Written exclusively for Fenway Pastoral by Red Sox first baseman/third baseman Kevin Youkilis
For starters, let me just say that I’m not much of a theme park guy. But we had a couple of days to kill in Anaheim before Thursday’s opening game of the ALDS against the Angels. The baseball playoffs are always nerve-wracking and as a player you’ll do anything to keep yourself on an even keel.
Under normal circumstances, I’d just blow off some steam and hit a few buckets of balls at a local driving range. But a couple weeks ago, someone lost grip of their driver and the club boomeranged out and flew into my post, striking me in the side and bruising my ribs. Ever since then, I’ve been reluctant to return to the links.
At any rate, October isn’t one of Disneyland’s peak seasons, but for whatever reason the park was packed the day I decided to visit. Little, punk kids were running around everywhere and I had to swat them away like gnats buzzing around my head during a humid summer night in the Fens.
The entryways to all the popular rides (Matterhorn Bobsleds, Big Thunder, Pirates of the Caribbean) were more crowded than South Station on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It was horrible.
At one particularly vexing point as I first entered the gates, a herd of truant second graders damn near trampled me to the ground as I tried to make my way toward a concession stand to purchase a sno cone. The stream of bodies collided with me with such force that I was pinned back against a brick wall and the ham sandwich in the front pouch of my Camelhump backpack was irreparably destroyed, crushed.
Already hungry and distraught, I was able to summon the patience to line up for the Space Mountain roller coaster. I waited about an hour and ten minutes only to be disappointed by the ride’s relative lack of speed and imagination as compared to Disney World’s version.
Making matters worse, I was forced to sit next to a heavy-set woman who repeatedly hit me in the face with her chunky left elbow as she raised and lowered her arms in delight. As I exited the ride, I hit my forehead on the restraint bar that did not rise to the proper height to let me safely get out of my seat.
Determined to salvage the afternoon, I bought an ice cream sandwich to hold to my head to reduce any swelling and ate some fried dough and a jambalaya chicken sandwich. Feeling better, I decided to wait in a short line for the tea cups.
I learned the hard way why the line was so short for the tea cups. After exiting the heinous five-minute spinfest, I threw up the entire contents of my stomach all over a nice family of Canadian tourists. It was truly awful and I promised to mail Jason Bay autographed jerseys to all six members of the family.
After the puking incident, I decided it would probably be best to stay off roller coasters for the rest of the day. I found what appeared to be a lovely garden-themed retreat that was reasonably empty and free of long lines and screaming children.
I sat myself down on a bench and enjoyed a brief moment of relaxation before feeling a sharp, stinging pain at the back of my neck. A bumblebee had apparently flown out of a nearby flower bud and caught me at a moment of vulnerability. Irritated, I swatted at the bee, which was a mistake. The vengeful bee circled around and gave me a second sting on the inside of my elbow.
Suppressing groans of agony, I kicked at a nearby trash can in frustration at the immense feeling of pain. Still flailing around, I somehow managed to slam my funny bone into the wooden corner of the bench and a numb shot of pain reverberated up and then down my arm.
At this point, I was in an excruciating amount of distress and decided it would be best to leave Disneyland. I was able to make my way back to the team hotel with minimal additional damage. (I rolled my ankle getting out of the cab and my pant leg briefly got caught in the hotel’s automatic doors, but I took full BP the next morning and felt good as new.)
Frankly, I’m not sure if I’ll be going back to Disneyland any time soon. The rides are outdated, the food was subpar and the facility’s infrastructure does not seem to be able to accommodate the high volume of visitors. Needless to say, Disneyland certainly proved a righteous test of patience and self-restraint.
As for this playoff series against the Angels, everyone in the league knows I don’t hit sliders too well. But John Lackey and Jered Weaver are loathe to throw theirs for strikes consistently and I plan to inflict enough damage on offense over the next couple of games to assure we don’t have to come back to this godforsaken hellhole again until next season.