When the schedule came out some time late last season, I was disappointed to see that we opened the year on the road. Home Openers are always fun, but they aren't as exciting as hosting the first game of the season. Then my fellow author Teahenny Penny had a wonderful idea- take a road trip to Cleveland to see the boys kick things off. Luckily, I happened to be on spring break this week so I called up the Old Man and my brother and we decided to go. This morning at 5:45 we took off to Cuyahoga County. A little under 5 hours later and we were ready to get things started. If you haven't made the journey out to Progressive Field, it is a pretty decent road trip. Very simple directions that lead you to the park which is right off of the highway and into the parking lot which is right outside the home plate entrance.
We got there with plenty of time to spare, which gave us the opportunity to walk around the former Jake. Outside of the center field area, they have a nice statue of Bob Feller, which had wreaths and roses set up around it due to his passing this offseason. After that we saw a pretty big crowd outside of a bar and decided to go on in since there was still a little time before the gates opened. The Thirsty Parrot was packed with Indian fans, one of whom warned me to not go in there with my Sox gear. I went anyway and enjoyed a few miller lites. It is a pretty nice spot to hang out before and after the games, if you don't mind packed places and Tribe fans.
After a couple of beers we headed back over to the park as the gates opened for batting practice. We were treated to some absolute bombs by Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. Dunn hit one into the 2nd deck in right field, which is a very long way from the plate. The Sox as a whole seemed to be more focused on getting their work done than the last couple of years. After BP was the player introductions, during which Mark Buehrle, A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko received a lot of heat from the Indian faithful. After the Indians were introduced, they showed a Bob Feller montage, and at the end they brought his widow out to place the ball on the pitchers mound (which had the number 19, Feller's number, in the dirt). It was a touching moment for the Indian fans as Feller was their most famous player. In their yearbook, there is a story about Feller in which he is asked what his greatest win was- to which he responded World War II. Feller lost 4 years of his career to serve in the armed forces.
When the game started, I found myself quoting Harry Doyle of Major League fame most of the game. Juan Pierre stepped in and I said "a lot of times you can tell how the season is going to go by the first batter of the year". Needless to say I was pumped when Pierre ripped a single. Then Beckham doubled. Then Dunn struck out and I got pissed. Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin picked him up though, so all was forgotten. When Dunn stroked his homer, I didn't think it was going to go at first. However, the ball just kept carrying. Then Quentin bombed one of his own. The hit parade continued, as every starter but Rios recorded a hit. When the smoke cleared at the end of four, the Sox were winning 14-0 and I could not have been happier, besides when I remembered that if Quentin keeps this up I have to send WU some wine.
Yes the Indians came back with 10 runs, but the game was well in hand. The Tribe started hitting the ball hard off of Buehrle, Ohman, Pena, Sale and Crain- but that happens when you have a big lead and a couple of questionable plays by Lastings Milledge and Brent Lillibridge. I was pleased with the fact that they only walked 2 batters on the day, so at least they were pumping strikes (albeit hittable strikes). When Crain struck out Hannahan to end the game, the Sox entered first place at 1-0. In 2005 they led the entire season. We are off to a fine start.
Sometimes I forget how much I like Progressive Field. It is a really nice park to catch a game. After the victory, we drove back to Chicago, listening to the Score talk about a Sox win and a Cubs loss most of the way. What a great day! Thanks for the idea TP!