The end of the 2016 baseball season is fast approaching here on the east coast. Some minor leagues are already done, and others are wrapping up. Even the MLB regular season has less than three weeks to go.
Tuesday, I made what has become a traditional late-season pilgrimage to Fenway Park for batting practice and a game. With the weather starting to get cooler and kids back in school, Fenway is usually a little less crazy than it normally is.
But Fenway turned out to be its normal, insane self for the Orioles game Tuesday night. With the Red Sox leading the AL East, the weather perfect and the near conclusion of the Big Papi farewell tour, the place was packed.
I got into the stadium 2.5 hours before the game. The last Red Sox group was taking BP. Nothing came my way, but with no kids around at the time (there were far more kids there than I expected for a September weeknight game, though) I was able to get one of the Red Sox ground crew to toss me up a BP ball that had been hit into the Red Sox bullpen. I would later give that ball away to a boy with a glove who hadn’t gotten a ball.
There was a lull in BP as the Red Sox were done and the Orioles warming-up so I went atop the Green Monster, sat there for a while and took this picture:
I didn’t have any luck during the Orioles portion of BP. I guess with a lefty (Drew Pomeranz) pitching for Boston, virtually all the Baltimore players were batting righty. They cleared out the Green Monster seats shortly after the Orioles started hitting. I tried my hand in CF, RF and even down the RF line a bit, and nothing came anywhere near me. I will say that the Orioles put on quite a show in BP, launching ball after ball over the Green Monster, including roughly 10 that cleared the Green Monster altogether.
I headed toward the Baltimore dugout shortly before the Orioles ended BP, and an equipment manager tossed me a ball for my second and final ball of the day.
As for the game, the O’s jumped on Pomeranz for five runs in the 2nd inning. Boston got as close as 5-3, but Jonathan Schoop’s solo HR in the top of the 9th took the wind out of the Red Sox comeback sails, and Baltimore won 6-3.
The stadium was essentially full, so I bounced around for the first 6+ innings. I decided to try for the Orioles’ bullpen lineup card which had been taped to a wall in the Orioles’ bullpen.
The key was to find a seat as close to the O’s bullpen as possible. Mid-7th inning, I got into a seat near the bullpen, but still a few seats from the bullpen wall. Mid-8th, a couple people left and I got right next to the Baltimore bullpen.
The picture above (it’s Baltimore closer Zach Britton) isn’t great, but the point is that I was sitting right behind the fence. When there was a pitcher warming up on the right bullpen mound, I could literally reach over the fence and touch him, he’s that close.
So the game ends and there’s a swarm of people begging the Baltimore bullpen pitchers and coaches for baseballs. I asked Baltimore bullpen coach Dom Chiti for the lineup card, but he ignored me and left it taped to the wall, below the fence as you see it in the picture above, and slightly to the right of where I was. I patiently waited for the Fenway security guard to come reasonably near and asked him. As soon as I asked him, a couple other people started asking for it, but he gave it to me.
It’s our 5th MLB lineup card, all from visiting team’s bullpens. It’s our second Orioles card — Sean and I got one in April — and third lineup card from a Boston game (I got a Tampa Bay bullpen lineup card late last year).
I was hoping Big Papi would hit a home run like he did when we saw the Sox-O’s play in April, but it didn’t happen. Still, it’s neat to have a lineup card with players like “Ortiz”, “Pedroia”, Machado, Red Sox highly touted prospect “Moncada” and others on it.
Speaking of Big Papi, there was a t-shirt give-away Tuesday night:
Not my style of t-shirt, especially with the “bling”, but that’s OK.
I hope to get to one more MLB game next week along with the World Baseball Classic Qualifier tournament in Brooklyn, which should pretty much end our season.
2016: 54 lineup cards (39 dugout/bullpen; 15 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 117 lineup cards (86 dugout/bullpen; 29 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)