Thursday, June 23, 2011

Padres Walk the Freedom Trail

Sometime in November/December of 2010 the San Diego Padres schedule was released. One of the first things I like to look at when this happens is the interleague schedule. I realize interleague has distractors. But I for one am a fan. I love the weekends when the Cubs play the White Sox, or San Francisco plays Oakland.

While reviewing the Padres 2011 interleague schedule, one series stood out. June 20th-22nd. Boston, MA vs the Red Sox.

I'd been to Wrigley, old Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium (among others). So this was a no brainer. Any baseball fan worth their salt has Fenway Park on their bucket list. And my favorite team was going to be playing there for the first time since 2004.

This was a no brainer.

My day at Fenway began with a tour of the park. Fenway Park offers tours on the hour, even on game day, for $12. Not a bad way to start a day at the park.

The first thing you see is Yawkey Way. If you have ever been to Wrigley Field (and really, the surrounding neighborhood) then this will feel instantly familiar. A stadium built into a residential area, Yawkey Way has a street fair atmosphere.

And my first view of Fenway Park from inside.

Have you heard the Red Sox have won some World Series? Because if you haven't, there was really no way to miss it at Fenway.

Ok, the Green Monster is pretty cool. Even if it is only 310 feet from home plate.

The view from atop the Green Monster. According to our tour guide, fans have to enter a lottery for the right to buy tickets on top of the Monster. If they are chosen in that lottery, you get 4 tickets. Total. For the season.

Look, a table that looks like home plate!

The "Teammates" statue outside Gate B. Statue is of Johnny Pesky, Dom Dimaggio, Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr.

And the Ted Williams statue. The first of many San Diego/Boston connections throughout the decades. Ted Williams that is. Not the statue.

Finally, it was game time. A view from my seats.

A few notes from the game.

- Unfortunately the only game I was able to go to was the first game in the series. But, I did get to see something historic. This was the first game in MLB history that ended in a 3-3 tie after 6 innings. Because the bottom of the 7th never happened. IT NEVER HAPPENED!

- Did a little pre-gaming at the Cask N' Flagon thanks to a suggestion from Bernie Wilson.

- Dave Roberts received a very nice ovation from the Boston crowd when he was announced, for obvious reasons. If you don't know why that's obvious, chances are you are not reading a blog about baseball.

- Adrian Gonzalez is a monster and probably the best player in baseball. He is tailor made for Fenway Park, which is something we all knew. But to see it in person and see him play pepper with the monster is something to watch. No matter how good Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo become, it still may not have been enough.

- Overall, the Boston fans I meet were knowledgable and passionate baseball fans. The most common question I got: when Adrian Gonzalez plays in San Diego, will I boo him? My answer was no. I'm an Adrian fan. But I tempered that answer by pointing out that this is not a view shared by all in San Diego.

- That's not to say that there weren't some jerks. A fan two rows in front of me, as the game went on, became increasing loud (and presumably, drunk). At one point, late in the game (after the inning that didn't happen), his buddy asked him "who is pitching tomorrow?" (which, for the record, was scheduled to be Beckett at that point). His answer, "who cares, we're playing the Padres." I thought about that guy with a wry smile on my flight home as I watched the Padres beat Boston on MLB Network (thanks Continental Airlines and your Direct TV!)

I'll leave you with this. I got to talking to some Red Sox fans at the Cask N' Flagon before the game. The conversation at one point turned to the 2004 ALCS. I assume this happens a lot in Boston. It was something to see as their eyes lit up as if they were remembering their favorite Christmas as a kid.

I want that feeling. So Jed, do whatever you have to do. Build the farm system, trade away Bell, sign expensive draft picks. I can be patient. But one day, I want someone to strike up a conversation with me in some bar in San Diego and have the conversation turn to the Padres first World Series. And I want to feel what those guys felt.

I'll be patient, Jed. But I want that.

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