Baseball – East Coast style

I got to experience a little East Coast fun this week thanks to a mini-family reunion of sorts, attending two Boston Red Sox games and one New York Yankees game. Ironically, two of the games I saw, Wednesday in Boston and Sunday in New York, involved the Angels, who I have yet to see this season despite living 30 minutes from Angels Stadium. Not sure if I should blame my boss for that one.

Anyway, although the Red Sox and Yankees have been made borderline nauseating by ESPN’s Brett Favre-esque obsession with them, they play in stadiums that are among the most storied in baseball. Because of an extra day and some good fortune, I got to visit both hallowed diamonds and compare and contrast them a bit.

First off is Fenway Park, where I attended games Wednesday and Saturday. Fenway has a few built-in advantages for me, thanks to everyone on my mom’s side of the family being Red Sox fans. While I’m a Tigers follower (ever the outcast I guess), I can stand the Red Sox and appreciate the Monstah (as Bostonians pronounce it). It also doesn’t hurt that my stepfather’s family has tickets in the sixth row behind home plate – a place they’ve had tickets since Fenway Park opened in 1912.

Those tickets were spoken for, so I had to go out on the streets and find tickets for each day. That actually wasn’t a bad experience, as Landsdowne Street and Yawkey Way were bustling with fans and plenty of action. And it wasn’t hard to find scalpers, who were up for negotiating. I was able to wrangle a ticket 20 rows back along the third-base line for $60 (a lot better than the $75 I was offered for standing room) and got a group of four close together for $65 apeice for the game Saturday against Oakland. The scalper also messed up, giving me an extra $20 bleacher ticket accidentally, which I scalped for $25. The lesson there is that as a scalper, I’m a better sportswriter.

Boston also gets thumbs-up for its beer prices, which were $7.25 for a domestic (the Bud Light/Miller Light quality) and $7.75 for an import. While not great, they are better than some prices I’ve seen in other stadiums (one of which I will get to later).

However, Bostonians as a people worry me. I’ve been to many cities in this country and Bostonians are probably the fiercest-looking people I’ve seen. It seems like they are capable, almost waiting, to throw down at a moment’s notice. In my section in right field, the cops had to break up at least two skirmishes that I saw – about equal to what I saw in my section at an Oakland Raiders game last September. In summation, Bostonians need to relax a bit.

Now to my experience at Yankee Stadium, which I went to Sunday with a college friend, was quite a bit different. One thing I definitely enjoyed were the seats, which were about 12 rows up in line with first base, and the fans. While I’m admittedly not a big fan of the Yankees, the fans around us were very social, accomodating and intelligent. I didn’t hear a single curse word and the fans were constructively rooting for their team, unlike some of the language I heard at Fenway. Bad language doesn’t bother me, but it was good change from the intense, ready-to-throw-down vibe at Fenway. The fans seemed geniunely happy to talk Yankees baseball with a couple of people who weren’t fans of their team, which I enjoyed.

With that said, the scalpers outside were quite a bit ruder, not to mention hard to find. Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly in the best area, so there aren’t the huge throngs of people milling around like in Boston. The scalpers were offering outrageous prices, including a guy that looked like a psychopathic Dick Cheney that was trying to convince my friend and I to buy upper-deck tickets for $150.

We passed on that before buying two seperate tickets, one in the loge and one near first base, for $105 each. Both seats were great and I even talked to the original holders of my tickets, who were named Louie and Vinny (I couldn’t even make that up), who sold their $50 face value ticket to the scalper I bought from for $20. I bought them beers because I felt bad about them getting rooked like that.

That leads to the biggest complaint I have about Yankee Stadium, as a large domestic beer cost $9.50, by far the most expensive I’ve ever seen at a ballpark in any sport. The previous high I had seen was at AT&T Park in San Francisco at $9. Combined with the expensive nature of going out in New York – my wallet is hemorraging because of one day there – maybe I should have stayed away from alcohol while watching the Yanks. However, it was still cool to be in the stadium in the 20th-to-last game there.