Last night was awesome. As a die hard Red Sox fan since the day I was born, without the spare ten thousand dollars or so to buy a ticket to Game 6, I posted up in a bar on Landsdowne Ave with a friend to take in the whole scene. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
First of all, everywhere was packed. Arriving at 5:30 for an 8:07 pitch, I saw lines of over a hundred people waiting to get in to the most popular bars, and the area was almost universally at capacity by 7:00. Everyone worth their salt was wearing something Red Sox. The jersey variety was the best; Williams, Yastrzemski, Ramirez, Ortiz, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lowe, Lester, Youkilis, Papelbon, Lowell, Middlebrooks, Varitek, Nomar, Pedro, Schilling and countless others I wish I could recall. The bar was spacious, and it was still packed with an intensity of nervous excitement that can only come from a Red Sox game. 7:22 was the first bar-wide chant of Let's Go Red Sox, and it gave me chills. That the bar was so close to Fenway only upped the ante, and when the sound finally switched from music to the voice of Joe Buck the entire bar erupted in cheers, and we were so ready for this.
Then the game actually started. A cheer for strike one. Two balls. A cheer for strike two. A gasp as Carpenter gets good wood on the ball, and then an even louder cheer for Jonny Gomes catching it. Another cheer for Beltran grounding to second. Another cheer when Holliday grounded to first to end the inning. And then it settled down. A cheer for Ortiz but not much else in the bottom of the first. Lackey on the mound was testing our faith, putting two on with no out, getting Adams and Freese, and scaring us again with a wild pitch before escaping the jam by striking out punchless Jon Jay. It moved a little faster, at-bats becoming respites from having Lackey fray our nerves. Scattered cheers and occasional chants, and everyone was locked in.
The Red Sox loaded the bases in the bottom of the third. There were two outs and Victorino at the plate, a man who hadn't put a hit on the scoresheet since his grand slam against the Tigers. He brought the house down. People were screaming by the time his double hit the Monster, and the sound when Jonny Gomes was ruled safe at home was somewhere between a roar and a human stampede. We were so pumped that we only kind of freaked out when Lackey put two more on in the top half, and when he used whatever witchcraft he was capable of to strike out David Freese we almost allowed ourselves to feel joy.
Stephen Drew is a good baseball player who was not particularly well-liked in Boston. To say that our history with J.D. did not help his case would be an understatement, especially since Stephen put J.D.'s number 7 on his back when he put Red Sox on his front. His hitting in the postseason had been downright atrocious, and he was pretty much assumed out by the time he left the on-deck circle. When he put that ball over the right field fence was probably the first time most people in that bar had cheered for him, and the cheer was more like an eruption. That the Red Sox added another two only provided more opportunities for the bar to let loose, and the only boos remaining would be reserved for Papi's intentional walks.
The rest of the game had moments, notably Lackey getting a standing ovation for maybe the first time in Boston and Koji's name being shouted from every corner of every room. It also had excitement, and when Matt Carpenter finally let Uehara's splitter get the best of him there was this massive release. People were dancing on tables, hugging strangers, doling out high fives like Halloween candy, and just being joyous. Outside the bar was even better, as people were chanting in the street and jumping and high fiving and hugging and dancing and yelling and everything. It was a positively giddy experience.
We almost walked home. After Boston's Finest had pushed us away from Landsdowne we were on the road to somewhere insignificant, I'm not even sure which direction we were going. Thankfully, we came to our senses and headed back toward Fenway, and we were rewarded with a party. Boylston street was just a massive sidewalk for people to hoot and holler on, and by the time we got close enough to see the back of Fenway we were already in a massive throng of people. While I've seen pictures of some legitimate riots in the area last night, this was not that. It was like a massive house party that happened to be held on one of the busiest streets in Boston, and everyone was so happy. Every chant that died down was replaced by a new one, and any near silence was broken by a holler or a "woop woop!" People were climbing on street lights and signposts, they were holding flags and signs, and everyone was wearing this big, oafish grin on their faces.
Eventually it was time to go back, but it didn't feel like we were leaving at all. Boylston was a stream of red, white, and blue that happened to have the ability to chant "Let's Go Red Sox" for unlimited amounts of time. One of the few cars I saw was blasting We Are The Champions and honking in rhythm, and people were making human tunnels like those you see at a high school football game to high five and congratulate every car that passed. It was the most joyous community, and I will never forget the entire scene. That's a memory that will last as long as that World Series banner will hang.
Over a mile away, over an hour later, there was a twenty-something guy in a Sox jersey and a Sox hat, handing out high fives to everyone he could see, looking like the happiest person on Earth. He wasn't alone.