There are simply fewer things in this life I enjoy more than watching the Red Sox come from four runs down to win, especially when it happens in the home opener, in a new decade, against the New York Yankees.
And I'm there in person to witness it.
I attended my first opener at Fenway Park and I simply had a blast. I went up with the BLOHARDS on their famous Opening Day bus trip and it was great. (My thanks to Ray Duffy for coordinating a great time for all of us who were able to sacrifice our Easter Sunday to go.) We got to Fenway shortly before 7 PM, and the crowd was already large in number. There was a good number of Yankee fans where I was, in section 4 in the grandstand. I turned to one of my friends sitting next to me when a number of them came in and said, "I can smell the obnoxiousness in the air." Fortunately, the crowd was generally pretty well-behaved. There was some back and forth needling and a few rowdies were tossed out, but nothing of any sheer violence occurred.
Mike Lowell got one of the loudest ovations in the player intros, and tipped his cap to the crowd. Very classy. Pedro Martinez came in from the scoreboard to throw out the first ball, and Fenway gave him a thunderous ovation. Pedro was ever the showman and played up to the crowd, who was enjoying it as well. The Opening Night ceremonies were very well done, with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith sang "God Bless America" at the seventh inning stretch, and in a real surprise, Neil Diamond popped on to the field after the top of the eighth to do a rendition of "Sweet Caroline." The crowd was charged up both times, especially seeing Mr. Diamond. (He was wearing a jacket with the words "Keep the Dodgers In Brooklyn" on the back. I guess that was his tribute to his home NYC borough, which also happens to be mine.) The night's festivities had all the earmarks of the handiwork of Dr. Charles Steinberg, the former Red Sox head of PR. Could he be returning?)
As for the game, it looked like a night when Josh Beckett didn't have it and the Sox could do little with C.C. Sabathia. But fortunately, that was just for the first four innings. After Beckett left, Scott Schoeneweis made his Red Sox debut and I felt doom was coming. But he made a good accounting of himself, as did the entire bullpen (with the exception of Ramon Ramirez), allowing just two runs after Beckett allowed five.
Sabathia began to tire in the fifth, as the Sox got to him for a second run, and then two in the sixth. Once the game was finally tied at 5-5, it turned into a battle of attrition, with New York scoring two and then the Sox matched it to make it 7-7, on Dustin Pedroia's two-run blast to left. And the Sox grabbed the lead for the first time on a passed ball on Jorge Posada that scored Kevin Youkilis. Some valuable insurance was added in the eighth when the Sox tacked on another run on the overrated and overexposed Joba Chamberlain to make it 9-7. (That was sweet.)
Jonathan Papelbon looked strong in the ninth, allowing just one hit in getting save number one. It was night I didn't think early on we'd be hearing "Dirty Water" as the game concluded. But it was good to get the first win, especially considering who was in the enemy dugout.
And there was one other special guest last night, one five-year-old Joshua Sacco, who became a YouTube star earlier this year doing the Herb Brooks speech from the film, "Miracle." But last night it was the Red Sox he was urging home to victory. Nice job young man: