i went to day two of the head of the charles. i arrived right when the youth eights women were ending and the master singles were starting. the weather was even warmer than yesterday and i felt overdressed wearing my hoodie. there wasn't a cloud in the sky as planes with advertising banners flew overhead and the occasional sweep of migrating canadian geese dotted the air. jostling for position on the anderson bridge, i started at the far end but worked my way up (as people left) so i was finally close to the middle of the bridge, the sweet spot. the hardcore photographers with their telescopic telephotos had probably been there since daybreak, with their tripods and bags of equipment.
after the singles were over, the collegiate eights began, starting with the men followed by the women. tufts (my alma mater) had teams racing in these events; if i was with some of my college buddies i would've cheered but i kept quiet, didn't want to blow my cover. surprisingly, two teams from mainland china were also racing in the men division, tsinghua and peking university. the mother of three next to me (whom i was sharing my program with) said, "oh, they must be lost."
for the most part, watching a boat race is kind of boring. they're not actually racing head-to-head since it's a timed event. they won't know which team's won until everyone's made it to the finish line and they get get times for all the teams. however, there are things that i like. for instance, i like it when the "boats" crash into each other and the teams have to repel one another with their oars.
i also like teams that wear very colorful matching outfits (these are usually the women teams). and of course since the head of the charles is a sporting event, none only does it attract the people who are rowing, but also their athlete friends. so imagine being surrounded by the fittest people around, and they're all tall and attractive, like being dunked into an ambercrombie & fitch catalog.
like i've said on many occasions, one of the reasons why i go to the head of the charles is to take photos and practice my techniques. compared to past years (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 (1) (2)), you can chart my progress. this is only my second year shooting the event with a digital SLR. last year, i had some sort of white balance mishap, and for whatever reason (maybe the cold weather), i didn't take that many photos (i think i just came back from china, so i was still experiencing reverse culture shock). this year however, after getting more familiar with the camera, i think my photos are better than before.
in the evening i went to my parents' place for dinner. until they get their alarm system installed, i don't think they'd feel like eating at my place for fear of leaving an empty house at nights. we had these massive lamp chops that tasted more like chicken. i raced back home for the start of game 7 at 8pm.
game 7: let's get right to it: we're going to the world series! sure, for the past 6 months it's all i could think about (at least the sports section of my brain). i always talk about it but now that it's really happening, it feels unreal. in my mind the red sox deserve to go to the world series every season, but of course that's easier said than done. i also think the national league is a pushover and the reason why the colorado rockies have swept through their post-season is not because they're a great team but because they haven't gone up against a formidable opponent of the calibre like the red sox. of course i completely forgot the fact that the rockies actually came to fenway park back in june for some interleague play, and they trounced the red sox, winning 2 out of the 3 games (12-2, 7-1). the one game that the red sox did manage to win was a close 2-1 victory. still, that was june, and nobody seriously thought that we'd face colorado in the world series. i just can't wait until wednesday night, game 1 of the world series. although i don't feel the forces of destiny like i did back in 2004 (after beating the yankees in that epic fashion, the world series seemed like a forgone conclusion and just a footnote at that), i just can't believe a team could beat the red sox after what they've gone through.
as for the game itself, it was a close match despite what the final score indicates. matsuzaka pitched okay; he wasn't dominating, but he's not really an overpowering strikeout pitcher anyway. and certainly the fact that the red sox managed to score a run in each of the first 3 innings definitely calmed my nerves. but even with a 3-0 lead, there never seemed to be enough runs, and it was only a matter of time before the indians scored, especially against matsuzaka. sure enough, in the 4th and 5th, the cleveland started chipping away getting a run per inning themselves, so by the 5th inning the score was 3-2, with just a run away from a tie. matsuzaka in his recent performances seems like a 5 2/3 inning pitcher at best, so nobody was surprised that francona brought in okajima in the 6th inning, much to the relief of red sox nation who collectively must've been clamoring for a pitcher change. in the 7th kenny lofton had a chance to score the tying run but the indians 3rd base coach kept him on base. that was the last time (unbeknownst to us all) that cleveland would threaten as pedroia knocked in a hit to score 2 runs at the bottom of the 7th inning, bringing the score to 5-2, giving the team some breathing room. but even with a 3 run lead, the indians still had 2 innings to possibly tie it or even take the lead. top of the 8th okajima started to get shaky with his stuff so francona brought in papelbon. papelbon is a guaranteed closer in the 9th inning but has an inconsistent record when pitching for more than a single inning. but papelbon pitched with crazy intensity and threw heat after heat, quickly striking out the lineup. bottom of the 8th inning, that's when the red sox put the nails into the coffin, scoring 6 more "insurance" runs. with the score at 11-2, even if the indians managed to hit 2 grand slam home runs, the red sox would still win. papelbon quickly ended the inning with the help of the defense (including coco crisp, who slammed into the outfield wall to catch the final out), and just like that, the red sox came back from a 1-3 ALCS deficit to win a decisive game 7 to head into the world series.
the red sox clinching the ALCS and heading into the world series sort of overshadowed the other big local sports news of the day: the patriots beat the dolphins to go up 7-0. the whispers of going the whole season with a perfect 16-0 are starting to get louder. the only other team with a lossless record thus far is the indianapolis colts. colts play the jaguars monday (tomorrow) night, i'm rooting for jacksonville.
with the red sox and the patriots both on top of their games, it's a great time being a boston/new england sports fan!