Pre-COVID, I attended 10-15 baseball games a year, almost all at Boston’s Fenway Park – America’s Favorite Ballpark (in my humble opinion, and the humble opinion of certain marketing experts). My summer routine is driving from New Jersey to Boston early in the morning on game days, working from my Uncle Dale’s place in the Back Bay, then walking with him down Commonwealth Avenue to and from the game (prettiest walk in America according to Mark Twain), and driving back to New Jersey early the next morning. It is one of my favorite parts of Summer. Sadly, I haven’t been back to Fenway since 2019, though I’m eagerly awaiting my first trip this summer.
My beloved Red Sox played a couple games this week against the New York Mets at Citi Field in Queens, NY, and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see some real live baseball now that fans are permitted back in stadiums, if only in limited numbers. So how was my evening? Glad you asked. Thought I’d keep a running diary just in case.
OK the game doesn’t start until 7:10p.m., so why does my running diary start at 2:05? Well, since my second vaccine shot was less than 14 days earlier, I needed proof of a negative rapid test within 6 hours of game time to be let in. Kind of annoying, sure, but I appreciate the diligence, and getting the test was about as easy as it could be. Whole thing took less than thirty minutes, and most of that was drive time to and from the office which administered the test. Can’t really complain.
My friends Josh, Jay and I meet at Jay’s house to go to the game. Why so early? Well, we are going from New Jersey to Queens. On some days that’s a 14 hour excursion.
Not today though! We make good time and getting into a stadium and finding parking is (not surprisingly) a whole lot easier when only 10-20% of the stadium is filled. See, there’s always a silver lining.
My uncle happened to be in town from Boston, so he meets us for the game – he took the subway in from Manhattan, and since this is NYC, the train doesn’t actually get all the way to the Stadium, it only goes sort of NEAR the stadium. These are the things that build character, people. Hence, lots of characters in NYC. Of course, as Winston Wolf famously stated, “Just because you ARE a character, doesn’t mean that you HAVE character.”
GAME TIME! Citi Field is a beautiful park, and it’s just great to see live baseball again. One of the criticisms of the venue is that lines are generally crazy long for bathrooms and concessions, but again, that’s not a problem in today’s COVID world. Shake Shack still has a fairly silly line (people ARE aware that there are plenty of them in NY and NJ these days, right?), but grab and go options are available all over the place. And the restroom lines are non-existent and thee are socially distanced urinals. Now THAT’s progress!
We are expecting a slug fest since the Sox are pitching Garrett Richards, who has been our worst pitcher so far this season, and the Mets are countering with the not terribly impressive David Peterson. You have likely never heard of Peterson, and only have heard of Richards if you’re a pretty die-hard baseball fan. But they both seem to have brought their good stuff tonight, as each guy has only given up a solo homerun to the other side, and it’s 1-1 through 3 innings.
We finish eating, which means our masks are supposed to go back on, but we notice most of the fans aren’t wearing the masks while in their seats (there’s mandated social distancing), and we’ve all been vaccinated, so we keep them down pending being hassled by security. Nobody bothers us. The stadium staff is all masked, and generally people walking in the concourses are wearing them, so overall, seems about right to me. Not that anyone asked.
The game is FLYING by, which is really unusual for the Red Sox. 4 hour 9 inning games at Fenway are not unusual. Somehow this is playing out like it’s 1977 – few pitching changes, VERY few walks (2 for the entire game which is insane in 2021), and Richards’ picture on the jumbotron legitimately looks like he could have been a guest star on the Dukes of Hazzard. At this point my only criticism is that there are no concession guys walking around with popcorn (my typical mid-game snack), so it looks like I’m going to have to go get some myself. Like I’m some sort of animal or something.
THERE IS NO POPCORN AT THE CONCESSION STANDS. I’m not sure I can live with this. Seriously, is this the Third World? What are we doing over here? Meanwhile, the Sox pushed a run across in the 6th and are hanging on to a 2-1 lead. And it’s getting a little chilly out here. It’s like 51 degrees. I was told it would be warmer. Obviously I’m considering making a number of complaints right now.
A few guys behind us keep trying to start a “Boston Sucks” chant. It’s not really catching on. This isn’t a NY Rangers game and the Sox aren’t Dennis Potvin. If you know, you know. A “Yankees Suck” chant, which obviously makes far more sense, catches on briefly. So that’s a smile.
Garret Richards has pitched the game of his life – 7 innings, 1 run, no walks, 10 strikeouts. That’s a heck of a performance against a Mets lineup that has a lot of trouble in it. Peterson pitched well too (6 innings, 2 runs, 3 K’s), but Richards is the star of the night. Assuming the Sox bullpen doesn’t blow the game of course.
Francisco Lindor, the Mets new all-world shortstop who has played fantastic defense all month but has gotten off to a slow start with the bat, grounds out to in the 8th and the boo-birds are out. My buddy Josh (Mets fan) is not happy with the fans, and he shouldn’t be. Why boo your own player? Nobody could possibly think he’s not trying. Baseball is hard. He’s not going to start hitting dingers because he doesn’t want his home fans to be mad at him.
Red Sox closer Matt Barnes pitches a clean 9th inning and the good guys win a very well-played ballgame, 2-1. Amazingly, the game took 2 hours and 38 minutes. If it were Sox-Yankees we would still be in the 5th inning.
Getting out of the stadium is also WAY easier than it would be normally, and traffic is light going home. All in all, an excellent sports viewing experience. For all you baseball fans out there, I heartily recommend going to a game again. I’m guessing most people won’t feel uncomfortable, but if you love the game, it’s wonderful being back in a ballpark watching the real thing in person. Here’s to a lot more of it this Summer!
Commercial Real Estate Broker/Sports Fan
Staff writer at Six Feet Apart, commercial real estate broker for CBRE, Inc., and most importantly, a father of two.