Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Spending a night at Fenway

Friday night was my first trip to Fenway in roughly 10 years and it was an enlightening experience. My trip to the ballpark began at the T stop in Newton, a suburb of Boston, with my friend Matt. We were immediately accosted by two drunken Red Sox fans on their way to the game in full Red Sox regalia. This would become a theme for the night.

We got off the T at the Fenway stop and started walking to the stadium. On our way we saw signs for the official hospital of the Red Sox, the official souvenir stand, and even the official Tae Kwon Do studio of the Red Sox. I was beginning to sense a pattern. By the time we reached our seats in the centerfield bleachers, I had seen so many Red Sox hats, t-shirts, and jerseys that I thought they were part of some government-issued uniform required to be worn on game nights (or every night) in Boston.

The game on the field was not the most exciting (the Red Sox lost 7-3 and rarely threatened, although the Orioles made a couple of fantastic catches in the outfield), but the atmosphere was fantastic. Keith Foulke, returning from injury for the first time in weeks, got a standing ovation simply for taking the field, followed by another ovation for retiring just one batter. The old ballpark sold out for the 209th consecutive game, and the whole crowd stuck around to see how things turned out.

After the game, Matt and I went to the Cask 'N Flagon across the street from the Green Monster and had some beers in what was still a festive atmosphere despite the loss. The next day, we played baseball in Matt's backyard, a mini-Fenway Park built for his nearly 8-year-old and Red Sox-obsessed brother Mark. This, of course, was after a lengthy discussion of the Red Sox over brunch that morning.

This past weekend I learned more than ever that the people of Boston eat, sleep, and breathe Red Sox baseball. The Patriots could win the Super Bowl in each of the next 10 years and they would still play second fiddle to the one team that truly unites the city.

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