My First Time At Fenway Park

There are few things that baseball fans or even sports fans in general can agree on. But one thing that everyone can agree on is how special Fenway Park is. The 109-year-old ballpark has seen some special moments and serves as a time capsule to the early days of Major League Baseball. As a diehard Red Sox fan, I dreamed of the day I would finally get to visit and watch some baseball at America’s most beloved ballpark. Living in Alabama definitely made it hard, but I finally got my chance over Memorial Day Weekend.

When I landed at Boston Logan International Airport last Friday, I instantly could tell that Boston was a special place. Looking out the window at the Chesapeake Bay running all the way up to the skyscrapers created a picture-perfect scene that made me never want to leave. Boston is a very special place; from the food, to the prestigious educational institutions, to the history, to the people and culture, and obviously a great history in professional sports. I honestly do not know of any other city that has such a fine blend of all those things.

First time at Fenway Park

Walking up Jersey Street and hanging a right onto Lansdowne Street made me feel like I was at home. The game experience at Fenway Park is one of the best experiences in all of sports. The enthusiasm of the fans mixed with the ballparks wow-factor made for an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. The Red Sox hosted the Miami Marlins when I was in town. Not only was it Memorial Day Weekend, but it was also the weekend that capacity restrictions at Fenway were lifted. Despite the cold and rainy weather, the ballpark was rocking. It really showed how dedicated Red Sox fans truly are. There are a lot that separate Fenway Park from every other ballpark in the MLB. Obviously Fenway is significantly older than just about every other, but it still looks just as good as a brand new park. The best thing about Fenway Park is the feeling of being in such a special and historic place. You simply can not beat that.

In addition to seeing the Red Sox play, I also had the chance to take the Fenway Park tour. The experience is awesome and very informative. You also get to see areas of the ballpark that you would not normally have access to, such as the press box and Green Monster. The tour lasts about an hour and allows for a bunch of phenomenal photo opportunities.

The Best Food At Fenway?

I got to spend a good bit of extra time at Fenway thanks to every game having a rain delay. Waiting around gave me quite the appetite, which allowed me to try many of the great concession options available at America’s most beloved ballpark. The chicken fingers and fries come in third place. The fries at Fenway were great, the chicken tenders were just average. At second I have the iconic Fenway Frank. This classic hotdog was one of the best I have had. The usage of a slice of bread instead of a hotdog bun is an interesting change I had never seen before. I have to give the first place prize to Regina’s Pizza. It was perfect and I can honestly say it was the best pizza I have ever gotten to enjoy.

2021 Fenway Park Experience

For over a year, COVID-19 has turned life for everyone upside down. Luckily the situation has improved enough for fans to return to Major League Stadiums this season. All 30 clubs allowed fans in the ballpark on opening day. The Texas Rangers immediately allowed full capacity at games, while most teams are staying between 15 and 30 percent of their maximum capacity. On February 25th, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that stadiums could return to hosting fans at 12 percent capacity starting on March 25th. 4,500 fans will get a Fenway Park experience since that’s all the Red Sox will allow into the park for a game, at least for now.

2021 Fenway Park

Prior to entry on game day, all ticket holders have to take a health screening survey. Digital ticketing will also be used to minimize contact. Every fan over the age of two is required to wear a mask or face covering. The only bags that fans can bring into Fenway are bags that contain diapers or medical-related items. Fans can only eat or drink at their seat. One of the biggest changes to the Fenway Park experience is the gate-entry process. Five entry zones now divide Fenway Park. Fans have to enter through their designated zone determined by the location of their seat.

The Fenway Four:

  1. Social Distancing: Tickets are sold in pod-style seating. Additional line-mangement areas will be used at restrooms, shops, concession stands, and security checkpoints. Fenway will use buffer zones around bullpens and dugouts to close off access to player areas, which means no autographs will be allowed.

2. Proper Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. Make sure to cover your coughs and sneezes, and be sure to use the sanitation stations around the ballpark.

3. Cleaning And Disinfecting: The Fenway staff will do a great job with keeping high-touch areas clean. Staff wash every seat with a high capacity hose after each game. There will be an increase in ventilation throghout the concourses and other indoor areas.

4. Medical Screening: In addition to the health screening survey fans take upon entry to Fenway, the main first-aid station will be equipped with fully operational testing capabilities.

The staff at Fenway Park has done a phenomenal job of preparing the ballpark to safely welcome fans back. We need to make sure we do our part by properly wearing our masks unless actively eating or drinking, fully adhere to social distancing guidelines, make sure we practice good hygiene, and comply with the health screening protocols. Together, we can safely return to cheering on our beloved Red Sox.

FSG’s Liverpool showcase their best business

Fenway Sports Group’s other professional sports franchise, Liverpool, came to town this past weekend. With an illustrious history and already a rabid fanbase in Boston, the decision to buy the club was easy for John Henry and company. While the two teams were in similar conditions when the group bought them, FSG’s Liverpool and the Red Sox are heading in two different directions.

Similar History Between the Cities and Teams

Liverpool, one of England’s most decorated clubs, was up for sale in 2010 and was in ruinliverpool both on and off the pitch. They were sunk by fellow American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Like Red Sox ownership in the 1990s, Hicks and Gillett flirted with the idea of moving the team from the hallowed Anfield Stadium. They did not deliver, however, on the promise of a state-of-the-art waterfront home for the club. Instead, John Henry, Tom Werner and FSG built and built until Anfield became state-of-the-art itself, while also keeping the illustrious history in tact. Sound familiar?

Like the task they had with the Red Sox in 2001, FSG needed to restore a winning tradition to Liverpool. The Reds were the class of European football in the 70s and 80s, with a dynastic run envied only by the Patriots of modern times. They won every trophy imaginable. By the time FSG bought the club in 2010, Liverpool had the most league titles with 18 (since broken) and five European Cups, the most by any British club. Sticking to club tradition, ownership quickly hired one of Liverpool’s most legendary figures, Sir (or King) Kenny Dalglish to manage the team.

It is no surprise that Liverpool was already arguably the most popular Premier League club in Boston before the purchase. LFC is one of the most popular clubs in Ireland and both Liverpool and Boston have a high concentration of Irish ex-pats. Liverpool is also a famous port city and was the hub of trade for England when ships were the primary transportation. Both are proud northern cities with unmistakable accents, although Scouse might need its own dictionary. Liverpool, like Boston’s beloved Red Sox, make up half of the most intense rivalry in the Premier League going against Manchester United, the team from another northern city and owner of the most league titles in history. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

Finally, the Phoenix Landing is packed with fans on matchdays. Some big games will sell out the small Irish pub hours before kick-off. The dedicated, card-carrying members of LFC Boston make the pub the second best place to be on matchday. If you can’t be at the stadium, it’s as close as you’ll get. They also give back to the community through a litany of charity work. They provide an amazing atmosphere and put community first, adding to an already pristine fan culture in Boston.

The Massive Business Discrepancy

The surprising contrast between these two teams under this same ownership, however, has been the way they’ve done their business. In the only two major sports in the world without salary caps, neither team has to worry about money too often. The Red Sox seemingly never run out of money but LFC was in financial trouble when FSG took over. In the first transfer window under new ownership, the club showed extreme business savvy.

They sold a disgruntled Fernando Torres for a British record for 50 million pounds. To replace him, they bought two strikers, one of which was Andy Carroll, a massive disappointment and a brutal signing. The other, however, was Luis Suarez. Now one of the best strikers in the world, the club sold him for nearly three times his own transfer fee in 2014. Just three months after those buys, FSG’s Red Sox extended Adrian Gonzalez for seven years and $154 million. Oh yeah, and they signed Carl Crawford that same year to a seven year, $142 million deal. Both were run out of town in 2012 and monumental wastes of money.

Where Liverpool have made sound business decisions recently, the Red Sox once again have not. In late 2017, one of Liverpool’s best players, Philippe Coutinho, was begging for a move. While Liverpool still needed him, his value had peaked. They sold him to Barcelona for the measly price of up to 142 million pounds, 133.5 million more than they bought him for. Using that cash, Liverpool began to fill their needs. They needed defensive help, so they set the world record fee for a defender by buying Virgil van Dijk for 75 million pounds. Van Dijk solidified the defense and led Liverpool to the 2018 Champions League Final, their first in 11 years. This past season, he won the PFA Player of the Year. No defender had won the award since 2005.

Liverpool lost that final, however, due to two massive goalkeeping mistakes. So, they used the rest of that Coutinho money to set the world record fee for a goalkeeper. They bought Alisson Becker from Roma for nearly 67 million pounds. He made the save that kept them from being eliminated in the group stages of the Champions League and then had a Man of the Match performance in the final, which Liverpool won 2-0. While Coutinho bolted to Barcelona to win the Champions League, all Liverpool did was make it to the final twice and win it for the sixth time. What’s Coutinho doing now? Well the Catalans have not taken keenly to his performances. Just over 18 months with the Blaugrana and both sides are looking for a move. The most rumored target destination for him? Liverpool.

Recent Red Sox Deals Have Been Failures

In contrast, the Red Sox came off a World Series title and spent a bit themselves. Extending Xander Bogaerts was wise considering the MVP-type performance he’s turned in recently. The other moves were not as promising. Chris Sale signed a $145 million extension with Boston and has won one home game in the last 53 weeks. He has also had multiple IL stints in his two previous seasons with the Red Sox. Sale has proven he can’t hold up for a full season. With his 4-9 record this year, fans might be hoping he can’t hold up much longer.

Speaking of not holding up, was extending Nathan Eovaldi a good idea? He pitched a gutsy seven innings in a World Series game, sure. Never has a loss gained a pitcher so much money, though. A four-year, $68 million contract was agreed upon and he’s been injured since April. Eovaldi has made a home on the IL throughout his career, hence why he hasn’t been able to hold a starting job anywhere else he’s been. Yet, FSG and the Red Sox through starter money at him. Steve Pearce caught lightning in a bottle last season to win World Series MVP. The Red Sox didn’t exactly overspend on him, but that’s whom they re-signed to be their starting first baseman. Through just 29 games this year, he is hitting .180. Need I say more?

FSG Is Still Building At Liverpool

For some reason, FSG seems to work better when their financial situation is tight. They took Liverpool from financial hell back to the promised land. The Reds won the biggest trophy in club football this year. They won 97 points to finish second in the Premier League looking for their first league title in 29 years. To put that into perspective, those 97 points weren’t just the club record but also would’ve been good enough to win the league 117 times out of the last 119. The only years it wouldn’t were this season and last with Manchester City tallying up 198 in that timespan.

Liverpool is by far the most popular and the most relatable Premier League club in Boston. While ownerships has its flaws, those have seemed to glare more stateside rather than Merseyside. While the Red Sox continue to dwindle out of the playoff picture, FSG will look to work their magic again and end another historic drought. Next season, Liverpool will go for their first league title in 30 years, and they have built the team that can make us dream again.

Sox Have Yet To Win A Series At Fenway

The Red Sox began a 10-game home stand last Monday. Their record is 2-4 through six games and two rainouts. In their two wins, they scored 18 total runs. But in their four losses, they plated just 9 runs. They now sit six games below .500, at 11-17. That’s good for 7.5 games behind Tampa Bay in the division. After two losses this weekend and three series’ splits in April, the Sox have yet to win a series at Fenway this season.

Chris Sale started yesterday. He pitched 7 innings and threw 111 pitches while facing 27Sox Have Yet batters, all of which were season bests. He took the loss though to drop to 0-5 on the season. Even worse, the Red Sox have lost all six of his starts. Michael Chavis has 3 home runs since making his major league debut on April 20. He has made seven consecutive starts at second base, which is not his natural position. Chavis also made a key error yesterday in the ninth inning when Rays outfielder Guillermo Heredia hit a ground ball to shortstop. Xander Bogaerts flipped to Chavis at second and the rookie’s throw sailed over Mitch Moreland’s head at first base. Avisail Garcia scored on the play to extend Tampa Bay’s lead to three runs.

J.D. Martinez did not play in the two games against the Rays over the weekend due to back spasms. Martinez leads the team with a .340 batting average, 33 hits, and a 1.052 OPS. His presence in the lineup could have proved to be valuable against a divisional opponent, considering the Sox lost by just 4 combined runs over the weekend.

Sox have yet to get results from bottom-third of lineup

Steve Pearce was the team’s DH against the Rays, instead of Martinez, and went 0-7 with one walk and a pair of strikeouts. Pearce’s 2019 batting average shrunk to minuscule .103. His teammate, Jackie Bradley Jr., went 1-for-5 in the series with two walks. His batting average stands at .150. Both Pearce and Bradley Jr., who hit towards the bottom of the lineup, are hurting their team at the plate.

What really hurt the Red Sox yesterday was Chris Sale allowing a 2-run homer in the first inning. It put a vulnerable team in a hole early. David Price, in Saturday’s game, also allowed a home run in the first inning.

Boston’s offense was most to blame against the Rays. They put together zero multi-run innings in both games. Rays starters Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow each threw quality starts and Tampa Bay’s bullpen allowed just one run through 5.1 innings.

The Red Sox have yet to put together a win-streak of more than three games this season. Their winning percentage at Fenway Park sits at 42 percent. To put things into perspective, the 2012 and ’14 Red Sox finished with home records of 42 percent. We all know how those seasons turned out.

Boston starts a three-game set against the Athletics tonight to finish off the home stand. Eduardo Rodriguez toes the rubber this evening, followed by Rick Porcello tomorrow and Hector Velázquez on Wednesday.

Green Monster Rendezvous: My First Time at Fenway

The first thing that hits you is the dull roar of the slowly gathering crowd. Your ears fill with the sizzle of excitement that pours off every fan in the stands. Then it hits your nose. The pungent scent of ballpark beers, franks, and peanuts permeate your nostrils. But, ultimately, it is your eyes that savor the most delicious part of the feast. Once you focus your attention to the green wall in left, all other surroundings are put on pause for a moment. You think of the stories of all the greats that defended that wall, that crushed line drives into that wall, and all the history the wall has seen in its century of life. Call this explosion of senses the Green Monster Rendezvous; or at least how I remember my first time visiting Fenway Park.

No Green Monster Rendezvous is complete without a landmark of baseball

If you watch enough game broadcasts, you have heard the cliche conversations aboutGreen Monster Rendezvous famous Fenway fixtures. The Red Seat, Pesky Pole, and the triangle in center field, to name a few. But until you step out onto the concourse and drink it all in yourself, it is hard to appreciate how rare this abode is. On the eve of my first visit to America’s most beloved ballpark, I spent the night tossing and turning. How could a boy sleep with his dream set to come true in just hours? “Is the Monster as big as they say it is? What are Bostonians like? How close do we sit to the players?” My mind raced with uncertainties as I tried to anticipate what my Green Monster Rendezvous would be.

Your personal recollection of your first time visiting Fenway is a story in and of itself. Viewing baseball in a space occupied by millions of fans throughout generations of American history is a feat few parks can boast. The unmistakable green that accentuates the blue and red creates a color war that rivals any in sports. The memory of seeing the field for the first time is what still comes to mind when I hear “Fenway.”

“Whether you are five, 25, or 75, a true Red Sox fan feels that same influx of energy every time.”

But no part of digesting Fenway is complete until you finally observe the Green Monster. My first experience with the Monster was cinematic: my jaw dropped so low that you could have swept it up off the ground. The Monster’s majesty of such a towering presence might wear off with age for some, but not for me. Every time I walk up the stairs to the grandstands, the same rush of adrenaline rushes over. Whether you are five, 25, or 75, a true Red Sox fan feels that same influx of energy every time.

I was so excited to feast my eyes on the diamond that I ran off. My family toiled behind me, surely ready to ridicule me from sprinting off of the group. But I did not care. Scold me, warn me, do what you must; it will not be before I finally see the field. The funny thing about it is, they did not say a word. They knew what it meant for me. All of our parents know this feeling, because they all have their own Green Monster Rendezvous stories. In fact, if you are reading this, you have your own story to tell about this special day in your life.

Comment below with your own tale about your first time seeing America’s most beloved ballpark.

Where Did The Collins and Yawkey Plaques Go?

The Boston Red Sox made headlines last spring when they successfully lobbied the City of Boston to change the name of Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street. Boston initially changed it to Yawkey Way in honor of the Red Sox’s longtime owner Tom Yawkey, who died in 1976. The Boston Red Sox’s long and turbulent history with race relations under Yawkey partially prompted the name change request. However, many fans have noticed that the commemorative plaques honoring Eddie Collins and Tom Yawkey that once hung outside Fenway Parka are also gone. So where did the Collins and Yawkey plaques go?

The Boston Red Sox were the last team to integrate in 1959 when Pumpsie Green madeyawkey plaques his debut. In preceding years the Red Sox had a chance to sign future Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron, but for one reason or another, decided to pass. This reluctance to sign these legends contributed to the Red Sox’s turbulent history with race relations.

Collins and Yawkey Plaques Are Still A Reminder Of A Bad Past

Despite earlier claims, I now believe that changing Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street was a smart idea. I initially didn’t think it was fair to remove Yawkey’s name since there’s no evidence that he was personally racist. However, he was the sole owner for many years. Yawkey could have easily integrated the team, but he chose not to. Furthermore, we’re living in a time now where nationalism is fueling an increase in white supremacist activity throughout the United States, so I get why the Red Sox would want to distance themselves as far away as possible from Yawkey’s legacy. No matter how you look at it, it’s not a good look. With that said, I’m not necessarily sorry to see the plaques go. Keeping the plaques there would be awkward as the Red Sox push for more diversity in sports. But where did the plaques go?

Where Did The Collins and Yawkey Plaques Go?

The plaques just sort of disappeared. Numerous inquiries by reporters to the Red Sox have yielded no answers as to the plaques’ whereabouts. According to a Boston Globe article, The Yawkey Foundations, which strongly protested the name change, requested both the street signs and plaques hanging inside the stadium that honor Tom and Jean Yawkey.

Jack Sullivan, a reporter for CommonWealth Magazine who wrote about the missing plaques, told me via email that “My understanding is the Yawkey Foundation got his plaque and the Eddie Collins plaque is in storage at Fenway.”

Was it a good idea to get rid of the Collins and Yawkey plaques?

Probably. It only makes sense to stay consistent, especially when the plaques were on what is now Jersey Street. But I am concerned that the Red Sox aren’t being considerate of Yawkey’s legacy as a philanthropist. His foundations have given more than $450 million to various charities since 1977. This fact makes me feel as though the Red Sox are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.