I had the privilege and pleasure to be in attendance for the home opener at Fenway yesterday. It was windy & cold, but it was still a great day.
In case you missed it, the Sox brought out the '67 "Impossible Dream" team, complete with my favorite of the time: Yaz. The really-Olde Towne Team seemed to enjoy themselves, and even walked around the bowels of the park amongst the fans.
Harry Connick Jr. was on hand to sing something other than the national anthem, "America the Beautiful." I had no gripe with that initially, but I was anticipating our anthem before the first pitch. It never came, and that bothers me. Find someone to sing it, even if it's a 5 year old kid.
The player introductions were fun to watch. Dice-K (I'm finally relenting on his nickname) received the loudest applause and Ortiz already has a handshake worked out with the Japanese players that looks like a double hand-slap, bow. Speaking of Big Papi, he received the second loudest applause, and Papelbon the third loudest in my estimation. Manny was introduced as "the future hall of famer." Curt Schilling received too modest a reception--are people really that wrapped up in this contract extension business? He deserves better--the Japanese translator got a bigger hand. Joel Piniero doffed his hat to his former team, which was a nice gesture.
Johnny Pesky was on hand and in uniform -- take that Bud Selig! Good for the Sox; even if they get fined, Pesky deserves to be on hand and in the dugout for the home opener, if nothing else. He was the one to yell "play ball" to officially start the game.
As for the game itself, it was great to see the entire Sox lineup get involved: Varitek's bat woke up, Lugo had a lot of fun, and even Pedroia had a few good knocks. By the end of the game Heinske, Wily Mo, and Alex Cora were in the game. J.D. Drew seemed to be at home in his new digs and even hit a 2-run dinger to straight-away CF. Welcome to Boston J.D.
Beckett looked phenomenal. He allowed one run off two hits and a sac-groundout that came in the third inning. His fastball was in the mid-90's, and he threw his curveball and changeup fairly effectively. He wasn't able to locate all of his offspeed stuff, but the fact that he was using them often is very encouraging. Beltre was fed a steady diet of curveballs all day--3 in a row at one point. However, Beckett had the luxury of working from his windup the entire day. I'm interested to see how he'll do out of the stretch.
My last thought-of-the-game is what on Earth were the Mariners thinking by signing Jeff Weaver? He struggled in the NL and they brought him back to the AL for $8.325 M? I knew it was going to turn out poorly. Bill Bravasi needs to be fired ASAP. Until then, there's no hope for the Mariners. All they have to look forward to is Felix Hernandez, who takes the mound against Dice-K tonight! Can't wait! Two great pitchers and the long-awaited match-up of Dice-K vs. Ichiro.