Friday, September 15, 2006

Went to Fenway Park

Last Friday I finally got to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, the oldest major league baseball stadium in the United States. Unfortunately, the Sox lost and, while that was a heartbreaker, it was pretty cool to be at the stadium.

We got tickets through Craigslist is a cool website to go on for buying/selling and for a host of other reasons. During the week I had been checking in and trying to buy tickets that were up for sale. Now that the Sox are out of contention, people were willing to sell off their tickets - below face value. When the Sox were hot the tickets that were for sale were more often than not well above face value. People would literally put their tickets up for bid. Now, they were dumping them. Neverheless, lots of people want to go to a game and so the tickets go quickly. A couple times I lost out on buying tickets because I couldn't meet the seller until evening and someone else got there sooner. When we did get the tickets, I had Julie meet the seller at his job in the latter part of the morning. Transactions are COD.

We were able to get two loge box seats for less than face value. Our seats were just to the right of the edge of the netting behind home plate, about 40 rows back from the field. We were just under the upper deck roof. We enjoyed a beautiful, panoramic view of the field and could see the whole stadium.

I wanted to get to the ballpark early so I could soak up the atmosphere. We walked along Yawkey Way a little before going into the stadium, doing some people-watching. Then, once in, we walked around the lower deck from home plate to the right field foul pole. As we walked along, we noticed a bunch of people standing around in a circle, looking up into the rafters near the right field foul pole. Some folks were taking pictures, others were pointing up; people who had been sitting underneath were standing around looking up.

What we saw was a big, golden-brown hawk with white legs, maybe it was a small eagle, eating a rat. It was up in the rafters, oblivious to the fans watching below, eating strips of the rodent's flesh that it had torn off from the body firmly held between its talons. The hawk completely ignored the crowd. As it ate, small pieces and droplets fell below, which I then realized was why no one was sitting directly below it. I assumed that once the bird finished eating it probably flew away, or settled down to take a nap. At any rate, how often do you see something like that? Especially in a ball park in the middle of downtown.

After we settled down into our seats to watch the game, drinking $6.50 beer and eating $3.50 soft pretzels, I took some time to look around at the stadium, which is painted entirely in green. What impressed me was that the stadium seemed to be wavy. The area behind the outfield, between the foul poles, had been added onto at different times over the years. Out in right field it was standing room only so where the upper deck ended and the bleachers started the stadium's profile dipped.

Under the scoreboard, which is in dead center, seats had been added on from the ones behind where the pitchers sat to right up to the underside of the scoreboard. That created a wave-like effect of the stands. Then, moving along to the Green Monster in left and over to the upper deck, seats had been added, behind and above each other.

The entire effect, as you looked out from home plate across the entire outfield, was a waviness, almost like the outline of a roller coaster rising and dipping. Behind the Green Monster seats there were two huge advertising posters, one for Volvo. Behind them, and a few blocks away from the stadium, you could see the giant Citgo sign, slowly turning different colors in the evening sky.

Since the stadium is small anyway, the whole setting was pretty intimate. The seats were old and obviously designed for people who were much thinner. Everything about the ballpark was old, but endearing at the same time.

We watched the pre-game show, which featured a couple soul singers whose names I forgot but who were two of my favorites back in the day. The Standell's were also there playing their early 70's hit song Dirty Water, which is about the Charles River.

Toward the end of the game we watched a nearby fight between a drunken fan and the security guards. Earlier we saw a fan who had run onto the field out in right get dragged off. Both would have gotten at least a night in jail and a hefty fine. The guy who started the fight, I read in the paper the following day, had been jumping up and down on his seat and had literally destroyed it. He then had taken one of the broken slats and threw it at, and hit, a woman nearby.

We only noticed the last part of the fight, when the guy was being taken away, because the whole ballpark was caught up in David Ortiz' 8th inning heroics of hitting a 2 run single which brought the Sox back into the lead. In the 9th, with the Sox up 9 to 8, Mike Timlin came on and blew the lead, causing two runs to score. The Sox lost, 10 to 9.

During the exciting 8th inning, the PA system played "Sweet Caroline" which is the Sox fans' rallying cry. It was pretty funny hearing the fans sing along with parts of the song. It was reminiscent of the way the Orioles fans yell out "Oh" during the national anthem and also sing along when "Country Roads" by John Denver is sung at Camden Yards. I guess each ball park has its own fan-favorite quirks.

Anyway, the game ended with a collective sigh and everyone quietly exited the ballpark. It was pretty amazing how quiet, relatively speaking, the crowd got when the last out was recorded and folks started filing toward the exits. The people up here take their Red Sox pretty seriously and many, I think, take losses personally. Strangely, I could feel their sadness.


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