The Chris Sale Ticket is the Best Since Pedro

The overlying bright spot of the Red Sox season so far has been the utter electricity of Chris Sale. His pace, stuff and attitude make the Chris Sale ticket at Fenway the hottest since the Pedro Martinez days.

Part of Boston’s recent love affair with Sale has been the similarities between he and Pedro.Chris Sale ticket Both came with plenty of hype. Sale came in December as the established number one pitcher in the American League. Both have war-like intensity on and off the mound. Pedro threw down 72-year old Don Zimmer and Sale cut up the entire team’s throwback jerseys he didn’t want to wear. Both live on the inside corner like the second coming of Bob Gibson. And both are good. Like, really good.

Sale vs Pedro

In the first month of his Red Sox tenure, Chris Sale has been near unhittable. He has tied the record for most strikeouts through his fist six starts with a new team. He has 63, leading the major leagues. Whose record did he tie? Some guy named Randy Johnson; you may have heard of him. While the offense supporting him has sucked, he has been nothing short of remarkable. With only a 2-2 record, he has a 1.38 ERA and leads the league in innings pitched.

But it wasn’t just Pedro’s numbers that made his ticket so coveted—it was the perfect storm that came with all his starts. On days Pedro started, Fenway was the center of the baseball world. The stands were littered with Dominican flags, “K” signs covered the back rows of the bleachers, and every fan stood with feverish anticipation whenever a batter had two strikes on him. With the pink hats and corporate atmosphere of Fenway today, Chris Sale is as close as we are going to get to that.

Chris Sale Ticket Brings Eexcitement and the Unexpected

When Sale is pitching, you don’t really know what to expect. You know he’ll work quickly and strike out everyone in the lineup, which makes things exciting. You don’t know, however, what kind of history or animosity he’ll bring. Just Tuesday night, he lit the park up by throwing behind new public enemy number one: Manny Machado. Not only did Sale send a message, he proceeded to strike him out. In fact, he struck out the first five batters he faced and went into the sixth inning without allowing a hit. Right now, Sale is the most entertaining pitcher to watch in the sport. Not the AL, the sport.

For me and most Red Sox fans I know, the anticipation for Sale’s starts are unrivaled. People around me must be getting sick of seeing me in my Sale shirt every fifth day. I can’t help it, I haven’t seen a Red Sox starter as electrifying as him. We’ve seen some good ones since Pedro, but none that were ‘must-see TV’. Schilling, Lester, Beckett, and Porcello have had great runs, but nothing like Pedro. Watching Schilling, Lester or even Beckett in the post-season was enthralling, but nothing like it in the regular season. None of those guys could pull eyes away from a Celtics playoff game. Chris Sale has and will continue to do so.

Granted, it has only been a little over a month of Chris Sale in Boston. He has brought back the glory days of intense, bulldog starters for the Red Sox. If this continues, he is finally the next in line of the Roger Clemens/Pedro Martinez gamers in Red Sox uniforms. I don’t care what the Red Sox have to do, but please keep this guy here as long as possible. With him, I see rings, Cy’s and Cooperstown.

Long live Chris Sale! Thank you for bringing that excitement back.

Instances of Racism Haunt Fenway

Orioles outfielder Adam Jones claimed that he was the focus of racist taunts during Monday’s game at Fenway Park. A fan threw a bag of peanuts at him while others taunted him with racial slurs. While those fans were ejected, it’s another example of how instances of racism haunt Fenway Park. Not only are these instances ignorant and immature, but Racism Haunt Fenwaythey embarrass the City of Boston.

This isn’t the first instance of racism that Fenway has witnessed. Back in 1945 Jackie Robinson and two other Negro League players were given a try out at Fenway Park. Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey allegedly yelled from the stands “Get that nigger off the field!” when he saw Robinson. Yawkey, never known for his progressive views, was the owner when they became the last team to integrate in 1959 when Pumpsie Green joined the Red Sox. Ted Williams, himself a Mexican American, was one of the few players on the team who took the time to embrace his new teammate by asking him to warm up with him before a game. During his own induction speech, Williams called for the induction of Negro Leaguers in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Is There a Double Standard?

Many are saying that Jones’ claims aren’t valid. Some are even saying he’s lying or exaggerating. They argue that no one ever called David Ortiz those same slurs, so why should they believe Jones? That’s because Boston fans loved Ortiz. Jones, on the other hand, isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s known as someone who calls it the way he sees it, and instead of responding to his ideas in a mature way, people focus on his race to discredit him. Those people not only disrespect opposing viewpoints, but they can’t even form coherent responses. For them, it’s easier to shout something racist than it is to think of a logical and insightful opinion. Then again, Fenway’s a ballpark and not a university, so these types of instances shouldn’t be happening to begin with.

The particularly disgusting thing about this incident though is that people paid money to come to the ballpark and act this way. It’s fine if you want to boo him for being an Oriole. But throwing peanuts at him? You not only make yourself look stupid, but you give Boston a bad reputation.

Instances of Immaturity and Racism Haunt Fenway

Last Sunday I sat in the grandstand to watch the final series game between the Red Sox and Cubs. Sitting behind me was a twenty-something who clearly had had too much to drink. The immature, sexist, racist, and derogatory things he said right out loud during the game embarrassed me in front of our Chicago guests. This guy talked about his blatant use of women as objects, his drug habit, and didn’t refrain from using bad language around kids. He was your typical obnoxious fan whose beliefs and opinions reflect a low I.Q.

It’s bad enough that I have to deal with fans like this. But it’s worse when they become national news. If you’re going to be so stupid as to think your race is better than someone else’s, then stay home. Bostonians don’t want to hear what you have to say. As instances of racism haunt Fenway, instead of being a jerk, be that fan who screams with joy when Hanley Ramirez hits another homer over the Green Monster. And if you hear someone shouting something racist, tell them to shut up, or call security and let them handle it.

Why Does Fenway Park Feel So Empty This Season?

I’ve had season tickets since 2015 and every game I wiggle through large crowds to get to my seats. Even in their bad years Fenway Park always seemed packed. On a good day large crowds congregated on Lansdowne Street. Vendors peddle programs, peanuts, and t-shirts. It’s difficult to break through the crowds on these days. The chaos, however, Fenway Park feelis what makes going to Fenway so much fun. Lately though it feels like something’s missing. Entire sections of bleacher seats are vacant. There doesn’t seem to be as many vendors stationed outside the park. The 50/50 raffle drawing pot isn’t nearly what it was last season. So why does Fenway Park feel so empty this season?

For one thing the weather hasn’t been too cooperative. A rainout cancelled the first game of the series between the Red Sox and Yankees. Wednesday’s game made for a very wet and damp night. An unverified rumor claimed that Wednesday’s game saw the fewest fans between the two rivals in years. That’s uncharacteristic of a series between the two. But what are the other reasons?

You could argue that the absence of David Ortiz is keeping fans away. There’s no more Big Papi to root for. After he retired, fans weren’t left with anyone on the team to really cheer for. Sure, there’s players like Dustin Pedrioa but he doesn’t appeal to fans the way Ortiz did. While that might not be the entire reason, it’s difficult not to notice the differences in the crowds between this season and last. Another reason is that the Red Sox aren’t playing too well. The front office spent hundreds of millions of dollars on big-names and so far they’ve seen little return on their investment. It doesn’t help when Chris Sale strikes out ten but still loses the game due to a lack of run support.

Why Does Fenway Park Feel Empty? Don’t Worry, It Won’t Last Long

On a more rationale level though, it’s important to remember that the season is barely a month old. School’s still in session. The weather hasn’t leveled out yet. More fans should come when school gets out and the weather gets more consistent. But for the first time since moving here, I’m hearing more and more fans say out loud that they’re not going to pay for a ticket to watch the Red Sox lose when they can just stay at home and watch them for free. Fenway Park is one of the most expensive parks in baseball. Add bad weather and hitting to that and you got empty seats.

While I know the fanbase will grow as the weather gets warmer, it’s hard to shake the feeling that something is making Fenway Park feel empty. I hate seeing fans leave so early. I also hate seeing Lansdowne and Yawkey Way less crowded before games. But as Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams said, “People will come…People will most definitely come.”

Red Sox Nation Needs To Take A Deep Breath

The Red Sox are struggling to break out of third place. Setbacks against the Orioles and Yankees are making fans freak out. Calls to fire John Farrell and trade away key players are swirling on Twitter. Fans are getting emotional because the setbacks of last year are still fresh in their minds. It’s understandable, even justified, to get frustrated. But Red Sox Nation needs to take a deep breath and remember that it’s only May. There’s hundreds of Red Sox Nation Needsgames the Red Sox have yet to play and a lot can happen between now and October.

One of first demands that fans are making is for Farrell’s ousting. Fans scream that he’s been in too long, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, etc. But few of us, if any, know how to actually manage a baseball team. We don’t know what he knows. It’s easy to say what Farrell should have done AFTER a play went wrong. Plus I highly doubt the Red Sox front office would keep him around and spend the money they are spending if they didn’t have confidence in him. Yes, I was one of the many calling for his ouster last year. But he did lead the Sox to another AL East title, so he must have done something right.

Much of the frustration stems from society’s inability to stay calm. This impulse is evident in the world of sports. We’re evolved into a society that expects instant gratification. We no longer live in an era where we have to wait until the next day to read about what happened in a game. Back in the early 1990s I had to wait until the next morning to read about how the Red Sox did in the paper. Now all we have to do is look at our phones. We get angry at one bad play and that anger gets worse a few minutes later if our favorite players don’t instantly play better. We go from being fans, to ESPN analysts, to managers during a three-hour ballgame. We’re getting information faster than ever but all it seems to do is make us less patient.

Red Sox Nation Needs To Stay Calm, But Maintain Its Vigilance

When the Red Sox don’t pull their weight they should expect their fan base to give them a hard time. If a player doesn’t hustle he deserves to get booed. Same goes for a pitcher who doesn’t back up first. But to demand that someone be fired or traded away just because of one bad play or a loss is ridiculous. Unfortunately, that’s what I’m seeing on Twitter and Facebook. If Farrell keeps Wright in an inning too long then Boston demands a public execution. So while Red Sox Nation needs to remain a loyal fanbase, they also need to  remember that the season is still young. If fans start making ridiculous demands now they’ll never stop. Or else next thing you know Rick Porcello will get booed because he didn’t throw an immaculate inning.

Relax, take a deep breath, and remember that it’s only a game. It’s fun to be a fan, and it’s fun to be emotional invested in a team. But at the end of the day we’re just fans.

Chicago Cubs Fans Truly Appreciate Series Win

When I saw the Chicago Cubs win the NLCS, I quickly looked up ticket and airline prices. My eyes almost fell out of my head when I saw that standing room only tickets started at $1500-2000. I kept looking though and eventually found a ticket I could afford. So on Saturday, October 29th, I flew to Chicago to see Game 4 of the 2016 World Series (albeit from a rooftop across the street from Wrigley). Although I’m not a Cubs fan, I had to be there. Only a Red Sox fan could appreciate the pain Chicago Cubs fans truly had endured for so long. Or so I thought.

Cubs fans stuffed the airplane to Chicago. Hats, jerseys, and t-shirts with the CubsChicago Cubs Fans truly emblem adorned fans. An airline attendant told me he could tell that most of them weren’t true fans because their apparel looked too new (Thank God I was wearing a well-worn Cubs hat). As I embarked into Chicago via the subway, I talked to hordes of Cubs fans from Arizona, North Carolina, and Louisiana. A man from South Carolina told me he was a diehard fan who flew in just for the day. “I’m not even going to the game,” he told me. “I’m just going to watch the game in a bar and fly out later tonight.” That’s true determination.

I arrived at a very crowded Wrigley Field at 10am that morning. Lines for bars surrounding 1060 West Addison stretched around the block. Those waiting seemed unfazed by the $100-200 cover charge. After spending most of my budget on a ticket and airfare, I declined to stand in line for 2-3 hours. I eventually found a bar two blocks away charging $10 to get in. I didn’t want to pay anything, but my need for cold beer and a bathroom overwhelmed my self-protest.

Being a Red Sox Fan Doesn’t Mean You Understand Chicago Cubs Fans

While I sipped on a Molson Canadian and talked to a group of fans from Nebraska I pondered something. Although I’m a Red Sox fan who understands the pain of waiting 80+ years for a World Series win, I don’t think I can understand what this means for Chicago. I went there thinking that I’d easily relate to them. To a certain degree, I do. But in talking to fans from around the nation, I saw they were different from Red Sox fans. The Red Sox came close to victory more than once. The Cubs, however, hadn’t seen a World Series since 1945. Red Sox fans grimace when they think about Bill Buckner, but Chicago will always wince when they think about Steve Bartman. Red Sox pain lasted 86 years. But Chicago Cubs fans truly understand that pain because it lasted well over a century.

Or Maybe Chicago Cubs Fans Truly Relate to Red Sox Fans

Tony Rossi, a Boston native living in Chicago, can’t get enough of the Cubs and baseball. “What I love about the Cubs is that they offer a baseball experience very similar to that of the Red Sox,” Rossi told me. “You catch a game and it’s all about baseball. Wrigley and Fenway keep it about baseball.”

One thing’s for sure. Cubs and Red Sox fans get along with each other pretty well because of the drought both fan bases experienced. For Red Sox fans like Rossi living in Chicago, home is only a block away. “Being a Red Sox fan in Chicago, I miss being able to go to Fenway as much as I used to. Living up the street from Wrigley Field has helped.”

No October Dramatics, One Fitting Goodbye for David Ortiz

We romanticized about the notion as we watched David Ortiz’s final season.

At 40, in his final season with the Red Sox, Big Papi would not only get the regular-season MVP after a 38-homer, 127-RBI regular season, he would carry the Yawkey Way Kids to one final World Series championship, slugging home runs into the cold, October night.David Ortiz But that’s the danger of romanticized notions. The downfall of hope and faith. We romanticize all the time. It makes us smile. Gives us hope the world can turn out just as we like it.

But it’s self-indulgent. Fictions of our own hearts. The ending we choose rarely plays out. It certainly didn’t this October with Ortiz and the Sox. Ortiz was supposed to lead the Red Sox to their fourth World Series this century and coast off into a sunset as beautiful as the advertisements for resorts in his native country. In reality, it was all romantic notions.

Cleveland swept the Red Sox out of the American League Divisional Series, finishing off the job Monday night, Oct. 10, at Fenway Park in a 4-3 win. Papi was hardly a factor in the series — one hit, one RBI, no homers. We wanted another Hollywood Ortiz script. Instead we got cold, hard reality: good pitching beats good hitting.

Nothing wrong with reality. We’re little creatures on this earth with big dreams that sometimes fall short. Reality for the game of baseball is that most of the time, the ball does not land safely between the nine defensive players on the diamond. Most of the time, the wind knocks down the ball seemingly destined to go over the wall. Not all nine players are in sync on one night.

David Ortiz: In the Finale, He’s Human

In the final playoff series of his career, Ortiz finally proved he was human all along, a little creature in this big world just like us. His performance kept our romanticized notions trapped in our hearts, stowed away for later use for another Boston star.

There were no home runs on this October night, only an RBI sacrifice fly and a walk in Papi’s final at-bat. Nothing poetic there. Papi, the Yankees killer, Senor Octubre, upstaged in his final professional baseball game by old friend Coco Crisp, whose two-run homer into the Monster seats was the difference. How unceremonious for Papi.

But did this story have a bitter ending? Was this that heartbreaking? Maybe the real victory in this Red Sox season simply was being able to HAVE hope one last time in October. Hope that Ortiz put the ball into the visitor’s bullpen to tie the game. Hope that Papi’s troops would rally around him.

Maybe just having David Ortiz around for three more games in October was the perfect ending. Maybe watching him rise from the Sox dugout after Game 3 ended to cries of “Papi!” “Papi!” throughout Fenway Park for a final curtain call on the pitcher’s mound was all we really needed.

David Ortiz got a proper goodbye to Boston in a place he called home for 14 magical years. No words, just a two-plus-minute, teary salute to the home crowd. No dramatic October home runs to celebrate.

Just one epic, fitting goodbye. Maybe that was our perfect ending after all.