Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me – The Red Sox Provide Icing on the Cake!

This past weekend, I celebrated a milestone birthday (Hint – it was not Sweet Sixteen!). My family had asked me how I wanted to celebrate, and I told them I preferred a low-key celebration with family. So, earlier in the week, I enjoyed a wonderful dinner and evening with family at the home of my son, Ti, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My son, Scott was able to join us, along with my daughter-in-law, Raluca, and my darling grandchildren, Laurelin and Amet. My sister, Diane, had flown in from Tampa for the occasion; she surprised and delighted us all by providing a dinner of boiled Maine lobsters. Yes! It was a wonderful time of being together.

The Red Sox must have learned of the special occasion, because they very thoughtfully invited the Yankees to come to town as the denouement of my birthday celebration. I did not want to seem ungrateful, so I made time in my busy schedule to stop by Fenway Park on Friday evening and Sunday evening – just to let the Red Sox know that I appreciated all that they were doing to make my birthday a memorable one.

Friday night’s game was an instant classic – with the Red Sox unexpectedly scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to beat their former bete noire, Mariano Rivera. Oft-maligned Red Sox centerfielder, Cocoa Crisp, slapped a triple down the right field line, and later scored the winning run. Jonathan Papelbon aptly pitched a scoreless 9th inning for the save – completing the passing of the torch from Rivera to Papelbon as the most feared closer in baseball.

Behind the scenes, I was having a marvelous time. Because of my affiliation with the Autograph Alley program at Fenway Park, I often end up sitting in the section reserved for the family and friends of the visiting team. So, I spent much of Friday night’s game in the company of several rabid Yankee fans. My friend, Casimir Deronnete, had accompanied me to the game. He arrived in full Yankees regalia – pinstriped shirt, Yankees cap and a New York City in-your-face attitude! Casimir was born in the Republic of Haiti, but many of his formative years were spent in Brooklyn, so I suppose he can be forgiven if his sympathies now lie with the Bronx Bombers. During several key moments in the course of the game – as the Yankees built an apparently insurmountable lead of 6-2 – Casimir turned to me and say: “How are you feeling? Are you alright?” My hint that his solicitous concern for my welfare was disingenuous came when I noticed the grin on his face that reminded me of Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”!

Casimir found common cause with several others in our section who were also sporting pinstriped habiliments. I recall at one point looking at the assembled Yankees fans and spouting the cliché: “He who laughs last, laughs best!” Sometimes even a cliché can prove to be prophetic. It turned out that we were in the midst of several individuals who accompany Yankee second baseman, Robinson Cano, when the team is on the road. We spent several innings with his personal body guard and his personal trainer, both former ball players from Cano’s native Dominican Republic. I understand; anyone who is anybody needs to have an entourage! We all spent the remainder of the game swapping good-natured barbs across the Athens - Sparta chasm that is the Red Sox – Yankees rivalry.

On Sunday morning, I was at Copley Place Mall in Boston’s Back Bay before the shops opened for the day. I ran into Yankee reliever, Luis Vizcaino. I knew by his demeanor, his ubiquitous cell phone and his tasteful “bling-bling” that he was a ballplayer, but I initially thought he was Robinson Cano. He set me straight and told me who he was, and we soon discovered that we know in common my Dominican friend, Davey Valdez, one of several baseball-playing brothers. Luis was looking to buy a suit. When I asked him what kind of a suit, he replied: “A traveling suit!” With those parameters clearly in mind, I brought Luis to meet the staff at the Hugo Boss store. They opened a few minutes early for him and promised me that they would treat him well. I don’t know what kind of suit he ended up buying for his trip out of town, but the next time I saw him he had donned his Yankee pinstripes and was standing on the mound at Fenway as part of a parade of Yankee pitchers who yielded a total of 27 runs to the Red Sox over the course of the weekend. Along the way, the piece de resistance of last night’s game was four consecutive homeruns swatted by Messieurs Ramirez, Drew, Lowell and Varitek. This feat of “four in a row” had never before been accomplished by a Red Sox team, and only four other times in all of baseball history.

The Yankee line-up remains one of the most fearsome in all of Major League Baseball, and I expect a season-long dogfight for first place in the American League East. But for one brief, shining weekend in New England, they were complicit in allowing the Red Sox to throw for me one of the best birthday celebrations one could imagine – aside from that wonderful, quiet evening I had spent earlier in the week playing Grampy. (2-year-old Amet calls me “Gimpy” – go figure! And he has not even seen me on the tennis court yet.) Life is sweet!



Mark said...

Happy birthday Al!!!

Currently NY is 4 games behind.

But remember, your cliché about "he who laughs last laughs best" might come back to haunt us come fall.

Casimir Deronette said...

Bonne Fete Mon ami Al!!

I'm glad the Red Sox made your weekend one to remember. But remember, as Mark mentioned in his previous comment about your cliche ''he who laughs last laughs best'' will come to haunt you and the Red Sox in October. Well, I dont know if the Red Sox will make it thru, but hey enjoy the April wins... By the way, don't forget the five games sweep last fall.

jefftremblay said...

Bonne fête mon ami Al!

I'll bring your gift in May!
Hint: Canada VS USA or home VS Vermont
I did watch Sunday's game on TV... four homeruns that was awesome!

take care and see you soon!

Anonymous said...

Omedito Gozaimasu, Whito-Raeno-san! --Daisuke

Ken Flowers said...

Happy birthday!

Kris said...

Happy Extremely Belated Birthday, Dr. Chase! Hope everything is going well with you.

Kris Mansour