Botticelli, Matisse, Big Papi

We went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see its exhibitions on Matisse and Botticelli. (Sorry you missed them.) Here is my favorite Matisse: (“Red Interior: Still Life on a Blue Table”, from 1947):

My wife’s favorite was “The Burning Bush” from 1951:

And here is my favorite Botticelli: “Saint Augustine in His Study”, a fresco from 1480:

It’s also the summer of David Ortiz at the MFA. Here’s a display of Big Papi’s three World Series rings and his World Series MVP ring from 2013:

Did Botticelli or Matisse ever accomplish anything comparable to what Big Papi accomplished in 2013? Of course not. Will Big Papi still be remembered half a millennium after his death, like Botticelli? Of course he will. Why are you even asking these questions?

Double rainbow over Fenway Park

We were at the Fenway Fantasy Day yesterday, and saw this:

Here’s something we couldn’t have imagined back in the 20th century–three World Series trophies, just sitting on a table waiting to be photographed:

Here’s the view from just above the Green Monster seats, just next to the foul pole made famous by Carlton Fisk’s game-winning home run in the 1975 World Series:

OK fine, here is that home run, long before there were seats up there:

Finally, here’s the classic form of our nephew Neil, who didn’t hit the foul pole but did loft one close to the warning track. I was impressed:

Colorado baseball

I happened to be in Denver last Saturday and found my way to Coors Field:

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It’s a beautiful place.  The Rockies were playing the Mets, and the batters on both teams were having fun: the final score was 12-11 Rockies.  (The Rockies’ home batting average is something like 40 points higher than that of any other team.)

Here are some differences from Fenway Park:

  • I saw a bunch of girls wearing prom dresses — what’s up with that?
  • There were incessant contests between innings — very annoying.
  • The Rockies manager pulled a double switch.  The DH is OK, but figuring out the strategy around pitchers batting is one of the joys of baseball.
  • Fenway Park doesn’t have vegetation in the outfield:

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Here was the scene after a Rockies grand slam:

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There was a bit of a Boston flavor to the game: the Rockies starter was ex-Red Sox Franklin Morales, who was terrible.  And the Mets’ middle reliever was old friend Dice-K Matsuzaka, the most annoying pitcher who ever lived.  Luckily, he didn’t have one of his four-walk, three-strikeout, 40-pitch innings that made you want to swear off baseball forever.  Maybe middle relief is where he belongs.

I called it back in March!

Oh wait, no I didn’t.

Still, there’s precious little reason to think the Red Sox are going to create much excitement this season.  Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster and Jonny Gomes may be good players and good guys in the locker room, but they aren’t going to sell tickets and make you turn on NESN.

Jackie Bradley Jr. was going to create the excitement.  Except that Jackie played a bit at the start of the season and proved that he wasn’t quite ready for prime time.  (Oddly, I was right about the new players not selling tickets — the team rarely sold out Fenway.)

Anyway, it’s nice for a championship to come out of nowhere.  And it’s nice to feel that that the ghosts of the past have been completely exorcised.  When Farrell came out to talk to Lackey in the seventh inning and left him in, my Twitter feed exploded with references to Grady Little.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you haven’t been a Red Sox fan for long enough.)  But nothing bad happened, the Red Sox won, and the Duck Boats ride again.

Time to change out my header image and return to our regular programming.

Why it’s hard to watch the World Series

I would think that, the older I get, the more blasé I would become about the World Series and the Superbowl and all the other sports playoffs.  It’s only a game.  And it has nothing to do with me.  But I find that the games are getting harder and harder for me to watch.  Because the stakes are so high for the players.  And they are people too.

I blame 1986.  People in my neck of the woods remember the 1986 baseball playoffs mainly for the Bill Buckner error in Game 6 of the World Series.  Here’s a guy who had an illustrious career ruined because he had a bad back and couldn’t make a routine play when it mattered the most, so the Red Sox had to wait another 18 years to win the World Series.  That’s bad enough.  But then there’s Donnie Moore.  In the ALCS, the Angels were within one strike of defeating the Red Sox and advancing to their first World Series.  And then:

The pitch…To left field and deep, and Downing goes back, AND IT’S GONE! Unbelievable! Astonishing! Anaheim Stadium was one strike away from turning into Fantasyland! The Red Sox lead 6-5! You’re looking at one for the ages here. The Red Sox get four runs in the ninth on a pair of two-run homers by Don Baylor and Dave Henderson.  —Al Michaels, ABC-TV

Donnie Moore, an All Star that year, made that pitch.  He stayed in the game and eventually lost on a Henderson sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th.  I remember watching that game.  What a thrill!  The Red Sox then went on to win two more games back at Fenway and advanced to the ill-fated World Series.

Moore was never the same pitcher after that.  Angels fans booed him every time he took the field.  Three years later, out of baseball after 14 years in the Major Leagues, he shot his wife in front of his children and then killed himself.

This is serious stuff.  I no longer remember the names of the Tiger relief pitchers who threw the pitches that Ortiz and Victorino hit for the grand slams in the ALCS.  I just hope those pitchers survive to enjoy the kind of reception that Bill Buckner had on Red Sox opening day in 2008:


Just another day in New England sports…

I love amateur videos like these.

Here is Gillette Stadium in Foxboro at around 7:30:


Here is Fenway Park in Boston about four hours later:

A guy at work has season’s tickets for both the Red Sox and the Patriots.  He went to the Saturday night game where the Red Sox managed just one hit, and he left the Patriots game before Brady’s spectacular pass. And he gave away his tickets to the now legendary Big Papi Grand Slam game.  That’s life . . .