Just Outside the Gates of Fenway Park

Just outside the gates of Fenway Park

Back row l to r Zach, Sly, Charlie, Aidrian, Eugene; front Jenny, Brendon

(The following is a season recap by Yawkey Way Report Hawker and Operation Manager, Jenny Reynolds)
Driving in towards Fenway Park early in the morning on Opening Day, it hit me like a sack of bricks. What on Earth was I doing? I was on my way to hawk magazines at my personal field of dreams, which also happens to be an undeniably magical place people cross the world to experience. How did I get here?
A chance meeting and a great conversation about a month before had led me here. There is no denying that our President/CEO Sly Edigio is one of those larger-than-life personalities, and there is no questioning his love for the Red Sox. From day one, I fully believed in him and what he was trying to do with this publication. And I was definitely coming along for the ride.
Opening day was amazing. I’d never been to one as a fan, and it was almost overwhelming. The sights, sounds, and smells outside the park filled me; the promise of a fresh start and the passion of the fans could be felt in the air. There were pictures taken, interviews given, and lots of happy customers. My body was exhausted, but I was in love with my new job.
When Fenway was closed during the hunt for the marathon bombers, my already weary spirit took another heavy blow. In just those few weeks, I had grown even more attached to the park, and although safety must come first, my anger flared once again. The attack had already been so personal; now it directly affected a place I called home.
The day the crowds came back to the park was one I’ll never forget. It was a beautiful spring day, and you could feel the spirit of our city and its people: strong, determined, and faithful. To be there and actively participating in the ordered chaos that is pregame at Fenway Park was an honor. To go back to normal was a huge step on the road to recovery. Our “Believe in Boston” flags did not disappoint, and seeing them later on TV, being waved throughout the park, made me proud. It was that day I knew we had something special at Yawkey Way Report.
As April rained itself into May, our crew combatted the downpours and rain delays by bonding with each other. We’d sit around telling stories while watching the rain fall at Gate B, and we started to become friends. To laugh and joke so much at most jobs would get you fired! Over the course of the season, we’ve had hawkers come and go, but the core crew of this company is a great mix of people of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and personalities. In many cases, we don’t have much more than the Red Sox in common, but together we are family. It is a bond that can’t be broken.
It’s not easy to be a hawker. It requires personality, wit, a strong work ethic, and belief in your product and yourself. It definitely isn’t for everyone. You have to face rejection, other vendors, crazy fans, and you must always be prepared for anything. It can get overwhelming even to our best sellers, and as a result we continually added to our roster. Many people didn’t even make it through the tryout phase, but at the same time, we’ve seen quiet guys turn into power sellers.
As May turned into June and the weather and spirits around the park began to pick up, it was becoming clear that my lifetime of being quiet and shy did not translate into instant success as a seller. I had my good days, and a huge thank you to anyone who ever bought a program from me, but it became clear that my spot outside the park could easily be filled with a stronger seller. It was around this time I became our Park Operations Manager.
Overnight, my outlook changed. From day one as Manager, I’ve been proud to help us achieve the best success possible for the company as well as for each of our hawkers. I trusted in the experience of our veteran sellers, and worked as hard as I could to learn the ins and outs of the park as far as hawking goes. Matching personalities to different spots paid off, and we really started to take off as a company. You could see the attitudes and outlooks of our sellers change as the weeks passed by. Confidence grew, boys became men, and we continued to grow closer.
As the summer rolled on, things just kept getting better. The team and all the fans at the park brought an incredible energy with them every game, and that fueled us to do better. We went outside the box to come up with the best official giveaways and provide a positive experience for everyone that buys our program. We realize that what we do means nothing without all of you, and we set out every day to show that, with everyone giving their all.
As the playoffs became more and more of a certainty, our planning really started to pay off. We made it over every bump in the road with hard work and a little bit of good fortune. We called for all hands on deck, and everyone was ready and willing to help. The quick deadlines and last minute work of the postseason is exhausting, but there is no better feeling than walking around the park seeing our sellers in good spirits and fans happy with what we are offering. We’ve grown comfortable with our roles around the park and we are all honored to be a part of the experience. Even I have come full circle; I’ve found my Fenway voice. You may even catch me selling after games!
Today, we are leading in the ALCS and the future looks bright. No matter what happens from here on out, I can guarantee you that not only will Yawkey Way Report be back in full force next season, so will most of our hawkers. Game after game, through every clutch play, blown save, and extra inning, we’ve been there for you and for each other.
This season has given me a good idea of what it is like to play 162 games with the same group of people. My respect for professional ballplayers and anyone involved in the business of baseball has grown exponentially. The bonds that are made going through the rigors of such a demanding season are strong – and our ‘season’ was technically half as long. These are the people who have pulled me through life’s ups and downs over the past six months. Together, we’ve strengthened our shared love for this team and sport. I wouldn’t trade any of them, or anything we’ve shared, for the world. Thank you to everyone who has made this journey possible! We are proud to be part of Red Sox Nation. We are Boston Strong. We are Yawkey Way Report.

John Farrell, The Leader of the Pack

John Farrell

There is no comparison to make when it comes to managers John Farrell and Bobby Valentine, so let’s not make assumptions and let’s just cut to the chase.  John Farrell, the 46th manager of the Boston Red Sox is, by far, one of the most confident, casual and clairvoyant managers in baseball this season.  He’s got his players under a spell and we’re watching him like a hawk; a spell in which he leads the Red Sox from a grueling season in 2012 to an outstanding 2013.  His offense is stellar and pitching remarkable.  Clay Buchholtz may be injured right now, but Jon Lester remains as a fantastic starter.  The offense is one of the best in the AL East.  As of June 11, 2013 the Red Sox held a record of 147 doubles and 47 home runs.

But this isn’t about stats.  Instead, this is about a respectable, trustworthy, humble and honorable man who has

John Farrell

The Red Sox and Phillies paid tribute to veterans on Memorial Day, wearing uniforms and caps that featured US Marine Corps military camouflage.

instilled camaraderie within a clubhouse which was once in disarray. Leading into the 2013 season, it seemed as though John Farrell was up against a brick wall.  His team was beat. There was lack of sportsmanship amongst the players and his DH, David Ortiz, was on the DL. Thankfully, Farrell had been the Sox’ pitching coach in years passed and players like Clay Buccholz and Jon Lester knew of his style and respected him as a coach for what he could bring to the table.  In an interview with Mr. Farrell, back in October, he discussed his strategy to bring the Sox to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. He has to know the individual players.  He has to know what went wrong last season to get to the bottom of things, to get to the top.  He knew of the lackluster, Bobby Valentine, a poor excuse, and he knew that the, “clubhouse culture had to be changed” states David Ortiz.

John FarrellIt’s July 16, midseason, the All-Star game was Monday at Citi Field; Buchholz, although injured, Pedroia and Ortiz will be in attendance. The Sox are up 58-38 in the AL East, and the playoffs are just around the bend.   As I said before, there is no comparison to make between the two managers, Farrell and Bobby V. Case in point, Farrell “sets a good precedent for leadership”, so let’s stop and pay homage to our humble manager.

The Red Sox’ Bullpen Needs A Change to Remain On Top

Red Sox Bullpen

They may be number one in the AL East right now, but the Red Sox have a lot to improve if they want to stay on top.  Their offense is immaculate, but that’s beside the point.  It’s their pitching that is far from perfect.  With Andrew Bailey as a closer this season and Joel Hanrahan out with an injury, the Red Sox bullpen is not looking so strong.  Should they pull up Junichi Tazawa and Uehara from the middle and make them closers?  But what would happen to the middle?  No matter, manager John Farrell must take a closer look at his players and begin to consider making a trade soon, before things worsen.  After all, baseball season is far from over and if the Red Sox want to remain on top they must look at their weakest link which is their bullpen.

Starters are also not looking so promising.  John Lester, for example, has gone 1-4 with a 7.30 ERA and Clay Bucholz is on the disabled list for bursitis in his elbow.  Ryan Dempster, John Lackey and Alfredo Aceves have made some promising starts, but being on the back end of the rotation and seemingly unpredictable most of the time (especially Aceves), it’s not going to cut it for the Red Sox if they want to remain on top as July and August approach.

They are only half way through the season, with September 29, against the Baltimore Orioles, being their closing game. If they don’t make a trade soon, or a move in the case of Koji Uehara, it will be a far cry from the World Series.

Although Uehara would be taken from the middle to closer, he is a strong athlete with consistency on the mound.  The 38 year old has thus far struck out six batters in three innings over the course of his last three games, but again, the Sox still need to look for another closer so as not to tire out Uehara.  One thing for sure, we, as fans, do not want to see another Sock placed on the DL.

 

Initiation of a Red Sox Fan

Red Sox fan

Fans wait for the start of a rain delayed baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park in Boston, Friday, May 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

At the start of the season I was taken aback by an email I received from the editor of the Yawkey Way Report. It  stated I was to write for the Boston Red Sox for the 2013 season. I was ecstatic, for the one thing I knew,  I was going to be forced to become a Red Sox fan.

I would like to tell you my background before you wonder how it would be possible to go from not a fan at all to a diehard fan without knowing much about anything. I grew up playing softball.  From age 3 until 18 I was on top of my game. I joined the high school softball league at Beverly High in Beverly, and from freshman year on I played right field on varsity.  I did not continue in college, but my love for the game remained.  So when I say I was initiated, I already had an idea of what I was getting myself into. My parents don’t appreciate the sport despite the fact two of their three daughters played forever, so I never had the opportunity to go a game at Fenway. It would only be until I found myself dating a die hard Red Sox fan when I was in my twenties that I got to go to the famed park.  It was love at first game, but as the relationship drifted the interest was lost.  Years passed and I found myself wrapped up in ‘more important’ things. Like what? I don’t know what’s more important than the Red Sox now. I guess that means I truly am the die hard fan I never saw myself being, looking back. Now, if I am in the car I immediately turn the station to WEEI 93.7, and if I really want to see a game (not having a t.v), I embrace my parents with my presence.  In other words, I don’t miss a day of Red Sox.

To make a long story short, this year is my year to get back onboard.  Thanks to Yawkey Way Report my passion for the game has come alive again.  I know the players, I love the game, I get frustrated when a bad play or call is made, I get excited when David Ortiz hits a homerun and when Dustin Pedroia dives head on for a line drive. I think no matter what happens after this season, I will always and forever be a Red Sox fan.

Thank you Yawkey Way Report!