For the next installment of My Guest Bloggers, my friend Rob Tringali, sports photographer extraordinaire, reports live from the ALCS. Since I don’t cover baseball, I experience the playoffs the same way everyone else does: from a bar stool in New York’s east (or west, depending on the night) village. But Rob experiences every game firsthand. So, just for fun, he shared his October adventures.
To read his day-by-day from Boston and Cleveland, click on the link below. Next up: Rob’s World Series blog.
Thursday, Oct 11
My friend Mike (also a photographer) and I are driving north on I-95, which is a nightmare on a sunny afternoon in June, let alone during rush hour on a Thursday in torrential downpour. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it rain that hard for that long. I figured the storm was going about 12 miles an hour northeast and so were we. I think we stayed under the same cloud for two hours. Fast food dinner. You just can’t avoid it when traveling. Anyone who can help with this one, please contact me – chicken selects, French fries at McDonalds – I have a problem saying no to fries. Six hours later, Mike and I arrive at our buddy Jay’s house. He has two huge dogs. I mean huge. Popcorn for dinner.
Friday, Oct 12
Waking up at 6 a.m. to play golf, rather then staying in bed, sounds like a really bad idea when you don’t have to. But once you get on the first tee and the sun’s rising and the mist is hovering over the water, all you golf enthusiasts definitely get it. Those who don’t: good. There are too many golfers, anyway. Take up something else, like orienteering. Twenty holes of golf by 11 a.m. On to Boston. Being a Yankees fan, it’s hard to say this, but the Red Sox have us beat. Not only as a team, but as a better city, fan, ballpark, ballpark food, the way they treat the media and so on. The whole city is into the Red Sox, it’s sickening. It was what the Yankees and New York had in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. There was a buzz, a feeling that something good was going to happen and you wanted to be there to see it.
Game 1 was a bad game. It never quite felt like a playoff game. Boston gets off to a big lead, game over. If you have any doubt you are in Boston, it is quickly erased when you get to your hotel and the valet guy asks you if you need help paahking your caaaa. Yep, definitley in Boston. Few drinks, barely stay up to see the Rockies take a two-zip lead over the D’backs. Did I mention the fried ravioli at 2 a.m.?
Saturday, Oct 13
When you travel a lot, you should be a hotel snob. That starts with a great bed, which the Hotel Onyx had. Workout, breakfast, shopping, lunch at Union Oyster house—sitting at the bar is always the way to go. When the bartender tells you to try the chowdah cause it’s wicked good, you probably should.
Game 2: 5 hours 18 minutes, way too long for anything. Good game, though. Not as cold as the night before, but the problem of having to urinate usually comes around the sixth inning, tonight being no exception. Cleveland ties the series at 1-1 with seven runs in the top of the 11th. Eric Gagne is not a good pitcher anymore. Lots of candy, what else are you going to eat in the two minutes between pitches in the playoffs? Sour Patch Kids, Dots and Reese’s peanut butter cups. Back to our hotel at 2:15. Here’s a sight: Me and Mikey laying on my hotel bed looking through images on our laptops, drinking wine, eating Milano cookies and lightly salted potato chips while watching a movie I don’t remember. Supposed to play golf at 9:30 am at Lake of Isles in Foxwood’s with our buddy Jay two hours away. Not going to happen.
Sunday, Oct 14
Wake up at 10 a.m. We decided to take a day off driving back to NY before flying to Cleveland. We got to see Mikey’s parents and had lunch with them, listened to the Patriots rock the Cowboys on Sirius radio. The Patriots are the best team ever perhaps, the Red Sox are close to the World Series, BC is #2 in the country, everyone is excited about the Celtics. I liked my world a lot better when Boston was proclaimed loserville by a local writer back when. Home at 8 p.m., do a little laundry and repack for the trip.
Monday, Oct 15
I’m going to miss my flight. Accident, fire, long security lines, carrying five huge bags. Made it with eight minutes to spare. The thing you don’t want to hear when you are checking in to your hotel room: Sorry sir, we only have a smoking room left. Are you kidding, what is this 1982? The entire Midwest needs to catch up with the rest of us soon.
Game 3: Cleveland wins. The media party after the game wasn’t half-bad. When the beer pouring stopped at 1 a.m., we decided to steal some beer from the luxury suites. The only thing that kept the fridge closed were some zip ties. Nothing a leather man couldn’t handle. Drinking beer outside Jacob’s field at 2 a.m. … good times.
Tuesday, Oct 16
Body clock all effed up. Wake up at 11, lunch, off to the ballpark.
Game 4: Cleveland wins again, leads the series three games to one. I like the Cleveland fans. I hate the Red Sox. Problem: I don’t want to have to come back to Cleveland possibly two more times. Cleveland is a nice one-day city, any more and you begin to break out. I can’t believe I’m rooting for the Red Sox. At the media party, they now have security guarding the luxury suites.
Wednesday, Oct 17
A scheduled day off. All these options … what should we do? I looked up the top 10 things to do in Cleveland and #3 was going to some diner to try the pancakes. Not into seeing the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame today. Me, Mike, and our other buddy Mike (we’ll call them Mike 1 and 2) who is an editor for Getty images, established this would-be “Man Day”: strippers, drinking, gambling, anything goes.
Actually, we ended up at a Dave & Busters playing video golf. We did some drinking and some gambling, and Mike #1 got the waitress’s phone number. He did, however, promise her World Series tickets. Apparently he knows some people, and he is now rooting for the Red Sox.
Uncomfortable feeling #1, while this transaction is taking place: Having (let’s give her a name and call her Vanessa) Vanessa yell over to (let’s say the bartender’s name was Glen) Glen, “Hey Glen, guess where I’m going next week?” I wanted to curl up in a little ball. It’s amazing when you mix alcohol and a semi-attractive waitress, what guys will promise.
Off to dinner at Johnny’s bar. We met up with Rebecca, an editor at Getty, and Elsa, a photographer at Getty. They were not invited to Man Day. They did go to the R & R HOF. They liked it. Johnny’s restaurant was outstanding. I’m not sure I know much about anything. I do, however, know good food and this was it. Our waiter made everything sound terrific. Recommendation #1, if ever-in Cleveland: go to Johnny’s, the one on Fulton Street, not the one downtown. We went to a happening Cleveland nightspot, rooftop deck and everything. It was our group of five and another group of four and the bartender. We were treated to this Zach Johnson-looking Cleveland hedge-fund dufus who couldn’t keep from touching all of us. He was that guy who had to put his arm around you when he talked to you. He kept telling me he was, “with that girl, but if I played my cards right, I could get set up with this other girl.” Gee, thanks Zach. While he was talking to us and getting increasingly more obnoxious, Mike #1 moved in to talk to his cute Turkish friend. He didn’t like at all, and then he left. We closed down a bar in Cleveland.
Thursday, Oct 18
Game 5 – Beckett, vs. Sabathia. I have a feeling if Cleveland doesn’t win tonight, they are in big trouble. Beckett pitches great. Red Sox win.I hear a fan behind me yell out to his buddy, “See you Wednesday.” I had a feeling Wednesday meant April 2.
Friday, Oct 19
Travel day, decide to fly home first, and drive up to Boston Saturday morning. If you have the chance to sleep in your own bed once in a while, it’s nice.
Saturday, Oct 20
Game 6 – Drive to Boston, lunch at Mystic Pizza. It’s 80 degrees. Man, I love global warming. At Fenway Park, there is a different buzz in the air. My photo position is directly behind the Red Sox on-deck circle and behind lefty batters, so I get a lot of TV time. After the first few texts and phone calls it feels really cool. Hey, look how cool I am, all these people are calling me. Then, around the sixth inning, the texts are more, “Hey, Rob. It doesn’t look like you’re working” or “It looks like you don’t know how to work your camera.”
I’m really rooting for the Red Sox to win. I don’t want to go back to Cleveland. How bad of a year did J.D. Drew have? Bases loaded, first inning, I’m shooting Carmona instead of the batter, waiting for the pitcher’s reaction. It could have been Steve from my old softball team who was pinch hitting in that spot and I would have be shooting the batter. But Drew? Then … Well, you know what happens. Drew homers. Red Sox cruise to tie the series. There’s no way Cleveland wins tomorrow. Late-night eating in Chinatown. Then to sleep. That’s healthy living.
Sunday, Oct 21
Game 7 – It doesn’t get better than this if your city’s baseball team is hosting a game seven on a ridiculously beautiful day and you team’s football team just put up 42 points in the first half. Could I be from Boston for just this one day, please? This is fun now, all the marbles, someone is going to win tonight, hopefully a decisive moment and I’m in position to get the shot or else this whole ride could be a nightmare if I screw it up.
The Red Sox leave too many men on base early; I have that feeling that if the Indians stay close, this is one of those games that might not go as scripted. In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, Cleveland isn’t that bad and it would be real nice to photograph dejected Red Sox fans in Fenway. Payback for 2004, when I had to photograph Red Sox fans overjoyed in Yankee Stadium after defeating the Yankees in Game 7. I still wake up in the middle of the night sweating, thinking about that.
I come to my senses as Casey Blake hits into a crucial double play to end a possible rally. Red Sox win. It looks like fun. These are the days I will always remember. Pappelbon river-dancing to the Dropkick Murphys will go on my list as the greatest celebration moment of all time. We wrap up the night on Mike’s bed drinking wine and potato chips, looking at images on the computer. We’ll drive home tomorrow and be back on Wednesday for Game One of the World Series.
Let’s go, Rockies.