Below find Andre’s take on attending Game 2 of the ALCS. Later today, you’ll hear from Ben, who was also at one of the best playoff games in Red Sox memory…
I really am blessed to call myself one of the luckiest Red Sox fans alive.
No, I really am.
I want to say that last night was the greatest sporting event I have ever attended, but I would be suffering from recency bias if I did say that. You see, I was present at Fenway Park for Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS when the Red Sox staved off elimination and overcame a 7-0 deficit starting in the bottom of the seventh against the Tampa Bay Rays. They ended up losing that series, but that game will always stand as the greatest.
Don’t get me wrong. Being in attendance to see the Red Sox come back down from a 5-0 deficit to win Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS was incredible.
This game eerily reminded me of the one I went to five years ago. Both were in the ALCS and both were major comebacks when everything seemed dead for the Sox. Seriously, what are the chances I go to TWO ALCS games like this in my lifetime? I’m writing this at 4:40 in the morning because I’m still in shock. I just can’t sleep. It was truly one of the greatest sports nights of my life.
I sat in Grandstand 19, Row 2, Seat 2 with my Boston University classmate, Patrick Thomas. We both attend the Broadcast Journalism graduate program there. I bought the tickets from my friend Paul Lazdowski, who owns a partial season ticket plan. He couldn’t go and he was gracious enough to sell it to me for face value at $120 apiece. He is currently kicking himself in the groin for not going.
The seats were awesome, but for the first five innings the game totally stunk for obvious reasons. Max Scherzer was dominating and it seemed like the Red Sox would never generate any offense. Fenway Park was dead and the Red Sox had a goose egg under the hit column.
Then, I turned to Patrick and told him, “You know what? If the Red Sox were pitching a no-hitter, the only way the opposing team would get a hit is if we jinxed it somehow.”
So I started sarcastically saying, “Oh wow, Patrick. Max Scherzer is pitching a no-hitter!”
Patrick then interrupted me and said, “Your team is getting no hit. It’s not going to work if you say it. Someone that’s not a Red Sox fan has to do it.”
Patrick’s a Braves fan from Alabama. So I just told him, “So you say it. You’re a neutral spectator.”
Shane Victorino was batting and Patrick exclaimed loudly about how Scherzer was throwing a no-hitter and how he would really love to see a no-hitter in person. Right then and there, Victorino laced a single into the outfield and the no hitter was over. It was like those stupid superstition Bud Light commercials.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Pedroia doubled him home on the next at-bat and all of a sudden there was life in the ballpark.
Then, the bottom of the eighth arrived.
Jacoby Ellsbury walked and it became first and second with one out. The Sox were down 5-1 and I turned to Patrick again and whispered to him quickly: “Victorino’s going to strike out. Pedroia will walk. And then Ortiz will hit a grand slam to tie it up.”
I didn’t want to say it loudly as if not to jinx it, but I just had this feeling that Ortiz was going to get the job done.
Pedroia singled (that was the only inaccuracy from my prophetic prediction) and the bases were now loaded. While the Tigers were making a pitching change, Patrick nudged me on the shoulder and made me look behind us. Just four rows behind us was Bob Ryan, the king of Boston sports journalism, taking in the game as a spectator. He was keeping score of the game and writing frantically in his notebook.
I couldn’t believe it!
Since I had this prophetic intuition about how Ortiz was going to hit a grand slam, I decided that the second he hit it, I was going to go mob Mr. Ryan and celebrate with him.
The pitch came and Ortiz sent it over the fence. I jumped around like a maniac, walked up the stairs and gave Bob a big hug and yelled in his face. I wasn’t the only one. Everyone was giving him high fives and slapping him on the back and I kind of felt bad for him. Nevertheless, my voice was gone and Bob Ryan had a big smile on his face. This was already turning into one of those nights that you were never going to forget.
Sure enough, the Red Sox ended up winning it in the ninth. I honestly don’t think there was a single soul at Fenway who didn’t think the Red Sox would eventually win the game after they tied it up. The momentum was all on Boston’s side. It was just a matter of time.
What a win it was.
After the game, we walked back up to Mr. Ryan and told him that we were Frank Shorr’s students. Professor Shorr is the director of our program at BU and usually has Ryan come speak to his classes. He was delighted and said that he’d probably see us soon when he came to speak to the class.
No big deal, right? Networking with a Boston sports icon while watching another hit a clutch grand slam.
Patrick and I walked out of Fenway. I just wanted to celebrate. We went to Cask ‘N Flagon where constant “Papi! Papi! Papi!” and “Lets Go Red Sox!” chants would break out and I enjoyed a Bud Light to end the night.
No matter how this series ends, I will never forget this night. The Red Sox lost the 2008 ALCS but I never forget the fond memories I have from Game 5. This will be the same. I will tell my children and grandchildren about this game. About the mystique of Big Papi (and Bob Ryan).