Saturday, February 7, 2009

Living the Dream VI - The Last Day

The sixth and final installment by my brother Ed as he reports on his experience at the Boston Red Sox Fantasy Camp in City of Palms, Florida. As with the other five installments, I present these posts to you unchanged, other than a couple of spelling errors or words smashed together. Scroll down to the beginning of the series to get the whole skinny.

Despite getting knocked out of the championship game by a shocking loss on Day 5, Ed shows he hasn't lost any of the skills that made him a heady ballplayer back in his prime. Ed tells the story of his surprising last day beautifully. Here we go:

This morning we arrived at the locker room at the Red Sox Player Development Center one last time. We are going to play against the coaches and former pros at the City of Palms Stadium. We have to suit up one more time dressed in our home uniforms (white)....Took one last look (see attached) and made one last visit to the trainer for the morning stretch and wrap. After we pack up all of our stuff (really cool stuff) we are called to get on the team bus to the field.

We arrive about 9:30 for the 10:15 abbreviated game (3 innings) against the former pros...As we walked in from the parking lot, we could see the team before us getting beat rather routinely. We were next.... At 10:00 AM we took the field for a brief (and I mean brief) warm up.

The batting order was submitted to Joe Castiglione (voice of the Red Sox) and he announced each of us one by one. Today's opposing pitcher was Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd.....not a good sign.

In the "coaches pitch" (afternoon) games during the weeks, his team hated facing him because he can still really pitch (and because he even picked off a runner on his own team); 80 to 85 mph fastball, nasty slider and a curveball that looks like someone dropped it from a plane.

Two of our first three hitters roped singles (one them after about a 10 pitch battle)....good for them, bad for me....I bat 5th. Our number 4 clean-up hitter grounded into a double-play. I thought maybe Oil Can would forget about the 2 singles until I heard all of his team giving him crap about giving up two hits.

First batter for the pros Al Bumbry walks. Lou Merloni hit a towering fly ball to the warning track in left for one out. Next batter gets hit by a pitch. Then Rich Gedman walks. John Valentin is next (someone I've watched for years) and figured he was going to try to pull the ball....always did, always will....I moved over to my right to close the hole between shortstop and third base.....and like I've seen hundreds of times before, he hit a two hop grounder right to me between short and third.... I threw the ball to second for one and the second baseman could not pull the trigger on the relay throw that surely would have completed the 6-4-3 double play because Valentin was nursing a bad hamstring (aren't we all). One run scores without the benefit of a hit.

Next batter is the "Spaceman" Bill Lee and he pops up, a real major league pop up....the kind where you can loose your concentration because it stays up so long.....and I caught it for the third out. Pretty good showing...but I lead off the top of the 2nd inning and hope that Oil Can has a short memory....His warm-up pitches are starting to sound like he's a little pissed off......

First pitch to me is low and outside. I tried not to lean over the plate to see but I was able to take it for ball one. Next pitch is right down the middle for strike one and I think I can time his fastball. Two consecutive fastballs is good......the next one is likely to be a slider.....yep, low and outside - ball two. I may have instinctively leaned over the plate because the next pitch I was looking for was a high inside fastball....there it was and I fouled it back to the screen. I feel like I'm right on him...

Next pitch low outside fastball 3 balls - 2 strikes. He's got to come back with an inside fastball....he does and I rocked it about 325 feet (to the base of the 330 foot fence).....I thought it was gone....I flipped the bat away and watched as it sailed into left field and started to hook (just like golf) and the continued to hook towards the line into the corner.......FOUL.....damn, a little too early. I thought I got one....just missed!!

I knew Oil Can wasn't going to like me flipping the bat and watching the ball and I was ready for either the big curve ball or the was a nasty slider, low and away....I tried to check my swing but the umpire didn't agree......strike 3 swinging (first strikeout all week). But it was against Oil Can Boyd and I appreciated the fact that he had enough respect for me that he would throw me a 3-2 slider (at least that's how I see it).....he agreed. I looked over my shoulder when I walked back to the dugout and he gave me thumbs up....respect.
Tonight we had the awards banquet. The attached picture is not Paul Newman it's Butch Hobson. I included the attached photo for my cousin Vivian...(here you go Viv)... The champions were congratulated and each of the offensive, defensive and pitching awards was given to a worthy recipient.....and yes, I did win the batting title for the week and received a very nice glass trophy that will be engraved with my name and Batting Champion....very, very cool!!!

Flying back Sunday night late.....Hope to see you guys soon and tell you all the stories.

Please forward the news to whomever you want......Enjoy.

Yes, we did.

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