|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots 3rd Game, Trades, 9/11 Fallout||Miracles Do Happen! Porcello, Tazawa Outduel Sale, White Sox in Red Sox Shutout||Red Sox Nation Loses with Departure of Don Orsillo||Clay Buchholz Has a Hazy Future with Red Sox|
Step right up! Come one, come all! It’s Freaky Fenway, Halloween night only! Make your way through this spooky sports stadium, but consider yourself warned. What lies within are among the most formidable, fearsome, forbidding foes known to the sporting world. These men have ruined the livelihoods of many a good competitor, and will stop at nothing to put a dagger through the soul of any rival or opposing fan.
Standing outside Gate E, you get a whiff of fresh, juicy pumpkin innards. Upon adjusting to the dimly lit passage into the stadium, you see pumpkins whizzing through through the air. A look to the left, and Tom Brady is chucking whole pumpkins to a wide open Randy Moss. As Moss snipes the pumpkins into his grasp, it becomes clear how set the single-season touchdown record in 2007. Wes Welker sneaks up behind you, and a shiver runs hard and fast down your spine. You never saw him coming. He’s the sneakiest pass catcher around. You finally get your wits about you and try to navigate Brady’s pumpkin passing attack. Not until you are in the middle of the action do you comprehend the fear that NFL defenses face every Sunday when they line up against these guys. You make it through alive, praying to Belichick that Vince Wilfork isn’t lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce.
Passing Gate A, you see Frankenstein. But wait, this guy is bigger than Frankenstein. At 6’9″, Zdeno Chara doesn’t have to catch you off guard to give you the heebie-jeebies. You would avoid this guy on a beautiful day in the Boston Common. You know that he has the hardest slap shot of anyone, ever, so you don’t get too close. You know that he has played through injury, so you don’t dare test his toughness. You know that he is the Bruins’ captain, so you don’t mess with any of his teammates. He doesn’t see you, and you consider yourself lucky to get a free pass from the biggest guy to ever put on an NHL uniform.
As you glance down toward home plate, two eyeballs peer over the seats, suspended in a glare that has consumed the dignity of grown men. You then see a flash of pearly whites revealed in a menacing scowl. You avert your eyes, but not without feeling as though a bit of your soul has been taken. The man turns and walks away without so much as a word – just a look. You see a big green number five on the back of his flowing white jersey, and barely make out the letters GARNETT as he shrouds himself in the darkness, anticipating the next brave soul who crosses his path. Winning an NBA title and averaging a double-double for his career speak for themselves, and his leadership on the court requires no words. He induces fear in teammates and opponents alike. You stroll past, thankful not to have witnessed firsthand the fury that lies within.
You move on, ears drawn to the waning tune of the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” A few sections away to your left, another set of eyes catches your eye. These eyes, unblinking, hold your stare. Lips pursed as though sipping from an invisible straw. In the faint light emminating from the Citgo sign, you see the body straighten and come toward you. He comes at you now in the same fashion that he approaches the mound from the bullpen – with utmost confidence and swagger. Something whizzes past your ear, and suddenly you see his right arm thrust forward, fist clenched, and you wait for the dagger to pierce your heart. It’s all over. Then you realize that the dagger just flew by you for strike three, and his clenched fist holds a first grasp of the freshly minted air of victory. You walk away, defeated, just as an opposing batter would. You don’t turn back as he faces up his next opponent, but you still feel violated by his stare.
The light streaming through Gate B is in the distance, and you figure you’re in the clear. But the air in front of you isn’t so clear. A translucent glow emitted by ghosts of past Boston teams float between you and the brisk October night. You make out the semiopaque silhouettes of Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Bobby Orr, Larry Bird, Carlton Fisk, John Havlicek, Ray Borque, and Jim Rice, among others. There are far too many greats to name, all flooding the vast Fenway corridor. You make your way through the apparitions with a nostalgic, yet renewed, respect for the timeless athletes who are synonymous with Boston’s sports heritage. Without them, it’s scary to think where Boston’s storied franchises would be today.
As you emerge from Gate B of Freaky Fenway, the nostalgia gives way to excitement for what is to come. Fenway may be a ghost town right now, but just two short years ago, the Sox swept the Rockies for a second World Series victory in three seasons. Add that to the Celtics’ 2008 NBA Championship (plus the 16 others which hang from the rafters in the Garden); the Patroits’ Super Bowls from 2001, 2002, and 2004; and the Bruins’ 2009 Division Title; and Boston’s teams are truly frightening. You breathe in the crisp November air, already looking forward to Thanksgiving when you can thank your lucky (super)stars for making Boston the greatest, and scariest, sports city in the country.