Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Bachelor, in Paradise

About a week ago, blog reader Holly had the good fortune to watch the Red Sox play from the comfort of Section 36. As any fan with such great luck should do, after the game she sent along some pictures to share. She pointed out that one of the pictures had a longer story that went along with it. When she told me, I knew it was a story that had to be shared with all of you. So, I asked her if she’d mind giving all the details so we could all hear them. Thankfully she agreed. So, here’s Holly’s Section 36 Story of something that could, probably, only happen in Section 36!

There I was, sitting in Section 36, Row 15, of Fenway Park, waiting for the Boston Red Sox to take on the Baltimore Orioles. It was around 6:50 pm and the game wasn't scheduled to start until 7:30. Excited to be at Fenway once again, I was taking in the sights and talking to my family members that I was attending the game with. Casually looking around at all of the other people in attendance, I look down to Row 5 and notice that there is a man standing up with a group of 3 blonde haired women and they were getting their picture taken by another blonde. I didn't think too much of it because taking pictures at Fenway is not an unusual activity. After they had their picture taken, the man and the blondes sat down with the man sitting in Row 5 and the blondes sitting directly behind him in Row 6. I continue to people watch and talk to my family, not even thinking twice about the man and the three blondes. While talking to my friend Wendy that was sitting to my right, I notice out of the corner of my eye that the same man and a different blonde had stood up to get their picture taken. For some reason that got my attention so I turned my head to look at them. While I was watching them get their picture taken, I got a feeling that I had seen this man before (prior to this Monday). So I watched them for longer than I probably should have, trying to think of how I knew this man. And then it hit me! I mentioned to my friend that I thought that the man that was standing up was Jared Haibon from The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, two shows that I watch religiously. Wendy replied with that she didn't know if it was or not because she didn't watch those shows. I went back and forth with whether it was really Jared or not in my mind. Maybe it was just a guy that looked like him. I pulled out my phone and decided to get on Jared's Instagram account to see if he had posted anything about if he was at Fenway that night (he hadn't) or to see if he was a Red Sox fan at all. There were a few pictures on his Instagram account of him wearing a Red Sox baseball hat so that gave me the information that I needed to know. He is a fan so there was a possibility that the man standing up ten rows in front of me was indeed Jared. I started to compare the pictures that Jared has of himself on his Instagram account to the man standing in front of me. They were one and the same so at this point I knew that the only way I would know for sure if it was Jared or not was to get the courage up to walk down the stairs and go up to the man to ask him if he was who I thought he was. I will not lie ... It did take a few minutes for me to get my courage up and some encouragement from my family and friend to walk down those stairs. While I was walking down the stairs, I was trying to think of what I would say to this man and what I could talk about if it was Jared standing before me. I couldn't think of anything clever
because I was so nervous about doing something that I don't normally do. I made my way down the stairs and over to where the man was sitting. He looked up as I approached and very meekly I asked, "Are you Jared from The Bachelorette?" He replied with "I am" and I instantly went into crazy girl fan mode. Ugh. Not the way I wanted to come across at all but I couldn't help but be starstruck that I was actually meeting one of the contestants on my favorite reality show. Jared wasn't my favorite and I didn't know much about him, besides of what they show on TV. I did know that I didn't want to bring up any of his exes from the show though, so I basically carried on about how The Bachelor/The Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise were my favorite shows and they are the only ones that I watch faithfully and how glad that I was to be meeting him. Jared waited for me to stop talking obsessively about the show before he asked me what my name was and when I told him, he replied that it was nice to meet me as well. We carried on a brief conversation about Nick being the next Bachelor, how we think he's going to do well, and how we both hope that he finds what he's looking for. We also talked about the Red Sox, how awesome they were doing this season and how we were excited to be at Fenway on this particular Monday night to watch them play the Orioles. Not wanting to take up too much of Jared's time, I asked him if I could get my picture taken with him and he happily obliged. I asked the blonde sitting next to him if she wouldn't mind taking our picture and Jared told me that she wouldn't and that the blonde is his sister. I made introductions with her and told her that it was nice to meet her as well. I handed her my cellphone, Jared and I stepped closer to each other (the seats from Row 4 were separating us), he put his arm around my shoulder and rested his hand on my right shoulder. I wasn't sure where to put my arm so I did what came naturally -- I placed my arm around his waist. As we leaned our heads closer to each other's, we smiled for the camera,
his sister Shannon snapped a couple of pictures and handed my phone back to me. Jared sat down and reached underneath his seat for the Fenway frank that he was eating when I approached him and I figured that I had taken up too much of his time and should be going back to my seat. I thanked Shannon for taking the picture, told Jared again that it was nice to meet him to which he replied with the same and told me to enjoy the game. I walked away with a HUGE grin on my face and my hands shaking so bad from being nervous to talk to Jared. Win or lose, though, my night had been made by meeting Jared. 

And it all happened in Section 36 ...

Now, that’s a story! As it turns out, Jared did end up posting something to both his Instagram and Twitter account about being at the game. So, Holly can be doubly assured that she was talking to the man himself. In fact, check out Jared’s twitter posts from that evening.

See? I keep telling you all that Section 36 is paradise. Now we have confirmation. After all, he would know!

I want to give many thanks to Holly for sharing this story. It was a fun read. Hope you all agree!

If anyone else has a story from their time in Section 36, I encourage you to share it as well. After all, even if you never thought it would happen to you…wonderful things can happen in Section 36.

You might even say it’s “Paradise.”

Monday, September 19, 2016

List of 36

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, here are 36 Things a Pirate Might Say

1. Ahoy Matey!
2. Welcome to PNC Park!
3. So, Hanley’s good again?
4. I can’t believe we got the Sox to take Jason Bay to replace Manny.
5. Boy, that 1903 World Series was a downer.
6. Wonder why Melancon couldn’t pitch in Boston.
7. Glad Ortiz will be retired before we face them in April!
8. Batten down the hatches!
9. Boy, that Sanchez trade worked out for us, eh matey?
10. Where’s a good place to eat in Altoona?
11. Remember when Brock Holt was a throw in?
12. Why doesn’t PNC have a Section 36?
13. Remember when we beat the Yankees in a walk-off World Series?
14. I miss the pillbox hats.
15. Wagner was better than Jeter.
16. Out of my way landlubber!
17. Can’t believe we’ve been eliminated already.
18. Remember when Bonds was clean?
19. Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
20. What’s a pierogi?
21. Tim Wakefiled won how many games for the Sox?
22. So, when we go to Fenway…there will be people in the stands?
23. We are family.
24. Have you seen Bucco D. Finch lately?
25. Wild Card games suck.
26. I miss Tim Neverett.
27. Fly the Jolly Roger!
28. Why aren’t we the Priviteers?
29. Why didn’t we play Brock Holt in the outfield?
30. Yellow bridges are pretty!
31. What’s the average temperature in Fenway on Opening Day?
32. Fenway needs more statues.
33. Boston has four Killer B’s?
34. How do you split an MVP award?
35. Avast ye scurvy dog!

36. I hate Cy Young

Can you think of more?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Daisuke Matsuzaka Live

While I was celebrating Dice-K’s birthday a couple days ago, I was wondering how often I saw he play live. So, I looked it up. As it turns out, I saw him pitch in person five times. Looking it over, I noticed something. I now understand why I never had much of a problem with him. Take a look at the results.

Those are pretty darn good numbers.

No wonder I don’t remember myself being insanely frustrated by his long starts. I probably didn’t see many of them. Sure, he gave up three or four walks a couple times. And he gave up seven hits in one appearance. But he didn’t give up any runs. Typical Matsuzaka.

And look at those numbers projected over a season. 19-6? That’s insane. A 2.16 ERA while striking out 237 guys? That’s a monster season. That’s the guy the Red Sox thought they were getting. That’s the performance that they were expecting. Maybe even the numbers they were hoping for.

It’s just that he only did it while I was watching. That may have skewed my judgement of his time with the Sox. Or, maybe, it simply allowed my to be more objective about him. I wasn’t tainted with horrible performances. I had a solid base to work from. How about you?

How did Daisuke perform when you were in the park?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Well, That Was Fun

I bet you didn't think it could happen. I know twitter didn't seem to think it could happen. Once the Sox went down, it was over. After all, this team is gutless. Heartless. Outmatched. Out managed. They just can't win close games. They have no drive. It's blowout or shutout. Nothing in-between. 

Then the Sox scored five runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the game. Three straight hits with two outs. It was everything they weren't supposed to be able to do.

But, here's the funny thing. It didn't help their record in one-run games. Because they won by two runs. 

Which is where sometimes stats can fall flat on their face. So, was this another all-or-nothing game? When it got tough, and they needed to be clutch, were they? Apparently not. After all, they won by more than a run. Pummeled a weaker team once again. It works to nicely illustrated the absurdity of punishing a team for scoring runs. Imagine if Hanley had hit a walk-off grand slam. It would have been the least clutch thing he's ever done.

Take it a step further. What if Hanley grounds out? The Red Sox would have scored two runs on back to back two-out singles in the bottom of the ninth. Was Papi's hit then not clutch? Did Mookie then not come through? They were only clutch because Hanley hit his home run? Otherwise it would have been another one run loss. Just what the Sox always do. Is that fair? Once again we would have punished the team for getting lots of people on base. We would have punished them for losing by one instead of three. 

Does that seem odd to anyone else?

But that's all, thankfully, a moot point. Hanley did hit the home run. The Sox did come back in the win of the year. They won a game they absolutely needed to win in exciting fashion. They cut the magic number to 15 on a night where it looked like they were only going to drop it by one. They ignited the team. It was an enormous victory. i slept great last night enjoying the victory.

Even if it wasn't a one run game.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Happy 36th Birthday Daisuke Matsuzaka!

Today we wish a very Happy Birthday to former Red Sox pitcher, and international sensation, Daisuke Matsuzaka!

Very few players in the history of the Red Sox, or baseball, or any sport ever, have arrived with the sort of fanfare and expectations that Daisuke joined the Red Sox with. Dice-K was a superstar in Japan, but that was putting it lightly. If you were born in Japan in the same academic year as Daisuke was, you’re considered to be in the “Matsuzaka Generation”. It’s like the Red Sox signing “X”. His spring training starts were covered better than some World Series games. He actually had to announce which type of pitch he would throw as his first pitch. That’s coverage!

So, it’s not surprising that he was considered to have had an underwhelming career in Boston. Sure, he won 15 games in his rookie season, and helped bring the Sox to the 2007 World Series Championship. Sure, he went 18-3 the following year with a 2.90 ERA. (Seriously, did you remember he did that?) He was supposed to come over and use his gyro-ball to strike out every batter he faced. Because he didn’t, he was doomed.

People were also frustrated by him. He was a nibbler. He put a lot of guys on base. He walked the bases loaded more times than people want to remember. I don’t know why. It’s possible he couldn’t control the MLB bass as well as the one in Japan. Maybe he could nibble in Japan more because the Legend got all the strike calls. Or, maybe it was all calculated. He always threw a TON of pitches in Japan. Maybe he was used to pitching carefully to the dangerous guys and then just striking out the less dangerous ones. Maybe he was using the same strategy that Bill Belichick might use. Sure, I’ll walk the bases loaded, because I know I can strike out the next three. But, in MLB, the pitch counts caught up to him. When he was going five innings a start to keep the counts down, he wasn’t very helpful to the Sox. 

But, I for one enjoyed his time with the Sox. I got to see him pitch live five times, and feel lucky to have done so.

Plus, the guy drove in a run during a World Series the Sox won. How can you not love that?

Happy 36th Daisuke Matsuzaka!

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