I started this off by telling you about a great bar we went to before the game.
After leaving the bar, we walked up River
When I walked in, the lady behind the counter was busy complaining to two guys. I think they were customers but they might have been her landlords. She was saying "There's nobody here! This is ridiculous! We can't make money! In the old days, when the Red Sox were playing, we used to come in at 11 a.m. on game days, just to get everything ready. Feh! I could have gotten here at 4 o'clock today." I handed her my bag and began to get a sinking feeling about our chances for success.
For some reason, I decided on the train ride down that I would be able to tell if we were going to have success getting a mass mooning – or not – by looking at the faces of people on their way into the game. I knew that if I saw people laughing and looking around for kindred spirits, we'd be all set to go. I even said this in my interview with ESPN.com, conducted on my train ride down from New England.
As we were walking up to the stadium, however, I saw the first glimmers of how fruitless this endeavor might be: Everyone ― and I mean everyone ― was wearing Red Sox gear. It was a whole bunch of guys named Fitzy with "Pedroia the Destroyah" shirts on. They were accompanied by Woo Girls in pink Boston hats. And, of course, a whole lot of Ortiz jerseys. They were all out for a big party. A hoot. I felt sick.
I started looking around for some sign of hope. I looked for those neckless guys from Staten Island named Vinnie. The big galoots who wear unlaced high-top sneakers and waddle up to the gate growling "Red Sox are goin' dowwwwwn, baby!" where "baby" is pronounced more like "bee bee".
I didn't see any of these guys. All I saw were designer-sneakered twits wearing "Call me ~Crazy~ ... but Don't Call Me a Yankee Fan" T Shirts.
The security lines were actually fairly quick and I was mentally complimenting the Yankee organization for finally getting its act together just in time for the last games of the season. Then I realized the line was moving fast because there weren't a lot of people. I continued to scan people's faces looking for kindred mooning spirits. I continued to come up empty.
Once we got inside, I marveled again at how much the new stadium makes you feel like you've wandered into Mall of America. I frantically searched for people who might be moon-ers but all I saw was an older woman with one of those unbendable beauty parlor hair-do's where the hair
ends up looking more like a spray of fiber optic strands rather than actual human hair. She was the kind of woman who gets her hair "done" and then sleeps with it in a net for a week, with a towel over her pillow, in order to make the hairdo last. It looked like her 'do had been compressed into final form an hour or two before the game.Because I'm a gentleman, I subtly pointed to her with my elbow and said to my friends, "Yeah. Right. Like she's gonna moon Big Papi."
As I was saying this, a few security guards ― who, these days, are scrubbed young men in robin's-egg-blue polo shirts carrying those "How May I Help You?" signs-on-a-stick ― began solicitously swarming all over her and telling her "it's soooo good to see you, I didn't know you were coming", etc. She replied "Well, I didn't think I was going to make it, but this is important, you know." I just stared for a while. I was pretty sure she wasn't talking about mooning.
We continued our climb up to the level where people with $500 hair-dos and robin's-egg blue polo shirts don't sit. We walked past gaggles of people wearing red "Do It with Your SOX on!" shirts or shirts with "There are two kinds of people...." on the front and,
ah shit, I don't even want to know what was on the back.
I was tired of looking at what was happening in our stadium.
We got to our seats about 10 minutes before Big Papi's ceremony was scheduled to start. The place was empty. In all seriousness, there were maybe 5,000 fans in the whole building. Most of the shirts I could see people wearing were red. They had all come to see Big Papi's send-off.
All of the articles I read the next day about how Ortiz got a nice ovation from Yankee fans were completely disingenuous. First of all, nobody was there. Second, all of the somebodies who were there were Red Sox fans. As his ceremony got underway, I said out loud, to no one in particular, "This isn't going to happen."
Ortiz's ceremony was brief and dignified. His family was there. Ortiz's son is a beefy kid like his dad. Maybe the son is walking, talking, genetic proof that Big Papi comes by his bulk honestly. I dunno. Big Papi's son has a serious mohawk with the upwardly protruding ringlets bleached blonde à la Dennis Rodman. I was about to think of him silently as a dumb-teenaged-kid/work-in-progress, when it hit me that the little pecker son-of-a-rich-guy probably gets more tail in a week than all the people in the section I was sitting in ... all of the people combined, that is. So who's dumb?
I was VERY impressed by the first gift the Yanks gave to Big Papi. It was an outsized, leather-bound book where each page was a handwritten letter by a current or prominent former Yankee. They were showing it on the Jumbotron while it was being given to him. I have to say, that book put all the cowboy boots and guitars, and barbecue and rocking chairs, and all the other kitsch and tchotchkes to absolute shame. The book was spectacular. Truly moving. Nice job, Yanks.
It got even more moving when Mariano Rivera
Unfortunately, Yankees management, being the tone-deaf, joy suckers they are, quickly managed to undo the warm hazy feeling that had descended over the stadium. As Ortiz was still thumbing through the pages of his leather-bound book, Yankees management even undid the magic of Mariano. They zoomed straight from the equivalent of Pope Francis warmly embracing the Dalai Lama at the gates of a mountaintop monastery to Wayne Newton shouting Yee-Ha! outside an overlit casino in Vegas while giving a bellhop an awkward, fumbling high five.
True fact: The lady with the fiber optic hair helmet was on the field next to them during all of this. She was there when Mariano unveiled Ortiz's second gift which was an oil painting. I'm not an art critic, but let's just say the painting seemed to veer more toward "Elvis on Black Velvet" than "Flemish Master". From a distance, the principal colors of the thing seemed to be "Mets Orange" and "Mets Toxic Purple". I had this image of Randy Levine, Lonn Trost, and Hal Steinbrenner seeing it together for the first time in the Yankee offices, shaking their heads slowly up and down, wiping little crumbs from their mouths with cocktail napkins ― the crumbs coming from the hors d'oeuvres they have every day in the Yankee conference room ― all while not saying anything, trying to appear as discerning cognoscenti.
I said to my seatmates, "Maybe he can get $350 for it on eBay."
The Bostonians all around us seemed to be enjoying it, however, so I thought "Who am I to judge?"
As if on cue, God punished me by causing "Sweet Caroline" to burst forth from the loudspeakers. All the Boston Woo Girls and their frat-boy chums named Tommy (pronounced "Taw-mee") started bopping up and down and shaking their little Beantown moneymakers. The Yankee Stadium sound guys obligingly cut the noise at the right parts of the song so they could all scream "Whuh, Uh, Ohhhhh!" and "So good! So good! So good!" The Bostonettes tilted their Pink Hats this way and that, keeping time on each syllable, just like they do in Fenway.
Except all this wasn't happening in Fenway, it was happening in Yankee Stadium. It was happening in our house. Which somehow isn't our house anymore. The Bostonians' inebriation was just getting underway.
Me? I wanted to puke. A lot.
Just as the song was ending, a group of six very young girls filed into the seats in the row immediately in front of is. They looked like they were 19. All but one of them were wearing Red Sox gear. One or two of them had on way too much makeup (think Amy Winehouse), but another one or two of them made my knees buckle. One was so pretty and innocent looking, my heart felt a little heavy in my chest. I started wondering what sorts of America's Most Hated Sex Offender Registries we were going to end up listed on if we took out our asses within two city blocks of them.
I said to my friends: "Uh oh. This wasn't in the plan. What the hell do we do with this? Are they even of age? How are we going to moon with these girls in front of us?"
I thought about it a little longer and asked, "Would it be considered déclassé for someone with a raging erection to moon?"
We all agreed the answer to my Zen Question was a resounding 'yes' but we were able to shrug off the momentary distraction since we had work to do. We got back to business and started trying to work out the logistics of this new problem: How were we going to aim our kiesters over these girls' heads? We wondered if our moons were going to muss their fine, silky hair.
Our reverie was broken when a guy sat down in the row immediately behind us and said to his friend, "I can't believe this is your first time to a baseball game."
My roommate from college, one of the guys I went with, has a specific roar of a laugh that cuts through the air like a baritone sax. It gets me every time. The cumulative lunacy of everything we were doing ― and everything that was happening around us ― caused him to melt down. He sat there and marveled out loud at the sheer madness of having pretty underage women in the row in front of us and two guys seeing their very first baseball game in the row behind. And we were going to be waggling our big, evil, nekkid NY butts within inches of all of them. He lost it. So did I. He was choking for air, saying between laughs: "It's. His. First. Game. Ha-ha-ha. And. Ha. These...these. Girls. A-hahahahahahaha-ha!" We toasted with our souvenir beer cups. We high-fived like Wayne Newton outside the Bellagio.
The game started and, at the time of the first pitch, it looked to me like there were about 10,000 people in the stands. I looked out at the bleachers. They were packed ... with red shirts. I tried to squint to see if we had any people anywhere just itchin' to moon, but the whole place looked to be about 50% Red Sox fans. The 200- and 300-level seats were still empty. I was dejected.
The Red Sox batting order had Ortiz at cleanup. We strategized. "If anyone gets on base," I said, "we undo our belt buckles immediately. The instructions on the website said to wait until the batter before Big Papi, but we gotta be ready." My spirits were picking up. I felt like we were boys who'd gotten the idea to build a fort in the woods and now all we had to do was find some downed trees to make it with. Piece of cake!
In the Red Sox first, Sabathia retired the side in order. There would be no batter before Big Papi. He was leading off the next inning.
While the Yankees batted, I sat there with my unbuckled pants swimming around me in my seat. Shit. This was supposed to be a piece of cake. Where are all the downed trees? I tried to give us a pep talk. "This will actually work in our favor," I said. "Everyone's anticipation will be WAY up. People will get psyched." My college roommate said, "Or, the change of innings will confuse the shit out of everyone."
It turned out there was a third possibility...
I had been wrong about it being 50% Red Sox fans in attendance. When Bogaerts hit his solo home run in the fourth, he got a standing ovation. Everyone who was a Boston fan stood up and cheered. When this happened, you could see plain as day they outnumbered us 60/40. In our own house.
So, at the top of the second, when what turned out to be the big mooning moment arrived, no one was psyched and no one was confused. No one was anything. Nothing happened. Not ten thousand. Not ten hundred. Not ten. No one mooned. The Boston fans gave Ortiz a nice cheer. The New Yorkers gave him a little boo. I surreptitiously hitched up my pants before the girls in front of us could jump to a wrong conclusion.
Dan Shaughnessy, contemptible sportswriter for the Boston Globe, said in his article recounting the scene, "These eyes did not see a single moon". It's a simple declarative sentence. Purely factual. Rare for a Globe sportswriter.
He also noted, parenthetically: "too bad — Ortiz said he’d be carrying his cellphone camera in his back pocket just in case." I mean, what kind of world is it when the Boston sportswriters are calling it as it is, and New York sportswriters have their collective cabeza up their collective culo?
It's not a world I want to stay in. Or at least it's not a world I want to stay sober in. It's like a preview of the day after the upcoming presidential election.
The young girls in front of us turned out to be of age. They were out on an after-work toot and they began enjoying a few rounds of shots before they headed out to Billy's. I enjoyed a few $12 Bud Lights and wished I was about 30 years younger. With my unspent energy, I made it a point to look like I was grateful and happy to everyone who handed me a fresh beer. That's the best I can do these days.
As you also know by now, Ortiz came up again in the fourth and drew a walk. Red Sox manager John Farrell waited all of 3 nanoseconds before pulling him for a pinch runner and it was over. Columnist Shaughnessy said, "It was as if the entire presentation had been scripted by Bill Belichick."
I have been asked: Were you disappointed? Well, sure.
I have been asked: Was it all worth it? You bet.
Wait. Was it worth it? Are you kidding? I had more fucking fun with this thing than you can imagine. I enjoyed being interviewed by The Sporting News, ESPN, Boston Magazine and seeing reports of our handiwork appear in CBS Sports.com, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The New York Post, Long Island Newsday, El Diario de NY, The Los Angeles Times, and a hundred lesser, regional quoters-of-others. One of the best, of course, was Big Papi himself, writing about us in Derek Jeter's The Players' Tribune. If I sound at all blasé about it, don't believe it for a second. This was rarefied air for the likes of me and it was fun.
Seeing David Ortiz discuss the possibility of being mooned during an appearance on the television show "Late Night", as well as during a pre-game interview at Fenway, was simply amazing.
It was also fun when an engineer friend of mine ― a guy who maintains suspension bridges all over the world, including ALL the NY bridges ― said: "What's unbelievable to me is that just one guy is making all this happen."
He's a good friend, but he was wrong because, of course, there were many others. I'll probably write another long damn offering about "The Making of Moon Big Papi.com" in which I'll tell more of the story of how it came together but, for now, let me just say that the website wouldn't have been anything if it weren't for the talents of my girlfriend who is a true artist. She did all the graphics you can see on the site. Watching a talented artist at work is a special thing. Being able to sit at her desk laughing together like a couple of misbehaving schoolkids while looking at the little mooning guy she placed on Lonn Trost's shoulder is a pleasure that will always be with me. It also made my day – and hers – when the someone from The Sporting News said he "went down to [his] Art Department and asked why they can't do anything like that." Suffice to say it's a rare talent who can make her living creating art, and I'm lucky she thinks enough of me to share it.
My girlfriend and I also found it completely surreal to sit in our living room two nights before the game, Ma and Pa Kettle listening to the Yanks-Sox game on NESN, when Jerry Remy and the other Soxcasters started talking openly and happily about "what some Yankee fans have in store for Ortiz".
It was just fun.
I hope you enjoyed it too.
Local Bargain Jerk