Made it to my first game of the season yesterday. For an afternoon game at the Rate, I was surprised at the size of the crowd. As I was walking around, I estimated that it was about 20K, which for a Sox midweek, afternoon game is pretty amazing. There were some groups, but considering I had to wait 5 whole minutes to by my ticket, the walk up gate must have been decent. My wonderful family got me a set of ticket vouchers for Christmas this year that can be used for pretty much any game, with a few black outs. Each coupon is good for one upper reserved ticket and like the most recent years, the warning that upper deck patrons can't come down to the lower bowl is toothless at this point.
I've taken advantage of that fact the last few years, buying the cheapest ticket I can then making no effort whatsoever to go to that seat. I make a bee line for the third base corner, maybe walk around the outfield, and usually wind up behind home plate for an inning or two. This time I wanted to avoid the sun, so I went for the shadows of the first base side, but I still couldn't beat the heat. After the fourth inning I decided to venture to the upper deck to see if I could catch the breeze.
In 2004 I had season tickets in left field, section 542 if I'm not mistaken. I loved those seats. There is something about the bird's eye view that gives the perspective of how big a MLB ball park really is. Something about that scale also reminds me that professional sports is a pretty big undertaking. Spending so much time in the lower bowl, so close to the action, kind of lessens that impact.
I made my way behind home plate and was reminded of another thing I love about being up high. The ability to see the strike zone is so much greater from up top. The vertical elements are almost impossible to judge, but inside and outside are perfect. Watching a pitcher try and nibble the corners is great. Too bad I wasn't up there when Renteria got thrown out of the game.
Next week I hope to get to Mark Buehrle Day. I don't know what to expect as far as a crowd, but I'm betting the upper deck will still have good seats available.