Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fenway prepares for Game 5 (Flickr assignment)

The rain clouds held up for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park, and so did the cloud of gloom hanging over Red Sox Nation.

Hours before the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays prepared to take the field for a 8:07 p.m. showdown, fans began to pack Yawkey Way and Landsdowne Street at Fenway Park. While the smell of hot dogs and sound of opportunistic ticket scalpers have been common properties of every game, the most notable presence was a sense of optimism, belying the Red Sox's dire 3-1 deficit.

"I think, tonight, we're going to do it," said Katie Michaelson, a student at Northeastern University in the waiting line. "We have Daisuke (Matsuzaka) back in, the guy we won with, so I think he'll bring it back. If we win tonight, we'll have the momentum with us. They'll continue that. It's nothing they haven't done before."

Though the Red Sox stand on the verge of seeing their season end, in the eyes of their fans, a round too soon, the fans are not giving up, and continue to have faith in their team's ability to upend a young Tampa Bay team, still new to the idea of postseason success.

"I think if Daisuke can win tonight, then (Josh) Beckett might be able to turn it around," said Brian Michaelson, Katie's brother. "Then, who knows what can happen with (Jon) Lester on the mound, and pressure back on the Rays. If you're loose and you don't have experience, you don't know what kind of pressure to have on yourself."

Bryan Williams, a fan attending the game, also felt the team's history in these situations would help.

"It'd be nice to have a couple more wins than that, but, you look at 2007, 2004, '86, we're used to being three games to one down," he said. "It's happened. No one likes to do it. I think everybody's going to hit, the city's going to get everybody going. They'll get it tonight."

Just like the fans, the park began prepping for the big game early too. Venders were serving crowds before 5 p.m. (more than three hours before game time), while security and news network vans reminded everyone around the park of the spectacle and magnitude of the game.

Williams, a Boston native who's been living in Kansas City, said the sudden attention and growth of interest in Red Sox baseball has been a pleasant development.

"It's fun. To see what the city's become and see what baseball in this city's become is awesome," he said. "It's just so cool. It wasn't like this when I was a kid."

NOTE: Photos to be uploaded soon

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