Like many things have been this week, it seems, this game was a grind, for both players and crowd. Schilling gutted out six laborious innings, working out of jam after jam and firing off around 120 pitches. We dogged Eric Hinske for letting a ground-rule double go in the early innings, and then he proceeded to make us all look like assholes by face-planting twice (once successfully) in pursuit of the ball and hitting the game-winning homer.
"I HATE Eric Hinske," someone behind us began early in the game, a preamble to a lengthy list of why he, the bleacher creature, feels antipathy toward our Blue Jays import. The reasons essentially consisted of, he hasn't been hitting.
Come the seventh inning, though, that tune had changed quite a bit. By then, as Hinske's bomb came flying out in our direction and Iain and I both instinctively reached our hands up and beckoned it towards us, it was all YAY ERIC HINSKE IS THE BEST BALLPLAYER EVAR. When he came back out to the field the next inning, he got a standing ovation from everyone in the bleachers and the right-field corner, people who've been starved for a dirt dog to love on. Hinske tossed the ball back and forth with the bullpen catcher and tried to play it cool for a while, but finally he melted into a puddle of bashful grinning, which made everybody cheer harder, which made him start to giggle and get shit from the bullpen catcher, which made everybody yell even more, and it was just a big old love-fest for Eric for a few minutes.
So yes. We are total hypocrites in the bleachers. It's just the way of things.
I immediately thought Hinske had a concussion after he nose-dived--literally--onto the warning track in the fifth inning and didn't move right away. Apparently that's not the case, but that's pure dumb luck--he took a brutal impact to his face and forehead. "Laying it out" doesn't begin to describe it.
We had a perfect vantage point on that play, and that image--Hinske headed for the dirt with the entire right-field corner leaping to their feet--just add it to the stack of unforgettable moments this week.
I could, if I had the time or energy at this point in the week, write an entire essay on the first inning by Curt Schilling. Every pitch of that inning was fraught with difficulty and tension. The bases were loaded at one point. Yet he escaped, Houdini-like, without a run. Then the next inning, it happened again. It happened again and again--six times. A younger pitcher would've been pissing himself by Gary Sheffield's first at-bat. Schilling struck out Sheffield, though, and the big bat-waver went 0 for 5 on the night as a whole, in addition to being soundly booed every time he popped his head out of the dugout.
What Schilling did yesterday wasn't always pretty, but it was the mark of a veteran pitcher. Time after time he made balls-out pitches to get out of tough spots, much of it brought on by his own spotty location, but another generous portion of the problem was attributable to some terrible defense, most notably Wily Mo in left field, who made Manny look like Fred Lynn last night. Wily Mo did work three walks, though, for which I was very proud of him.
Speaking of not always pretty, it was Thirsty Thursday last night in the bleachers. One girl in front of us showed up with her boyfriend in the second inning completely wasted. About as wasted as it gets. She then proceeded to drink another four beers. If she weighed more than a buck ten I'll eat my hat, but she chugged down more brewskis even though she was already drunk enough by the third inning to be striking up slurred, overly friendly conversations with people around her in the section, conversations that went something like, "I like you. I like you...and you...and you...and you...and YOU!" She pointed out that it was her boyfriend's first Red Sox game easily 20 times, and made sure everyone grasped the concept. By the end of the game she was standing up in front of us at inopportune times, and the boyfriend finally had to resort to grabbing her around the waist and physically sitting her back down. I didn't feel all that much sympathy for him, though, since he was the one who kept bringing her beer.
Still, that girl was a little loud but harmless. She was kind of sweet, actually, and her boyfriend absolutely cracked us up--at one point, while gently wrestling her back into her seat, he looked around and said jokingly, "Please, somebody help me!"
She also paled in comparison to the people behind us, who were also drunk, but nasty. One couple in particular spent the entire game fighting bitterly over everything from sausage and beer to sweatshirts and a bag of some kind (ironically, the woman in that couple, to whom Iain would refer later as "The Psycho Killer", had a few things to say about the drunk girl in front of us after she left, and it was very hard for me not to turn around and tell her where to go). At one point there were two couples fighting in parallel behind us. Then, of course, there were the beach balls, which pegged me in the head several times. And the cold--I didn't dress warmly enough, but it was also ridiculously frigid out there for May. I wound up with my sweatshirt hood pulled tight around my face, which made me look like an idiot, but at least I was marginally warmer.
None of the above is the end of the world, of course, but it made it tough to concentrate on the game. "Fucking bleacher seats," I overheard another person behind me say several times. And it made everything seem longer--every inning, every at-bat. I can only imagine what it was like for the players. And so the fact that they came back to win last night is a real testament to the makeup of this team.
Oddly enough, I bumped into Kristen on the train on my way to the game yesterday afternoon, and we discussed this, as well as the waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop phenomenon that comes along with it. Today when we talked about it again she compared it to an episode of Sex and the City where one of the characters doesn't know how to deal with a seemingly problem-free relationship. I guess one World Series doesn't totally undo 86 years of classical conditioning. So I feel the apprehension too. I keep waiting for this team to break down, show their true colors, insert your choice of phrase here. But they keep surprising me.
It's true there's a mild pall hanging over us as of today with the news that Josh Beckett has been placed on the 15-day DL with a blister (and ok, I'm calling it a damn blister, so fuck it, because has anyone thought to look up the word "avulsion"? It refers to "a general tearing away" and can be used to describe everything from violent amputation to, in this case, a skin tear. You know, like the way your skin tears if you pop a blister?). But look at the way Hinske stepped up yesterday. Look at the way Alex Cora and Dustin Pedroia have stepped up when needed. Look at how Julian Tavarez has come through, yesterday included. There's still just something about this team.
That said, it may be time for a stern public lecture for Joshua. I mean, really. What do we need to do? Take away the X-Box? I have a suspicion that feverish late-night playing of Goldeneye was somehow at work here.