Gory details of a one-day Fenway road trip
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Phillip has been wildly enthusiastic about sports and seeing live sporting events since he was old enough to walk. While he's over a lot of things as a teenager, he is still a little kid when he goes to a game. And while I don't rate as a little kid in any context, I still feel it a little.
Earlier in the week I had noticed that the Phillies were coming to Fenway this weekend and had even browsed Stubhub for tickets. But we had a lot going on and I decided not to pursue it. Phillip separately brought it up on Thursday, Mary supported the idea despite it being a busy weekend with multiple commitments I would have to shirk to make it happen. Has to be up and back in one day. Two licensed drivers, 10 hours of driving for 3 and a half hours of baseball. Let's do this.
8:10 AM. Phillip enters our bedroom demanding to know when we're leaving. We'd said 8:30 and I didn't believe he'd hold me to this. I was wrong. We leave a half hour later after I stop for a very large coffee.
9:45: On the ride up Phillip is looking at stats and we learn our pitcher Matt Moore has zero wins and a 5.70 ERA facing one of the best lineups in baseball. Could be a long day.
11:30: I make a trade in my fantasy baseball team for the Phillies catcher JT Realmuto. Unplanned and maybe unwise in the long run but I'm caught up in the moment and right now with the caffeine from my very-strong coffee coursing through my veins, I believe I have a chance at an unprobable repeat championship in my fantasy baseball league.
11:35: I check my email and learn the guy who traded me Realmuto also traded my rival Tony a much more valuable player named Trevor Story. This will probably push Tony over the top to win the league. I try to erase fantasy baseball from my mind.
12:30 We stop at an uncommonly good Greek place near New Haven for takeout. Phillip gets the Chicken Souvlaki, me with the hummus/pita/massive fried cheeseball combo. I get hummus and tzitaki all over my Phillies shirt and shorts, Phillip is dripping with Souvlaki sauce. No regrets.
2pm: One of my commitments for the weekend that made this road tripped ill timed was a planned recording session with an actor and the sound mixer for my film to record a line of dialogue. It's done via online software my mixer says should work on my phone so I've tried to keep this appointment in the middle of my insane road trip. I've told Phillip I need to pull over to get on wifi. He refuses this request and says to make my phone a hotspot and figure it out. After 20 minutes of futzing me and my sound guy and the actress figure out the technology. She records the dialogue from her closet with a microphone we dropped at her house in Jersey, I approve her line reading from a car on the Mass Pike, and the mixer approves the sound quality from his apartment in Los Angeles. Technology is fucking amazing.
2:45: We arrive in Boston and I note to Phillip as we pass all the great colleges he could never get into.
3pm: We see Fenway from the Mass Pike and there's an impressively sized Black Lives Matter banner. No skin off their nose and doesn't do anything to erase the MLB's profoundly racist history. But good to see nonetheless.
3:05: We walk to Fenway from our parking garage and Phillip is smack-talking
already drunk Red Sox fans. This could get dangerous.
3:15: We get in around 45 minutes early and we wander. I hear and older guy with a Phillies jersey say Fenway is like a museum and he's right. Our seats are in the 1st baseline near Pesky's pole, two sections over from the Phillies bullpen. We walk right up to the edge of the bullpen. Phillip sees Connor Brogdon and calls out "Yo Connor!" Connor looks up at Phillip who realizes he has just initiated a conversation but he has absolutely nothing to say to Connor Brogdon. He just smiles dumbly and takes a picture with his phone and then walks away.
3:30: We walk around to the outfield near the Phillies dugout where JT and Andrew McCutchen (who is the other Phillie on my fantasy team) are signing autographs. I take great pride that my two guys are showing the fans love. I resist the temptation to call out to JT "I just traded for you on my fantasy team!", realizing this must be the least interesting of all the inane topics called out to major-league baseball players.
4:10: Back at our seats. Jean Segura comes up to start the game and Phillip is already screaming, "go Jean!" a little too loudly. I tell Phillip while we can be fans and express ourselves, we need to have some respect for the fact that this is Boston's park. Jean rips a ball clear over the Green Monster. We both FREAK OUT and from here on in rules of civility are out the window.
4:20: Bottom of the first, three Red Sox hit lasers into the outfield off Matt
Moore, somehow all are caught. Only way we win this game will be with
4:45: Top of second Alec Bohm 2-run bomb ALSO over Green Monster. Again, we freak out, now making enemies of the Sox fans around us. For the next four innings we hang on every eminently hittable Matt Moore pitch, waiting for the Sox to rip him to shreds and he somehow weasels his way out of trouble each time. Our bullpen improbably keeps putting up zeroes. I'm drinking an IPA called Lord Hobo which has the alcohol content of a very dry martini.
5:15: Phillip sees on his phone that Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna, one of the best players in baseball, was taken off the field with some kind of leg injury. No one ever wants to hear news like this. Except me because my fantasy rival Tony, who had just acquired this other stud guy in a trade, has Acuna. I remind myself that while I'm clearly a bad person if I hope this is a serious injury, that me quietly hoping this is a serious injury will not actually have any impact on Ronald Acuna's. I still feel like a bad person, but the hazy IPA makes it okay somehow.
6:15: 8-run 8th inning for the Phils! We are hoarse and my hand is numb from slapping the seat in front of me. There is a big section of Phillies fans in right field and Phillip joins them in an E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles chant. Many dirty looks in our section. Maybe we can't all get along after all.
6:20: Sweet Carolina plays over the loudspeakers and Phils fans and Sox fans are screaming drunkenly together in unison. Maybe we all really can get along. While I very much enjoyed this (clearly from pic) I will say that Sweet Caroline is a little bit of a weird choice for a big group singalong. Mainly it's the "reaching out, touching me, touching you..." I found myself belting these particular lines in the other direction from my 17-year old son. I imagine similar awkwardness when singing with moms/dads or even aunts or uncles. For grandparents it's probably fine.
6:45: In the beginning of the 9th Phillip and I stroll directly behind home plate and sit in the 3rd row. The Sox field security doesn't care anymore. Torreyes is up, and Jean Segura is on deck within spitting distance of us. Phillip, having learned his lesson about having something to say, calls out, "JEAN, you should have made the all star team!" Jean gives Phillip a big smile and calls back, "yo, man, I'm happy for the days off." Torreyes strikes out and
Jean slaps the Sox bat boy on his helmet playfully. A teenage Boston fan with braces in the very front row (black hair in pic to the right) looks back at Phillip and goes "that was so cool he talked to you."
7:10: We're near the dugout after the game, a boy with a bald head who clearly has some kind of medical condition is one of the dozens angling for autographs. Bryce Harper sees him and brings him out onto the field, gives him an autograph bat and a hug. I'm not crying, you're crying.
7:20: We walk back out to the outfield where Phillip spots recent Phillies rookie hero Luke Williams signing autographs. When I see Luke I restrain myself from calling out "Luke, I am your father!" even though I am old enough for that to be the case. Luke sees a guy standing a little ahead of us in the stands and brings him out into the field and chats with him for a few minutes and gives him a big hug. Rhys’s Hoskins greet him as well. When he comes back to the stands I ask him how he knows them. Turns out he is an Australian guy who manages the single-A Phillies minor league team in Lakewood New Jersey. We chat for a while. Incredibly nice, laid-back guy who makes me want to move to Australia. He knows Princeton and encourages us to come out and see a game in Lakewood. Phillip is on board with that plan and says as we walk away: "I gotta get an Australian accent."
7:45: While leaving we are high fiving every Phillie fan we see. Two of them stop us as they are in a heated discussion and need to settle a bet. Young drunk girl keeps saying "That's not Mike Schmidt" to a middle aged guy that looks nothing like Mike Schmidt. (Mike Schmidt is the best Phillie and best 3rd baseman of all time). Guy shouts back hoarsely "it is so!", turns to us and says: "you tell her, look, look!!" and brings out his phone and shows us a picture of him, Gary Matthews and Mike Schmidt. Drunk girl shakes her head: "no fuckin way that's Mike Schmidt!!" Phillip and I shake our heads and say in unison, "sorry, miss, that's Mike Schmidt." Guy flips out: "See, I fuckin' told you!" She's unconvinced and we leave them to their debate.
8:15: On the way home I get the update that Ronald Acuna tore his ACL and is out for the year. I pray for the Acuna family, for the mental health of my friend Tony, and for my black soul.
8:30: We wait way too long for Phillip's X-large chicken fingers/fries and my eggplant parm stromboli at an overpriced pizza place in Newton. It's worth the wait. Red sauce all over my Phillies shirt and shorts to mix with the hummus and cheese sauce stains from earlier.
10pm-1am: Many battles about audio. My cell phone is dead so I want the radio on when I'm not dozing. Phillip wants to listen to some podcast with headphones. I tell him this is unsafe but he wears me down and has them on (one ear only) through much of Connecticut. When we approach NYC I yank them out and we listen to the radio, which is at that point in the night focused exclusively on 80s hits. While Phillip is neutral on The Cure's I Will Always Love You, we are both way too into "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi and are singing it full voice even though it's coming in static-y. Another highlight as I'm scanning stations and change off an alt rock song I don't know, he goes: "What the fuck that was Florence?" Didn't know my son was a Florence and the Machine fan. Road trips teach you so much.
When stoppping for gas Phillip demands a Monster energy drink. He pounds it in the car, while cursing how disgusting it is.
1:45 AM: Ginger greets as at home with as much enthusiasm as Phillip had when we left. A good day.