State Officials Considering A David Ortiz Bridge

It’s no secret that David Ortiz will leave a lasting legacy in Boston after he hangs up his spikes for the final time. In his honor, he has received gifts all year. He’s gotten everything from cigars to paintings to giant tubs of peanut butter. But could a part of the city soon bear his name? That is yet to be decided, however, the rumors of a possible David Ortiz Bridge (more specifically the David Prtiz (‘Big Papi’) Bridge) outside Fenway Park are circling.

The Brookline Avenue bridge has been a staple for Red Sox fans for decades. It connectsDavid Ortiz Bridge Newbury Street to Landsdowne Street and thousands of fans go across it every game day after coming from the Kenmore “T” station. The proposal, led by politicians like Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, would forever link Ortiz to that part of the Fenway experience.

As critical as I’ve been with some of the gifts Ortiz has gotten this year, there’s no doubt this one would be fair. Look, this bridge is a landmark of Fenway’s ambiance. Littered with hawkers, devout Christians, and regretful drivers, the bridge provides fan camaraderie on their way to the ballpark. I’ll be damned if we live in a world where Fenway’s main street is allowed to be named after Tom Yawkey, the main cause of a so-called “curse”, but David Ortiz can not have a bridge!

Ted Williams has his own tunnel in the city, so it’s fitting David Ortiz should get a similar landmark. While maybe a better pure hitter than Ortiz, Williams did not leave the legacy on the organization that Ortiz will. Playing for a franchise once deemed forever unfit for championships, Ortiz has won three and is going for four. While unmistakably harder to get to the post season, Williams went there just once. He hit just .200 in the 1946 World Series and went home empty-handed.

Is The Legacy Enough For A David Ortiz Bridge?

To say David Ortiz is the greatest clutch hitter of all-time is no longer a hot take. Just put his post season heroics in perspective and it’s even more earth-shattering. Consider his two walk-off hits in the 2004 ALCS and his clutch grand slam in the 2013 ALCS. Ortiz has resurrected the Red Sox in the midst of two World Series runs. He essentially brought them back from the dead both times with a few swings of the bat. Obviously, Teddy Ballgame had less chances, but it’s hard to cite a time where he saved a meaningful season.

To continue with the Ted Williams comparison, Ortiz’s impact off the field was equally as strong. Williams was a giant advocate for the Red Cross and the Jimmy Fund, maybe the best in team history. Ortiz has his own children’s fund, benefiting kids both in Boston and his home of the Dominican Republic. He has become a mainstay at the Boston Children’s Hospital and has even hit home runs for sick children. It was only fitting that Ortiz was handed the microphone to rally Boston after the Marathon bombings. Looking back, it seems Ortiz has always delivered, no matter the circumstance.

So, there is a good chance this name change will happen. The next generation will walk to Fenway, buy a Yawkey Way Report program and yell obscenities at opposing fans. That won’t change. It’ll just be done on the David Ortiz bridge. There will be infinitely more meaning for all those times Dennis Eckersley said Ortiz “went bridge.” He will be forever a part of Fenway and all will be right with the Fenway experience.

Did Ted Williams Hit the Longest Fenway HR?

Red Sox fans know the story. On June 9th 1946, Ted Williams hit a home run off of Detroit’s Fred Hutchinson that traveled 502 feet. The ball hit the head of a fan named Joseph A. Boucher, a construction engineer from Albany, New York. That ball landed in Row 37, Seat 21 of Section 42 in the right field bleachers, now recognized with a red seat. So while Ted Williams holds the record for hitting the longest Fenway HR, some don’t believe it traveled that far. One of those people is David Ortiz.

“I don’t think anyone has ever hit one there,” Ortiz told The Boston Globe in a July 2015Longest Fenway HR interview. “I went up there and sat there one time. That’s far, brother.”

He’s right. It’s much farther than people think it is, MUCH farther. Anyone who has ventured up to the red seat knows what I’m talking about. So how did Ted Williams, who weighed 25 pounds less than Ortiz, hit a home run that far? According to Greg Rybarczyk of Hittrackeronline.com, Ted Williams not only hit the ball that far, but he estimates that the ball would have gone another 28 feet after impact. That’s a total of 530 feet. Still, Ortiz doesn’t buy it.

“Listen, do you see the No. 1 [Bobby Doerr’s retired uniform number on the façade above the right field grandstand]?” Ortiz added in his July 2015 Boston Globe interview. “I hit that one time. You know how far it is to that No. 1 from the plate? Very far. And you know how far that red seat is from the No. 1? It’s 25 rows up still.” Alan M. Nathan, a Professor Emeritus of Physics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign stated that the ball would have traveled 440 feet without any wind that day. The wind traveled at 19-24 mph from the west the day Williams hit the home run, so it’s very possible that it could have carried the ball father. Although Ortiz still doesn’t buy it, there’s one thing he may not be considering.

Park Modifications Make It Difficult to Break Longest Fenway HR

Fenway Park has seen many changes since 1946. There are more seats than ever before, electronic scoreboards have been added in the outfield areas, and more tall buildings now surround Fenway Park. There’s no doubt that these factors cut down on wind that would increase a player’s chances of hitting a home run. It’s understandable that Sox fans won’t see long home runs like the one Williams hit that day in 1946.

So did Ted Williams hit the longest Fenway HR? Probably. Did the wind factor into it? Probably. Will David Ortiz hit a home run farther than Williams before he retires?

Probably not.

Baseball Fan Charges Field During Game

Last Sunday, August 28th, at the last minute, I went to the Red Sox game against the Kansas City Royals. It was an 8:05 game, an hour later than most night games. It seemed from the start that it was going to be a strange night at Fenway. The fans seemed more excited than usual. I looked for a full moon in the sky (there wasn’t one). I noticed that more beach balls than usual circulated among the crowd. I’m personally not a fan of beach balls. They distract the players and annoy to fans, but whatever. What really irks me though is when a baseball fan charges the field during a game.

As I settled in to watch the game from right field, an impulsive baseball fan ran onto thestupid baseball fan field wearing a “Harambe 69” jersey. For those who don’t know, Harambe is the name of the gorilla shot and killed in a Cincinnati Zoo a few months ago. A small child managed to climb into Harambe’s enclosure, making him a potential target for the gorilla. Fearing for the child’s life, zoo keepers decided to shoot and kill Harambe. A public outcry that included allegations of animal cruelty followed. Unfortunately, a pseudo campaign to honor Harambe also emerged. The mock tributes include allegations ranging from Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the shooting, to making Harambe an icon who died for our sins. The fake tributes are purely stupid.

The less than intelligent fan bearing the Harambe tribute jersey made it to center field before security tackled him to the ground. Thinking it was funny at the time, the look on his face after his arrest suggested otherwise. The only funny part of the incident was seeing members of the Kansas City Royals bullpen high-five the security guard who tackled the smuck as he returned to his post. Charging the field is just stupid. It holds up the game. More importantly, with the threat of mass killings, it scares players and puts security and police alike on edge.

When a Baseball Fan Charges The Field, It Does More Damage Than He Thinks

With recent tragic events like the shooting at the nightclub in Orlando, it’s easy to understand why a player might get startled when a baseball fan charges the field. So when a baseball fan charges the field looking for attention, the stunt not only scares players but breaks their concentration. The game has to stop so that security can escort the brainless fan off the field. Afterwards, the player has to refocus his attention on the game. It slows the game down, it hurts the home team, and annoys other fans. Most field runners later regret it.

I’m sure most fans don’t think about doing something so stupid as to run onto the field. But if you do, just remember that a short amount of attention and notoriety can turn into a lifetime of shame and hardship. With a criminal record, it’ll be harder to get a job. That’s after you’ve spent a ton of money on lawyers and court appearances.

Rodriguez’s Final Fenway Game Uneventful

Alex Rodriguez played his final Fenway game last Thursday night. Amid boos that drowned out a few cheers, A-Rod grounded out to third, marking the end of a contentious career at Fenway Park. Unlike Derek Jeter, there were no pre-game ceremonies, no recognitions, or even an acknowledgment for that matter. All fans saw that night was A-Rod go 0-4 with an RBI.

No one seemed surprised that Rodriguez’s final game was uneventful. For many, it wasFinal Fenway Game just another game. Rodriguez wasn’t revered by Yankee fans like Derek Jeter was, or even respected for that matter. Red Sox fans will always remember him as being the antagonist who took a catcher’s mitt to his face when he back-talked to Jason Varitek. Everyone remembers that game on July 24th, 2004 when Bronson Arroyo drilled A-Rod with a pitch, infuriating the Yankees’ DH. So as A-Rod exchanged heated words with Arroyo, Varitek told him to go to first.

Well, maybe not in those exact words. I can’t write what he said exactly since it’s explicit, but the scene became more tense. Varitek and A-Rod exchanged punches, and a determined Yankee Don Zimmer charged at Pedro Martinez before Martinez threw him to the ground. The iconic photo of A-Rod fighting Varitek hangs in almost every bar in Boston. For many, it is a symbol of Red Sox Pride. To his credit, Varitek refuses to sign photos of the brawl, saying that he didn’t set a good example for younger fans.

A-Rod’s Final Fenway Game Leaves Little To Remember

Alex Rodriguez’s final Fenway game was more of a whimper than a bang. In his final at-bat in the eighth inning, Rodriguez grounded out to third base and thrown out at first. No one stood up and clapped. No acknowledgment on the scoreboard about his final game. Nothing. Well, I take that back. Despite a Red Sox loss that night, the loudest cheers came when A-Rod struck out earlier in the game. The cheers were as loud as if it had been a David Ortiz grand slam. So while A-Rod’s final at-bat wasn’t anything to marvel at, Red Sox fans at the game, me included, can boast that we saw his final at bat on the road.

What Does the Future Hold for Fenway Park?

In its 104th year, Fenway Park looks beautiful. The old charm is still there, mixed with a pleasant blend of modern amenities. This is still one of the most cherished buildings in America, with a meaning that transcends sports. But as a fifth generation enjoys the ballpark on Yawkey Way, what does the future hold for Fenway Park, especially with regard to capacity?

Fenway Park

Since buying the Red Sox in 2001, John Henry and Tom Werner have been tremendous keepers of the flame. They took some time to survey the situation—even kicking the tires on a new stadium—before making a commitment to preserving Fenway Park in 2005. Under their guidance, the park has become integral to the Red Sox’ brand. New seats, scoreboards and facilities have improved the game day experience. In total, ownership has spent over $300 million renovating Fenway, which has stood the test of time.

Is Fenway Park too Small?

Baseball stadiums are becoming bigger and more sophisticated. While certain designs have failed to impress, such as the new Yankee Stadium, others have inspired awe, such as the new Busch Stadium. Even venerable Wrigley Field has finally succumbed to modernity, following the lead of Fenway Park, its ancient rival. But even after extensive restoration, the Boston bandbox is still only capable of seating the sixth-smallest crowd in MLB. That doesn’t mesh well with one of the largest and most loyal fan bases in sports. Almost every game is a sellout, making for an intimate experience; expanding capacity at Fenway Park should be seriously considered moving forward.

Right now, Henry and Werner are doing exactly that with Liverpool, the British soccer club they own. Anfield, their home stadium, has a great tradition within that sport, similar to Fenway. Nevertheless, ownership has begun work to expand capacity from 45,500 to 59,000. The first phase will be completed this summer, as a new grandstand is assembled. Perhaps if that proves to be successful, Henry and Werner could look to implement a similar vision at the 37,949 seat Fenway Park.

The Future of Fenway Park

Of course, its impossible to debate the future of Fenway without first invoking its past. This is a sacred ballpark that will be defended vehemently by traditionalist who oppose all but necessary alterations. I understand and respect that. Fenway Park has a unique place in the history of sports that should never be damaged. Yet if the park can be improved to further fit the modern world, I’m incredibly supportive of that, too. For instance, I’d love to see another tier added to Fenway This would allow the Red Sox to reap commercial benefits and more fans to enjoy a contemporary stadium experience if they so choose. Those additions need not replace the rustic charisma and history of Fenway Park. They would merely compliment it, and help the ballpark remain relevant well into another century.

In 2011, when the main bulk of renovations were completed, ownership suggested that Fenway could stand for another fifty years. That’s great news that should be welcomed by fans who’ve mourned the loss of so many beloved ballparks down the years. However, in a world of improving technology and growing expectations, it would be irresponsible to ignore possible ways of making the ballpark fit for purpose in those decades ahead. Expanding capacity and providing more modern infrastructure in addition to the historic foundations is one area to possibly explore, as Fenway reaches a crossroads.

Red Sox Host Pride Night

On Friday, June 3rd the Boston Red Sox will host their annual Pride Night at Fenway Park that honors members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ) community. The Boston Red Sox have emerged as one of the more vocal supporters of LGBTQ rights in baseball during a time when gay athletes continue to face struggles in coming out. It’s important to see the Red Sox and members of its organization support LGBTQ rights with manager John Farrell going so far as to say, “We as an organization are always looking to create a welcoming environment at Fenway Park.” With that level of support, Pride Night at Fenway Park represents one of the best efforts in baseball to acknowledge and welcome members of the LGBTQ community.

Pride Night initially began in 2013 when former NBA player Jason Collins threw out the firstPride Night pitch before a game during Pride Week in Boston. Collins was the first active player to come out as gay in the NBA and has since become a champion of LGBTQ rights. Since then, the Boston Red Sox have hosted Pride Night each year during the month of June when the City of Boston celebrates Pride Week. This event is particularly important to baseball because the game has yet to see an active Major League baseball player come out. While the NFL and NBA have already seen a player come out, many point to baseball’s conservative nature as the reason behind this absence. Specifically, many point to the lack of exposure to a more progressive environment among its players as the reason why the MLB hasn’t seen a gay player yet.

Pride Night Shows that MLB is Ready for a Gay Player?

To clarify, players in the NFL and NBA often go to college first before going pro where they live in a more inclusive environment. As a result, NFL and NBA players are more inclined to accept a gay teammate. So while college has been the primary place where the NFL and NBA have drafted players, professional baseball players have been more likely to get drafted directly from high school (this has changed in recent years). This direct route from high school to the pros meant that baseball players were not exposed to the kind of accepting environments that their NFL and NBA counterparts experienced. As a result, many baseball players have taken a dim view of LGBTQ inclusion.

I am not saying that the lack of a college education makes someone a bigot. It is a difficult pattern to ignore when discussing LGBTQ issues in sports though. However, when David Denson, a first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers’ rookie affiliate, came out last year, he found a tremendous amount of support from his teammates. Additionally, current baseball players have stated that they wouldn’t have a problem with a gay teammate as long as he played well. This progress is a sign that Major League Baseball is more than ready to accept a gay baseball player.