Posted by: dougery | June 11, 2012

Fenway For a Day

Depending on what social environment I am in (or ‘so-viro,’ which is a totally made up abbreviation I just coined for you all to share–you’re welcome), I tailor my love of sports accordingly. You don’t wade through as many bookstores, punk shows and English departments as I have and not run into genuinely nice and wonderful people who have constructed a virulent, virtually pathological hatred of professional sports. If you’re into woefully imperfect analogies, these sports haters are akin to those unassuming people holding hard-to-read placards outside of a women’s health centers who suddenly transform into napalm-belching dragons the moment “women’s right to choose” comes up. Approaching and hanging out with people who display these, how to put this delicately, fits of pique, is fine so long as you understand that no argument you have for what you believe in stands any chance at convincing your interlocutor that they are, well, not wrong exactly, just… closed-minded? Ignorant of the fact that there are plenty of other ordinary, non-damned-for-eternity people out there that don’t happen to agree with them? Ah well.

All of which is a long way of saying I’m a big fan of pro sports, but not like, some ideologue about it, and I will go out of my way to avoid the eye-rolling and contempt some have by feigning disinterest.

And yet I love sports enough to be more than passably competent in, well, baseball and football mostly. I love them enough to participate in leagues where I get to pretend to be a general manager of entirely fictional teams, all in an effort to show other pretend managers that I ‘know’ the sport so well that my imaginary team statistically beat their imaginary team. And ‘sports knowledge’ comes in handy. It becomes a slightly more sophisticated way of striking up conversations with strangers that doesn’t involve bringing up what the weather is doing outside. Shockingly, most people can and enjoy speaking passionately about their local ball-club. I’m not so much amazed as pleasantly surprised how ‘talking sports’ can turn something potentially painful, like waiting for some interminably slow print-out to spit forth at say, Hertz Rent-A-Center, into a breezy short wait, where both sides end up with smiles on their faces and occasionally, some of the more arduous point-by-point imperatives are glossed over because you’ve kinda bonded. Bonded the only way most adult male Americans can bond, by celebrating other spectacularly fit adult men performing incredible, if not arbitrary, feats of skill, speed, and strength.

This past weekend I was afforded the opportunity to go to a MLB game for the first time in years. I’d never been to Fenway (book nerds, this would be like knowing who Faulkner is but never taking the time to read him) and jumped at the chance when old friends drove in with tickets. L and I provided the BBQ and the place to crash afterward, and, I’m taking credit right here and now for the glorious weather. That was all me. I summoned the blue skies and light breeze all by myself. Plus, I got to see a very good young team in the Washington Nationals. And I got to find ways of making all this exciting to L, who isn’t precisely fluent in baseball.

Looking at the game through her eyes was fun. L did not like:

a) The way fans in front of us kept standing to let late-comers in, or let those who were thirsty for $9.25 “premium” draft beers out.
b) The batting stance of certain players. Some, like Ryan Sweeney were ‘wimpy and dispassionate,’ others like Kevin Youkilis were ‘silly and stupid looking.’
c) The Boston mascot. She wasn’t sure what it was, or why it existed.
d) The chairs, which hurt her back.

L did like:

a) The batting stance of certain players, like Bryce Harper (who looked ‘natural, comfortable and strong’) or the physical comportment of those in the field, like Gio Gonzalez who was ‘in control’ (he totally was, giving up 1 hit through his first 5 innings before his bullpen crapped out on him, doing all they could to allow his baserunners to score in the 6th). Gio was L’s favorite player that day, and she was visibly angry when the manager took him out.
b) The shots of kids having fun on the score-board.
c) The camaraderie.

Fenway was, as a friend pointed out, really really small for a baseball park. Thus the obstructed view I had of SS, LF, the scores at the foot of the Green Monstah, the fans on top of said monstah, and the advertisements atop said fans. But even that added to a closeness that some other modern parks I’ve been to don’t share.

Yes, the tickets were obscenely expensive. If the four of us hadn’t acquired them for free, it would have cost us over $200 to attend. Which leads to an odd quality to some of the fans. A few seem to be there not of their own volition, as if a wealthy family member or co-worker handed the tickets over, and the eventual attendees could care less where they were. Several people in our row were far more interested in their smartphones than the teams on the field. Of course the Sawx did lose and are in last place, so maybe the apathy extends from there. Still, the bro who yelled out some disparaging comment about David Ortiz (who has totally slimmed down of late) after he (Ortiz) grounded out, something to the effect of how “it was okay” that the formerly big man “now sucks because he’ll totally be dead in a few years,” (You see, because he was once fat and it is apparently very funny that gigantic athletes die young) and then posted his hilarious comment to Facebook, a move which must be some kind of technological miracle because it made his bro-friend laugh for a solid 20 minutes, I mean imagine posting something funny you heard in real life… on Facebook.

Thus the day’s final box-score read ‘My friends and Me” = W, The Sawx = L, with a scattering of hits and errors for all.

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Responses

  1. YAY! Fenway is the best and we were lucky enough to score (read: not pay for, as you mentioned) tickets earlier this season to the 17-inning game last month!

    The best part… they were going to let the kids run the bases after the game, but since the game went on so long and most of the kids had already gone home….

    They let EVERYONE run the bases.

    Babs = score; Sox also = loss on that day…

    🙂


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