All Bruins players got to throw out a pitch for the first pitch of the game and had a duck boat tour around the field while holding the Stanley Cup. The video board showed a highlight reel of all the great moments in the NHL playoffs.
For about one hour Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, we were offered up just about the best example of what a winning sports town can produce when everything comes together just right.
It was practically an embarrassment of riches. Not that anyone should feel guilty about it.
Beneath sparkling skies, the duck boats rolled out of the center field gate filled with the Stanley Cup champions, who wore Red Sox caps and Bruins jerseys. After a ride around the warning track and a slow march with the Cup across the lawn, each one of them threw out a first pitch to a fleet of Red Sox players lined up dugout to dugout, all while the Cup sat perched on the rubber.
“There was a lot going on. I thought it was exciting,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think the fans enjoyed it, I think our players enjoyed it. I think the Brewers players enjoyed it. It was nice to see the Bruins get to celebrate their championship in our ballpark. I think everybody enjoyed themselves, and then when we score six in the first inning, it makes it even better.”
Then came the actual game, which immediately served up a reminder that the city not only has the best hockey team on the planet, but it just might have the best baseball team as well.
That’s where the guilty feeling set in.
Moments after the Sox gave out hugs to the Stanley Cup champs, they saw Tim Wakefield nearly strike out the side in the first inning. He missed out on the feat by a pitch, but the ovation after the frame was about as loud as you will find for a 1-2-3 top of the first.
Then, the best offense in baseball turned fans that were already out of their minds with elation into incredulous subjects.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled. Dustin Pedroia singled. After a wild pitch, Adrian Gonzalez reached on an error that scored a run. Kevin Youkilis sent a three-run shot over the Green Monster. David Ortiz singled. J.D. Drew singled.
Six batters. Each of them reached. Fenway Park, still reeling from the Bruins ceremony, was in a state of ecstasy.
There were two quick outs to bring the masses back to Earth, but a walk to Josh Reddick loaded the bases, and Ellsbury doubled in two runs in his second at-bat of the inning. The Bruins had barely left the field and it was 6-0. Many fans stood for the bulk of the hour.
“Phenomenal. It was absolutely phenomenal,” Wakefield said. “Watching the duck boats come in, it brought back a lot of memories of us in ’04 and ’07. Very happy for those guys. Got a chance to meet a lot of them in the clubhouse today and got my picture with the Cup. It was a lot of fun.”
Meanwhile, in the other dugout sat the Brewers, a team with three playoff appearances in 43 years that will forever be overshadowed by a football team, albeit a winning one, that plays two hours north. That is no knock on the AL Central leaders, but the dichotomy between the two organizations was notable — not only in their histories, but in the vibe which inhabits their respective cities.
Simply put, there are not many scenes like the one that played out Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. Just do your best not to feel guilty about it.