Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is Fenway Too Friendly?

I heard Maz and Felger discussing how friendly Fenway Park has been despite the Red Sox' struggles in September. For example, how everyone sings and sways to "Sweet Caroline" between the top and bottom of the 8th, even if the bullpen has just blown a lead in a crucial game against a crappy team.

And they're right. Fenway is different. It's different from what it was 10 years ago. It's different from the other venues in town. It's become more family friendly, which is nice. And you can't avoid pinkhats (at least they're nice to look at, especially in short shorts on a humid summer evening). But there have been all sorts of undesirable fans at these games.

At least once a game, I see a group of emo kids wearing Pedroia shirts. Emo Sox fans? Could you imagine seeing an emo Patriots fan at Gillette? How about an emo Bruins fan at the Garden?

The other day, there was a group of yuppies asking me where to get good beers. I pointed out a Blue Moon stand, told them where Sam Adams Octoberfest, Guinness, Smithwicks, and Harpoon were and they almost laughed at me. These beers weren't good enough for them. Or as they phrased it "Where can we find a beer we can actually drink?"

Fenway has become a great place to take a date (or so it seems, I wouldn't know). She can get a Mike's Hard Lemonade, eat a veggie burger or sushi, wear a shirt that says "Meet Me in the Dugout," and she can even wear high heels because they repaved the concourse to flatten out all those 99 year old bumps.

Fenway used to be a place where you wouldn't take prissy girls. You'd only take girls that I consider to be wife material. These are girls who actually like the sport, don't mind sitting in cramped seats, and will have a kielbasa dog, and drink Sam Adams or Molson with you.

The Sox have dramatically improved the experience at Fenway Park. The concourses are larger, there are more areas for fans to congregate and socialize. There are activities for kids. There's tons of concession stands and ATMs so long lines are rare. They've turned the cavernous interior into a nice place to be.

But while this means higher ticket prices, which means higher revenue, which means being able to sign talented players (or JD Drew and John Lackey), it also means that Fenway has become more of a picnic area than a ballpark.

Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, if you went to Fenway, all you could do was sit in your seat, drink, and watch the game. The game was everything. You were miserable if the Sox lost, ecstatic if they won. Now it's sort of like a party with a game of beer pong being played in the background. If something interesting happens, people applaud. But most of the time, they're just hanging out with their friends.

There's been no anger, no rage at Fenway these past two weeks. At Gillette, Patriot fans get mad if the Pats aren't leading by a 14 at halftime. Bruins fans get pissed if the B's fail to score on a Power Play. There's really no atmosphere at Fenway anymore. There's no buzz when the Yankees are in town. There's no tension when the weather gets cold and there's a pennant race. It's just a happy, fun place to be. It's no longer Fenway Park. It's Cheers.

No comments:

Post a Comment