Scratch Fenway from the List

clip_image002I don’t have a bucket list. There isn’t a group of things that I feel that I have to accomplish, see, or do before time and nature prevent me from accomplishing, seeing or doing them. I plan to just take advantage of the opportunities that become available. One of the opportunities that came my way recently was a chance to see a ballgame in Fenway Park. OK, “opportunity” might be a bit of a understatement in this case. A friend of mine from ADNET Technologies called in March and said:

What are you doing on May 31st? …Nothing, OK good. We’re sponsoring a bus trip to Fenway and you’re going. Add it to your calendar.”

The Red Sox were playing the Rays (my friend is a Rays fan). I don’t actually care about either team. Despite our friendship, I wanted to see the Red Sox win. While it might have been cool to see him celebrating in the opponent’s ballpark (not to mention on the bus ride home), I wanted to see the Boston fans at their best. If you’re going to experience Fenway for the first time, do it on a night Boston is going to win.

clip_image004The trip was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. Get on the bus. Watch a movie. Eat. Watch a game. Get on the bus. Watch a movie. Go home. The event was very well organized – nothing was left to chance. Lists, tickets, times and directions were checked and disbursed. Noses were counted. Commands were given, and the DVDs that had been packed for the ride were perfect. Keep in mind; this was primarily a group of geeks and computer nerds. On the way up to Boston, we watched Office Space and on the way home we watched the Blues Brothers. Watched is another understatement, we participated in both movies. Almost everyone on the bus knew almost all of the dialog and lyrics. I don’t know how they arranged it, but the last of the Blues Brothers credits (very important part of that film) scrolled up as the bus entered the parking lot back in CT.

clip_image006Fenway did not disappoint. Within seconds of walking through the gate, I felt like I was a child back at Forbes Field. The structure, the smell (yes, you can smell baseball history) the view, the closeness and the simplicity of the ballpark were comforting. No escalators, no big glass areas, no homage paid to modern marketing – this place was built for baseball. The view was probably the thing that most caught my attention. It’s not a view of Boston, it’s a view of the ball field. That’s why you’re in Fenway, to watch baseball.

The Red Sox didn’t disappoint either. They gave over 37,000 loyal home town fans and one fan-for-a-day a few special treats. We got to see two home runs and we got to see Rubby De La Rosa pitch his first game for the team. I think the Rays would have rather he had started a few days later; he kept them scoreless through 7 innings. We got to see a successful wave. I was impressed by the fact that the fans carried it through the Green Monster seats, I guess they know what they’re doing.

The viewing experience, like the stadium ballpark (my friend gets credit for noticing that distinction) is old school. Our seats were pretty far up in the right grandstand so high fly balls were blocked by the deck above us and pretty much every play was interrupted for a millisecond while the ball/runner/fielder was obscured by a steel beam. There are small video monitors attached to those beams, but watching them turned Fenway into a cold living room. It was fun to watch some replays but not the one of Jackie Bradley Jr. slamming into the Green Monster and then getting hit in the face with the rebounding ball. The video was scary to watch. The live action was worse because we could hear the thud clip_image008when he hit the wall.

Fenway was loud. According to my iPhone app, a home run set the max for the night at 101 decibels up under the deck (some sites label that the threshold of pain, putting it equivalent to a train whistle up close), Big Papi coming to bat registered 93 and booing what seemed like a bad call at 2nd base hit 89.

Now to answer the two questions some friends have. I don’t think that I will go back to Fenway to watch the Red Sox play unless it is another group event or if I happen to be in Boston. With the novelty gone, it’s hard to justify the four hour round-trip and additional hour or more in traffic, especially since I’m not a fan. As for which ballpark is better, Fenway or PNC Park, I’m going to say PNC Park. Keeping my friend’s distinction in mind, the Pirates built a new ballpark, not a stadium. PNC Park has the old-time feel of an early 20th century ballpark as well as slightly larger and more comfortable seats.

I’ll leave off with a comparison of quirky hometown factors. Fenway Park might be the only ballpark where in-the-stands vendors are hawking Clam Chowder (I guess that’s Chowdah) and PNC Park might be the only place you can watch a Pierogi race between the 5th and 6th inning.

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16 thoughts on “Scratch Fenway from the List

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      1. Yup! Moments of complexity….. otherwise we the women folk can steal the car and drive around the town and come back with week worth of shopping and the guys wouldn’t notice a thing……
        FYI : They probably came along to keep the men in line and ahem…. dressed and non homicidal if their team lost….. [Giggles]

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  1. It figures, only a computer nerd would pull out a decibel cell phone app when they are in the most beloved ballpark in America :-) I must also fault you on not mentioning “Sweet Caroline” at the 8th inning break – what might PNC have to equal that fan extravaganza. It’s even better when Neil Diamond shows up in person to sing it to us! At least you’ve been here now and may have a better understanding of the culture of Bostonians when it comes to their professional sports teams.

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    1. I took out my phone after the first home run Bob. It was pretty loud up under that deck and I knew I was writing this post, so… Besides, I was with a group of 60 geeks so I was safe. I do like Sweet Caroline and that was cool. Some of the Rays and Yankee fans with us changed a few of the words though, sorry. Fenway was a great experience Bob, as is a game in PNC Park. They are hard to compare directly but they are two of the best ballparks in MLB today.

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  2. The French I still am when it comes to American sports won’t comment on the baseball game. Yet your post, Dan, hits home because Boston is my son’s hometown and because I spent (many years ago) a sleepless night there, staying by mistake too close to Feinway. The sound was indeed deafening. Bostonians can be loud and boisterous at the game.

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    1. I think it’s remarkable that Fenway has survived all these years. So many other cities have torn these ballparks down for larger and more modern stadiums. When I was in Pittsburgh, they tore down our ballpark and replaced it with a monstrosity called Three Rivers Stadium. It was a terrible place to watch a baseball game. I was so glad when they built PNC Park in the style of an old-time ballpark. Baseball is an American sport to be sure, but a night at the ballpark is fun, even if you’re not a fan. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  3. I love baseball. The old baseball (Tigers and White Sox of the 60s) when players stuck around for years, and fans watched the game instead of getting up and down every 10 minutes, and the game was the ONLY entertainment, and there was nothing to do but sit and sit and enjoy some good play on the field. The first 10 years of Rockies games were still close enough to “old” baseball, but it’s all but disappeared.

    I enjoyed your Fenway Park adventure, including the bus rides!

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    1. Thanks for commenting. I can understand some of the entertainment at the minor league parks, but for majjo league games, I would like to think you could pack the place with people who want to see baseball.I rew up attending Pirates games at Forbes Field when all you had was the game and the announcer.

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