I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.
“N” is for Ninth Inning.
With two outs in the ninth inning, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel works on saving the Sox 4-3 Patriots Day game victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The kids & I visited Fenway Park on Tuesday night, taking advantage of their free Kid Nation tickets on Xander Bogaerts bobblehead night. This was our last Red Sox game of the season and thus most likely the last time we ever saw David Ortiz play in person. Sadly, it was not a great game for Big Papi and the Sox, although he did drive in a run on sacrifice fly that was snagged on a great catch. Hanley Ramirez put the Red Sox ahead on a home run past the Pesky Pole, but the Tampa Bay Rays hit a home run to tie the game and then another to go ahead for good. Still, it was a lovely night out at the old ballpark near the end of summer.
David Ortiz performs pre-game warmups
Drew Pomeranz pitches
The kids under the lights
Hanley Ramirez touches them all.
Dustin Pedroia dances off third with Papi at the plate
Two podcasts this week with a shared theme: the people who work to sell you food (that’s largely bad for you).
The first is Planet Money (Episode 700: Peanuts and Cracker Jack) which spent a night at Fenway Park to learn of the economy of concessions vendors at a Red Sox game. There’s a draft for products and sections of the ballpark and then it’s up to each individual to use their skills to sell as much as they can. The mystical Jose wears #1 on his back for his marketing skill. Surprisingly, vendors don’t seem to make much money for their efforts (although I supposed no one would have a job that’s only about 4 hours 81 times per year as their sole source of income).
More sinister is this week’s Decode DC episode (Episode 139: Big Sugar’s Secret Playbook) where tobacco industry marketing and legal tactics are used to get you eating (and paying for) more sugar in your diet.
Patriots Day is my absolute favorite holiday and it’s too bad it’s not celebrated nationwide. On Sunday we went to Fenway Park for the first time this season. Since Kay is now 4 we got a package for the whole family. She was excited and cheered a lot holding a banner from the Kid Nation booth. Kay didn’t make it past the 7th on a sunny day in the bleachers. From our perch we got to watch Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista constantly stretching, perhaps Bautista Power Yoga? We also got to see the MLB debut of Marco Hernandez at 2nd base. In his first game with the Red Sox, Marco had a walk, a hit, a stolen base, and scored a run. Unfortunately, his more experienced teammates weren’t hitting at all with only 4 hits in the game, half of those in the 9th inning. Travis Shaw’s home run fell in the bullpen right in front of us, which was exciting, but too little too late and the Red Sox lost 5-3.
On Monday I took Peter & Kay downtown for the festivities. We were heading to a playground but passing the Public Garden the kids asked to go on the Swan Boats. It was an absolutely perfect day for getting pedaled across the lagoon. After a visit with the Ducklings, the kids went wild climbing, swinging, and spinning on the Esplanade.
They were having so much fun we missed the elite runners arriving in Back Bay (and the kids chewed me out for making them miss them). But we found a spot on Boyslton Street and joined the cheering masses. It was so loud, and inspiring! After a lunch and another long stint of rooting for the runners, we made our long circuitous way home on the T.
My son Peter and I took in our first Red Sox game of the season on April 7th versus the Texas Rangers. While the 2013 champions have struggled early on, we were treated to a thrilling 5-1 victory. Yes, it was April baseball, as both teams had a passed ball and an error, and probably deserved some more errors. But a win’s a win. As an extra bonus, we received a David Ortiz bobblehead upon entering. And since Peter is now a member of Kid Nation, we were allowed to enter the ballpark early and watch the Red Sox batting practice from the Green Monster seats, which was pretty awesome.
My son Peter and I were fortunate enough to take in two Boston Red Sox games in the same week. The first was a home game at Fenway Park versus the White Sox. For the second game, we ventured into enemy territory to see Red Sox take on the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
I’ve been to Fenway Park dozens of times in the 15 years I’ve lived in Boston and my son and I have been using 4-game Sox packs the past two seasons. I don’t have much to add to what I’ve written before other than to say that Fenway Park is a great place to see a ballgame, the improvements in fan amenities the past decade have really improved the experience, and I love going to games with my son.
This was our first visit to the third iteration of Yankee Stadium. Growing up in Connecticut, I attended several Yankees games in the 1976-2008 version of Yankee Stadium as a child as well as one college football game between Boston University and Grambling State. I made my last visit to Yankee Stadium II in 2006. Despite the history that came with the building due to the Yankees many successes, I never thought it lived up to its reputation as a great ballpark. It was kind of gloomy and felt like a 60’s/70’s concrete doughnut squashed in an urban shell.
I’m happy to report that Yankee Stadium III is an improvement on its predecessor. We took the D train to 161 St, and exited right outside Gate 6. There were several lines open so we swiftly made our way inside. We entered a long concourse with a high ceiling that felt like an airport terminal or railway station. While the Stadium has escaped corporate naming, the corporate presence was strong here (and throughout the ballpark) with large neon signs for the Hard Rock Cafe and other amenities. There was also a large screen and news ticker showing Yankees highlights on repeat and reminiscent of Times Square. The whole feeling was definitely to remind you that you were in the land of the Yankees now and playing with the big boys.
To access our seats on the Grandstand Level, we had to walk up a long, looping concrete ramp. This was one of the least appealing parts of the stadium. At least the ramps at Shea Stadium were exposed to fresh air and sunshine with views of the Manhattan skyline. The Yankees museum could be entered from this ramp but the line was quite long so we didn’t take it in. The concourse on the Grandstand/Terrace level was much nicer with lots of sunlight and views of the field and lined with the usual concessions and souvenir shops. The only one we availed ourselves to was Carvel for an ice cream cone (Peter passed on getting the ice cream in the helmet).
Our seats offered a commanding view of the field with only the left field corner obscured by the seat deck in front of us. (This would become relevant in the game when Ichiro made a catch against the wall of a drive by David Ortiz). The centerfield scoreboard is big and informative. There is a secondary scoreboard behind homeplate but I was surprised that there was only advertising along the baseline. The out-of-town scoreboard was not visible from our location. The corporate feel was strong during the game with lots of advertisements on all the scoreboards. Strikeouts by Yankees pitchers were sponsored by an appliance store and walks by Yankees batters were brought to you by a brand of whisky.
Our seating area was well-populated with Red Sox fans giving us a feeling of safety in numbers. The rivalry among fans was good-natured on this day. Several times Red Sox fans started chanting “Lets Go Red Sox!” only to get booed by Yankees fans. Then one guy would chant “Lets Go Yankees!” and no one else would join in. The top of the stadium is encircled by pennant flags for every team in Major League Baseball arranged by division in the order of the standings. Appropriately, we sat directly beneath the flag that read “BOSTON”.
The game was enjoyable, with the teams duking out to a 13-9 finale in favor of the Red Sox. Boston took a big lead early and then New York chipped away at that lead to make the game more competitive. Definitely not a pitcher’s duel, or a short game, but a fun one. We left after the game and it was actually pretty easy to get to the subway, and then board a “baseball special” train which has a poetic ring to it, like something out of a W.P. Kinsella story.
Yankee Stadium proved to be an adequate place to see a game. Like Citi Field, it is somewhat corporatized and soulless, and a city like New York should do much better for its ballparks. They don’t compare well with ballparks in San Francisco, Baltimore, or San Diego that incorporate aspects of their cities and surroundings into the stadium. It seems like they got the idea to copy the retro-ballpark style without doing anything to make it uniquely New York. Perhaps they just need to be lived-in a bit longer and will accrue some charm with age?
Over Memorial Day Weekend, I enjoyed a two-city, two-team, two-day baseball double header. On Sunday, I traveled down to New York to see R.A. Dickey and the Mets take on the San Diego Padres in the good company of some of my Mets fan friends. The next day, my son Peter & I went to Fenway Park for the Red Sox victory over the Detroit Tigers.