Last weekend I went to Boston with my brother-in-law Fran, as well as the guy I share Cubs season tickets with and his wife. We went to the Sunday night game between the Cubs and the Red Sox, this is a recap of my trip and the game.
Let’s start with The Bad. The Cubs lost the game. Tim Wakefield was making a spot start for Boston and had his knuckle ball dancing like days of old. The Cubs were flaying away at pitches that were darting in and out, up and down. In 6.2 innings of work, Wakefield held the Cubs to just four hits and one run while striking out 3, walking none. Two Boston relievers, Daniel Bard and Jon Papelbon finished off the final 2.1 innings, yielding just 1 hit as they struck out 4 of the 8 batters they faced.
On the other side of the ledger, Jeff Russell was starting for Chicago. This leads us to The Worse. Russell was starting because Matt Garza was scratched with elbow tightness. Even though Russell has made a couple starts already this year, he is not a starter. In fact Jeff Russell pitched two innings and threw 40 pitches just two nights earlier in a relief appearance. That he went 4+ innings was actually a fairly credible performance under the circumstances. Unfortunately, just being able to work multiple innings in the big leagues isn’t enough, you have to get batters out. Jeff Russell gave up 2 runs in the fourth inning and another in the fifth on 7 hits and a walk. Mike Quade used four more relievers to finish the game. When it was all said and done, the Red Sox had 12 hits, including 4 by Adrian Gonzalez and a home run off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and they had beaten the Cubs 5-1.
And now for The Ugly. As I mentioned above, Matt Garza was scratched from his start. He was put on the Disabled List yesterday and now becomes the third Chicago Opening Day starting pitcher behind Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner to make a trip to the DL this year. The Cubs also lost centerfielder Marlon Byrd over the weekend for an extended period after he was hit in the face just above the left eye by a pitch from Boston rookie pitcher Alfredo Aceves Saturday night. Byrd sustained multiple facial fractures and will be on the DL for what at this writing is an undetermined amount of time. And just for good measure, Jeff Baker strained his groin while legging out a double to left on Sunday night.
All in all it was a brutal weekend for the Cubs with the only high point being a victory Saturday night.
So that was the team and the game, but now I want to tell you about The Good, my visit to Boston and Fenway Park.
I left Chicago on a flight out to Boston Sunday morning at 8am. My brother-in-law, Fran, and I were on the same flight and we landed in Boston just before 11am local. We weren’t going to meet the other two members of our party until later in the afternoon. We basically had 4 hours to “see” Boston. I had been in Boston one other time, but it was for just two hours and I didn’t see anything or remember much.
We decided to walk the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile long walking tour of some of Boston’s most historically significant sites. Most people start from the south and work their way north, but because of our time limitations and the location of our hotel, we started on the north end which meant starting at the Bunker Hill Monument.
Here is a picture of me there.
The great thing about the trail is you can’t get lost. There are several signs like the one below along the route, but the best thing is that the entire trail is marked in red. From The Boston Common in the south to Bunker Hill in the north, there is either a red painted strip on the ground or red bricks set into the pavement. All you have to do is follow the line and it will take you to all the sites. The arrow in the picture below points to the line.
I won’t bore you with all my pictures and details of each site, but if you ever get the chance to spend the day walking the Freedom Trail, I highly recommend it.
After walking for a couple hours and not having eaten since early in the morning, we stopped at the Union Oyster House for lunch. This restaurant is the oldest in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the United States. The sit down service area of the restaurant was packed and had an hour wait for a table, but we were able to get a seat at the bar which also serves food off a limited menu. Despite the bartenders repeated urgings to try “the best Lobster Roll” in town, I went with a bowl of clam chowder and washed it down with a couple of Blue Moon’s. Here I am outside “The Union”.
After lunch and another stop on the Freedom Trail we checked into the hotel and got ready for the game. We took a cab over to Fenway and meet the other two members of our party at 4 o’clock. We had the Fenway Park batting practice tour set for 4:30 and I had a chance to take a couple pictures outside the stadium before we went in. Here are a few of those shots.
The game was being broadcast on ESPN that night and I took a picture of Bobby Valentine walking down the street.
Now The Better. Our tour started at 4:30. Because this was the “batting practice” tour, the places they take you and things they show you are limited because the teams are getting ready for the game. But what you don’t get to see is made up for in other ways.
They start the tour by taking you into the stadium and leading you right down to the field behind the batting cages. Here is a shot of us walking down the aisle to the field.
See the black arrows? They are pointing to flat screen tv’s that are built into the wall in front of the first row seats behind home plate. Not only do the people sitting in those seats get great views of the game from right behind the plate, they get their own personal broadcast of the game. Nice.
Our tour guide led us onto the field where they took a photo of each group. They sell you the picture later in a package with a frame and magnet. I didn’t buy the photo, mainly because after they take their picture of you, they give you about 10 minutes to take as many pictures that you want.
Here is one looking up at the press box and suites.
This one is of me and Fran with the Green Monster in the background.
This one is looking into the third base dugout from the spot where you see me standing in the last photo. I was amazed at how small the dugout was.
After taking photos from the field, our guide led us up into the stands under the upper deck and down the left field line. We sat there for about 20 minutes while our guide provided us a history of the stadium. The next picture shows the field from those seats. I have also added two red arrows (click photo to see better) which point to the Ted Williams red seat in deep right field. I’ll get back to that seat later.
We then moved on to our next and last stop, the seats located on top of the Green Monster. These are good seats to watch the game from, and great seats to watch batting practice. Here is a view of the field from on top of the green monster. The arrow points to the seats we had for the game itself.
Batting practice started a couple minutes late; and because the tour only last a set amount of time and they have to get you back outside the stadium before the gates open for game, we only got to watch about 10 minutes of hitting.
Here is a picture of Jason Varitek walking into the cage…
And one of me waiting to catch a home run ball…..
I didn’t catch any. A few balls were hit up there in the time we had, but nothing that I could make a play on.
When the tour was over they send you out of the park and onto Lansdowne Street. It was 2.5 hours before game time. We were all a little thirsty, so we went to the Bleacher Bar. The bar is located underneath the centerfield bleachers and has a rolling “garage” door that was up so that you can look out onto the field. The bar has a strict no photography policy inside, so I wasn’t able to get any pictures. But I was able to get a few more Blue Moon’s.
We stayed in the bar for about an hour and then decided to head back out onto the street and get some food. One of the things that they are famous for there at Fenway is their Italian Sausage covered in grilled peppers and onions. We all had one and here is the photo of me practically eating half the thing in one bite.
After that Scooby snack we went into the park. We had great seats for the game, third row just beyond the third base bag. Here is a picture of Fran and I in the seats as I enjoy another one of Boston’s fine beverages, Sam Adams Summer Ale.
And another shot with the Monster in the background.
Here are a few game shots. They are taken with a new camera. We have a nice camera at home but I didn’t want to bring it/damage it, so I bought a new cheep compact digital camera. It probably takes great pictures for someone that knows how to use it, for me I ended up with a lot of blurry pictures.
After the game we went out to right field to sit in and take pictures of the Ted Williams Red Seat. Williams hit a home run in 1946 that landed in this seat. Read this short description and distance graphic to get a true measure of just how historic this shot was. I can tell you from sitting there, it’s a lonnnnnngggg way from home plate. Here are the photos that Fran took of me and that I photo shopped that show me sitting next to the Red Seat.
The last thing I want to mention is The Best part of the trip, the people of Boston. I know that this past weekend was big for a lot of Cubs fans and there were plenty of them in Boston. But it also seemed to be a big event for Red Sox fans, and they couldn’t have been nicer. Everywhere we went and everyone we talked to was very nice. The people we met in the bars and on the streets were great. Always asking if we were Cubs fan transplants or if we flew in for the game. They would ask us about Chicago and Wrigley Field and tell us about Boston and Fenway Park. And I know that they will never read this, but I want to thank the guys sitting next to us during the game. They are a couple of Boston season ticket holders and they made us feel right at home. We talked all game long about our teams and our home fields and they really made the entire game enjoyable.
It also has given me a lesson. I see lots of people at Wrigley wearing the shirts and hats and jerseys of the opposing team for that day. But to tell the truth I usually just assume that they are locals that come out to Wrigley when their team is in town. Now I will think about what my trip to Boston was like and how I was treated and make a greater effort to treat those fans in the same regard.
**Sorry for the delay in posting this, we have had a busy week with a family birthday, kids activities and we went to last night’s rain shortened game at Wrigley. I also have about 45 minutes of boring video from the trip that I’m trying to edit down to about 5 minutes of boring video. I will post that as soon as I’m done. Thanks for reading.