The UPN broadcast of Bronson’s season start begins with a horrendous recap of the Yankees series: a low-quality montage of ‘key moments’ which opens with a terrible handheld shot of what appears to be nothing of interest. The recap is set to something which sounds suspiciously like Nirvana, and which, at the end, features the first three seconds of ‘The Rockafella Skank’ by Fatboy Slim (a song which will forever remind me of Keven Donnelly, singing along at the top of his lungs as we danced at a Random Hall party) before cutting abruptly to commercial (Bank of America, of course). When the broadcast returns, Don and Jerry kill five minutes commenting on the new turf at the former Skydome, while the cameras do some extreme closeups of the various field surfaces, shots which, as you might imagine, are just about as thrilling as watching glue dry.
All the wide-angle shots of the stadium are incomprehensibly distracting, since the ‘ads’ in right and left field are digitally superimposed on the footage, despite the fact that they are so small you can’t even read ’em. They appear as yellow rectangles, refreshing with every move of the camera, a jumpy quality that reminds me of Pong on the Atari.
When the Blue Jays take the field I decide that I dislike the Blue Jays’ logo immensely, as well as the font in which the jersey numbers are printed. It’s the kind of font you choose when you’re trying to hard to look hip and modern — circa 1996.
But seriously baseball here: Damon steals second, VaRiTeX gets a lead off home run, Bronson’s looking good , and it’s 2 and 0. The Jays score, but Trot the Shot fires off a solo homer at the top of the third, which pleases me since he looked so dejected after his last at-bat, nearly a homer itself. The Jays fumble on the defense but still pick off Manny at first (since Manny’s slow). Millar pops out and we go to the bottom of the third.
Russ Adams hits a line drive home run over the right field wall, and it’s once again a one-run game, 3-2. The fans are launching paper airplanes from some sort of stadium promotion into the field, much to the amusement of Arroyo, who picks one up and stuffs it in his pocket. Kraken and I get a little scare when Bronson lets a batter get a real piece of the ball, but Manny saves it on the warning track to end the inning.
(We go to commercial. I have one question: Why are the kids from that Toyota Tacoma ad bringing a foosball table into the woods?)
I’m waiting for Renteria to do something awesome, but he doesn’t. The coverage goes to interviews with several of the Sox, wishing Francona well. It’s a one-two-three inning, followed by another, and we go to the top of the fifth.
The ad behind home plate is for Fever Pitch, and Jerry and Don put in an obligatory plug for the film. ‘I saw on the USA Today that it got two stars,’ Remy remarks during Nixon’s at-bat. ‘Is that good?’
(Commercial break. Note to self: If you wake up in your Star-Trek-style bedroom to neon green rings emanating from the bathroom, don’t freak out. It’s only your husband shaving with his New M3 Power From Gillette. Just go over to him in your silky nightgown and caress his equally silky jawline while he looks to camera.)
Schilling is scheduled to pitch the third game against the Yankees on the 13th. Wow.
And I gotta say: I adore the scoreboard at Fenway Park. Especially compared to this blinding monstrosity in center field at the Rogers Centre.
Arroyo walks his first batter at the bottom of the fifth, bringing up Catalanotto, whose name barely fits in the arc on the back of his jersey. He pops out to Damon, and we go to commercial.
At the top of the sixth, we begin what could be some action. The pitcher — whose name is, astonishingly, ‘League’ — walks Manny, and Ortiz and Millar fire off singles to load the bases… for Renteria. He fails to deliver the grand slam which would be money at this particular juncture, so we end up with an out and a run. Two more outs, and it’s the Sox on top, 4-2. There’s no action in the bottom of the inning, and we move on to the seventh.
Bellhorn gets thrown out at first, and as we go to the ‘Not Your Typical Fan’ segment, Damon gets a single on a broken bat.
Jerry uses the phrase ‘off-season tats’ and the commentary explores the question of how many Sox fans got World Series tattoos. Orsillo jokes that he’s going to get a Red Sox tattoo on his neck.
League (who should not be pitching in the big ones, apparently) launches the ball into the outfield in an attempt to make a throw to second, and Johnny Damon makes it to third.
‘That didn’t miss by much — only by about twenty feet,’ Remy quips.
Manny hits one past the third baseman and the shortstop, and Johnny comes home, bringing Ortiz to the plate. The outfielder Gross removes some toilet paper from the field. Ortiz hits it out into left field, Catalanatto and Wells collide against the blinding scoreboard in an atempt to field the ball, and Big Papi gets an RBI double. It’s 6-2 Sox.
(Apparently Southwest Airlines hates those cell phone attachments that make people look like they’re talking to themselves just as much as I do.)
Brandon ‘Minor’ League has been yanked in favor of… Vinny Chulk? What the hell kind of a name is that?! (I chuckle — Chulkle?! — to myself when, in looking up League’s first name, he appears in the roster as ‘B League.’)
(At the seventh inning stretch, Kraken informs me that Gillette himself was anti-capitalism and wrote several books promoting socialist utopias.)
The stadium is so filled with Sox fans that you can hear the ‘Let’s Go Red Sox’ chant on television. Explains the high turnout tonight at the Rogers Centre.
Eric Hinske gets a line drive home run off Embree, and it’s a 6-3 ballgame. ‘Come on Embree! It’s the power of the chaw!’ I call to the television. The Jays start pinch hitting, but some great fielding by Renteria ends the inning.
Jason Varitek gets a leadoff walk when Chulk throws it into the dirt. Jerry and Don launch into a long conversation about Guns ‘n Roses, iPods, and national anthems before Toronto makes a double play to bring Bellhorn to the plate. He strikes out, and we head to the bottom of the eighth.
Timlin’s on the mound. Johnson flies out to center, Hudson strikes out looking, and Wells grounds out to Renteria. Chulk back up; Damon and Nixon fly out and Manny strikes out, putting Foulke on the mound to close. The beginning building chords of ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ can be heard over the stadium loudspeakers. Koskie gets a base hit, and a fumbled play by Renteria gets two runners on base with nobody out. Hinske’s up, and the stadium is going nuts. He brings in a run, and there are runners on the corners, still nobody out. Foulke throws a stray pitch way up in the air on a 2-1 count, and I’m getting breathless. The Toronto crowd has come back to life, and the crowd is erupting with shouts. A ground ball to Bellhorn brings in another run: one out and the Sox now with a narrow one-run lead. A fly ball to Nixon advances the remaining runner to third. Mendochino’s up. Foulke throws a ball, then another ball. And another. The batter takes strike one. Foulke throws another ball and walks Mendochino, bringing Dave Wallace out to the mound. ‘We Will Rock You’ blares over the PA system. The Jays’ winning run is at first base.
Foulke throws a strike to Reed Johnson; the batter then pops it up foul. One more out will win the game for the Sox.
The next pitch hits Johnson, and the bases are loaded. Hudson, 0 for 4 tonight, is up, and Foulke throws a ball. Johnson hits a ground ball and Bellhorn makes the play to first to end the game.
‘You can relax now, Tito,’ says Jerry. ‘Yeah, how’s that resting going?’ Orsillo jokes.
At least I can relax now. And rest. Good night Boston!
Update: I realize now that those flashing yellow rectangles were in fact the two annoying scoreboards which are left and right of center field, not in center field as I’d originally thought. I still stand by my preference. The Monster’s where it’s at.