Today at 2:05 the Red Sox will officially open Fenway Park for her 100th birthday season. The Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus will perform the National Anthem, the Green Mountain Boys will fly over in their F-16s, Hanscom Air Force base will present the colors, and 11-year-old Rosie Newton of St. Albans VT will sing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. The first pitch tosser, as of 4 AM this morning is unannounced, but if I could choose I would find the oldest, longest standing season ticket holder and tell them the job is theirs.
This most historic of baseball openers takes place in a bit of a shadow as the Red Sox bring a 1-5 record home with them, they are in last place in the American League East and some local pundits are asking, “Do the 2011 issues remain”?
All of that should be set aside this afternoon as the New England Fenway Love Fest that will mark 2012 begins.
Yesterday I pondered the meaning of this rather inauspicious beginning and here’s what I came up with. Working backwards, I checked out the Red Sox performances in the first six games of the season for the past decade, just to see if history can give us a hint of what can be expected this year.
Starting with last years horror start; it was actually worse as they dropped the first six games. They righted the ship, spent 72 days in first place, were cruising to the post season and then came September and we all remember that historic collapse as the Red Sox season and Jonathan Papelbon’s Red Sox career ended with a blown save and a loss in Baltimore.
Bye Bye Paps.
In 2010 they started out 3-3, spent a grand total of one day in first place, won 89 games and missed the post season. The ’09’ campaign began with the Red Sox dropping four of the first six games. That was turned around, as they spent 55 days at the top of the heap, made the post season and then splat! The Angels extracted revenge by eliminating them in a three game sweep in the ALDS.
The Angels celebrate on the field at Fenway after eliminating the Red Sox in 2009. This was the last post season game played at Fenway Park, a 7-6 come from behind Angels win.
The 2008 season opened with the Sox going 3-3 in the first six games. They won 95 games that season, won the wild card, swept the Angels and then lost to the Rays in seven games, coming within one win of playing in back to back World Series for the first time since 1916.
Rays win their first pennant, October 2008.
The 2007 Red Sox were 3-3 in their first six games but it didn’t matter!
In 2006, they had their best six game start since the new millennium, as they went 5-1 and spent 112 days in first place. On August 3rd they dropped a 7-6 game at Fenway to the Indians falling out of first place for the first time since June 17th. They dropped the next 20 of 27 games and finished out of the money.
The 2005 season began 2-4 however they won 95 games, made the playoffs and were swept by those other Sox as it was Chicago’s turn to celebrate a World Series win for the first time in nearly nine decades.
Happy Sox at Fenway.
In 2004 the Red Sox opened even winning only three of their first six games.
When it was all over, who remembered or cared? (photo Gary David Stratton)
In both 2003 and 2002 they won four of their first six games. The ’03’ season ended in one of the more monumental heart breaks in Red Sox history.
This moment made 2004 all the sweeter for the Fenway Faithful.
The 2002 start of 4-2 was a springboard to a great spring that saw the Sox spend 73 days in first place, however none of them came after June 27th and despite winning 93 games they did not compete in the post season.
So what does all this mean to this rocky Red Sox start and todays game? Not a damn thing really but I will tell you this; today will be splendid! It will be joyous and it will be celebratory. A slew of young New Englanders will take part in some opening day ceremonies creating memories that will last a lifetime. Tears will brim in the eyes of the Fenway faithful and I will smile, pause and think of my dad and all those memories that last a lifetime.
And so it is on this date in Fenway Park history, April 13, 2012 her opener in her 100th year.