The People’s Republic of Massachusetts Welcomes You – I really expected to see a sign like this somewhere. Texas is the antithesis of New England and that had me in a foul mood as we drove up to Boston from our New Jersey home base, although I was looking forward to seeing Fenway Park. The trip took 4 hours in light traffic. Our hotel was in Cambridge right next to Hah-vahd, so we pahked our cah there and took the subway to Fenway on Memorial Day. (Sorry I am posting this a bit late. I wanted to get out of Boston alive before posting this.)
View from my Seats
We didn’t have tickets, and I knew this was going to be tough. As we walked the 4 blocks from the subway to Fenway, numerous guys were asking if people had extra tickets. None were selling except one guy who wanted $150 per ticket for field box tickets way out in the outfield. I walked around Fenway three times until I finally found someone selling grandstand tickets somewhere in the vicinity of home plate. I won’t mention what I paid for them, but suffice it to say it was some where between a ridiculously expensive baseball game ticket and a super bowl ticket.
This was another great game. Curt Schilling VS Cliff Lee pitting two of the division leaders against each other. Pitching dominated early (which was great because they are both on my fantasy team) but the Sox broke through in the 4th for a 2-0 lead, which increased with a Manny laser beam HR that just cleared the monster. The Tribe got on the scoreboard in the 6th, but Kevin Youkilis hit an inside the park home run (a rare sight) in the 7th to keep the lead at 3. After Schilling was taken out, I mentioned to my wife that here was the Tribe’s chance. Sure enough, they rallied to load the bases with one out, but only got one run, stranding 2 runners. Back to back doubles got the Sox an important insurance run for a 5-3 lead going into the ninth. Papelbon came on to preserve the lead, but walked the leadoff hitter and allowed Barfield to double off the Monster to bring the winning run up to bat with nobody out and Grady striding to the plate. After Sizemore popped out, the Indians’ hottest hitter, Casey Blake got his turn. Then the controversy began.
On a 2-2 count, Blake checked his swing and the ball hit him. The home plate umpire sent him to first base to load the bags. The Red Sox players erupted. We thought the controversy was HBP or foul ball. Then the home plate ump and Francona conferred with the first base umpire, and he gave a fist signal, indicating that Blake had swung at the pitch and was out. The ball hit him so it was dead and he didn’t need to be thrown out at first. If I were the Tribe’s manager, I would have been tossed. There is no way that Blake swung and this terrible call killed any momentum the Indians had. Papelbon converted the save by striking out the frigid Travis Hafner, whose night ended oh for five with a golden sombrero (4 K’s).
Here are my hot sports opinions on Boston and Fenway Park:
1) Fenway Park needs to be replaced ASAP. It needs to be bulldozed and replaced with a modern stadium with similar dimensions. I don’t see how a refurbishment would work. The Green Monster has character, but as a right handed line drive hitter I would have hated playing there. It turns pop flies into homers and doubles, while laser beams are converted to singles and doubles. The rest of the stadium is one quagmire after another. The entrances, walkways and exits were tiny, creating a logjam with a crowd of only 37,000, making it seem like 80,000. The demand for seats far exceeds the 37,000 capacity making tickets only available for season ticket holders and wealthy people. The only kids present were with their rich yuppie parents. You didn’t see the normal dad and his son going to the game at the spur of the moment like you see at every other major league ballpark. I love old stadiums like Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium, but Fenway needs to meet Mr. Wrecking ball.
2) Yawkey Way was a beating. It is open until 3 hours before game time, then closed off for an hour until the gates open 2 hours before. My wife was enjoying the air conditioning in one watering hole while the area was closed off while I was on my search for tickets. After I got my tickets, it took a long time for me to figure out the only way to reach her was to wait for the gates to open and plow through the mass of humanity or go through several back alleys and find the rear exit of the bar. This really ticked both of us off. There was a special atmosphere around the ballpark, but give me Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field any day. Numerous bars outside the park, you can go broke fast. Driving to Fenway isn’t an option. Parking is hard to come by and costs $35 and up. No place to tailgate. Frankly, I think Frog Alley at TCU football games has a better gameday experience.
3) Seating – The grandstand area was one of the few areas to sit anywhere near home plate. The chairs in this area are made of wood and appear to be the original seats installed before World War One. I know they can’t be, but they look and feel that bad. For their location, these are the most uncomfortable seats in all my stadium travels. I would have expected to see seats like this on Alcatraz.
4) Music – Boston is sorely lacking in songs played at the ballpark. Singing along with ”Sweet Caroline” is the worst tradition around. Playing “Dirty Water” after the game is probably second. The person singing “God Bless America” tricked it up so bad, I almost wanted to boo her after the song, but didn’t want to disrespect America (like she did).
5) The Fans are definitely the most obnoxious in all of Baseball. It could have something to do with their winning streak and 13 game lead in the East, but Boston fans make me long for the relatively “friendly” fans of Yankee Stadium. Maybe it’s just because they are made up of yuppie frontrunners, but there were not many redeeming qualities here. Now I understand why the Boston fans at Rangers games are the most obnoxious – they think it is normal fan behavior. I thought people from California were pretentious, but Boston takes the cake, calling Fenway “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” (Wrigley – no contest) and Boston “The Athens of America” and generally having that superior air about themselves.
OK – I have told you the bad news. I need to be positive and give a few opposing viewpoints.
1) Good Chowder – We had Chowdah twice and both times it was great.
2) History – Boston has more American history in a 1 square mile than in all of Texas combined. We did enjoy walking the Freedom Trail on Tuesday since we decided this would be our first and probably last trip to Boston. We liked the north end of town with all the Italian eateries.
3) The Boston Common was a very relaxing oasis in the center of Boston.
On to Shea Stadium on Wednesday – I am pumped about the pitching matchup – Glavine VS Zito. – We have been blessed with the greatest weather, pitching matchups and close games we could have asked for. Let’s hope this game is equally exciting.