Posted by: Ryan | August 1, 2010

PawSox Nation

So here’s a question: do I love the ballgame experience at Portland, and now at Pawtucket, because I’m a Red Sox fan?

Or am I a Red Sox fan because Portland and Pawtucket and, to a lesser degree, Fenway, offer baseball the way I feel it should be experienced?

Pawtucket last night: no between-innings entertainment, one obligatory appearance by the mascot (“Paws”), no anthems for the visiting hitters, very little audio intrusion, cool Rhode Island evening, sun setting in left field, enthusiastic standing-room-only crowd despite the home team losing in a listless affair.

This means you, Lancaster, and Lehigh Valley: Pawtucket draws a standing-room-only crowd in a stadium that seats nearly 10,000, where baseball is the only – and the only necessary – attraction. All without resorting to playing “Ev’rybody Clap Yo’ Hands.”

And although erstwhile Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was rehabbing with the PawSox last night, the woman beside me said that games at McCoy Field (like Portland, the only ballpark I’ve visited this summer not named for a corporation) regularly sell out, especially on weekends.

We were packed into the green seats, about a dozen rows from the field. She noticed me scribbling in my notebook, and asked if I worked for a newspaper, or if the Moleskine was my diary.

I explained: the effort to make sure I enjoyed myself this summer, the trips to minor league parks, the blog. We talked for a while, from the fifth through the seventh innings, as I entered an ongoing conversation that had been burbling throughout the game among my immediate seatmates.

She wanted to know how many different stadiums I had been to this summer (nine so far). “And how does this compare?” she wanted to know.

It compares very, very well.

I’m glad that I’m seeing another PawSox game this afternoon. Maybe today the Durham Bulls won’t demonstrate how Tampa is going to dominate the Red Sox for much of the next decade. Maybe today Lars Anderson – the Sox’ former top prospect – will get the ball out of the infield, and won’t drop a pop-up behind first.

But either way, I know I’m going to have a great time.

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