I don’t pretend to be the foremost authority on, well, anything. I know what I know and I like what I like and you can either agree with me or disagree with me it’s no sweat off my brow (Although I will most likely argue with you if you start to complain about Sweet Caroline being played at Fenway.)
Having written that, what the hell with the people who are complaining about the extended netting at Fenway Park?
(Before I start this rant I feel compelled to mention that Stephen King is my favorite author and the inspiration for many things I’ve written that none of you have read. If you can adore someone you don’t know at all, I adore him. But I feel like he’s wrong here. Wrong, wrong, wrong.)
Prior to yesterday, those of you who don’t have a “Fenway Park” Google alert might not have been aware that the extended the netting that is behind home plate at the park. It stretches from home pate and reaches to each of the dugouts (but doesn’t go beyond them – meaning there is no protective netting in front of folks sitting behind the dugout). The netting behind home plate also goes above the head of the fans. The new netting doesn’t. Basically, they’ve made it so foul balls and errant bats aren’t going to smack the face of anyone who happens to be sitting in the expensive seats.
Call me kooky, but I think this is a great idea.
Stephen King doesn’t agree.
“There are questions inherent in the decision to net, and I think they’re bigger than baseball,” King wrote. “Like when does protection become overprotection? Is the safety of a fan at a public event like a baseball game the responsibility of the organization putting on that event? (According to the back of every MLB ticket sold, the fan is responsible.) When do safety precautions begin to steal away the pure joy of being there?“
As I wrote above, if you attended a game at Fenway prior to 2016 and sat behind home plate, there was protective netting in front of and above you. So the protection factor for the fans isn’t new. The Red Sox didn’t just suddenly decide it was important to protect the fans, they just decided to try and increase that protection. And, yes, I believe it IS the responsibility of the team to try and ensure fan safety.
And to answer King’s main question, yes, I believe it IS the responsibility of the team to try and ensure fan safety.
I’m curious as to what part of the “pure joy” of being at a ball game is stolen away by having netting blocking a ball or bat from flying at you? Being able to catch a foul ball? There are plenty of other seats in the park where you can do that. (Point of interest: King reportedly turned down the Red Sox offer of changing his seats to a place where there was no netting.)
I was fortunate enough to watch the game from behind home plate yesterday. Netting in front and above me. Hell, I watched the Red Sox lose the Fenway opener in the ninth inning and I still had a ridiculously good time at the park. A loss AND netting? How did I persevere?
The baseball gods and some very generous friends have seen to it that I’ve had the opportunity to sit in some very good seats at Fenway. I’ve been in the seats around where King’s season tickets are many times. I promise you, no one tries to pay better attention to what is going on at the game than I do, especially when I’m in seats where there is a chance of getting hit by a ball or bat.
I do not want to get hit by a ball or bat. I really don’t.
(If my life were like The Truman Show and there was a camera following me 24/7 you all would see how many times I’ve chosen to dive away from a ball that ended up not being anywhere near me.)
I try to watch every pitch, every swing, to track the ball and make sure its path isn’t directly to my face. If someday I get hit by a bat or ball and some jackass on WEEI says it was because I wasn’t paying attention you all have my permission to kick the crap out of him. (You have more than my permission. Consider it a request.)
But the fact is, you CAN’T possibly pay attention to everything that is going on in a game all at the same time. I’m fond of watching the pitcher, which means I often miss the actual swing and then lose where the ball is going. I know plenty of people who watch the infielders to see how they’re positioned or who are watching the base runners to see if someone is about to steal. Everyone watches the game differently. It doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention it just means they’re paying attention to something that maybe you aren’t paying attention to.
Do I deserve a bloody face because I’m focused on the pitcher’s mound instead of home plate?
And let’s be honest, there is other stuff going on as well. Maybe you brought your kid to the park?? Maybe someone else brought a kid to the park? Kids distract you, even if they don’t mean to. They make noise, they kick you, they yell for no reason. A mother doesn’t deserve to be taken out on a stretcher because she turned her head from the game to check on her child. A man doesn’t deserve a bloody hand because he had to shield a kid from a foul ball coming her way.
We pay a lot of money to go enjoy baseball in the park. The least the teams can do, the very least, is make sure they’ve done everything they can to ensure our safety.
Which is what the Red Sox are trying to do and I welcome it.
Yesterday I sat in that “cage” Stephen King wrote of and I still enjoyed myself immensely. I suspect if he gives it a try he will as well.
I’ll be at Fenway today.
I’ll probably be cold.
I’ll probably be rain-soaked.
I will most definitely be happy.
The first time I saw this video was on a Fenway Opening Day. 2008 I think. It reminds me of how much I love this team and gives me hope for every new season.
Bring it on 2016!
The baseball (and weather) gods getting me back for mocking the Yankees:
Red Sox-Indians Opening Day postponed
It’s Monday, April 4, 2016. At the time of this writing, it is 35 degrees in Cleveland. At 4:00 pm EST, it is being guessed that the temperature will be about 33 degrees with an 11% chance of precipitation (read: snow). Out my window here in Boston all I see are grey skies and snowflakes. There is nothing about this day that screams “BASEBALL SEASON” yet here it is. Cardinals, Pirates, Rays, Blue Jays, Mets and Royals fans got their opening day yesterday and for the rest of us TODAY is it. (Well not all of us. Astros and Yankees fans have to wait another day thanks to Mother Nature, who is apparently NOT a Yankees fan.)
Outdoor sports that don’t involve boots, skates, or layered clothing should not be played in 33 degrees. It’s uncomfortable for the players, for the fans, for the folks who work at the parks and stadiums…it’s pretty much miserable for everyone. But know what? We don’t care. None of us. Because MOST of us will be sitting at home watching on television or listening to the radio/Internet while everyone else languishes in the cold. We get to enjoy the fruits of their labor and suffering from the warmth of our couches and bar stools because, dammit, baseball season will not be halted. Not even for a little bit of snow. (Again, unless you’re in New York today.)
Diehard baseball fans will argue that the season isn’t long enough. Just when it starts to get really good, bam, it’s over. So we accept that our teams play in the snow in April and sometimes in October as well because the alternative is no baseball…and what the hell is the point of that?
Seven years ago this past weekend I was at the opening of Citi Field for exhibition games between the Mets and the Red Sox (apologies for the lack of photos on those links – archiving the old blog entries didn’t go as well as I had hoped). It was a cold, grey, rainy weekend and at one point while we were walking around the brand new park shivering and practically getting blown over by the wind, I overheard a couple behind me. He was ranting about how he had told her before that they weren’t going to any games in April and she literally just laughed in his face. She knew he was full of it (either that, she knew the next April game she went to would be on her own or with someone who wasn’t him) – we ALL complain about the miserable April weather but we all show up at the games or turn that television on come opening day. We are baseball fans and we are a little bit crazy.
The 2016 season is a snowy blank canvas and the Red Sox have David Price as their artist in residence. I’m looking forward to some beautiful, winning tableaus this year – sprinkled with a little carnage every now and then.
Let’s go, Red Sox!
So last weekend was the second annual Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. I was at last year’s event and noticed that I didn’t write about it at the time. (I even brought a recorder for the good stuff and still have audio files from that weekend that I’ve done nothing with but listen to them myself.) I am a pathetic excuse for a blogger these days.
Anyway, this year’s weekend was loads of fun. I was a little disappointed that there weren’t panels for the minor leagues as there were last year (last year, Kelly O’Connor and I attended almost exclusively panels that covered the minor league players and operations) but the panels we attended this year were informative and entertaining.
If I had any doubts about Dave Dombrowski, last weekend erased them for me. (Sure you could argue the team acquiring David Price should have erased them for me but I’m nothing if not stubborn.) The first panel we attended on Saturday was the Baseball Operations update with Dombrowski and Mike Hazen. Two people more eager to discuss baseball operations with the lowly fans you will not find, I promise you. It was less of an update and more of a casual Q&A about the team peppered with some interesting stories from the vault of Dave Dombrowski.
I had conveniently forgotten that Dombrowski was the GM of the Florida Marlins when Kevin Millar was getting his start in baseball and last weekend he shared the story about how Millar ended up as a replacement player in 1995. It came up as Dombrowski and Hazen were making that point that regardless of what Baseball Operations folks see in a player, it’s not an exact science and every so often a player comes around that surprises them. Dombrowski was also making the point that some players, the prospects, get special treatment. Kevin Millar was not one of those special players; they didn’t expect him to go anywhere.
“We also had players in our minor league system at that point and we invited some of them to come play exhibition games, pre-season games at the big league level. We broke those players down, we would not invite prospects to play in those replacement spring training games because we knew that the Player’s Association would frown on them being part of the Association in the future so we really spent a long time – Kevin Millar played in those spring training games for us so we did not think Kevin was a prospect at all at that time. And he worked hard continued to hit basically and he went on to have a very fine big league career and now he’s a top broadcaster with his personality, so we were really surprised. There’s an example of somebody that completely caught us off guard unfortunately for Kevin because we never would have done that if we would have thought he had that type of ability. To this day he’s not part of the Player’s Association; they don’t allow him in because he played in those Spring Training games and they’re not forgiving in that regard.” – Dave Dombrowski
If I need a specific reason to encourage people to go to the Winter Weekend if the Red Sox offer it next year, sound bites like this one would be my first example. It also doesn’t hurt that Dombrowski speaks relaxed and freely – and is personable enough that you want him to keep speaking. The only disappointment from this panel was that it only lasted an hour.
We also sat in on a panel called Covering Ground where we were entertained by Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans along with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Rusney Castillo. Sure it was fun to hear Rice, Lynn and Evans recall the good old days – (and I promise you not one of them has forgotten those days and they all seem to be in agreement that they were pretty much the best. Not age nor the fact that none of them brought the team a World Series win has affected their egos – it was glorious!) – but the interactions between the old guard and the new was what made this panel a must see. If NESN wanted to take the sting out of Don Orsillo not being on our tvs anymore they would give Jim Rice and Mookie Betts a reality show. Mookie’s incessant teasing (among other things, telling the three veterans that he didn’t know who they were) finally culminated in Jim Rice telling him to talk to the hand. (Okay, so Jim Ed is a decade behind the rest of us…it was still adorable.)
There were other highlights, I got to meet John Farrell and welcome him back, got a picture with Jerry Remy (and my second picture in as many years with my honey Fred LynN!), we saw Brock Holt giving up his #26 jersey to Wade Boggs at the Friday night town hall meeting, Wally’s little sister Tessie being the belle of the ball all weekend (if I heard one kid scream “THERE’S TESSIE!” I hear ten) and we almost shared an elevator with Roger Clemens (the baseball gods helped me out there and the Rocket ended up not taking the elevator) but they really did save the best for last. The two final panels on Saturday were the Kid’s Press Conference and Red Sox Game Show.
The press conference was what you would expect – kids asking the players questions (“What kind of car do you drive? Where is the best burger?”) but the true highlight of the entire weekend was the game show. Three teams (the alumni, the coaches and the players) competed in adorableness like Lip Sync Battle, Celebrity Name Games, Lil Picassos and the Doo Doo game (where you have to sing a song only singing “doo-doo”. It was a ridiculously entertaining way to end the day and it gave us the chance to see these guys more relaxed than we’re used to seeing them. Fred Lynn especially stood out as being a bit more silly than I would have expected. Steve Lyons was exactly as you would think he’d be and Hanley Ramirez completely won over the room with his huge smile, infectious laugh and the fact that at one point he jumped into the audience and sat with the fans so that he could applaud his own team.
As an aside, Hanley Ramirez is my binky this season. He completely seduced me last weekend and he has my support because I can’t believe someone with that much life and happiness in him can be bad.
The biggest surprise of the game show was Carl Willis, Red Sox pitching coach and guy you want at your party to keep things lively. I can’t do his personality justice, so I offer you the below shaky, blurry at times, video that I took of Carl and the rest of the coaches lip syncing “Uptown Girl” with the alumni at the end giving their props. I honestly walked out of that room in physical pain from laughing so much. (And the coaches got hosed…they should have won!)
Truck Day is February 10th – my plan is to be there because if I know anything it’s that I’m itching for some baseball and this weekend taste has me hungry for more. The entire weekend was a great way to get excited for the upcoming season but now I just want more!