Monday, June 02, 2008

Manny. 500. History. I. Was. There.

Red Sox - Orioles at Camden Yards, the one weekend series of the year, of course I was going to see two games. Saturday I leave for my hotel around 1:45 pm. While I was running near the George Washington Parkway earlier on, I was warned about a nasty thunderstorm that was near Leesburg. I said, crap I got about two hours to get home (still 30-40 minutes away at least), shower, change, eat lunch, and get on the road. I made it, but only got as far as Pennsylvania Avenue before the skies opened up. And holey moely did it pour. Heavy rains, nasty lightning, almost stop and go conditions to just south of Fort Meade. I would have pulled over on two occasions had there been a place to pull over. Finally get to my hotel to find out they may not have a room for me for over an hour. Luckily, they had one.

Off to the game, met some cool Sox fans who came down from Connecticut for the games this weekend. Hung out with some other fans at the Wharf Rat on Pratt Street. Made it into the game just as it started. Going into the game, Manny Ramirez was sitting on 499 home runs. Only 23 other players in the history of Major League Baseball had even hit 500 home runs in Major League Baseball. So as soon as Manny strode to the plate, all the Sox fans in attendance rose to cheer, camera bulbs went off with each pitch. The game went back and forth for several innings.

The the seventh the Sox took the lead for good at 4-3. Baltimore brought in Chad Bradford, a right handed pitcher who throws submarine style, almost underhand. Would this be the moment we were there for? Submarine pitchers tend to dominate or get shelled. Pitch number one.......

BOOM!!!!! Deep right center field, no doubt about it, 500!!!! The crowd went nuts, truly a moment that sent chills up my spine. An unbelieveable moment that I will never forget. And I saw it in person. As soon as I figure out how to scan my ticket stub, I'll post it here. Wow. Things got a little dicey in the bottom of the ninth, but Papelbon got a lineout double play, 6-3 win.

Jumped on to a light rail train with 1000 others, got some late night Wendy's (which I only have in emergencies), and made it to my hotel in just enough time to flip channels and see Kimbo Slice fight in a Mixed Martial Arts fight. Of course, CBS is putting Gus Johnson on the broadcast to liven it a bit. Quality entertainment while I was chugging water to lessen the hangover that was coming.

Sunday's game was fun too, 9-4 cruise to a win. Bartolo Colon won his third straight game since being called up, (sign him for another year, Theo!) showing a bit more velocity than I expected this early into his comeback. Bullpen was solid, especially Craig Hansen, whose eighth inning was dynamite. 8 pitches, 2 Ks, 1-2-3, 7 of 8 for strikes. As nasty as I've seen him throw in his career. Drive home was uneventful, which was good since my plates had expired the day before and I had nothing to use to put on the new ones.

It's all good. In person I've seen a 3 Home Run Game by John Valentin, Yaz Day in 1983, Scott Hatteberg hitting a grand slam and into a triple play in the same games, John Valentin go 5 for 5, all three games of the Atlanta Braves' first visit to Fenway since leaving Boston, a walk off home run by Spike Owen of all people, the game where Orel Hershiser's 63 scoreless innings streak started in Montreal.....but this was the best in person memory by far. I still can't believe I got to go and see number 500. I want to see 600 now.

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