Friday, March 25, 2005

The Fenway Experience

One of the true joys of baseball is the experience of sitting in a ballpark, any ballpark, with a cold beer in one hand and the game unfolding at its own gentle pace in front of you.

It is my dream to visit all 30 ballparks, and in the 8 seasons that I have been following the game, I have now been to exactly half – Minute Maid Park in Houston for the 2004 All Star Game getting me half way there.

But one ground stands out above all others – no it isn’t the most comfortable park, it doesn’t have the biggest choice of concession stands, and if you are in the RF boxes facing out into RF rather than home plate…. well your neck hurts after 9 innings, but…

and what a but – to be sitting in Fenway in August, with the Boston skyline glowing orange as the sun sets, with a full stadium, all of them fully into the game (well apart from those idiots that have to stand and wave to some other guy 146 rows away, talking on a cell phone, saying “can’t you see me, next to the guy in the Red Sox shirt, I’m waving”) is an incredible experience. It is hard to describe for anyone who has not been there, and enjoys the amenities of a new stadium, but there is no stadium that takes you into the game, gets you so close to the action, as Fenway – if you are reading this in the UK, you have to make the trip to Fenway, no matter which team you support to get that true, all American baseball experience.

When the Henry / Werner / Lucchino management team took over, many, many Sox fans were concerned that this was only a financial investment, and that these guys would not make the emotional and additional financial investments we believe the team deserved. I think they have proved the doubters wrong on all points (though those doubters still exist) – a high payroll, a series of improvements to the old ballpark, and an emotional commitment that is best evidenced by the willingness to indulge in a good old fashioned mental spat with the Yankees at all levels. And now, the Sox management team has announced that they are staying in Fenway for the foreseeable future – no more dalliance with a new stadium, but a true commitment to preserving and maintaining the oldest and smallest major league ballpark in America.

That has to be good news for Sox fans, and good news for baseball fans everywhere.

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