Sports Opinion: The Playoff Experience

If someone had told me the Cleveland Indians would beat the Yankees to make it into the American League Championship Series a while ago, I would have laughed and proceeded to walk away. If that same person had told me the Indians would force the Red Sox to win in seven games I would have probably sent them to Isham to get checked out. That’s why I was less than optimistic when I was told at the beginning of ALCS I had tickets to game seven. The idea that I had tickets to a playoff game in Fenway seemed unreal. I have been a Red Sox fan for eight years now, and I have been closely watching season after season as they make their way into the playoffs. I was only able to imagine what it must feel like to sit in one of those treasured seats in the hallowed grounds of Fenway. Being from North Carolina, I have not been exposed to the frenzy that is “Red Sox Nation,” but my love for the Red Sox has never wavered (even during last year). As the games ticked by, my original bleak outlook on making it to game seven gradually turned into hope. Although cheering for a game seven was not popular and warranted me many insults, it was worth the risk. When the Red Sox found themselves down 3-1 I could sense my dream would come true. How could the “come back kids” let me down? They couldn’t. A handily-played game Saturday night assured me of the one thing originally I thought impossible: I would be going to game seven the following night. After a long day of anticipation it was finally time to make my way to an experience I would never forget. I took the Red Line full of Boston-clad fans into Fenway. I approached the stadium eagerly waiting to catch my first glimpses of the bright lights and green entrance. There was a buzz of excited chatter from everyone walking by hoping to witness a spectacular game. I had made it. I proceeded to my seat where thousands of people were already attentively watching the players warm up. When I first sat down, I was struck by the great sea of red. I turned my head from the “Green Monster” all the way back to third base. From TV the stadium looked so much smaller than the vast number of people I was now gawking at. The tension in the stadium was high and I was ready for the game to begin. Every time one of the Red Sox hitters got a ball instead of a strike, fans would cheer as if someone had hit a home run. Oftentimes it was confusing if I looked away because I was never sure if someone had simply not swung on a pitch, or had hit a three-run home run. Chants of “Papi,” “Dice-K,” and “Cleveland Sucks” flew through the crowd. The game slowly pressed on with out much excitement until Dustin Pedroia unleashed the madness that was already bubbling. When he hit his two-run home run, the noise was deafening. Everyone was screaming and dancing as the Red Sox increased their lead. There is no feeling like being in Fenway during the playoffs when someone hits a home run. The joy was contagious, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cleveland fans present were just a little bit happy deep down inside. My favorite moment during the game was when the Indians had two men on and Papelbon was called into to save the game. Just as he entered the field a policeman walked up and gave him a high-five. Something about this scene was special to me. It was a perfect metaphor showing that the city of Boston will always support the Red Sox. Papelbon, of course, saved the inning, and he was followed by hitting that left the Indians helpless. The euphoria during the last inning was indescribable. When the Red Sox finally caught the last out, the fans high-fived and hugged each other as the players ran out to congratulate each other. There is absolutely nothing that can compare to the feeling of victory in Fenway Park. The chants and cheers continued for at least 30 minutes as everyone filed out of the stadium their new League Champions hats in tow. When I left the stadium the cheers still rang in my ears. I knew the excitement I had just left would go down as one of the best experiences in my life. I was so lucky to experience the world that is Fenway Park.