The Fenway Experience

I went down to Boston for Wednesday afternoon’s Red Sox game. It was an awful game. Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner even said so on the radio.

But it was not an awful day. It was a nice September day at the ballpark.

This morning in my email, I had a note from the Red Sox management, thanking me for attending the game. The Red Sox management is very thoughtful.

They also asked for my opinion. They wanted to know all about my “Fenway experience.” I clicked all the buttons for all the survey questions and I gave them high marks for everything from the cleanliness of the ballpark to the friendliness of the staff to the wait time at the concession stands to the quality of their “entertainment” program.

High marks all the way through.

They do a good job.

But they did ask for additional comment about their entertainment program – which I repeat, I gave very high marks to for the quality of its individual elements – and so I took the opportunity to assess not the elements but the whole…

“i’m there for baseball, i don’t care about the entertainment bells and whistles. i do wish there were fewer of them and it was not a constant barrage of stuff from the moment i take my seat. but other than the number of items on your program, i won’t complain. your program of non-baseball stuff is carried out in a way that is not annoying – i love the Celtics but i don’t like going to their games because the “entertainment” portions are overly loud. i’m a middle-aged guy who has no problem watching beautiful women dance but i can’t wait for the Celtics Dancers to sit down and get out of the way of the game…and get out of the way of the downtime in the game. it’s not just the players who need time outs, the fans need breaks too. the Celtics DEMAND my attention and FORCE their show on me. at Fenway, i do not feel that i am under attack. However, you do cram in so many pre-game promotions and presentations that it becomes very easy to tune it all out. i know you are trying to make those individuals happy and i know that is good business. but it’s bad business to present it in a manner that causes the audience to ignore it. You just can’t do EVERYTHING. well, you can – you do – but it doesn’t work. it can’t. it becomes one big giant mishmosh of stuff that we have no idea what it is because we’re not actually paying attention. sure, we want to applaud the little kids and the valiant war vets that you honor…but we don’t know who we are suddenly applauding because there were so many others we weren’t listening to any of it. it really borders on being a disservice to the people you are trying to honor. and finally, you have taken away completely the most wonderful part of entering the ballpark early: the quiet, interrupted by the sound of batting practice hits and catches and the sheer wonder of Fenway itself. i know you do realize how special Fenway is and you have absolutely made it a better experience. but you were doing a better job of that before you ramped it up this high. i mean, i love ice cream but i don’t want you to bring me a new dish of it every minute for a whole hour. that’s too much of a good thing. which turns out to be a bad thing.”

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