Jon Lester Celebrates his no hitter last night. (AP Photo)
Yesterday as I sat in Ticketmaster hell trying to get tickets to Game 2 of the Celtic Eastern Conference Finals I decided that since I wasn't going to be able to go to the C's game, I might as well piggy back with a couple of my friends who were already going to the Sox game (Krazy Kris & Dr. J). The night started off fairly inconspicuous as we headed over to Cornwall's in Kenmore Square after work to get some grub and shoot some pool. I bounced early because I still didn't have a ticket and scalped a grandstand seat in Section 24 for face value. The scalper (please note I hate all scalpers, but sometimes ya' gotta do what ya' gotta do) tried to charge me $70 for the ticket, but I talked him down to the face of $45 explaining that:
- A) This was a Grandstand seat
- B) The Royals were in town
- C) It was a cool night in May
Best $45 I ever spent that's for sure. I ran into some other friends randomly on my way to Yawkey Way and talked about Doc Rivers and his inconsistent line-ups, and how I was planning on jumping around from empty seat to empty seat. My plan for the night, to be a baseball vagabond in the best park on the planet. I entered alone, grabbed a couple of beverages, and sat in Section 24 (not my seat) and watched the first two innings by my lonesome. Being at Fenway and watching a game by yourself isn't for everyone, but it sure is for me. You get to have complete enjoyment and concentration without any forced conversation, and you can take in it all at your own pace and speed.
The people whose seat I was in finally showed up so I started watching the game from various standing room areas along the third base line. Making conversation with random Sox fans, and talking to my Dad on the phone. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary yet, the beer was still expensive, and the park felt perfect as normal. Side note here, every time I watch a Sox game I hope for a no-hitter, however usually by the time the fourth inning rolls around that dream is dashed, and I take in the game as normal. Didn't happen last night.
In between the 2nd and 3rd inning I took a bathroom break (this is important to remember later) got some more brew, and worked my way over to section 16 where Josh and Kris were sitting. I bounced from seat to standing room to seat and finally found two vacant spots in-front of Josh and Kris. I'd like to take this moment to thank the people who didn't show up to sit in their seats in section 16, row 9, seats 12 and 13. The view was perfect from there to watch a no-hitter, I'm sure you had something better to do though so it's all good.
Almost as soon as I sat down the Red Sox offense started blowing up and there was more beer, high-fives, and cheering. Our view was great as it was right along the first base line, with no obstructions really at all (which isn't always the case in the grandstands). By the time the fifth inning rolled around my nerves started kicking in, the no-hit bid was surviving longer then normal, and as cheezy as it sounds, something was definitely in the air. Josh was in acute sense of what was happening too and he turned to me and said, "This could be a very special night." I just put my index finger to my lips to make sure he didn't say anything rash (Like, "Holy Shit! Jon Lester's throwing a no-hitter!") and we went on watching, cheering, and drinking.
By the time the bottom of the sixth inning rolled around I had to piss pretty badly but there wasn't a chance in hell I was moving. I wanted nothing to do with any possible jinx of the no hit bid, crazy thinking I know, but superstition and baseball are like peanut butter and jelly, they go well together. Now I went to Game 1 of the World Series last year, and it didn't touch the excitement level last night gave. Those last three innings were pure magic at Fenway. I've never heard it as loud or as electric as it was last night. The crowd was doing everything in its' power to will Jon along, and my sore throat today is evidence that I was certainly a part of that.
By this time from the mass consumption of Budweiser I'm pretty sure my eyes had turned from a nice hazel to sickly yellow and I was certain I was in the process of developing a UTI. But move I wouldn't. In between the bottom of the 8th and top of the 9th, while everyone around me was standing, stomping, and cheering I sat down, put my hands to my face, and said some prayers.
I never, ever, pray for anything sports related because if there is a God, he/she sure doesn't care about the outcome of a stupid game, my reason for praying was a lot more personal. As a lot of you know I lost my Mother last summer to cancer and the weight of losing her has been hard and not always so easy for me or my family. The fact that of all the pitchers to be doing this, just days after my Fathers first birthday in 52 years without my Mom, was Jon Lester started to weigh heavy on me. I didn't want Lester to do it for me as a Red Sox fan, I wanted him to do it for everyone out there who's ever had, or lost someone to cancer. I wanted him to be a shining example of perseverance and hope. I wanted him to get three goddamn outs.
After Lester walked the first batter I felt like I could throw-up I was so nervous. The feeling in the ballpark was so electric, everyone aside from the boys in blue had a universal hope and wish. The last three outs were a blur, and the loudest I've ever experienced in Fenway. On that swing and miss for out number three the place just erupted with hugs, high fives, and cheering abound. It was baseball at its most pure and its most beautiful.
I know Jon Lester doesn't want to continuously be known as the guy who had cancer, and rather a great pitcher, but the hope he inspires from continuously doing remarkable things on the baseball diamond is immeasurable. If there is a heaven I know my Mom was smiling down on me, not because Lester threw a no-hitter, or because the Red Sox won, but because I was happy. And at it's most pure and best that's what baseball does, makes people happy, and boy was I last night.
Thanks Jon, it's a night I soon won't forget.
PS - On the way out of the park I had one of the most satisfying pees of my life, and so far seems like no damage was done :-)
PPS - Pictures from our vantage point to come later.