Talk about your basic bummers, your really worthless wasted nights at the old ballyard.
Fenway Park was full of 30,618 fans who couldn't have cared less that their Boston Red Sox beat Baltimore tonight, 3-2, in a game that was almost meaningless for both teams.
The Sox are going nowhere, thanks largely to the Orioles, while the Birds, who had a seven-game winning streak snapped, have their magic number down to nine with 21 to play and have reached the yawning stage of their waltz to the division flag.
What this gang, every man jack of them, wanted to see was Carl Yastrzemski's 3,000th hit. The governor of Massachusetts and the president of the American League were here, and Sox officials said they were primed for a phone call from "someone in Washington."
So Yastrzemski went oh for four, never hit the ball hard, stranded four runners, including two on third base with one out, and looked like an overeager man about to go into a slump.
In the Boston locker room afterward, Yastrzemski sat by his cubicle -- feet up, cigarette in one hand, beer in the other -- and talked calmly and dryly, as he has for the last three days of this Yaz watch, about how he wants more than anyone to end the suspense. In those three games he was one for 12, leaving him locked at 2,999.
"I've got relatives from all over the country who are here for every game," he said, sheepishly. "I don't know how many Yastrzemskis are going to lose jobs."
Besides Yaz stood his son, Mike, a student at Florida State; "If I don't hurry and get this finished," said father Yaz, "he's going to flunk out of school."
Seldom in Fenway annals have so many Boston fans gone home disgusted by a victory over Baltimore.
Many thousands left the packed stands, as if on cue, the instant that Yastrzemski grounded out in the eighth inning.
"I looked around," said O's center fielder Al Bumbry, "and I thought these people were having a fire drill."
Those thousands who remained rooted gingerly for the Orioles to tie the game in the ninth so that Yaz could bat in extra innings.
"It was weird," said Oriole Ken Singleton. "I never thought I'd hear people in Fenway yelling for us to tie up a game against the Red Sox in the ninth."
Sox reliever Dick Drago, who got the last three outs, felt the strange atmosphere. "I knew what they were all thinking, but I said to myself, 'Noooo way,'" Drago said.
This was a night for groans and kicking the cat. Nothing went right. Both clubs seemed disinterested, as though Yaz made their game superfluous. Six double plays turned the night into an evening of anticlimaxes. Four of the twin killings gave Sox starter Bob Stanley a mighty assist toward his 15th win.
Dennis Martinez (15-13) managed his 18th complete game as the Orioles left town, winners of three of four in the series. Had he been just a bit better mentally prepared for the boisterous first inning, this game might have ended 2-1 the O's way.
Martinez, the right-hander who seems to be the Birds' designated pitcher against Boston, was extremely shaky in the first inning, perhaps because the throng began its pleading for Yaz's 3,000th as soon as the first Sox hitter appeared.
After the wild-high Martinez, who has a 6-8 career mark against Boston, walked leadoff man Jerry Remy, Rick Burleson slapped a hit-and-run grounder into left.
Martinez, who shut out Toronto his last start, had almost brilliant stuff, especially a live fast ball, but seemed mystified by the noise.
But Boston's Fred Lynn and Jim Rice each pounded a fast ball to the opposite field. Lynn rattled an RBI double off the wall, then Rice hit a fly, held up by the wind, for a sacrifice, and a 2-0 lead.
As the crowd stood, Yastrzemski approached the plate for the first of his disappointments. With a man on third and one out, he grounded harmlessly to first.
It was the same in the third. Lynn and Rice again took Martinez the other way, Lynn dented the wall for his second double, then Rice hit the bullpen fence in right with an RBI triple which Gary Roenicke did not pursue too well.
Once more, with a man on third and one out, Yastrzemski tried to pull a fast ball. He bounced to Murray, helping kill a rally.
That's when the double plays started. For the next hour, the teams ended potential rallies with perfect DP balls. How thrilling.
After Stanley retired the first nine o's, Bumbry smashed a single past the pitcher's ear and took third when Kiko Garcia grounded a hit to center, just past Stanley's glove.
Then Singleton hit the double play ball to score a run but kill any chance of a big inning.
After Boston's Gary Allenson answered with a DP dribbler to help Martinez in the home fourth, the Birds reciprocated in their fifth inning.
Lee May battled for a walk after falling behind 0 and 2 and Gary Roenicke cracked a single just six feet from the top of the wall in left. It was Doug DeCinces who made two outs with one swing on a routine grounder to short. Once more, an O's run scored to cut the deficit to 3-2, and once more the Sox were glad to accept the deal.
Once a swarm of DPs get into the bat racks, they just won't get out. It's a first-class infestation.
The Sox got a leadoff walk in the sixth, but would they turn it into an insurance run? No. Butch Hobson hit that DP disaster. The O's reciprocated immediatley in their seventh when Murray's wheeled walk was wiped out by May, who is Mr. 6-4-3.
The Birds managed to get a man to second with two out in the eighth, but Bumbry fanned. That gave the O's two men left on base in the game. All the others were erased at bargain prices.
Finally, in the ninth, pinch hitter Terry Crowley kayoed Stanley by walking. With the heart of the Oriole order due, Zimmer called for Drago. Zimmer needn't have worried.
Singleton immediately hit into, what else, a double play, and the last Oriole threat was done.