Sorry I was delayed in completing my posts on my trip to San Diego, but I ran into some technical difficulties on my friend Ken's computer on Monday morning, so I had to wait until my return to New York, which occurred at just about midnight on Monday night. (The trip back was fine, and I got a chance to watch the entire Mets-Cardinals game on ESPN, as JetBlue carries most of the ESPN channels. I saw Shawn Green's game-winning homer somewhere over Western Pennsylvania.)
So without further ado, here is the final installment of my last full day in San Diego.
Sunday was a fabulous day to wrap up the three game series at Petco Park. I went out to breakfast with Ken and his buddy Dave, another huge Padres fan. We got to Petco at about 12:30 PM, and three of us had separate seats not far from each other in the Terrace Level behind first base. I was pleased to see the Mets had a big lead against Oakland when I got there, and wound up sweeping that series. (It was still weird to me getting to the park and seeing MLB games completed or just about done. I guess you get used to it if you live on the West Coast.)
Another houseful of Red Sox fans were on hand, and again there had to be about 20,000 of them in the building. Josh Beckett took on Jake Peavy, and it was a really special matchup. Both pitchers may face each other as starters in the All-Star Game at San Francisco in a couple of weeks: Beckett at 10-1 and Peavy at 9-1. The Sox got three runs off Peavy early, in the third inning, and the Padres got two back in the fifth on a pinch-hit double by Terrmel Sledge. Peavy lasted only five innings, as he threw over 110 pitches and struggled, even in the innings he didn't allow any runs. Beckett had only one rough inning, the fifth. He went eight innings, striking out eight.
Jason Varitek hit a bomb of a home run off Scott Linebrink in the eighth, into "The Beach," over 422 feet away in right center. It's all the Sox needed, as Jonathan Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and looked overpowering in getting the save. It was a great series, and I had a wonderful time at Petco. But it was far from over once the game ended.
After the game, Ken suggested we go over to the players' entrances, to see the players leave on the buses taking them to the airport. I'm certainly glad he did, as we saw something that cracked us up, and made me wish I still had pictures in my camera. (I finished it at the last out of the game.)
We saw players from both teams coming out, to two buses apiece for each team. The players came out slowly and generally by themselves (and every player had to show a photo ID before getting on the bus, as I never knew that was a requirement). Many Sox players waved to the crowd of fans (about 100 in all), like Coco Crisp, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kevin Youkilis. But the guy who gave the fans the most spirited hello was none other than Manny Ramirez.
Manny was dressed in a sharp suit, gave the fans a big wave, and then got on the bus. A few fans called for him to come out and sign a Manny/Japanese jersey (first one I've ever seen), and he obliged, and autographed another fan's hat. I was just a few feet away from Manny when he came out, then I walked away. But then I heard someone honking the horn on the bus, and it was none other than our beloved loony Manny!
Manny was sitting behind the wheel of the bus and generally seemed in great spirits, waving to the fans while occasionally hitting the bus' horn. Some of the other players got a kick out of it. Kyle Snyder got on and made a motion with his fist up and down, like he was operating a train whistle, so Manny copied that as he was hitting the horn. All told, Manny was behind the wheel for nearly 10 minutes, even shooing the laughing bus driver away so he could do it some more. I was absolutely in hysterics, and couldn't believe Manny was doing it. ("I guess he wants to grow up to be a bus driver," I told someone.)
Finally Manny let the driver on, and waved again at the fans as he took his bus seat. It was simply one of the funniest things I've ever seen an athlete do, and naturally it involved Manny Ramirez. He truly is a loon, but it was cool to see him have a good time with the Red Sox fans.
Hey, it was just another case of Manny being Manny, or maybe Manny secretly wanting to be Ralph Kramden. It sure was a memorable way to wrap up a great weekend in San Diego.