Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Thank You Red Sox. Once Again.

It was another day to remember at Fenway Park on Tuesday afternoon, as the Red Sox handed out their World Series championship rings and raised their championship flag before a sold-out throng.

The players got their rings by position this time, and even Doug Mirabelli was on hand to get his, to a great reception from the faithful.

Johnny Pesky and David Ortiz did the official raising of the flag, as Red Sox Nation members held 62 world flags, symbolizing the countries where their is a significant number of Red Sox fans. (Take that, Hank!) The first five World Series championship flags were unfurled on the Green Monster before a giant, full-length 2004 championship flag covered the entire wall. And then the 2007 World Series flag covered that one. It was some sight to behold.

Members of Boston's other championship teams in the other sports were on hand, such as Bill Russell, Bobby Orr and Tedy Bruschi. The final moments of the ceremonies was who would throw out the first ball, and it was a closely guarded secret. Rumors were circulating as to who it might be, and they were confirmed when Bill Buckner walked out of the Green Monster and onto the field before a thunderous ovation. He was really moved by the outpouring of affection for him, and he brushed away tears on a couple of occasions. (The crowd at Professor Thom's gave him a rather warm ovation as well.) It was a really classy move on the Red Sox' brass to invite him back, and it was good to see him back wearing a Red Sox jersey with his number six. He threw a perfect curve to another Red Sox icon, Dwight Evans. It was the perfect way to end a very well-done tribute to the 2007 champions.

As far as the game went, it was all Red Sox, as Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the struggling Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox scored runs on two sacrifice flies early, and one when Manny Ramirez doubled to right center and when he tried to stretch it into a triple, Placido Polanco threw the ball by Miguel Cabrera and into the dugout for another run. (It also ended his record consecutive errorless game streak, which started in 2006.) The Tigers looked anemic on offense and couldn't score, as the Sox cruised to a 5-0 Opening Day win.

In the eighth inning, Neil Diamond appeared on the scoreboard in right center field to sing a short version of "Sweet Caroline." It had been taped previously, and even had Tom Werner on backing vocals. (Yikes!) Then later it was announced that the Brooklyn-born Diamond will be back at Fenway to do a concert there on August 23.

BTW, Edgar Renteria, the new Tiger shortstop, has now been at both Red Sox World Series ring ceremonies, without actually getting a ring. (Gary Sheffield was also at both, yesterday with the Tigers and with the Yankees in 2005.) He was with the Sox in 2005. And he was booed lustily when he stepped into the batter's box to start the game.

It was another memorable day for anyone who calls themselves a Red Sox fan today.

All I can say is: Thank You, Red Sox. Once again.


Greg Cohen said...

I was surprised to see Buckner throw out the first pitch for you guys today. I guess two rings can really change the way a city feels about a guy, huh?

Good for him, I'm not a Sox fan, but he had three pretty good seasons in Boston and deserved a better fate than that play.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Actually Greg, most Red Sox fans I've known never blamed Buckner for the 1986 loss. Most of it was hurled at John McNamara, for some incredibly boneheaded decisions.

The ones who did blame Buckner have finally given him a break. Winning two titles can do that.

He was a terrific player and a warrior, and I'm glad to see him back.

Steel36 said...

Seeing Billy Buck was a class move. Before the 25, I always felt pity because Buckner was such a good hitter and ballplayer. No one deserves to have such a solid career defined by one sad moment.

When the 2004 title was won, I felt elation for generations of people and satisfaction for Billy Buck. He was off that random hook.

The Omnipotent Q said...

I felt the same way, Steel. I know the error will follow him forever, but the fact that few people remember he won a batting title, had over 2700 hits and always played on two bad ankles is a real pity.

It was a terrific moment yesterday, and it was so good to see the fans embracing him the way they did.

Steel36 said...

So okay, when does Fenway welcome back Mike Torrez? Next World Series win, right????

The Omnipotent Q said...

After Torrez, then they'll have to forgive Grady Little. Don't put down any bets on either...