If you push the color saturation and sharpness of the photo, it furthers the illusion even more.

After playing around with some of my old photos, here are some of my favorites:

Fenway BP
Of course I have to start off with my second favorite place of worship--Fenway Park.  This was taken from the Left Field Roof Deck during batting practice.  Original here.

Sitting in Grandstand Section 23.  Pedroia steps up in the game that ends up being Lester's no-hitter.  Original here.

Breakwater Beach
Taken on Breakwater Beach on Cape Cod.  Not as much of a miniature model effect here, but I do like what the tight focus does for the picture.  Original here.

Steps down Mohegan Cliffs
The steps down Mohegan Bluffs.  Original here.

Beach at bottom of Mohegan Cliffs
The beach at the bottom of Mohegan Bluffs.  Original here.

Marriott CasaMagna Cancun
View of the beach and hot tub from my hotel room in Cancun.  Original here.

The Strip in Vegas as seen from the top of the Stratosphere hotel.  Original here.

Rock bridge
A rock bridge in Golden Gate Park.  Original here.

Koi in Stow Lake.  Original here.

Pacific Ocean
Another one where you don't get the miniature effect.  Nevertheless, I love it.  Original here.

More tilt-shifted pictures here.
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Fenway perpetual calendar

My Fenway perpetual calendar

When I saw this post on Photojojo on how to make your own perpetual calendar, I just knew I had to make one with my pictures from Fenway.  Since almost all of these pictures are crops of bigger pictures I wanted to make sure I didn't lose any image quality when printing so I printed them as business cards using  The nice thing about using moo is that you can get a different picture on each card if you want.  Unfortunately, they are printed in the U.K. so it takes like forever for them to get to you.

So basically you want to get a picture of the numbers 1-31, the days of the week, and 6 additional pictures you like to fill in for when the months don't start on a Sunday and to make the calendar a full rectangle.  From there, you can rearrange the pictures every month so that you have a perpetual calendar and never need to buy a new one again!  Here are some other examples.

The original post used Fotoclips to put the pictures together, but I thought I'd try mounting each of the cards on a magnet.  I found magnetic sheets with adhesive backing at the Artist & Craftsman Supply store in Central Square (right across from Pearl Art and usually cheaper) and just used a box cutter to cut each card out once I'd stuck it on.  I kind of like the magnets better than the Fotoclips because I have a feeling that after a couple of months of rearranging, the magnets will hold up better than the cards would with the clips.  Also, there's no need to "mount" the calendar after it's assembled; it sticks by itself to your refrigerator or, in this case, the door to the backyard.

If you click on the picture above, it'll take you to the flickr page where I've made notes on where most of the pictures came from (the ones that I remember, anyways).  I'm actually not fully satisfied with the print quality of some of the numbers, so I think when I get back to Fenway this year I'll try taking some purposeful shots of numbers (and months, if I can find them!) and maybe try making another (bigger) set.
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The Great Fenway Park Yard Sale

So when you think of a yard sale you usually think of people trying to sell off stuff they don't want anymore.  But when you hear "the Great Fenway Park Yard Sale" you kind of think it might be something a little different.  Little did I know, it would basically be me shelling out $30 to haul away stuff they don't want anymore.  Still, I was happy to do it.  ^_^

This Saturday was the annual Christmas at Fenway, and while I didn't win the chance to actually go to Fenway Park to buy tickets, I was able to get one Sox Pak and tickets to 7 other games thanks to Leslie and Timmy.  Sunday was the Great Fenway Park Yard Sale, and I also didn't win the chance to go, but I did get an e-mail Sunday night saying I was a "Second Chance winner" to go on Monday.  All I knew about this yard sale was that I would have the chance to "purchase historic items from Fenway Park and Red Sox past."  There was some "grab bag" promotion where for $30 I would get this bag which included 2 bricks and 1 t-shirt and with which I could then fill with "magazines, pins, media guides, and other great items."  Also available for purchase would be "authentic game worn jerseys, used bats, ballpark signage, and seats from around Fenway Park."

I got there about 10 minutes early and there were already maybe 75 people ahead of me in line waiting for the doors to open.  When they did, we all rushed in to buy our "grab bags" and start stuffing them.  There were literally piles and piles of bricks just waiting for us to take and boxes and boxes of old t-shirts.  I ended up picking up a "Why Not Us" shirt from the 2004 World Series run.  Unfortunately, the smallest size I could find was a large, so I guess I have another workout shirt now.  I did also manage to grab a couple Red Sox magazines from this year, various media guides, a few baseball card packs, a Red Sox World Series pin, and World Series ticket holders.  Yeah, I don't know what I'm going to do with those either, but they were "free" so whatevs.

My grab bag from the Great Fenway Park Yard Sale
my loot

I then moved on to the next room where the real action was.  I really wish I had brought my camera because it would've been worth taking a picture of since I wasn't about to actually spend any money to buy this junk.  Still, large boxes full of used (and I mean seriously used, like mostly splintered) bats, old signage, chairs, tables, plates, tabletops, used jerseys, yearbooks, it was really a yard sale.  Too bad they didn't have any cooler signs; I would've loved to pick up something to put up on my walls.  The bar stool seats were pretty cool, but I just couldn't justify shelling out a few hundred dollars when I didn't even have a high counter to put them at.

Fenway Park in December
click here for a larger (but equally crappy) picture

The best part of the whole thing was taking a peek into Fenway again and seeing it under construction.  Oh yeah, and meeting Miss O'Connor of fame and Jerry from A Red Sox fan from Pinstripe Territory.  Hee, blog fan-girling indeed.  But yeah, owning a piece of Fenway?  Priceless.  ^_^
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Red Sox: The Best of

I have to say, the 2008 season has been my favorite season so far.  Even though we didn't win any pennants, I was blessed enough to go to so many games (18!), watch them win 11 times, sit in some great seats, and spend some time with my favorite people in the world.  Here's some of my highlights of the season:

Best pre-game ceremony:  The Home Opener, April 8, 2008 - You can't beat front row seats to the unfurling of the Green Monster-sized 2004 and 2007 World Series Champions banners, a fighter jet flyby, first pitch by Bill Buckner, and World Series ring ceremony, topped off by a 5-0 win for the Red Sox.

Best away game:  Red Sox at Detroit, May 6, 2008 - My first time at a game by myself, but I got to catch Papelbon teaching Okajima how to play craps during BP, and my pictures and video made it onto, among other places.

Best seats (three-way tie):  That would be a tie between when Anna offered me the seats on the HP Pavilion and when Ethan offered me tickets for the Green Monster for 2 Yankees games (one of which turned out to be the game that they retired Pesky's number at).  Thanks again, Anna and Ethan!

Best pitched game:  Red Sox vs. Royals, May 19, 2008 - No doubt about it, the no-hitter by Lester (ironically, these would probably be the worst seats ever).  I feel like I watched a boy become a man that night.  Still can't believe I got to be there.  Um, I didn't mean for that to sound so dirty....

Best game I didn't go to:  Red Sox vs. Rangers, August 12, 2008 - The Sox score 10 runs in the first inning, including 2 3-run homers by Papi, and yet lose the lead in the 6th inning, only to come back in the 8th to win it.  Final score, 19-17.  Crazy.

Best game I had tickets for but didn't go to:  Red Sox vs. Cleveland, September 23, 2008 - Not so much for the game itself, but what happened afterwards.  The Sox clinched their playoff berth, and I missed the celebration because I was on a plane.  Bugger.  (And btw, last year's AL East pennant clincher is still my favorite experience at Fenway, ever.)

Best surprise:  Red Sox vs. Rays, September 8, 2008 - Again, not so much for the game itself but this time, for what happened beforehand.  Meeting Justin Masterson and having him recognize me and shaking his hand...I still get a huge smile on my face when I think about it.  Also, this was the 456th record-breaking consecutive sell-out game, so now I have my name listed somewhere in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Best three innings of a game:  Red Sox vs. Rays, October 16, 2008 - Second biggest comeback in a playoff game ever (and biggest comeback in an elimination game ever).  While jeering Whee-ler and How-ell with the rest of the crowd, I really felt like I was actually doing something for my team.  And I still can't believe we won.  And that I was there.  And that we had cupholders.  Cupholders!
You know all those billboards I've been taking pictures of throughout the season?  Well, I got this in my mailbox today:

Hee, I was there for all of those except Bay's first game-winner.  What an amazing year it's been.  Thanks, Jesus.

And finally, I leave you with one of my favoritest quotes ever:  "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball.  I'll tell you what I do--I stare out the window and wait for spring."  - Rogers Hornsby