IT’S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY. [5-23-09]
It’s so hard to be a saint when you’re just a boy out on the street
When Omir Santos came up to face Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th inning, I was thinking about his name. Santos in Spanish means saint. I was thinking to myself, Wouldn’t it be something if he could turn into a saint right now, if he could live up to his name. These were idle musings of a Mets fan who at that point was just happy that her team had played well, in a million years I wasn’t expecting him to even hit the ball at that moment. If I had walked out of the ballpark with the Red Sox winning 2-1, I would have said “Congratulations” to any Sox fan who chose to heckle me and pointed out that our lineup at the moment would be like them having both Pedroia and Youkilis on the DL. I actually rehearsed these lines in my head.
And then he hit the ball.
Even as he hit the ball, all I could think was that it was going to bounce off the Green Monster and hopefully the time it would take the outfield to play the carom, that Gary Sheffield could get to third base and then we had Daniel Murphy to take our chances on.
And then the ball bounced above that line on the Monster and a roar escaped my throat that felt like a rocket taking off. We had been good, polite, considerate visiting team fans all night. We didn’t strut, we didn’t preen, we didn’t feel the need to provide a standing O to every tiny little achievement.
But our goddamn backup catcher just hit a fucking game-saving home run off Jonathan Cinco Fucking Ocho Papelbon at Fenway Park. All bets were off. We screamed. We jumped up and down. We high-fived so hard that our palms burned.
Until he stopped short and we collectively said “WTF” and what seemed like hundreds of hands were in the air, making the HR sign.
We could see it was a home run. Twitter said it was a home run. The Sox fans sitting near us (the non-drunk, non-idiot ones near us) said it was a home run.
Jerry comes out. The umpires confer. They head for the dugout.
*tap tap tap tap*
I do not know how long they were gone but it was both the longest and the shortest moment in the world. I want them to hurry but I also do not mind that Papelbon is getting cooled off. It was very, very cold tonight, so cold that I ran out in the third inning to get on a coffee line that was longer than the beer line. (At Fenway, that is almost impossible.) As most of you know, I do not leave games in progress for errands as irrelevant as food or drink, but it was either find a hot beverage, or TBF was threatening to go buy me a Red Sox sweatshirt.
I have my camera focused on the Sox dugout. The umpires emerge, and we hold our breath.
Jerry West makes the HR sign above his head.
We explode again.
Now, Terry Francona comes out. I wonder how it escapes him that his priceless closer is cooling off even more. They finally end that debate and then Papelbon needs to get his two cents in. I wonder how it does not strike him that prolonging the discussion does not help his cause.
He gets the third out. Red Sox fans act as though this was the last out of the World Series. I point at the scoreboard, and shrug.
This is the time that JJ Putz comes out of the bullpen. We are looking for Frankie, and looking for Frankie, and Wanda is texting me going, “Where is Frankie?” and everyone on Twitter is asking the same thing. I am praying. I am standing up. I am sitting down. We are at the mercy of what the Sox fans in front of us are doing.
David Wright to Luis Castillo. Angel Pagan catching the impossible. And then that last ball, straight to our beleaguered replacement shortstop.
There was no explosion then, quite the opposite. You could feel the excitement in the room deflate instantly, the sound of 35000 Red Sox fans sighing in unison. My camera is trained on the field for the celebration while the Sox fans file out of the row behind me. I am not moving. TBF, in the meantime, is quietly high-fiving every fan in blue and orange that walked by.
Pelfrey pitched magnificently. Once he got through that first inning, he pitched with focus and concentration. We could not believe how many strikeouts he was getting. The rest of the team clearly came to play to win, at least from a defensive perspective. No horrific, little-league caliber errors. We didn’t get a lot of hits, but we were trying to hit Josh Beckett, after all, and it turned into the thing we least expected, which was a pitcher’s duel.
But it was all a blur after Omir Santos hit that ball.
“Baseball is so random,” I kept saying. “It’s just so random.” This wasn’t about preening or posturing – it is just random. The chance that Omir Santos would hit that ball that hard at that moment is nothing anyone could have called. No one. And yet he did, and the Mets won. It was one of the best games I have ever seen, and it is on TBF’s list as well.
I keep seeing it in my head. That ball bouncing off of that line on top of the Monster. In a split second, everything changed.
And them downtown boys sure talk gritty
It’s so hard to be a saint in the city