A Night at Fenway

by Joe Lavin

Last Tuesday, I went to Fenway Park to watch the Boston Red 
Sox play the New York Yankees. I wish I could tell you about 
the game itself, but I was sitting in the bleachers, and it's an 
entirely different game out in the bleachers. 

First Inning  The game starts at 7:05, but just about nobody 
arrives on time. Because the seats are not labeled very well, 
confusion reigns in the bleachers. People struggle to find their 
seats throughout the inning.

"Excuse me, is this row 17 or 18?" 

"I think it's row 17."

"Is this section 38 or 39?"

"I think it's section 38."

"Excuse me, is this Fenway Park or the Astrodome?"

"Well, we seem to be outdoors, so I think it's Fenway."

"Excuse me, is this a baseball game or the opera?"

"Well, you seem to be the only person wearing a tux, so I think 
it's baseball."

Meanwhile, on the field the two teams seem to be playing a 
baseball game. 

Second Inning The beach balls make their first appearance. 
Technically, beach balls are illegal at Fenway. There's a big sign 
that reads, "No inflation devices allowed!" But "devices" mostly 
refers to the obscene blow-up dolls that people used to throw 
around a few years ago. The beach balls don't really hurt that 
much, but you still spend the entire time with one eye on the 
game, and one eye on whether you're about to be beamed in the 
head with a beach ball. It's more the embarrassment than the 
pain that you worry about. One oblivious guy loses two beers 
when he is hit while walking back to his seat. Many in the crowd 

While beach balls fly around, some people also realize that the 
free anti-smoking posters handed out before the game make 
excellent paper airplanes. 

Meanwhile, on the field the two teams seem to be playing a 
baseball game. 

Third Inning The Yankee and Red Sox fans settle in. Chants of 
"Let's Go Red Sox" alternate with "Yankees suck," while the 
large number of Yankee fans there yell constantly at the Red 
Sox fans. At one point, a Yankee fan catches one of the beach 
balls and deflates it. Everyone boos, while he triumphantly 
waves to the crowd. A moment later, in what is clearly the best 
pitch of the entire game, someone nails him with a beer from six 
rows away. The crowd cheers wildly. 

Meanwhile, on the field the two teams seem to be playing a 
baseball game. 

Fourth Inning It is time for the wave. One guy takes it upon 
himself to be the Official Wave Conductor. He stands up and 
implores the crowd to wave. We ignore him at first, but in no 
time the wave spreads throughout the bleachers. Alas, it soon 
dies out amongst the "lame people" on the first base line. 
Everyone in the bleachers, Yankee and Red Sox fans alike, then 
join together in a moment of unity to boo the lame people.

Meanwhile, on the field the two teams seem to be playing a 
baseball game. 

Fifth Inning The wave at last succeeds, and we are all proud. 
Meanwhile, some guy is thrown out by the police. No one 
knows why, but we all stand up and turn with our backs to the 
game to watch the guy escorted out by four cops. The guy 
doesn't protest and isn't at all upset. He seems almost proud of 
his accomplishment. 

Four more people will be kicked out over the course of the 
game. In none of the cases do we know why. I start to think 
there should be an occasional announcement, "Ladies and 
Gentlemen, now being arrested in the right field bleachers. . ." It 
would also be nice to know exactly why the people are being 
arrested. Perhaps, the Red Sox might consider putting a police 
blotter in their program. 

Meanwhile, on the field the two teams seem to be playing a 
baseball game. 

Sixth Inning For once, we all seem to be watching the game when 
suddenly a small group starts cheering wildly. Nobody knows why until 
they start chanting, "Sixty-two! Sixty-two!" We realize that Mark 
McGwire has hit his record-breaking home run. We pay even less 
attention to the game than usual. A few moments later, the catcher walks 
out to the mound, and with the stoppage in play the home run is shown 
on the big screen. The game goes on, but the entire stadium continues 
giving McGwire a standing ovation for a few more minutes. 

We all feel special to be in a ballpark for this moment, but of 
course a few minutes later we are back to chanting "Yankees 
suck" again. Nearby, in an especially touching moment, a young 
mother is painstakingly teaching her five year old son also to 
chant, "Yankees suck!"

Meanwhile, on the field the two teams seem to be playing a 
baseball game. 

Seventh Inning  Someone else is arrested. Again, we don't 
know why. He happens to be wearing a McGwire T-shirt. 
Someone yells out, "Yeah! McGwire!" And we all give him a 
round of applause as he's escorted out of the ballpark. On the 
way out, he waves to all his new fans. 

Meanwhile, on the field the two teams seem to be playing a 
baseball game. 

Eighth Inning We finally start to pay attention to the game. 
Maybe this is because it has become exciting, or maybe it's 
because all the rowdy people have passed out. One last person 
does get kicked out, but nobody cares. We are by now so 
jaded with the ejections that we actually follow the game. 

On the field, the Yankees take control and then use about 113 
different pitchers to hold onto the lead. The inning lasts 
approximately 62 hours. 

Ninth Inning -- The score is New York 3 Boston 1, but it looks 
like Boston might just come back to win it in the bottom of the 
ninth. We stand for about 15 minutes. We are at last into the 
game, hanging on every pitch. Despite being about 400 feet 
away, we can see every call clearly and are quite prepared to 
argue any call that goes against the Red Sox.  ("Whadda you 
mean that's a strike? It was low and inside! Hey, Ump, what are 
you, blind?") The umpires, however, do not seem to appreciate 
our superior bleacher vision.

The Red Sox get one run, and then have the bases loaded with 
two outs. They still lose 3-2. This is partly because the last guy 
at bat screws up and takes three strikes in a row and partly 
because the Yankees alas do not suck at all. 

And of course it's also because in 1919 the Red Sox traded 
Babe Ruth to the Yankees and have been cursed ever since. But 
this is a humor column. We don't want to get into that.   

(Accuracy alert: I wasn't actually taking notes. Everything in here 
happened, but I might occasionally have the inning wrong.)

Copyright 1998 by Joe Lavin

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