April 14, 2015

First Game of the Season

Washington Nationals vs Red Sox @ Fenway Park

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 8.35.17 AMThe best feeling in the world is leaving your class to go to the Sox game. I have been waiting for 2 weeks after Opening Day to go to my first game of the 2015 season. Since the last time I went in September, the roster has changed. Our pitching rotation was completely different with two Red Sox starters returning from last years team. We signed the lefty Wade Miley and we welcomed Justin Masterson back to Boston. The Sox had an outfield overload and decided to trade Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers in exchange for Rick Porcello. The lineup looked different as well. We signed Pablo Sandoval to play third base and welcomed Hanley Ramirez back to Boston to play left field. The signings will hopefully allow our lineup to have more power offensively. This season is going to be fun to watch and hopefully is less stressful then last season. Going into Boston for a 6:10pm was slightly weird. I left my school around 1:00pm and stopped by my house for my bag packed with my game day essentials. I always bring pens, 4 baseballs, Red Sox hat, visiting hat, and a Red Sox jersey. I also brought a cheat sheet of the visiting team that has everyone on the team’s picture, position, and which way they threw. Also on this sheet, are my autograph targets of the day. Since the Sox where facing the Nationals, I had a great amount of targets circled. I wanted to make sure I left my house at 2:00pm. I got to Fenway around 2:30pm, and headed to my favorite line at Fenway. One person was there before me. His name was Mike Davison. Some people might recognize that name. Mike helped out with Zack Hample’s helicopter stunt. We talked about all types of different things and it was great to talk to him in line. He’s a great guy! When Red Sox nation came around to stamp our hands, we didn’t have to show our Red Sox Nation cards. I guess I go enough now for them to recognize me. I was questioning if they were going to bring back the wristbands or keep it going with the stamps. They are using stamps again this year. I got a new stamp with two bats crossed. Waiting in line got interesting when the fast food workers on strike walked down Lansdowne Street. At first we didn’t know what was happening. They walked all the way down the street with signs that said “BU students stand with the fight for $15” I am not familiar with the strikes but it was entertaining to walk a bunch of people striking for the first time.

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One thing I did notice as I was looking into the ballpark was there are new security measures for this year. Instead of having a security guard with hand-held medal detectors, they have walk-through magnetometers.

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Personally, I like the walk-through magnetometers because you can keep on walking instead of waiting for someone to come around with the hand-held medal detectors. The one thing that stinks is you have to take your phone and cameras out of the pockets and put them in a bin. You walk through the walk-through magnetometers and then they give your phone and cameras back. Going into the ballpark is always the best feeling in the world. I walked up the outfield bleachers entrance and the first thing I noticed was the cameras were gone. From the picture where Mike (in the Pedroia jersey) is standing you can see the different color in the walkway. My first reaction was there is a lot more room now. In the past years, batting practice homerun balls would easily bounce off the camera area and go back into the field. The cameras were moved upwards on a catwalk. Seats were also added to the area and it has a nice view that would be great to watch a game from. Taking away the cameras is going to give any one an advantage to catch a ball from that area now.

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Straight away centerfield from last year (Left) and this year (Right)

I have set many goals for myself for this year:

  1. Catch a ball from each starting pitcher
  2. Catch a batting practice homerun ball on the GoPro
  3. Catch 10 or more baseballs during a game

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 8.51.51 AMScreen Shot 2015-05-05 at 8.53.44 AMThese are just a few but are my main goals for the year. With the cameras gone, I moved closer to the Green Monster. With-in five minutes of being in the ballpark, my first ball of the year was caught. Wade Miley was shagging baseballs around left/centerfield. Because the cameras were not there I was able to move closer to him. He was near the American League scoreboard. Mike may have gotten his attention but he threw the ball to me. There it was number one of the year.The ball was a Robert D. Manfred Jr. ball. Robert D. Manfred is the new Commissioner of baseball. Commissioner Allan “Bud” H. Selig had retired after being commissioner since 1992. Since I have been alive Bud Selig has been the commissioner. Each baseball has had a Bud Selig signature on each baseball under the Official Major League Baseball stamp. My thought process during the day was wondering if teams would still have Selig balls still around. After 20 minutes of hoping for a homerun ball to come my way, a ball was hit into centerfield. Junichi Tazawa caught the ball and then turned around and tossed me the ball for my second of the day. Just like the ball before, it was a Robert D. Manfred Jr. ball. This was also stamped with a red box with a check mark right on the sweet spot. I wondered if this ball was from other team because the Red Sox normally do not mark their practice balls. The National’s pitchers were warming up but in the weirdest way. They had a Nerf football and were running routes. I was watching them for a while. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a ball coming our way. I ran over and it was above my head, I jumped but missed it. Thankfully, the ball bounced off a seat and right into my glove for my third of the day. I then went right over to a little girl and gave her the ball. Her and her mom were very thankful that I gave them the ball. The ball was another Robert D. Manfred Jr. ball. The little girl and her mom were thanking me for the rest of batting practice.

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I had three baseballs through Red Sox batting practice and it was time to take off the Red Sox hat and put on a National’s hat on. I had to take the GoPro off and have it in my hand, which brought some weird angles. I was moving back and forth throughout the outfield sections. Homeruns were coming more often but were scattering all around. As I was moving around a ball was tossed up and missed. It landed if front of me and I picked it up. This ball was an Allan H. Selig baseball. The nationals must have been using a lot of old baseballs. I gave the ball to a little girl whose birthday was today. Happy Birthday to her!

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I then kept an eye out for more home runs. A National’s player hit a shot into the area would the cameras would be. It landed in the seats and I beat out Mike for the ball. Sorry Mike! Mike and I were going back and forth with balls all practice and it was nice to have some competition. I believe he ended up with 7 during batting practice. The batting practice homerun would be my 5th of the day and also at 249 lifetime. I was one away from 250! I didn’t realize this for a while. It randomly occurred to me when I was thinking of the fact that I had 5 on the day. I honestly didn’t think about 250 going into the game. Michael Taylor was in centerfield shagging baseballs. He caught one baseball and then ran for another one. He looked at me and threw one of the baseballs. BALL 250 lifetime and also my 6th of the day! I could knock off another milestone of 250. Next one is 300!   Since Taylor had two baseballs in his hand, Mike tried to get the other one. Taylor threw it to him but the throw was low.

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Baseballs 249 and 250

A little later I positioned myself right at the end of the wall next to the monster. Fans were heckling Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, and some other National’s players. They were funny but also may have crossed some lines. They were saying how Gio was on their fantasy team and this was also how they were trying to get a ball from him. They then started saying that their friend traded him away. When Max threw a ball back in to the bucket area, they were yelling “Hey! Wrong way.” They then started asking at Gio if he had a car seat or if he could get into the rides at the carnival. They finally got the attention of the players. Gio and Scherzer then started laughing at them. Then they told Scherzer to grow a Mohawk (like the kid had) and then Scherzer came back and say “Why? I don’t want to look like you.” They also went as far as asking Scherzer which eye he was looking at them with, the blue or the brown one. It went over the line but at least the players were laughing about it. Scherzer ended up tossing me a ball in-between the other fans heckling for my 7th of the day, which was also an Allan H. Selig ball. The nationals must have had only Bud Selig balls because that is the only baseballs I got from them. They where probably trying to get rid of them all.

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After the Scherzer ball I decided to leave the outfield and head towards the dugout. As I was heading toward the dugout I went passed the Good Sport table. At the table you pledge not to drink and be responsible at the ballpark. When you sign up you get a free soda and enter to win a Red Sox pullover. After, I headed to the dugout. When I got there, batting practice was just ending. Tanner Roark was signing autographs. He went down the whole dugout and signed for everyone.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 9.18.16 AMI got his autograph and moved to my autograph spot in between where the ball girl stands and the security guard are. When players started coming out a few of them came over and signed. Ian Desmond came over and signed autographs. I already had him so I was hoping others would come over as well. National’s outfielder Clint Robinson came around and signed as well. He signed one of the baseballs I had.

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Also, Bryce Harper came over and was signing autographs. I was very close to getting his autograph as he skipped over me. I then saw Scherzer signing autographs as well. I walked over to him with the ball he gave me and asked if he could sign it for me. He did and signed it right on the sweet spot.

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After he autographed the ball, it was time for the National Anthem. The starters of the Game were Stephen Strasburg for Washington and Justin Masterson for Boston. In the top of the second inning, Michael Taylor singled off of Masterson, which allowed Danny Espinosa to score. In the bottom of the inning, the Sox responded when Mookie Betts doubled off Strasburg allowing Mike Napoli and Brock Holt to score. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Sox responded by scoring twice making the score 4-1. In the bottom of the 4th, Pedroia hit a homerun into the Monstahhh. In the top of the 5th the Nationals responded by scoring 6 runs with 4 hits in the inning. After 5 innings, the score was 7-5 with the Nationals in the lead. In between the top and the bottom of 6th inning, first base coach, Tony Tarasco, collected the warm up ball that was thrown in from Ryan Zimmerman. He then tossed me the ball for my 8th of the day.

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In the bottom of the 7th inning, 3 errors helped out the Sox as they scored 3 in the inning without any hits. After the inning was over, the score was 8-7 with the Red Sox in the lead. In the bottom of the 9th, the first replay of the year at Fenway happened. Ryan Zimmerman hit a long foul ball near the left field foul pole. National’s manager went out and wanted the umpires in New York to look at the hit again.

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The play was confirmed as a foul ball and Zimmerman ended up lining out to left during his at-bat. The game ended with the Sox winning after Uehara came in for the save. After the game, when the pitchers and coaches from the bullpens came back to the dugout. The Bullpen coach, Matthew LeCroy came around and tossed a couple baseballs to fans. He threw one right to me for my 9th of the day tying my personal best.

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