Next up in my 2010 picture series was my highly anticipated first trip ever to Boston and Fenway Park to see the Red Sox face the Angels on August 18, 2010.

Fenway Park. Nuff said.

After spending most of the day walking the Freedom Trail, my friend and I made our way to Fenway a couple of hours before game time so we didn’t rush our first experience there. This was one of the most iconic ballparks in all of baseball and one that I’ve seen on TV a million times, so I cannot tell you my excitement to finally walk into that ballpark as the green monster came into view. Basically the experience was everything I thought it would be. And of course, the game would be a hit fest that included 12 runs, 22 hits, four hits and oh yeah, a Red Sox victory. Click here to read a detailed account of the game and the trip.

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I was just about to work on a post on the biggest move this offseason being that of the White Sox signing slugger Adam Dunn when the Red Sox go out and acquire Adrian Gonzalez in a trade with San Diego.

The whole Gonzalez trade rumors have been discussed for a couple of years now at every trade deadline, but a move was never made until now. The Padres surprising success this year had something to do with them holding onto him throughout the season. But now he is a Red Sox, and we finally get to see what he can do is a ballpark outside of Petco.

Details on the trade are not official yet, but obviously the Red Sox will have an immediate return with a A+ power bat to plug into the lineup next to Big Papi and Kevin Youkilis. I just can’t wait to see what Gonzo can do going from an extreme pitcher’s park to a hitting haven like Fenway Park. Let’s break down Gonzalez’s career in San Diego…

In his five years with the Padres, Gonzalez hit a total of 161 home runs, an average of 32 bombs per year. This was coming out of a park that is considered one of the worst hitter’s park for homers in the league. Out of the 168 home runs in his career, 64 percent of those have come on the road. Plus, his average is 40 points higher away from Petco.

According to park factors.com, Petco Park is a -74 rating (76R, 72 HR), meaning that in the years 2007-2009 Petco produced 76 runs for every 100 runs scored in an average MLB park and 72 home runs for every 100 home runs. Petco’s ranking is dead last among all ballparks. On the flip side, Fenway plays close to neutral with a +101 rating (111R, 90HR).

Not only is the ballpark change going to be a huge factor, but Gonzalez rarely had any protection whatsoever in his seasons with the Padres. Add that up with him being in his prime (29 years old next year), and we could see a ridiculous 2011 season for Gonzalez in Fenway.

Berkman and Dunn signings
In other news, Dunn signed a four-year deal with the White Sox worth $56MM. This deal isn’t much of a surprise considering it’s no secret that the Sox have wanted Dunn for a while now. They went as far last year to acquire Edwin Jackson from the Diamondbacks in hopes that they could flip him to the Nationals for Dunn. There were plenty of rumors in July at the trade deadline of the White Sox front office being furious with the Nats for apparently backing off of a deal for Jackson after telling them they would deal Dunn for Jackson. Maybe if the White Sox acquire Dunn, their second half of the season would have been different, but anyway they have him on their roster now for four years. Speaking of park factors, Dunn moves into an absolute launching pad at Chicago’s US Cellular Field (+118 rating, 109R, 126HR) so expect to see his home run totals climb at a high rate.

Last up for today is the news that the Cardinals signed Lance Berkman to a one-year deal for $8 million. I’m not sure how much the 37-year-old slugger has left as he’s coming off his worst ML season (.248/.368/.413). He still gets on base a ton, but his power looks to be in serious decline. The weird thing about this pickup is there’s talk that the Cards will put Berkman in the outfield. Who would allow Berkman to touch the outfield? He hasn’t played it since 2007, and while I don’t live by some of the advanced defensive sabermetric statistics, his numbers in the outfield were pretty horrid.

Ever since I started watching baseball on TV and learning the history of all the teams and ballparks, I’ve always wanted to visit and see a game in select ballparks like Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. I was fortunate enough to make the trip to Wrigley twice a couple of years ago when I was living in West Michigan, and it was fantastic. But that’s another talk for another day.

While I made it to Wrigley, for whatever lame reasons I could offer it wouldn’t make up for it—I simply blew it with Yankee Stadium. The old stadium is no longer in use. I wasn’t going to let that happen with Fenway Park and thus begins my logic for making an impromptu day-and-a-half trip to Boston last week. In my opinion, Fenway is the Mecca of baseball or what Lambeau Field is to the NFL.

A friend and I made the 9-hour plus trek to Boston Tuesday afternoon and arrived in town a good three hours before last call at the local pubs. After shaking off the hangover the next morning, we went out and saw as much as the city as we could. As a side and unrelated baseball note, Boston is filled with incredible America history at almost every corner all within blocks of each other that I highly suggest to anyone given the time and means to visit. Anyway by 5 p.m., it was time for Fenway.

My first experience with the atmosphere was turning the corner after parking and seeing Yawkey Way loading with people prior to the gates being open. The atmosphere was electric with street sellers, merchandise, food and a sea of Red Sox nation. Being that we arrived well before the gates opened, we walked around the entire outside of the ballpark and came across the former legends banners seen below. Any team that can put up a banner for Cy Young is a team that encompasses a very rich franchise history.

The brick and the green exterior blended right in with the neighborhood as one of the great things about Fenway is how it’s located directly in one street block and not out in the middle of nowhere parking lot outside out of the city. We finally made our way inside and walking up the steps to the concourse opening and seeing the stadium for the first team was amazing. Suddenly, the place that I had seen on TV my whole life exploded into my viewpoint and came to life. There was the massive Green Monster, Pesky’s Pole (the 302-foot foul pole which is the shortest in the majors), the John Hancock scoreboard, the center field triangle, the manual left field scoreboard and so on and so forth. No park in America has so many recognizable and historic aspects in it, and all of it came alive five seconds into the seating area.

The pillars holding the grandstand up and obstructing certain views also stands out. Our seats were behind one of these pillars so it was a constant bob and weaving to see the pitcher in his delivery, which is one of the drawbacks to old parks like this, but with everything else it has to offer who cares?

Another noticeable aspect is the stellar condition the place is in considering it was built in 1912. The crew does a really nice job keeping the place looking old school, but new at the same time. Also, it was nice to see there are no gimmicks at Fenway as you will probably see in the majority of other ballparks. They didn’t mess around pregame: here’s the national anthem, here are the lineups, let’s play ball. This was a very refreshing concept that I wish more teams would implement.

As for the game, it was just what we thought it would be, a slugfest between the Sox and Angels since John Lackey and Scott Kazmir were on the mounds for their respective teams. Neither pitcher was very effective as there were four dingers hit in the first five innings. The Angels held a brief 5-2 lead before the Red Sox rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth on a Adrian Beltre homer and two runs in the seventh inning (off a wild pitch and HBP) to complete the comeback. Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth and struck out the side to slam the door on the Halos for a  7-5 Boston victory. Lackey somehow picked up the win despite allowing five runs on 10 hits (two homers). And what I thought was pretty fitting—the game ended with Erick Aybar…caught looking. Go figure!

Some other random observations from the Fenway experience:

– Dustin Pedroia is a god in that town. He had just come off the DL to play again, and the fans love him. He’s probably even more popular these days than Big Papi. Of course, Pedroia would hurt his foot again in the game, miss the next night and then shut down for the rest of the season. Tough year for him.

– Not gonna lie, singing “Sweet Caroline” in the eighth inning was pretty cool. It might of even given me goosebumps

– It’s ridiculous to watch a game there and start thinking about the amount of history that was played in this baseball landmark. The fact that Babe Ruth and Ted Williams called the playing field their home was enough to amaze me.

– Red Sox games are looooooooooooooong. It’s really noticeable when you’re there. I can see the argument of game length by people when the Sox and Yankees meet up. I obviously love baseball, but at some point it’s unbearable with how slow they are. It’s obviously attributed to the fact that it’s a hitting park, they take a lot of pitches, but the amount of time wasted in between pitches with time being called and batters stepping out of the box is ridiculous.

– Despite the ballpark being completely sold out, including hundreds of standing room only tickets, the bathrooms and concession stands never appeared to be overly packed. Maybe this is due to people not leaving their seat more in Fenway than other places, or maybe there’s just a good number of concessions, but down the third base side was not bad at all for concourse traffic. I actually really noticed it more when I attended the Mets-Pirates game Saturday night and thought the concourse was too crowded at PNC Park. Something this old ballpark also has on new ones perhaps?

– While taking pictures down by the Angels dugout during pregame, I started chatting with two guys who were in the midst of a baseball park tour. They were hitting 10 ballparks in 10 days with the cities being as far as I can remember: Boston, New York (Yankees), Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago (Cubs and White Sox). They were actually heading to Pittsburgh on Friday, so I gave them some tips about what to check out and food and drinks to find once there. They used Jay Buckley Baseball Tours website, which I was not familiar with, but visit the website to see a number of tours (that range in time and number of parks) this summer that you can pay for in one price and ride a bus around to all of them. This is something I know I will check out in the future as possible great roadtrip next summer.

All in all, what a great trip it was even though I was only there for one game and in Boston for less than two full days. I can’t compare it to Wrigley and say that it was better or not because both were classic parks that exceeding my expectations each time. They were different experiences, but still gave me that nostalgic feel that this is way baseball was meant to be played. I only wish I had gone to an afternoon game. The pictures (all taken by me by the way) filtered throughout this text and below in no way does justice for this ballpark. I recommend Fenway Park to anyone who has never gone or even if you’ve made it to a game before. I know that I plan on returning to Yawkey Way to experience the classic feel again.

Every so often life just gets in the way of doing things I enjoy such as writing on here everyday. It’s been a busy week to say the least as I’m in the middle of moving…don’t worry though, I’m not moving away from Western Pennsylvania, but only closer to the great city of Pittsburgh.

Anyway, with a couple of days off to enjoy I’ve decided to head northeast to Boston, Massachusetts to see historic Fenway Park. I’m making the 10-hour drive today and will be in attendance for the Red Sox-Angels game Wednesday night. I’ve never been there, but I’ve been meaning to see this place sooner or later.

Since the old Yankee Stadium is no longer in use, Fenway and Wrigley Field are the two great old parks left in the country. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a couple of trips to Wrigley Field, and it was an amazing atmosphere.

Now I will be able to cross Fenway Park off the list of iconic baseball parks to see. Along with Wrigley, Fenway is the Mecca of baseball in my eyes. I can’t wait to enjoy a game there. I’ll update everyone on the trip once I return.