So began my evening of quiet anticipation as a Red Sox fan living in enemy territory. I watched the first six innings or so from the press box in the second deck by the foul pole in right field. It was my first time at a press box at a sporting event. I was struck by how little work members of the media actually do during the game (yes, I know, I wasn't exactly grinding out copy either last night). I also was struck by the international flavor the media section. There were scores of Japanese reporters on hand to witness their hero, Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, win a World Series. Lots of bowing, trust me.
There were plenty of tech guys waiting patiently for the game to end. No cheering in the press box? Every time the Sox did something good I slammed my fist onto the tables like they do in the Canadian parliament (hear hear!). More importantly, there was free food available to us working journalists. I'm told that the Sox offered lobster rolls and clam chowder to the media for Games 1 and 2. All we got were lame turkey sandwiches. No wonder the Rockies got swept. Memo to Rockies: Want positive coverage? Instead of infringing upon free speech rights of placard holders focus on better catering for journalists. I'm just saying…
The Sox were leading in the 7th inning so I worked my way down toward my own seats along the third-base line. I met a Marine, in full uniform, who said he was from Fort Collins, Colo. "But how can you root against the Red Sox?" He said he had twice been to Iraq and would probably be returning again. "Stay safe," was all I could think of to say. I also met a guy from California whose Boston accent was as thick as the mutton at Quincy market. He was 32 years old and angry at the "kids" of Red Sox Nation who he felt don't appreciate the nature of the "curse" and why it's important for Sox fans to differentiate themselves from Yankees' fans.
It was getting close to the end. The night before, I noticed that we were sitting only about a dozen rows away from the Red Sox brain trust — principal owner John Henry and President and CEO Larry Lucchino. So of course I dispatched my son down there to introduce himself and thank them both for bringing together (read: paying for) such a wonderful team. What happened? They embraced my boy, took pictures with him, and Lucchino himself later delivered to us a ball. Memo to Rockies' owners: You put out class you get class back. On Sunday night, I saw Lucchino again just moments before the great Jonathan Papelbon struck out Seth Smith to end the game and the Rockies' season.
I got onto the field. There were thousands and thousands of Red Sox fans who had emerged from every nook and cranny of the ballpark to shout with beer-induced glee at their heroes. For hours after the game they ringed almost the entire lower level of the stands. When Bobby Kielty, a back-up outfielder, came out again from the dugout after the clubhouse celebration, they shouted: "Bob-EE, Kel-TEE" and when he took a cell phone call they shouted "OFF the PHO-Own." When Mike Lowell, the World Series MVP and a free agent emerged, they shouted "Re Sign LOW-ELL" at the tops of their lungs. And, of course, even in their moment of glee, they shouted with genuine New England insecurity: "Yankees Suck."
Television reporters were tripping over each other and their cables to do stand-ups back to Boston. One Italian journalist and I kept running into each other. Thank goodness I have no interest in getting onto the field after the World Cup championship, I remember thinking. What a zoo that must be. Around the pitcher's mound, meanwhile, less than a half hour after the game had ended, were little pieces of cardboard, the type that helps keep a ball cap's shape until you put it on your head. I wanted to take a picture of them — you know, the sign of the Series. But of course by then the batteries on my digital camera had failed.
Soaking in beer and champagne, the players came out onto the field to do their interviews. I asked a lady shilling Cheerios — World Series edition — if I could snag a box with David "Big Papi" Ortiz on the cover. No dice, she said, they were for important people. Nice. Memo to Cheerios folks: Bring more boxes onto the field after the next championship. I saw wives and girlfriends hugging their favorite players; I saw little kids taking pictures with their dads in uniform — Royce Clayton's kids are absolutely adorable. I saw joy, pure, unadulterated joy on the field and in the stands and how often do you really get to see that today?