May 5, 2011

Fenway Park is actually pretty crappy: A counterpoint.

My colleague Dave Goldstein recently wrote an impassioned piece about the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park and how it was passed over for the 2012 MLB All-Star Game.

I love "The Bear Jew" and I'm tickled pink that we've added him to the stable at King Myno's Court, but that doesn't mean I agree with his every opinion. Join me now as I pick apart Dave's piece, Fire Joe Morgan-style.

You can imagine my surprise when it was announced that the 2012 All-Star Game would be held at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. I practically rubbed my eyes in disbelief.

Major League Baseball making an unexpected, less-than-stellar decision?! I don't believe it.

I didn't just think the All-Star Game wouldn't be at Fenway; I was sure it would be. The same way I'm sure the sun will come up each day.

If Dave had seen 30 Days of Night, he'd know that the sun doesn't always come up.

Deciding on a venue is neither random nor turn based; a prospective host team petitions a MLB committee for that privilege, and the choice is made based on how long that stadium had been waiting, how much money the organization has put into renovations and historically significant opportunities.

That seems fair and reasonable, especially since it keeps the game from being controlled by annoying, overexposed teams with insufferable fan bases. Like, for example, the Red Sox.

Since 1999, few other All-Star Games have really been memorable. 1999 was a landmark year because of the occasion, atmosphere, cast of characters and performances.

"Atmosphere," meaning that it was at the great, grand Fenway Park. It's time to dispel some myths about Fenway. I've been there roughly a dozen times now. My first visit was like a lot of people's: "Oooh, look at all the history caked into these dirty walls and those pee-soaked floors." Every trip after, I've found it to be unnecessarily cramped and outdated. The sight lines are awful, and it's difficult to navigate.

But in Boston, people will tell you that it's the best place to watch a game in the whole wide world. They act like it's character-building to be uncomfortable and less-than-satisfied while watching baseball, like an old timer who laments how easy kids have it these days. It's a baseball stadium! You're paying to watch people run around and play a sport. I'll take a nice, clean arena with cozy seats and many available amenities any day of the week.

The All-Star Game has been in general decline for many years. It was once a dramatic highlight of the baseball season.

The dramatic highlight of the season? For as long as I can remember, it's been a chore for the players and a novelty at best for the fans. Maybe it was the bee's knees 40 years ago, but computers those days were also the size of 18 city blocks. If you'd rather live in those groovier times, perhaps you shouldn't be reading my blog on the Internet.

Baseball made an effort to inject some intensity back into the game by awarding home field advantage in the World Series to the winning league, but even the tangible reward hasn't produced a clear return of drama.

Did anyone think this was a good idea? If so, do you still? How arbitrary and idiotic is it to have the championship round of a professional sports league impacted by a vaguely comprehensive collection of its semi-stars?

The appropriate response? Allow the All-Star Game to slowly fade away. Maybe it's still a cash cow and Major League Baseball's trying to wring every last dollar from it, but in about 10 years, people will give even less of a fuck than they already do. All-Star Games in general are sad, outdated commodities that even the players try extremely hard to avoid.

Baseball executives should have been drooling while they pictured it; Fenway Park, covered in bunting, filled to the bursting point with fans.

Fans, or rich assholes that can afford jacked-up prices for a mostly irrelevant exhibition game.

National networks with their cameras pointed toward a field full of baseball's best players, many coming from the home team.

The Red Sox are 14-17, tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for last in the American League East. Just four of their players rank in the top-130 in OPS.

In a cartoon, this is when your pupils become dollar signs. If baseball wants to retain viewers while overcoming the black eye of steroids and competing with the NBA and NFL, this move is a no-brainer.

Come on, Dave. Although ESPN sure has tried, not everyone is enraptured by the magical, life-altering existence of the Boston Red Sox. People sitting at home watching on TV will not give a fuck if the game is being played at Fenway Park, in Kansas City or on the moon. Well, maybe if it's on the moon.

I get frustrated with baseball because, like every entertainment industry, it is more concerned with its profit margins than with its product.

Yes, we should go back to the good old days, when the game meant something and players were basically indentured servants. The owners would save so much on salaries, tickets would be cheaper, beer would flow from the taps! I see no downside to this.

It is hard to see the romance when everything is brought to you by Coca-Cola, PlayStation and Viagra, and there are more people like Scott Boras and A-Rod than Branch Rickey and Christy Mathewson.

For all we know, Branch Rickey molested collies and Christy Mathewson strangled babies. Let's not deify people because they were good at sports and born a long time ago.

The people at Major League Baseball may not have considered this, but is it possible that all of the flashing lights, shiny objects and other gimmicks designed to attract casual fans aren't working and are instead, cheapening the game and driving away the real fans?

This could be a very legitimate point, but the undertones appear to be that Red Sox fans are "real fans" and we can only appeal to them by having a special game at their Mecca. Or, that "real fans" would nod their heads and find value in the game being at Fenway. So a long-time Cincinnati Reds enthusiast would be jazzed to see the All-Star Game end up in Boston? I think he'd be too busy stuffing his fat face with Skyline Chili to care.

It has been longer for Kansas City and granting the game to a small market city shows parity, but choosing Fenway Park is better for the game.

Again, what's good for Red Sox Nation is good for "the game." Fuck the Royals, right? Oh, and by the way, the Royals are 17-14 with super-prospect Eric Hosmer on the way to the Majors.

The Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field, Yankee Stadium, Forbes Field, Tiger Stadium; they're all scrap. But Fenway is still here and next year is her birthday. Isn't that worth celebrating?

Don't assign a sex to the stadium, Dave. And if Fenway was a 100-year-old woman, I'd push for an assisted suicide.

4 comments:

cifuentj said...

This was outstanding.

Ryan said...

"annoying, overexposed teams with insufferable fan bases." Unlike those god-fearing Phils fans, right? At least we don't make ourselves barf on little girls. You blowhard, Cimino.

What happened to the Fliers pieces?

Ryan said...

As a Sox fan, I believe MLB got this one right for many of reasons that I will gladly put light on to

1. That stadium sucks camel dick with how tight it is.
2. The 25 tickets to sell out would be way too high for the unemployed (real fans) to attend.
3. Talk about traffic...
4. All-Star games are so lame.

God Bless America

Sean said...

yeah lets give it to a great team like the royals so all 15 fans can celebrate their great team, oh and by the way the Red Sox have the best record in the American league.