10/8/17 – Playoff Prize To End Our Season

Our luck started about 24 hours before the ALDS Game 3 between the Astros and Red Sox.

I had never been to an MLB playoff game, had nothing going on for Sunday, and had been watching ticket prices on re-seller websites for a few days.  The lowest prices were generally in the $80 – $90 range, and for standing room only tickets, rather than seats.

I patiently waited until Saturday, when prices started to fall a bit.  Early that afternoon, I saw a pair of tickets go up for sale on SeatGeek for $63/each.  And they were for actual seats, not standing room only.  So I quickly bought the tickets for Sean and me.

It rained steadily for the 2-hour drive to Boston on Sunday morning.  We got to Boston around 11:30 am, with gates scheduled to open shortly after Noon, and the game to start at 2:38pm.

We were early enough that we were able to park on the street about a 7-8 minute walk from Fenway.  The rain became more of a mist on the walk.

We were among the first hundred people into the stadium.  With the rain, there was no batting practice, a major bummer but expected given the weather.  Sean had one chance at a warm-up ball used by the Red Sox catchers in the bullpen, but it went to the only other boy in the area.  It was not a 2017 Playoff ball, so it was not a huge loss.

We killed time until first pitch by walking around the stadium, visiting the souvenir shop, getting something to eat and taking pictures.

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Our seats were in Section 37, essentially under the scoreboard, one row from the top of the stadium.

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You’d like to be a little closer to the action, but as small a stadium as Fenway is, the seats were fine.

In the picture above, do you notice the black image in the roof to the left of the home plate facade, almost directly below the “Optum” sign?  Here is a close-up:

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It is a policeman/sniper.  There were four of them, at least that we could see, keeping an eye on nearby buildings.  I am sure this was in response to the recent Las Vegas shootings.

There was a nervous energy in the stadium to start before the air was taken out of the stadium with a 3-run Houston top of the first. It nearly became 6-0 in the second if not for Mookie Betts preventing a 3-run homer with a catch at the right field wall.

The Red Sox got one run in the second, and took the lead for good on a Rafael Devers 2-run blast in the third inning.  It brought the Red Sox crowd of 38,000 to back to life.

The Sox blew the game open with six runs in the 7th inning, turning the end of the game into a party.

We were enjoying the game, save for the four knuckleheads to our right.  In their early 20s, they were on there way to be drunk when they got to their seats just before the game, each double-fisted.

They talked and acted like most drink 20-year olds do, which was less than ideal.  If the game hadn’t been packed, I would’ve looked for two seats elsewhere.  But that was not really an option with a full house.

Shortly after they came back with two more beers each three innings later, the guy two seats from me passed out.  He stayed that way for about an inning, until two security guards came up and made him come to.  They told him that if he continued to appear to be passed out, he would be removed.  They then left.

So, his friends made him stand up so he wouldn’t get kicked out.  He was clearly incapable of standing , and sure enough, he threw up moments later.

Thankfully and somehow miraculously, he didn’t throw up on anyone.  But the stench was awful.

I immediately took Sean and headed down to the concession area to get away from the scene.  We stayed down there for an inning.   When we went back, the guy had been removed.  The vomit had been cleaned up, but we still couldn’t sit in our seats due to the residual stench.  We had to sit/stand on the top stair between sections 37 and 38 for the rest of the game.  It wasn’t ideal, but so it goes.

Before the game, we had scouted the Astros’ bullpen, but didn’t see a lineup card there.  We could see one in the Red Sox bullpen.

I had low expectations.  One, it was still packed at the end of the game.  Two, I didn’t think they would give away the bullpen lineup card, as MLB teams seem to sell anything that is worth something, and I’m sure the Red Sox could sell the bullpen lineup card from an ALDS victory for a few bucks.

But we gave it a shot, getting into a great spot behind the Red Sox bullpen immediately after the final out.  I loudly asked bullpen coach Dana LeVangie given the noise in the stadium, and I thought he nodded yes but I wasn’t sure.  Half-a-minute or so later, he emerged from the bullpen dugout and handed the lineup card to me.  Someone tried to grab it but luckily I got my hands on it first.

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Thank you, Dana!  Having the Red Sox bullpen lineup card from our first-ever playoff game, and a Red Sox victory, will always be special.

What a way to wrap up the season!

2017: 35 lineup cards (20 dugout/bullpen; 15 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 157 lineup cards (107 dugout/bullpen; 47 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League; 2017 ALDS.  MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).

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