Tag Archives: Fenway Park

And a happy Baseball Solstice to us, every one!

We’ve gotten past the Mayan apocalypse, so now we can move on and celebrate the Baseball Solstice. That’s the mid-point between the end of the World Series and the first exhibition game pitch of spring training, which we will celebrate this year in concert with Christmas.

Unlike the winter solstice at Stonehenge, there is no precise hour at which the sun peers through the pocket on the big glove at San Francisco’s AT&T Park or glints off the Citgo sign at Fenway Park.  As I noted several days ago, Countdown to Spring Training and the Ball Caps Blog have divined that, this year, we should celebrate from sunset Christmas Eve through sundown Christmas Day.

As the solstice is concurrent with a sacred Christian holiday, we urge all baseball fans to participate in a respectful way. Wrap a glove and donate it to Toys for Tots, or playfully announce “beer here!” when serving beverages to guests at holiday gatherings.

To all my readers, a happy solstice and a merry Christmas!

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Fixing the date for the Baseball Solstice

Now is the winter of our discontent, baseball fans. The World Series ended on Oct. 28, and nearly two months later I’m really starting to miss the game.

Musing on this long dormant period for the national pastime, I’ve concluded that like our pagan ancestors, we must mark the passage of the seasons. And that means fixing what I’ll call the “baseball solstice,” the mid-point between the end of one season and the beginning of another.

The end of the World Series seems an overwhelmingly logical point to mark the end of a season.

But what constitutes the beginning of a new season? “Opening Day” used to mean the oldest continuously operating professional franchise, the Reds, taking the field in Cincinnati. But Major League Baseball has trampled tradition with early openers in Japan and kooky staggered schedules.

The reporting date in Arizona and Florida for pitchers and catchers is inadequate — there are no inning-by-inning broadcasts on the radio to record what happens, no box scores to enter anything into history.

That leads to one conclusion: The new season commences with the first games of Spring Training, when the teams take the field and the umpire cries “Play ball!” Every rookie has the potential to make the team, every veteran a chance to perform even better than the year before.

In 2012, the first games will be on March 2.

Between the last out of the 2011 World Series and those first Cactus and Grapefruit league ballgames, 134 125 days — better than one-third of a calendar year — will have passed since the Rangers’ David Murphy flied out to Allen Craig of the Cardinals.

So the mid-point, the baseball solstice, will be 67 62.5 days later, Dec. 30, 2011.

It’s a fitting date. In much of the United States, that’s the dead of winter with snow blanketing many a ballfield.

I’ll do something to mark the occasion. I could bay at the moon like some ancient Druid at Stonehenge and try to conjure a power hitter for the San Francisco Giants. Or maybe I’ll just look toward Progressive Field in Cleveland, beseeching the baseball gods to make 2012 the year the Indians win it all.

Centuries from now, our descendants may chance upon the ruins of Wrigley and contemplate the meaning and magic that dwelt there in ages past. With curiosity they may look upon the remains of home plate at Fenway Park or ponder what’s left of the fountains at Kauffman Stadium.

We owe it to our descendants to mark the Baseball Solstice in ceremonies of our own devising. So join me Jan. 4 Dec. 30 at sunrise. I will be in Pittsburgh, summoning my father’s spirit to bring the Pirates some luck.

Addendum: My headline on “Fixing” the date of the Baseball Solstice turned out to be a bit of irony. I miscounted the days and got the mid-point wrong. As Paul notes below, the correct date is Dec. 30, not Jan. 4. It’s still a day to celebrate.

Inter-league baseball games have their charms, but there is a tradeoff

This is the first weekend for inter-league games in baseball this season, and there’s been plenty of buzz in a number of places as neighboring franchises like the Reds and Indians, Athletics and Giants, and Yankees and Mets fight it out.

But my heart sank a little when I heard that the Cubs were playing in Fenway for the first time in 93 years. I guess none of us can stop progress, but the traditionalist voice in my head says it’s a real shame that the Cubs and Red Sox are playing one another in Fenway in May. If all were right with the world, they’d be playing each other in October in the World Series.

The Twins win, and we’re stuck with more games in that horrid dome

Twins win

Twins win

The Minnesota Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings Tuesday night to win the American League Central title, and I’m not happy.

Not because the Twins won per se. They’ve been a terrific story this season, charging from behind to tie the Tigers and force the one-game playoff for the division title.

What irritates me is the prospect of at least one more baseball game being played in the  abomination that is the Metrodome. Although I’ve never set foot in it, I’ve loathed that dome for years.

When the Brewers were in the American League and played there, I hated it on general principles.

When Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek and that generation of Twins were in their heyday, I hated it for the homer hankies the fans waved. (I’ve always hated any team whose fans in an act of mass silliness wave hankies or towels or – please, God, no – thundersticks.)

I even hate the dome in football season, as in the past two weeks when the 49ers and Packers lost in succession to the Vikings.

Why do I find the dome so revolting? I don’t begrudge the Twins and Vikings fans a warm place to sit when it’s freezing outside. But the Metrodome is an over-the-top artificial environment, a chamber of Nordic screams designed to rile and rattle the opposing team. The building is a huge advantage for the home squad, and unfairly so.

There are other domes in professional sports. I’ve been in Skydome or whatever it’s now called in Toronto and the old Kingdome in Seattle (inset), for which I had a minimal, grudging tolerance. I’ve also been in Miller Park in Milwaukee, with the roof open and closed. None of those parks approaches the Metrodome in affecting the outcome of a game.

Quirky differences among ballparks parks add to baseball’s appeal — the Green Monster at Fenway Park, the ivy at Wrigley Field, McCovey Cove in San Francisco, the arches at Yankee stadia, old and new. Those features constitute charm and give the home team a bit of a boost. But they don’t loom oppressively over the game as does the Metrodome.

That the Twins are moving to the new Target Field next season is good news. It can’t come soon enough.

Winners and losers at Fenway Park

The Boston Red Sox pulled off another stunning comeback tonight, overcoming a 7-0 deficit to defeat Tampa Bay 8-7. Even if they don’t get to the World Series, the Sox proved they are winners.

The losers tonight? Not the Rays, who are still up 3 games to 2 in the American League championship series. To me, the losers are all the Boston fans who started streaming out of Fenway Park when the Rays went up 7-0. Those wussies who headed for their cars and the “T” don’t deserve to wear a Sox cap.