Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My trip to Boston: Manny Happy Returns

My long weekend in Boston actually began Thursday night in Los Angeles. The Lakers just beat the Celtics to win the NBA Finals and those classy Laker fans celebrated by setting cars on fire, running onto the freeway, and climbing up to the Metroline rails (those last two activities I approve of; fewer Laker fans for next time). So the freeway leading to the airport was snarled at 10:30 at night. I took the Redeye to Boston. Not that I can sleep on planes anyway but the flight was filled with drunks wearing Laker jerseys and Dodger caps. I hope they all left suicide notes. Jet Blue now charges $7.00 for blankets. And they were so flimsy you couldn't smother anybody!

Lots of intrigue on this trip – it was the first time once-beloved Bosox, Manny Ramirez had returned since quitting on the team and forcing their hand to trade him in 2008. And it was the first revisit of Joe Torre, the former Yankees skipper. So much to hate and now New England had the Lakers! Here’s how bad it was: Red Sox fans were chanting “Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!” earlier in the week when the Sox were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Personally, I had the added treat of hooking up with my son, Matt for the Father’s Day Weekend. How often can a father and son share a love for the game and root for opposite teams?

The Boston weather was absolutely glorious the first two days. 80 degrees, sunny, no snow. By day three there was 1000% humidity and ferocious thunderstorms but that still didn’t deter 37,430 Red Sox faithful from coming out and being Fenway’s 591st straight sellout. That’s impressive, especially since their promotion was “Lightening Night”.

But when the weather is nice Boston is a sensational walking city, which was very fortuitous since the two-mile trip from my hotel to Fenway Park was $15.80 by cab.

The reaction to Manny the first night was more cheers than boo’s (but this is the home of CHEERS after all). However, as the night wore on and alcohol levels increased the boos got decidedly louder. Had the game gone extra innings, by the 12th they would have booed Nelson Mandela.

And when all these plastered tosspots get in their cars and pull onto the highway there’s a gigantic sign right at the entrance imploring them to buy guns. The billboard is actually a joke but when you’re totally shit-faced I imagine the irony is somewhat lost on you.

My hotel was the Inter-Continental. It was quite lovely with first-class accommodations, but I don’t think I’ll stay there again. Way too far to walk to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts. At least two blocks or $12 by cab.

Yes, I have pedestrian tastes but I prefer Dunkin’ Donuts to Finagle-a-Bagel.

The wildly popular Duck tours originated here. Boston is the only city where the majority of its buses float.

I passed by the Cheers bar several times and I always get a little choked up. I couldn’t help thinking, “Wow, they’ve made a lot of money off me.”

On Saturday my son and I took a tour inside the Green Monster (that large wall in leftfield in Fenway Park). It was like stepping into a scene from PAPILLON. A dank dark passageway with the back of the metal scoreboard on one side and antiquated concrete walls and pillars on the other. Two guys operate the lowest tech scoreboard since the Christians & the lions. They slide aluminum panels through slots. Amazingly, these two guys haven’t come out from inside that scoreboard since 1995. Leftfielders bring them food. Visitors are invited to sign the wall. All the greats from the game of baseball have lent their signatures. I signed right under Rachel Maddow.

In the Saturday game, Manny Ramirez hit a home run over the storied Green Monster and received the same reaction audiences have been giving THE A-TEAM.

After the tilt, Dodger owner Frank McCourt threw a fabulous party for the staff, players, and crashing Dodger Talk hosts. I mean, there I was, hob knobbing with Vin Scully I just wish I wasn’t holding that stupid blue drink in the cosmo glass at the time. Manny even showed up. Did I mention there was free food?

I brought some of the little pizzas they were serving to the scoreboard guys the next day. They were very excited and were going to store them for winter.

Father’s Day brunch was a delightful affair out in suburban Natick, home of New England’s biggest mall and Doug Flutie. Met Matt’s future in-laws and managed not to horrify them. I even refrained from doing my hilarious impression of Mary Tyler Moore throwing a baby in the air instead of a hat. Natick was so lush and green. I imagined it in the autumn with all the leaves turning vivid reds and golds and oranges, and witches been torched outside the Whole Food Market and I could really see the attraction for living out there. And there’s that mall!

The team charter left Boston at 1:30 in the morning following our third loss Sunday night. But we were first in line to take off, the pilot proudly announced. Yeah, well, who else has flights leaving at 1:30 Monday morning? It was a long flight – 6 1/2 hours. Fortunately they showed a couple of episodes of THE GOOD WIFE and that kept the players enthralled. I couldn’t sleep. The Flintones Ambien had no effect. By the time I finally staggered home it was 6 a.m./9 a.m body time. I had stayed up longer than Jack Bauer. Seriously, how did he last 24 hours without using the bathroom once? I don’t care if I’m in the middle of diffusing a nuclear bomb – if I gotta go, I gotta go.

All in all, it was a memorable Father’s Day trip. The only thing that could have made it better was if (a) I was with both my kids (Annie is so sweet: she bought me the latest NATIONAL EXAMINER with the headline demanding they re-open the Natalie Wood case now!), (b) I didn’t get drenched in a thunderstorm that heralded in the beginning of summer and Armageddon, and (c) the Dodgers had won even one of the three games. Just one!

It’s always emotional having to part with Matt. We really enjoy each other’s company and the separation is always hard. Well, harder this time for me. Matt was laughing his ass off. One goddamn game!

Oh well. At least we still have Manny. And no Laker fan set my car on fire while I was gone.


Unknown said...

Great post. It seems the only thing worse than the Lakers losing to Boston in the NBA finals was that the Lakers beat Boston in the NBA finals.

Strange custom - win a championship, set a taxi cab on fire.

Michelle said...

Thanks for a good laugh! Glad I found your blog! Will be back;)

Ben Scripps said...

Great post, and I love the picture of you and (I'm guessing that's) your son in front of the scoreboard.

It reminds me of my favorite story involving the green monster. Harry Coyle, the longtime television director, told the story of the night in the '75 World Series when he had a camera positioned inside the green monster. His cameraman there called him on headsets and said there was a rat a few feet away from him. Just then, Carlton Fisk hit his famous home run, and the cameraman, keeping an eye on the rat, kept his camera trained on Fisk rather than moving to his prescribed shot. And that, according to Coyle, is how we ended up with the famous shot of Fisk waving the ball fair.

Jeffrey Leonard said...

Ken, glad to hear you had a nice trip to Beantown. I was supposed to go, however, the trip had to be cancelled at the last minute. Nice photo of you and Matt in front of the 'Monster'. With my magnifying glass I could tell that your eye looks much better. As Mr. Burns would say..."Excellent".

YEKIMI said...

“Lightening Night”.?

Was this sponsored by the KKK? Crest whitening strips? Anybody darker [or oranger] than George Hamilton wasn't allowed in? Now if you were talking about "Lightning" [an atmospheric discharge of electricity accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms] than I could understand the promotion. First fan struck by a lightning gets a lifetime season pass to all Red Sox game...providing he survives. Or allowed to work three innings behind the Green Monster during the game of his choice.

Paul said...

You "hooked up" with your own son? Gross!

Nancy Beach said...

Great post! Really firing on all cylinders! Your eye must be feeling better to make this jaunt.
Look forward to more of the same!

Ref said...

Yup. You've got Manny, and you're welcome to him!

Too soon? said...

Boston is the only city where the majority of its buses float.

Sounds like Teddy should have driven a bus.


Max Clarke said...

Excellent post.

I never knew visitors get to sign the Green Monster. Very cool, so long as they leave your name on it.

Reminds me of an episode of Cheers, when Carla answered sports trivia questions, and one of them was the height of the Green Monster.

37 feet, I think she answered.

l.a.guy said...

Nice report.

I can't believe they let Rachel Maddow sign the Green Monster, Curt Schilling's bloody sock must be rolling over in its grave.

And don't think Dodger fans aren't capable of torching taxi cabs, it's just that last time they won a World Championship fire hadn't been invented yet.

Myra Mains said...

Yeah, one damn game in Boston would have been nice. Thanks for the laugh re: Jack Bauer.

I can't imagine the level of frustration in the Dodgers clubhouse now. I'm an innocent bystander, 1,159 miles away, and I want to take a baseball bat to a Gatorade cooler. Of course, the Mariners are providing no distraction at all. Freakin' underachievers.

Was looking forward to listening to Dodger Talk on XM on my way home last night. Didn't occur to me until I got in the car that since the Angels were the home team, it would be their broadcast. Oh, just perfect.

Thanks again for the laugh.

By Ken Levine said...


You can always catch Dodger Talk on KABC.COM. And they podcast it. Nothing like reliving a loss from three days ago.

Eric Weinstein said...

Ken...I wish I'd known you were coming to Natick. I'm one town away, in Framingham, and would have been honored to show you the sights of our town...Shoppers' World, the Olive Garden, Old Navy, the Chicken Bone Saloon.

Of course, you might have preferred a sojourn to the childhood home of your muse, Nancy Travis, Framingham North High School's most famous graduate.

gih said...

This is a perfect place to live. :-)

Anonymous said...

Two things: 1) No one from Boston ever calls it "Beantown". 2) Seems to me that [i]you[/i] have made a lot of money off the concept of Cheers.