The Milagro in the Sligo


Twenty years ago today, the Boston Red Sox played the Cleveland Indians in the 5th and deciding game of the 1999 American League Division Series.  This game became an instant classic due to the performance of the great Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez that helped clinched the series for the Red Sox.  I was reminded of this game because of this oral history compiled by Ian Browne on MLB.com.

It brought back memories of watching this game with Susan (many years before we were married and were new to living in the Boston area) at the Sligo Pub in Somerville’s Davis Square.  If I could find all the people who were in that dive bar that night and interview them for an additional oral history, I would, but I’m just going to have to rely on my own memory.  Susan and I didn’t have a tv at the time so we went looking for a bar to watch the game, but all the watering holes in Davis Square were so packed it was impossible to see the tv.  The one exception was the Sligo, a pub we’d never before entered.  The other bars were full of college kids, but the clientele of the Sligo was slanted toward middle-aged and the accents were clearly those of lifelong locals.  Nevertheless, we were welcomed to take a seat at a table and watch the game.

The Red Sox were the 81st year of their World Series drought, and lost to Cleveland in the 1998 ALDS. Pedro’s excellent season – including striking out 5 of 6 National League sluggers in the All-Star Game at Fenway Park – instilled hope among Red Sox fans that this would be the year.  But then Cleveland won the first two games, and worse, Pedro injured his pitching shoulder.  Somehow, the Red Sox came back and won the next two games in Boston, including a 23-7 drubbing in Game 4.  And so the series returned to Cleveland for the deciding game 5.  Pedro wasn’t expected to be able to pitch again and the Red Sox started the struggling Bret Saberhagen and hoped for the best.

The box score says that Pedro Martinez entered the game in the top of the 4th, but honestly those first 3 innings felt like a whole game in its own right.  The Red Sox scored 2 runs in the 1st, but the Indians came back and scored 3 in the bottom of the 1st and 2 more in the 2nd.  In the top of the 3rd, the Red Sox rallied again, and the Red Sox leftfielder Troy O’Leary came to bat with the bases loaded.  O’Leary hadn’t hit well in the series so far, but a man at the bar had faith in him.

“O’Leary is due! He’s gonna hit a homah!”

Lo and behold, O’Leary knocked the first pitch to right-center for a grand slam.

“You did it!” exclaimed several men at the bar.

“I didn’t do it, O’Leary did it.  I’m just some drunk guy at a bah!” the prognosticator demurred.

The Red Sox now had a 7-5 lead but it didn’t last long because the Indians scored another 3 runs in the bottom of the inning.  Then the Red Sox tied the game in the top of the 4th at 8-8.  It was in the bottom of the 4th when everyone was stunned to see Pedro Martinez heading to the mound to pitch.  Everyone was nervous, fearing that this slugfest was no place for an injured pitcher, hoping against hope that Pedro wouldn’t get smacked around too.

But Pedro had a calming effect on the game.  Cleveland failed to score in the bottom of the 4th – the first time they put a 0 up in any inning – and neither team scored in the 5th and 6th innings.  Things got so quiet that the barfly at the table opposite us put her head down for a rest.  At least she tried, but loquacious sportscaster Tim McCarver wouldn’t stop talking.

The woman lifted her head and shouted “Shut the feck up, McCavah!  You’re such a Chatty Cathy!” She punctuated this by putting her head back on the table. As Susan noted, there was a sense that no truer words have ever been spoken.

The Red Sox took the lead again in the 7th inning on a 3-run home run by none other than Troy O’Leary.  O’Leary tied a postseason record with 7 RBIs in a single game.  Meanwhile, Cleveland didn’t score at all.  In fact they weren’t able to get a hit off the amazing injured arm of Martinez.  The fans in the bar grew more optimistic that the Red Sox would win this game and advance to the American League Champion Series.  One guy prematurely anticipated that the Red Sox would beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS and then the  New York Mets in the World Series.

“New York, New York – DOUBLE HAMMER!!!” he repeated like a mantra.

The Red Sox did indeed win the game and the ALDS with Pedro no-hitting the Indians for the six innings he pitched.  The game went down in history as the Martinez Milagro. Susan and I pledged to return to the Sligo to watch the Red Sox if they had a chance to clinch the ALCS.  Sadly, the Red Sox lost the ALCS in five games to the Yankees, although the one game they won was another classic in which Pedro outpitched hated former Red Sox Roger Clemens.

Massachusetts & Me: Two Decades Together


20 years ago today I drove a rental truck down the narrow streets of Winter Hill in Somerville and officially became a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Nine years later almost to the day, I moved to Boston proper in my present home in Jamaica Plain.  20 years is by far the most time I’ve resided in any state (compared with 15 years in Connecticut, 7 years in Virginia, and 2 years in New Jersey), and close to half of my life.

Living in Massachusetts this long means making many friends, some of whom have moved on to other states, and then meeting new, interesting people.  I’ve developed annual traditions, found favorite restaurants (sadly, many of which have closed), gone to tons of concerts and sporting events, visited museums and historic sites, participated in protests and celebrations, and settled into comfortable routines.  And yet there’s so much more to see and do and explore.

It’s all gone by so quickly, so let’s look back at some of the highlights of my 20 years in the Bay State:

1998-2000 – I work sundry temp jobs at GTE, Genzyme, and MIT, and also spend some time unemployed. FUN!

1999-present – began commuting around Boston & environs by bicycle, and while I don’t ride nearly as much as I used to, it’s still a great way to get around the city.

1999 & 2000 – Participated in the Boston –> New York AIDSRide

1999-2006 – Not really in Massachusetts, but living in day trip distance of New Hampshire’s White Mountains meant I could do a lot of hikes of 4000 foot peaks.

2000 – Started working at a library, where I’m still working 3 job changes, 7 offices, and 12 supervisors later.

2000 – Begin leading historical walking tours as a guide for Boston By Foot.

2001-2013 – Participate in a wonderful church community at the Paulist Center in downtown Boston.

2002-2004 – Studied for my Masters in Library and Information Science at the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

2004 – Witnessed the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years.

2005 – Married Susan!

2007 – Saw the Red Sox win the World Series again.

2007 – Peter Born!

2008 – Spend a couple of weeks suffering from crippling sciatica and missing work. :(

2009 – I performed in the annual Christmas Revels show.  I even sang a solo!

2010-2011 – I write and lead a new tour for Boston By Foot for the Avenue of the Arts.

2011 – Kay Born!

2011-2012 – I create and lead another Boston By Foot Tour in Somerville’s Davis Square.

2012 – 2013 – Sang in a family chorus in JP.

2012-present – Our kids attend a wonderful Boston Public School and we get to meet lots of cool teachers, kids, and parents (and become public education activists).

2013 – sang as part of a 50-voice choir in Somerville Theatre bringing the music of Beck to life with burlesque dancers.

2013 – Horrified by the Boston Marathon bombing but touched by the many people who helped save lives and the spirit of the community in the ensuing days.

2013-present – Our kids play in the wonderful Regan Youth League

2013-present – become active in another fantastic church community closer to home, Hope Central.

2013 – Watched the Red Sox win yet another World Series, this time with a 5-year-old superfan

2014-2015 – I write and lead yet another new tour for Boston By Foot of Cambridge Common

2015 – Four consecutive blizzards in a matter of weeks bury Boston in a 108″ of snow.

2017-2018 – Yet again, I’m involved in creating a new tour for Boston By Foot, this time of the SoWa District.

Beer Review: Pretty Things Our Finest Regards


Beer:  Our Finest Regards
Brewer: Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating: **  (6.9 of 10)
Comments:

I was heartbroken to learn that the creators of Pretty Things are calling it quits.  So I picked this bottle of a Pretty Things beer I’d never tried before. It pours out a ruby brown, effervescent with a thin head. The aroma is a cherry brandy, and the flavor is sweet, vanilla and creamy.  It has a light mouthfeel, and an overly sweet aftertaste.  Flavors mature as you work your way down the warming glass.  Check it out while you still can!

From the same brewery:

 

Beer Review: Pretty Things Lovely St. Winefride


Beer: Lovely St. Winefride
Brewer: Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Source: 22 oz. bottle
Rating: **** (8.0 of 10)
Comments: Lovely St. Winifrede is dark & foamy.  The aroma is sweet with a whiff of alcohol.  The taste is spicy, then hoppy, with a clean finish.  The head dissipated quickly with no lacing.   This is a good “meat & potatoes” beer

 

 

Beer Review: Slumbrew My Better Half


Beer: My Better Half
Brewer: Somerville Brewing Company
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating: *** (7.9 of 10)
Comments: A golden amber with very little carbonation, this caramel-scented beer has the unique flavor combination of sweet orange cream with a chocolate aftertaste.  The head is thin and the lacing is erratic, but this brew is yummy.

 

Beer Review: Slumbrew Imperial Cream Ale


Beer:  Imperial Cream Ale
Brewer: Slumbrew Brewing Company
Source:  Draft
Rating: *** (7.8 of 10)
Comments: The beer is a hazy, copper-amber color with a thin head.  The nose was a faint sweet smell.  There wasn’t much expectation at this point, but the taste was a  pleasant surprise.  True to its name it has a creamy flavor with vanilla, but not overly sweet and it goes down smoothly.  The high-alcohol content also left me with a pleasant buzz.

Beer Review: Pretty Things Field Mouse’s Farewell


BeerField Mouse’s Farewell 
BrewerPretty Things Beer and Ale Project
Source: Draft in a tulip glass
Rating: *** (7 of 10)
Comments: This feels like a fancy beer with a golden orange glow and a thin head.  The aroma was sweet and spicy with some fruit, perhaps apricots?  The taste is dominated by bitter hops with a clean citrus finish.  It’s apparent from the complex flavors that this is a well-crafted beer, although I found it too bitter for my taste.

Beer Review: Attic & Eaves Toasted Brown Ale


Beer: Attic & Eaves Toasted Brown Ale
Brewer: Slumbrew (Somerville Brewing Company)
Source: Draught (in tulip glass)
Rating: **** (8.1 of 10)
Comments:  Our local Boston-area breweries continue to duke it out for a place in my beer-loving heart, and Slumbrew packs a wallop with their Autumn offering (and not just due to the 7.5% ABV).  This beer is a dark brown with a thin tan head.  The aromas and flavors are like a chocolate liqueur with burnt, nutty flavors.  The bitterness hits the tongue for a moment but is cleared away for a crisp finish.  This is a rich, tasty beer and I’ll have to try it again as the leaves begin to turn.

Beer Review: Pretty Things/Yeastie Boys Our Turn, Your Turn


Beer:  Our Turn, Your Turn
Brewer:  Pretty Things / Yeastie Boys collaboration
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating:  *** (7.5 of 10)
Comments:  Our Turn, Your Turn and as the world turns, a collaboration of the Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project of Somerville, MA and the Yeastie Boys of New Zealand.  The beer is a hazy, straw color with lots of fizz.  Aromas and flavors seem to be heavily influenced by the Linden flower, a type of tea that gives the beer strong earthy and floral accents.  The hoppiness packs a wallop, and I generally don’t like the bitterness of hoppy beers, but this one is good enough to make an exception.  All in all, an imaginative and exceptional beer.

Photopost: Boston Breakers versus Portland Thorns FC


On Sunday, our family went to see the Boston Breakers play a soccer match against the Portland Thorns FC.  My toddler daughter Kay didn’t last long and after about 20 minutes or so my wife had to take her to a playground.  But my son Peter and I stayed to watch the entire game even during a rain shower in the final minutes.

Things started well with an early goal by Lianne Sanderson for the Breakers, but overall the team played sloppily failing to connect on passes and leaving goalkeeper Ashley Phillips exposed to attacks by the Thorns.  A great number of fans in attendance were there to see the Thorns superstar player Alex Morgan with a subset actively cheering for the team from Oregon (including a handful of supporters holding Thorns’ scarves through the games).  They were pleased to see Morgan even the score in the 23rd minute.

The Breakers were able to hang on until the rain began to fall and in the 87th Morgan made the assist for Melana Shim’s game-winning goal.  A disappointing performance by the Breakers, but a fun game with a good vibe in the sellout crowd.  This is the first time we’ve attended a Breakers’ game since their move to Dilboy Stadium in Somerville which is more intimate in seating than Harvard Stadium, but a running track makes the playing field feel very far away.  The Afro-Brazilian drummers who play during the game were at the far corner behind the goal, but I think would help the atmosphere if they played closer to the stands (in fact, there’s plenty of room on the aforementioned track).  Anyway, I need to get my butt in gear and go to more games.

More details on the game from New England Soccer Today and the Boston.com Corner Kicks blog.

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