Here’s my long personal reflection on the 2007 Red Sox and me. It’s been an incredible year and one that I will remember for a very long time.
The 2007 Season of the Boston Red Sox started for me last December. We had already booked a cruise with my parents for March, which left out of Miami. Red Sox spring training games would be happening in Fort Myers, Florida, so we decided to try to hit a few games before the cruise.
One Saturday morning in early December, my parents, sister, Anne and I all got our browsers refreshing when tickets first went on sale for the games. We got some good seats for a home game in Ft. Myers. A few months later we got tickets to see the Sox play the Phillies in Clearwater the day before the home game.
My sister also presented some late-season tickets to my parents for Christmas. I guess they sell some for games at the beginning and end of the season way ahead of time.
Thanks to my Slingbox at my parents’ house in New Hampshire, I was able to catch the first game of the season. Of the 162 regular season games they played, I probably watched most or all of 150 of them. On days when they didn’t play, I missed it and craved some kind of baseball to watch.
They played extremely well in the first half. In the second half things got tighter, but the team stayed healthy for the most part, unlike the end of the 2006 season.
We saw the Red Sox play when they came to Oakland. It was fun to go, but nothing special happened – nothing big was on the line.
In August, Anne booked a flight to Denver from Oct 26 to Oct 30. Some friends from the East coast were going to be there for a conference since it’s a quick flight from the bay area, she decided to meet them there.
My Dad and sister went to the game on September 27. The tickets my sister has purchased nearly a year before missed the division-clinching game by only one day.
I watched the playoffs with much anticipation. Meanwhile, the lottery for (potential) World Series tickets in Boston was announced. We entered mostly as a “what if?”. A few weeks later I got an email that said I didn’t win. Oh well.
When the Rockies clinched the National League, we noticed that the World Series was going to be taking place in Denver, over the same weekend Anne was supposed to be there. Interesting.
My parents were in town for a few days, just in time for the end of the ALCS. I got to watch the Red Sox win the League Championship with my Dad. When JD Drew hit the grand slam, my Dad and I started yelling. Audrey was on my lap and she looked surprised for a second, then started screaming in fear. Oops. We were reprimanded by our wives and we had to be careful to cheer quietly from then on.
Getting World Series Tickets
The following Monday night when I read about the Colorado Rockies having problems with their web site when they were trying to sell World Series tickets. What? They’re still selling tickets? I assumed that they had the same lottery the Sox had. Later I read that tickets would be on sale again at noon the next day.
A plan started to form – I already had a place to stay in Denver. The Red Sox were playing in the World Series. Tickets were still available. Wow.
At quarter to noon on Tuesday, we had 3 computers at home pointed at coloradorockies.com. I had 3 at work. We all started hitting refresh. By 1:15, none of us had gotten out of the “waiting room”, so I started to take a look the code for the site. It turns out that the page checks to see if you can get in, then waits 120 seconds and tries again. I found the code that triggers the retry and ran it manually. Now instead of a chance every 2 minutes, I had a chance every few seconds! After a few minutes of doing this, I started to get a very slow loading ticket purchase page. I was in!
Their website was painfully slow. Pages took minutes to load. We had decided ahead of time to try for Game 4. After many minutes, I finally got the search for seats. I picked 4 best available. It came up with some seats way in the upper deck for $90 each. Just being there was enough, so I went ahead. The next few minutes were agonizing as I filled out the billing form. By the time I got to the end, my tickets had timed out and the seats were released again. Arrggh! If their site wasn’t so slow, I wouldn’t have lost them!
This was a blessing in disguise though. I still had access to the site and I could search again. Realizing that our friends weren’t into baseball, I went for just 2 seats, figuring that I could get some better seats if asking for only 2. It worked. The new seats were still upper deck, but closer to home plate in foul territory. Now that I already registered my billing info, the purchase went much faster. We were really going! I could hardly believe it.
I quickly used my free flight on Southwest to book the same departing flight as Anne to Denver, then another back on Monday. Everything was set and Anne was thrilled not to be flying alone with a 3 month-old for the first time. Meanwhile, I watched tickets similar to ours sell on Ebay for $1100, $800 more than I spent for them. Wow.
We probably should have left more time for the flight to Denver. Getting to Oakland, checking in and dealing with all the infant stuff made it close. Audrey did well on the flight. People couldn’t stop ogling her and commenting on how cute she was. We were very popular. We met our friends at the airport, dealt with getting a rental car, then drove 1 1/2 hours to Colorado Springs.
The excitement over the Rockies was immediately obvious. We drove up to a toll booth where the attendant was wearing a Rockies jacket. Posters were all over his booth and there was purple and black everywhere. I asked how much the toll would be for Red Sox fans. He responded, “Ehh, we’ll charge you the same.” I was a bit worried about invading the opposing team’s territory and how they would respond, but the toll both guy and every other Rockies fan I met were very friendly and just glad to be in the series.
On Saturday we toured around a bit, gasped for air at the top of Pikes Peak, then drove through the mountains to Frisco, where we were staying for the rest of the trip. I had never been to Colorado before and I found it quite impressive. Huge mountains and lots of trees reminded me of New England a bit, but on a larger scale.
On the drive to Frisco, we listened to the game on the radio. The Sox won again, making it 3-0 and possible for us to see them win it all. Wow again.
We drove the hour and a half from Frisco and got to the park with plenty of time to spare. Parking in Denver is cheap! $9! We packed a bag with all the stuff Audrey needed and walked to the gate.
As soon as we started walking towards the stadium, Audrey started getting attention. Even the Rockies fans didn’t seem to mind the total Red Sox outfit on account of her being so cute. Our seats were indeed way up there. We were 2 rows from the very top, and several rows above the purple row of seats signifying exactly 5,280 feet above sea level.
The park was still pretty empty, so we thought we should walk around and see if we could get close the field while the Red Sox took batting practice. Audrey got even more attention now. People pointed and commented at “the littlest fan” and offered to take our picture or wanted pictures with her. We should have started charging money. We even got a picture with a woman and her 2 1/2 month old, dressed up in Rockies gear. Most people thought she was a boy, I guess becuase she didn’t have a pink Red Sox hat or maybe they assume that girls don’t like baseball. Pfftt to that!
We managed to wander down right behind home plate where we chatted with some very nice Rockies season ticket holders and even some Red Sox fans. By my estimation, Red Sox fans were outnumbered 20 to 1.
As the game time got close, we headed back up to our seats. We were concerned that all the noise would scare Audrey. She wasn’t thrilled about me and my Dad screaming in our living room, so 50,000 people screaming might just terrify her. We brought some cotton balls to muffle her ears underneath her hat but it was still pretty loud. Unfortunately there were two young idiots directly behind us that were screaming at the top of their lungs at every stupid thing. Audrey began to cry whenever it got too loud. After a half-inning I was about to tell them to shut the hell up when Anne said she would take Audrey down to a quieter area for a while.
I watched alone for a another inning or so and then decided I didn’t come to watch a baseball game alone. I found Anne and a spot where we could stand at the top of an aisle. Audrey seemed to settle into a defensive sleeping mode, muffled under hats and blankets. We stood for 4 or 5 innings.
Audrey continued to get comments, even under several layers of blankets. One woman asked Anne how old she was. Anne told her and the woman responded “my 3 month old is at home”.
In the 7th, we saw some people leave, saying something about having to go to school tomorrow. School? Come on, this is the World Series! Skip school! Their seats were nice though, in our same section, but 20 rows lower.
For a while the fans were pretty quiet. When the Red Sox scored or made a good play, you’d see a few lone Sox fans pop up amongst the crowd and cheer. The rest of the stadium got back into it when the score went to 4-3 in the 7th. The towels started spinning again and everything felt alive.
The last few innings were tense in a close game, but I knew the Rockies would have a tough time once it was Okajima and then Papelbon in to finish the game. Papelbon struck out the final batter, a sparse roar went through the stadium and the Red Sox scrummed on the mound. THAT was pretty cool. They won it all.
We celebrated with Red Sox fans emerging amongst the purple and black for a bit, then decided to see if we could get a closer look. A sea of red consolidated around the Red Sox dugout. We watched from the upper level for a bit, then went down to the field level while we waited for the team to reemerge from the dugout.
I called my Dad at 12:30 am Eastern to congratulate him as well. It was a pretty cool moment.
I worked my way down the aisle, then pushed my way closer. The crowd was full of Red Sox nuts, people with signs, painted red, dressed in gorilla costumes and screaming at the top of their lungs. I pushed my way in, stood on top of the arm rests of two rows at once and eventually got a foot right on the dugout. I was that close.
The guy to my immediate right was holding the famous “dancing Papelbon” sign. I stepped on it at one point, a sin that will most certainly earn me some time in Red Sox purgatory. Unfortunately, that was the closest we saw to Papelbon dancing. Despite our persistent chants of “dance!” to him, he just did his interviews and hung out on the field.
Fans just started chanting stuff at the field every minute. Bobby Kielty spent a lot of time talking on his cell phone so I started a “Get off the phone!” chant. We had fun. The chant the news picked up was “Re-sign Lowell”, the MVP of the series. When we chanted that at Theo Epstein he held out his cap, mock pandering for change. Later, Tina Cervasio from NESN asked us to yell again for Lowell so she could get it on tape. “Don’t sign A-Rod” also went around a few times.
Only Mike Timlin played with crowd, spraying champagne on us for a bit. What was more disappointing was that we knew nothing about what was going on. They just displayed a graphic on the big scoreboard. We guessed that Lowell was the MVP when they walked him around with the trophy. There were no announcements or video from the clubhouse. People watching home probably saw more than we did right next to the field.
The cameras came by several times, but I’m not sure I was close enough to get on them. The photos I saw afterwards showed people right in front of me, but I couldn’t make myself out in any of them.
I recognized a lot of the other sports reporters from the Boston area. Tina Cervasio has really big teeth. Michael Chiklis from The Shield and the Fantastic 4 movies was there. I have no idea why.
Eventually most of the team went back into the clubhouse and I ran out of batteries on my camera and my cell phone. Anne and Audrey were waiting patiently above and Anne was happy I was able to join the madness down there. I was very appreciative that she waited there for so long. Of course she had lots of people make comments on Audrey. One guy even helped her change a diaper!
With no one but Red Sox fans left, we exited the stadium and walked back to the car. At 2 am we got back to Frisco. Still jazzed up, I read the coverage of the game until 3 am and even then had trouble getting to sleep.
The whole year was incredible experience. Getting tickets throughout the season and seeing the Red Sox win the World Series was a culmination of a heck of a lot of luck in timing and coincidence.
While it would have been even more amazing to see it happen at Fenway, being in Denver made it a much more personal experience. Most of the crowd left, enabling me to get as close as I did to the field and the players.
2007 was definitely the year I was the most invested in the Red Sox. Never before did I got to Spring Training, watch so many games on TV or of course go to the World Series. While it was fun, it’s also a big emotional investment. In the end it was satisfying, but clearly every year will not be like this one. When they lost a game, I was grumpy and unhappy. I’m sure I took it out on others as well, all for a stupid baseball game. Spring training starts again in only 3 months, but right now I’m not sure I want to spend so much of my life being a fan again.
Most of all, I was happy to share all those fun moments with my family – from spring training all the way the World Series. Those games I will remember forever. But in case I do forget, at least I have this story and the photos on flickr. 🙂