2011: A Chiefs Odyssey – Kevin’s Number 3
Since I started following sports back when I was eight years old or so, baseball’s been my first love. But my first love within that first love was the New York Yankees. I’m from Long Island and my dad’s always been a huge Yankee fan – so it wasn’t a difficult choice. (Plus, when you’re a kid, you generally follow every team your dad does.) I learned to idolize Derek Jeter’s jump throw and Mariano Rivera’s cutter. I slammed my head into the floor as an eight-year-old when the Yankees fell behind 5-2 to San Diego in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. I jumped for joy a few innings later when Tino Martinez’ grand slam put the Yanks ahead 9-5.
But when you’re a Yankee fan, it’s not enough to love your own team – you need the same level of emotion, only negative, for the poorly-accented AL East rivals from Massachusetts – the hated Boston Red Sox. The worst day of my baseball life was – and still is – Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, when the (bleep)ing Sawx jumped on the unholy trio of Kevin Brown (no relation), Javier Vazquez (*shudders), and Esteban Loaiza (seriously) and completed the greatest single-series comeback in…oh, major league history. I couldn’t stomach it later when Boston inevitably won the 2004 World Series – AND then turned the trick three years later in 2007. (Side note: I was dating a Red Sox fan at the time. Unsurprisingly, we didn’t last.)
So I had a predisposition to hate everything about the Red Sox. Well, not quite everything. I always liked Johnny Damon, even before he came to the Yankees. I always wanted to walk inside one of the most historic venues in the United States – Fenway Park. And I…OK, I can only think of two things. I got my wish on the first one in 2006 when Damon signed a four-year deal with the Yankees. And I finally got my wish on the second one this year.
I got a call from Jason on a random February day while I was upstairs in my bedroom. It went something like this.
Kevin: “What’s up?”
Jason: “I know you’re a Yankee fan, but you’re gonna have to call a game in Fenway Park this year.”
Kevin: *shocked silence*
As Jason recapped, the Chiefs were in Fenway for the annual Futures game. My one regret is I didn’t get to go up on the Green Monster seats – but outside of that, it was baseball heaven. (And plus, it gives me motivation to get back there again.) My biggest impression of Fenway was just how small it felt – I sat behind the infamous Pesky Pole in right field and felt like it was about 200 feet from home plate. It’s a bit cramped, but it doesn’t quite feel that way. The smells, the sights, the sounds, the fact that I was sitting in the press box for the Boston Red Sox – it was all a bit surreal. I think I toned my energy down a bit because I didn’t want to be over-the-top – but I was going mentally crazy the entire time. I can’t wait to return.
Oh, and the Chiefs won on the strength of two RBI from Seth Bynum and two hits from hometown kid Matt Antonelli. The icing on the cake to what was sort of an out-of-body experience.