Category Archives: Fenway Park

Local man is bored with Heidi Watney

CARVER, Mass.–Heavy rains recently transformed the rectangular plots of Francis Flynn’s cranberry bogs into dark, murky pools of standing water. The cloud cover above is so heavy that Flynn is forced to use a flashlight in mid-afternoon as he checks the engine of one of his tractors–one of several with a hanging Red Sox logo painted onto the front end. There is not much the cranberry harvester can do on rainy days aside from taking refuge in the dryness of his storage shed.
 
With summer’s dog days on the nearby horizon, the rainfall keeps his bogs nourished and healthy. The Red Sox are in first place and it should be a good year for cranberries. Yet Flynn still sighs as he organizes his shed’s tool rack.
 
“I wish I knew what was going on with Heidi. I’m bored with her,” Flynn says, shaking his head. “Last year, every time she was on camera felt like some momentous event. Lately, though? I’ve got to admit she hasn’t been doing it for me.”
 
After expressing strong hopesfor Watney’s sophomore season as NESN’s on-field personality in March, Flynn’s feelings toward the blond-haired reporter have cooled considerably.
 
“Yeah, of course I still think she’s attractive. It’s just seeing her two or three times a game? Every night, all summer long? I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to the All-Star Break next week. Will Erin Andrews be covering the Home Run Derby for ESPN again?”
 
Flynn is unable to pinpoint exactly what spawned his boredom, but offers some hard criticism of Watney’s wardrobe choices thus far in 2009.
 
“She’s wearing scarves and long sleeves on 70-degree days at the ballpark. That’s just plain wrong,” he said. “And there’s that one blue shirt that she wears about once or twice a week. I wish NESN had a rule where once Heidi wears something on air, it gets thrown away after the broadcast.”
 
Watney’s unchanging hair styling has also miffed Flynn over the first half of the 2009 season.
 
“She wears it the same way every night. I say curl it or put it in a ponytail or braid it or just do something different with it. She’s so stubborn. You know what it reminds me of? Papelbon’s insistence on throwing sliders lately. Maybe both of them have lost something off their fastballs…” 
 
Flynn measures his response carefully when asked if he would prefer Watney be replaced or temporarily spelled by colleague Kathryn Tappen.
 
“It’s not that I don’t think she can do it…I think she’s done a good job working the Bruins games and all that,” he says. “But it just seems like she’s a poor man’s Heidi. If I’m sick of Heidi, what’s Kathryn Tappen going to add at this point?”
 
The possibility of teaming both of them together briefly intrigues the pensive Flynn.
 
“You know, maybe. Heidi’s in a rut. The Sox’ bats are in a rut…It’s drastic, but maybe that’s what we need,” Flynn says. “A shake up of the lineup, so to speak.”
 
Still, the cranberry bogger hints at a clear departure from the ethnic diversity NESN once boasted. The Filipino-born and Canadian-reared Hazel Mae, former SportsDesk anchor, left the station last year and has since landed a gig with MLB Network.
 
“After Hazel left, they basically replaced her with some white guy who gives in-game updates,” laments Flynn. “I think I was less upset when Theo tried to replace Pedro Martinez with Matt Clement. You mean to tell me there haven’t been any other female Asian or Spanish television reporters looking for a job over the last year?”
 
A thunder shower moves through the area and drizzle gives way to a steady downpour. Flynn puts on his red rain jacket and fastens its hood around his head as he exits his tool shed. As the rain becomes heavier, Flynn realizes he has left the window to his tractor open and the driver’s side has become flooded with incoming rainwater. Cursing like a longshoreman, he angrily slams the door after rolling up the window.
 
“I hate to say it,” Flynn says as he peers up at the sky, “But I think Heidi’s time may be up.”

Fans bracing for Nomar’s imminent return

BOSTON, Mass.–The looming return of beloved former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra drew strong feelings from fans this past week.
 
A key member of the 1998, 1999 and 2003 playoff teams, Garciaparra returns to Boston as a player for the first time since being traded in July 2004 on Monday when the Oakland Athletics visit for a three-game set.
 
Passing through Kenmore Square on Thursday while wearing a red-colored bracelet indicating his membership in ‘Red Sox Nation,’ Peter O’Malley, 20, of Sturbridge expressed visible anger. “I can’t believe he’s gonna show his face here again. After what he did trying to ruin the 2004 team? You gotta be kidding me. The minute he left town and Orlando Cabrera came in was the minute I started believing. I bet Nomar was real pissed off when Dave Roberts stole that base.”
 
Mary Richmond, 48, of Manchester, N.H. shared similar bewilderment at his popularity. “He was a clubhouse cancer and never cared about the fans. I used to scream my lungs out until I was hoarse cheering for him. And God forbid he ever stop eating dinner long enough to sign a napkin or one of my boobs. What did Nomar ever do for the community? This current group of Red Sox is a much more likable team with guys like Josh Beckett running that annual bowling tournament–what’s it called–Beckett Bowl?” 
 
Sporting a “Coco 10” jersey tee, Diana Timothy, 52, of Winchester, similarly suggested Nomar’s fidgety routines and malcontent status grew tiresome. “Even the local media turned on him by the end and he’s white..ish. That tells you something right there.”
 
Sitting in a Land Rover SUV outside Twin’s Souvenirs with her two young sons, ages 3 and 6, 34-year-old Matilda Mattern of Wellesley had little to say about the former All-Star shortstop’s prowess a decade ago. “Nomar Garciaparra…You mean Mia Hamm’s husband? He was on the Red Sox, wasn’t he? That was like, 15 years ago or something. Do you know if it’s going to be sunny outside tomorrow?”
 
Joseph Zimmerman, 35, of Brookline, took the jilted lover’s route when asked to analyze Garciaparra’s impact on him as a fan. “Most likely Nomar goes his way and I go mine,” he responded quickly without breaking stride as he walked down Beacon St.
 
“I’m sorry, I really don’t think I can talk about it,” said ‘Jeff White,’ a season ticket holder from Cambridge who asked that his real name be withheld. “I gave my seats away for the three games against Oakland.”
 
After walking away, White circled back and began reading off Garciaparra’s statistics, which he had drawn up on his iPhone. “Look at his wOBA from 1998-2000. And his isolated power stats in the late ’90s and early 2000s read like Jason Varitek’s monthly batting averages over the last couple years. Look at it! Win Shares, Runs Created, RAR, Wins Above Replacement …”
 
White began to choke up reciting the last stat and, blinking away tears, quickly walked away after threatening violence and a defamation lawsuit if his real name were used for this article.
 
Derek McCormick, 29, of Lynn, lamented Garciaparra’s less-than-sociable reputation within the clubhouse, as reported ad nauseum by the Boston media in his final days as a Red Sox. 
 
“Dustin and Francona are always playing dominoes together before games and having a good time pulling pranks on each other,” said McCormick. “I don’t think Nomar even knows how to play dominoes or put a teammate in a playful headlock. He just didn’t fit in anymore I guess.”
 
McCormick, however, didn’t rule out a return to the Red Sox for Garciaparra later in his career as a utility man.
 
“If the money’s right and he learns how to play dominoes and is willing to Irish jig to ‘Shipping Up to Boston,’ I think it could make sense. How cool would that be if he came back? They’d have to put those Coke bottles back up over the Monster so he could dent them with his home runs. Geez, just thinking about that gives me chills…”

Ortiz mashes his first home run of season, receives creepy letter from John Henry

BOSTON, Mass.–Through an exclusive club source, Fenway Pastoral has obtained text from a letter left inside David Ortiz’s locker following the Red Sox’ 8-3 victory Wednesday night. The letter was signed J. H. and is believed to be from lovestruck team owner John Henry.

Dear Papi,

Red Sox fans need a muse. Well, they don’t really. They don’t need nearly as much as they generally think they do. A man is greedy. Greedy for what he doesn’t think he has and what he thinks he wants.

We wouldn’t have won two World Championships without your charismatic presence pushing us. And your home runs were one of the most important byproducts.

So you will ask, “Why are you writing this?” Because your gorgeous, long-anticipated home run stroke in the fifth inning tonight gave a cool spin to this little blue planet from my vantage point.

Fenway feted your first home run of the season tonight and the skies opened. The sun emerged and created a giant rainbow between the city and the park. We were transfixed.

You only saw it if you were in the right place. I was in the right place when I noticed you.

Outside of our occasional, awkward on-field encounters after big wins, I barely know you. I don’t have any illusions about capturing your heart. But the world is brighter, better, lighter and warmer when an owner imbues a slugger he knows—even tabula rasa—with the attributes I believe reside in you. It’s the small things that ultimately matter. The subtle things.

I am honest. I don’t play games. And I see no reason not to say that I’ve been smitten by you and you’ve done this team a great service over the past seven years.

You’ve very innocently made our world brighter, better, lighter and warmer.

So thanks.

No response is necessary because a true Red Sox fan doesn’t need nearly as much as he thinks he does.

Amen, Mr. Henry. Amen.

Fenway/Kenmore residents infuriated over extension of “Fenway Family Hour”

BOSTON, Mass.–Fenway and Kenmore Square area residents are livid over the Boston Red Sox’ announcement Tuesday that hour-long discounts on food concessions will continue throughout the month of May:

Fenway Family Hour, a joint effort between the Red Sox and ARAMARK, was launched in April.  During the month of May, nine popular food items will again be available at up to 50% off in price, including: Fenway Franks, pizza slices, pretzels, popcorn, cotton candy, fruit cups, veggie cups, slider boat (two sliders & fries), and Hoodsie ice cream cups.  The discount is available at all locations throughout the ballpark and there is no limit on the number of items purchased. 

It is a “first hour” provision that has residents particularly upset at the extension, which would seemingly appear to be nothing more than a gesture of good faith by the team to cash-strapped fans. The fine print within the promotion dictates that the discounts are only available for the first hour after the gates are opened (i.e. 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a 1 o’clock start). The undesired result, residents say, is a push by fans to arrive for games as early as possible.

“These games are all-day events now,” said 43-year-old Maryanne Donahue as she sat outside her apartment on Park Drive. “Fans are showing up in the area four or five hours before the game even starts so they can get a parking spot and tailgate or go to the bar for a couple hours before the gates open. It’s the Kentucky Derby here every night now.”

Ted Crane, a 25-year resident of the Kenmore Square area, says he’s also noticed an earlier influx of Red Sox fans on game nights this season as compared to prior years.

“These families with a bunch of kids are showing up with their hats and jerseys and novelty license plates…They gotta make sure they’re inside the park for the full hour of half-price food,” says Crane. “And I’ll tell you something else, they’re eating like it’s the Last Supper. Ice cream, hot dogs — sliders, for crissakes, sliders! At Fenway Park! — I’ve had to hose down vomit on the sidewalk in front of my building almost every day.”

As many as 100 Fenway/Kenmore residents have banded together in petitioning Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to order the Red Sox to cease its “Fenway Family Hour” plans for May.

“One month of this was enough,” says Maura Mastarrono, a superintendent of a building on Boylston St. near the park. “With the weather getting warmer in May, I can only imagine fans are going to be filing into the city even earlier in the day. The Landsdowne crowd? I see them strolling into those watering holes at 9 a.m. now so they can get a buzz going before scarfing down a bunch of cheap food.”

City officials did not return repeated requests for comment. However, a Boston Police Department spokesperson assured Fenway Pastoral that, “We have procedures in place for controlling public gluttony and ensuring that the presence of delicious, affordably priced food is not abused.”

Sox CEO Lucchino convinced Ellsbury’s baserunning prowess, Pink Floyd album are linked

BOSTON, Mass.—High-ranking Red Sox officials have begun privately prodding team president and CEO Larry Lucchino to seek psychiatric counsel after the PR ace spent most of the recent home stand obsessing over the synchronicity of plays involving Jacoby Ellsbury and cuts from Pink Floyd’s album, Dark Side of the Moon.

 

“This all started after the Red Sox signed Phish to play Fenway Park at the end of May. He’s been talking to a lot of the band’s hardcore fans and seems to have really taken to their culture and lifestyle. These people smoke a lot of marijuana and have been putting a lot of ideas in his head. I haven’t had a normal conversation with him in weeks. All he cares about is ‘what part of the song was playing during that play?’” said a Red Sox employee willing to discuss the incident “only because Lucchino has always been a douche bag toward me.”

 

Lucchino has become increasingly convinced that certain points in the album align in a meaningful way with particular baserunning plays involving Ellsbury such as the young phenom’s straight steal of home plate Sunday night.

 

Lucchino has apparently taken his cue from the popular rumor among the stoner/Phish fan community that Dark Side of the Moon contains parallels to the classic movie The Wizard of Oz when played on repeat. Just as the Dark Side of the Moon’s aural effects sync with the movie’s visuals if the album is started while the MGM lion roars for the third time, Lucchino believes a similar effect can be created if the first track is cued as Ellsbury crosses over the right field foul line during the first inning on his way to center field.

 

“Larry used to spend most of his time schmoozing and didn’t usually pay all that much attention to the game, so we knew there was something wrong when we saw him sitting by himself in the front row of the executive box with huge, sound-cancelling headphones on,” said a second Red Sox official speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The guy looked like Rain Man out there.”

  

Lucchino played the 43-minute album on repeat nearly 20 times overall during the weekend alone thanks to the length of Friday and Saturday night’s games. Lucchino reportedly told anyone who would listen that Ellsbury’s voyage Friday from second base to home plate on a passed ball from Joba Chamberlain unfolded in perfect timing with the lyric “run, rabbit run” from the song “Speak to Me/Breathe.” 

 

Meanwhile, Lucchino claims he knew Ellsbury was going to steal home on Sunday night because the chorus from the instrumental track “On the Run” began playing as the speedy outfielder extended an extremely generous lead down the third base line.  

 

The sources for this story acknowledged that Lucchino’s behavior may be a clever ploy by the prolific marketing guru to drum up attention from marijuana smokers for the upcoming Phish concert at Fenway Park. However, the team is taking surprisingly great pains to keep details of his behavior from the mainstream media. Looking foolishly docile in a series of recent photographs with his new fiance, John Henry certainly did his part to at least temporarily divert attention from the escalating situation. 

 

“Are you kidding me?” asked the higher ranking official. “This has opened a massive can of worms and we are on the verge of desperate. I can already imagine the fallout from this—a minimum of five Dan Shaughnessy columns where he employs a bunch of predictable Pink Floyd lyrical references…Probably a littering of ill-conceived allusions to 60s rock music by those Inside Track cows. I’m pretty sure the front office wants to keep a lid on this one.”

   

“Peter Gammons has already perverted enough classic songs by trying to shoehorn their lyrics into his ESPN columns,” said the other source. “That’s the last thing we need to be promoting.”

 

Economy, Boston teams’ success taking toll on local scalper/philanthropist

BOSTON, Mass–Ignoring the presence of a few early morning stragglers milling around Yawkey Way and Brookline Ave., Billy Moriarty sidles up to the side of a building, lowers the pants of his blue Adidas tracksuit and urinates on the faded brick wall facing out toward an empty parking lot. Moriarty, 49, snaps his elasticized pants back against his gut and yawns audibly, looking disheveled and exhausted. A long night at the hospital will do that to a man.

Crossing over the Brookline Ave. bridge slowly, Moriarty effectively arrives at his concrete office: For over 20 years, he has supported himself by scalping tickets to Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics games. A mainstay of the Boston sports scene for decades, games can’t be considered ‘big games’ if Moriarty isn’t hawking tickets at a hefty profit. With the Red Sox’ popularity swelling to epic proportions over the last 10 years, Moriarty’s Fenway post has become his bread and butter.

For 81 games each season, Moriarty’s primary job description is scalping Red Sox tickets at his usual post across from Uno’s and Popeye’s Chicken in Kenmore Square. The occupation has become lucrative enough to free him from three decades of living with his mother in a cramped triple-decker in Charlestown and deliver him into a lush, one-bedroom apartment in Roslindale. Not that he ever gets to sleep in his own bed these days.

“Yeah, I sleep there once a week, maybe–when I don’t end up in the hospital all night,” says Moriarty.

Surprisingly, it is not the dangerous, shady world of ticket scalping that lands Moriarty in hospital rooms so frequently. Rather, a newfound life mission has transformed the once reprehensible, skeevy scalper.

“I do volunteer work reading books to kids with cancer at Dana Farber Cancer Institute,” he explains. “I‘d say I‘m there just about every night of the week for five to six hours at least.”

While it is undoubtedly a noble cause Moriarty has undertaken, it has nonetheless rendered him a zombie during daylight hours. His moonlighting as a de facto children’s librarian has quite obviously begun to consume him—bags hang lazily over his sleepless eyes, stubble grows unevenly from his tired face, a stale cigarette stench emanates from his clumsily constructed, ill-maintained physique. His voice has become all but a deliberate rasp, angrily hissing from his throat as though to make his listener shudder.

During the winter months, with just the Celtics and Bruins in season, Moriarty has the occasional night off. But this April has become the perfect storm of commitments now that the Celtics and Bruins are all but assured to still both be playing at least until May. Halfway through a two-week Red Sox homestand, the side effects are already evident. 

“This is just the beginning for me,” says Moriarty. “I just hope sales start to pick up once the weather gets warmer…Tickets aren’t exactly in high demand right now. Times are tough. People aren’t snatching up these tickets an hour before the game starts anymore. I’m here unloading seats until the fourth inning at half face value.” Indeed, even the Red Sox have resorted to some rather predictable, blunt marketing techniques in order to meet historical ticket sale levels. 

This is bad news for Moriarty. The volume of tickets Moriarty is able to flip onto Red Sox fans directly affects his hospital reading routine. After struggling with an alcohol addiction in his more formidable years, Moriarty fended off his dependence by turning to stimulants including cocaine, adderol, Ritalin, oxycontin and other—as he calls them—“cocktails” that help him live his crazy double life.

“I operate on a cash basis in all my business transactions,” Moriarty explains. “If I have less cash from Sox ticket sales coming in than in years past, I don’t get my medications and, unfortunately, the kids I read to suffer. I can’t stay awake all night without my cocktails. And it’s not like I can sell these kids the scattered singles I have left at the end of the night. They’re bedridden, for crissakes. ”

Composing himself, Moriarty takes a long, deliberate gulp of Vick’s 40 cough syrup and chases it with a Monster energy drink to help lubricate his voice box. Hardened and crusty as he is, Moriarty has a gentle side that he rarely shows the outside world. He rebuffs repeated requests to have his photograph taken reading to children and is adamant that no one interrupt this very personal aspect of his life.

Similarly, he refuses to provide names for any of the children he reads to for fear that they will be exploited. His name, he says, will not be familiar if run past hospital officials since he uses an alias–which he also refuses to disclose. 

“My favorite nights are the ones where I’m really feeling connected with a certain character and I start to talk like them in one of my fantasy voices. Sometimes a crowd of like five or ten kids just herds around me. It feels like I‘ve got box seats for the World Series.”

Moriarty is a sucker for the classics when it comes to his choice of reading material. “I’ve probably read the text for Charlotte’s Web aloud over 100 times since I started volunteering,” says Moriarty. “But I’m just as big a fan of Dr. Seuss’ There’s a Wocket in my Pocket and The Touch Me Book as the next guy. A lot of the kids are actually pretty big baseball fans. I’ve read the 2009 Bill James Baseball Handbook to a couple of kids over the last few months. They really seemed to like that. Sometimes we get into pretty heated discussions about stuff — you know, player projections and all that.”