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So I Went To The Red Sox Game Yesterday…….

Alex Verdugo is a much better baseball player than any one of the experts in the stands

My 12-year-old son and I were in the center field bleachers for the Red Sox-Rays Labor Day matinee at Fenway Park in Boston yesterday. This was one of the craziest games I have ever seen, let alone gone to. My beloved Red Sox blew a 7-1 lead in the second inning and lost 11-10 in ten innings. Center fielder Alex Verdugo played a part in this one.

Fast forward to the top of the fourth inning. The Rays, down 7-1, loaded the bases with three consecutive singles after two were out. Nelson Cruz lofted a fly ball just to our left as we were looking out. This should have ended the inning, however, Alex Verdugo drifted back, put his glove up in the air, and lost the ball in the sun, getting a glove on it after a desperate, last-second stab. The “drop,” plus a poor relay throw from second base allowed the three runners on base, as well as Cruz, to score. 7-5. The Rays were right back in it. This play was clearly the catalyst for Tampa’s wild comeback.

Red Sox “fans,” obviously disheartened by the turn of events, let Verdugo have it. They shouted obscenities and littered him with boo birds. Verdugo was clearly affected by the reaction of the home fans, as he looked up into the bleachers and appeared to yell back at the lack of encouragement from Red Sox supporters. The play itself haunted Verdugo, who knelt to the ground and hung his head during a subsequent pitching change, while the other outfielders, right fielder Hunter Renfro and left fielder JD Martinez, flanked him in support.

Verdugo was not done being right in the thick of the action. With the Red Sox clinging to a precarious 9-8 lead, Austin Meadows led off the top of the ninth inning by lofting a fly ball to center field. Verdugo went back to the wall and made a gallant leap, just missing the ball, which caromed back toward the infield. Meanwhile, Meadows circled the bases for a rare inside the park home run, tying the game. The fans in the center field bleachers, already cross with Alex from the play in the fourth inning, got on him again, even though Renfro and Martinez did not properly back up the play, which played a huge role in why Meadows was able to come all the way around and score.

While disappointed with the outcome of the game, which was indeed a crushing loss in the thick of a tight pennant race, my real frustration is toward those fans who didn’t let Alex Verdugo forget he cost them the game. I mean, the guy lost a ball in the sun, which was BRUTAL, by the way, and made a hell of an effort on the ninth inning ball. Here is a guy who is so upbeat and likeable being unfairly crucified by a bunch of overweight guys who trip over themselves just trying to get out of their respective aisle for yet another beer run.

Entitled fans are all too common in professional sports. This is especially true in large market, east coast cities, where the mentality is, “What have you done for me lately?” Would those same folks have wildly cheered for Verdugo had he drove in the winning run in the bottom on the ninth? I bet they would, and they would be hypocritical for doing so. Trust me, I was hoping he would get the opportunity, smoke a game winner, celebrate with his teammates, and promptly walk out to center field and flip off his detractors-turned-loyal followers. But alas, the Rays intentionally walked him and he never got the chance.

I watched a video of Verdugo engaging fans in a conversation about hitting earlier this year in Kansas City. There was also the time he had fun with fans at Yankee Stadium (before the incident when he had shit thrown at him). NESN regularly airs a commercial where he robbed a home run and got seriously pumped up afterwards. Alex Verdugo plays the game like a little kid does. The pure joy he displays is infectious. I hope Red Sox fans don’t rob him of this.

Author: Whipped Owl

Writer Musician Historian Sportsman Loner

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