Friday, July 22, 2011

A Tribute to the Minor Leagues: Your Pawtucket Red Sox

Hi everyone! My name is Melissa and I am honored to be a new contributor here at Soxy Lady! I'm a mom of a 7 month old little boy, author of Filling Our Bucket and a huge Boston Red Sox fan. My family lives in Rhode Island, and we are frequent visitors to McCoy Stadium to see our "hometown" team, the Pawtucket Red Sox! If you've never been, check it out! Below, you'll find lots of information about the ballpark and the team. Enjoy!

We are huge Boston Red Sox fans. But as Rhode Islanders, and now Rhode Islanders with a 7 (already!!) month old, it is pretty tough for us to get up to Fenway Park as much as we would like. Aside from that, the cost of a Red Sox game is not a small amount! Between tickets, food, a couple sodas...we are often talking over $100 a game! I love my Red Sox, but sometimes, I love having the money in my pocket a little more.

So what is a girl, and a family, to do? Well, head to a Pawtucket Red Sox game of course!!

The PawSox are the Triple A affiliate of the big club and play at McCoy Stadium. We are lucky enough to pretty much live within a stones throw of the park, so it is really easy for us to pop on over for a game.

A little history about McCoy. It was built in 1942, and named after the mayor of Pawtucket, Thomas P. McCoy. It was renovated in 1998. So much like the big boys, the PawSox have been playing in their original stadium for a long time, although not quite 100 years!

McCoy is also home to the longest game in baseball history. 33 innings over 3 days, April 18, 19, and June 23, 1981. On June 23, the PawSox were victorious and beat the Rochester Red Wings 3 - 2!

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the game, and there has been quite a few stories and events in recognition of it, including a story that aired on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. I never watch CBS, but I did that night. There were two gentlemen in the story who were at the game, two men that were two of the few fans that stayed until 4am that first night. They had them sit in the seats they sat in for the game...on opposite sides of the field. It was a fantastic story, and reminded us of the glory and excitement of baseball. Want to learn even more? NY Times columnist Dan Barry has written a book about the event called Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball's Longest Game.  I haven't read it yet, but it is definitely on my summer reading list.

As an aside, I have to wonder what would happen if a game went on and on and on like this these days. Would someone pull a Bud Selig, call the game and have it end in a tie?

Another great bit of history at McCoy are the murals. The Murals at McCoy, painted by Carol Heuser, are of PawSox greats over the years. Men who have made significant contributions to the PawSox and Red Sox organization not only as players, but as people. Here is a collage of the murals. Do you recognize any of the greats? See your favorite player?

photo credit

McCoy Stadium and the Pawtucket Red Sox are incredibly family friendly place. Before the ballgames, there is almost always some sort of entertainment outside the gates. We missed the band this week, but as we walked in I heard people talking about how great they were. Every Sunday after the game, kids of all ages can go down onto the field and run the bases! There is face painting, several kid friendly giveaways throughout the summer, and several games start at 6:05 - you know, to accommodate those early bedtimes!

On Sunday, the PawSox played the Durham Bulls, the minor league team for the Tampa Bay Rays - who the Boston Red Sox beat that night in a 16 inning battle, 1 - 0. It was hot, but McCoy Stadium has the luxury of having most seats under the roof, and during a day game with the position of the sun, typically the only seats in the sun are those that are down the third base line, the bleacher seats in center and right, and the grassy area in left. We were lucky enough to be sitting nearly right behind home plate, so we were under the roof. A comfortable breeze was blowing, so that definitely helped!

our view - no zoom!
Tickets at McCoy are incredibly reasonable, as I'm sure you can imagine and because the stadium has a capacity of only just over 10,000, there isn't a bad seat in the house. Box seats at McCoy are $11 for all ages, General admission seats are $7 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under and seniors. General admission seats are great, but if you choose to go that route, remember that you'll have to get to the park fairly early, particularly for weekend games! The seats fill up quick, and the ballpark opens two hours before game time.

McCoy offers a good selection of concession options at reasonable prices. They even have the complete list of their concessions - with prices - available online! Please note the price of a draft beer in McCoy Stadium - $4.75. They even offer healthier fare for those who may not want to go all out in the full baseball experience, noshing on hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Salads, fruit and hummus with pita chips are just a few of these healthier options.

photo credit
The mascots of the PawSox are Paws and Sox. And while they are no Wally the Green Monster, they are pretty awesome. I mean, according to his bio, Paws favorite song is "Centerfield" by John Fogarty. That's MY favorite baseball song. It was meant to be!!

Do you want to meet Paws and/or Sox? You can!!! During the 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 9th innings, one of these furry mascots will be at the SBLI Paws Pavilion to take pictures and give autographs! Unfortunately, when we went to the game on Sunday, I didn't get a chance to get down there with the little man. But, I did get a picture of the Pavilion! Too bad that person was standing there, kind of ruining the shot. But, I have never claimed to be a photographer! See how the seat looks like ice? That's to keep Paws and Sox cool. Since they are polar bears. Of course.

TSI is already a big Paws fan. He's got a fun little beanbag Paws that we bought him way back in February, when he took his very first trip to McCoy!! We started training him about PawSox and Red Sox love young, and brought him to the ballpark the day it opened for ticket and souvenir sales!! They didn't expect anyone to show up, but we showed up about an hour after I saw the posting on Facebook, and they actually had to unlock the doors for us. That was the day we also bought our flex pack tickets.

The PawSox offer a really cool deal with these tickets. You can purchase packs in multiples of 25. The more tickets you purchase, the lower the price! We decided to get the 25 tickets of the box seat package. Normally box seats are $11 per set, but when you purchase through the flex ticket pack, you save $1 a ticket! That's a total of a $25 savings over time! Pretty sweet! When you want to go to a game, all you have to do is show up at the ticket window and exchange your voucher for a real ticket. It's pretty great. Just remember, there will always be games that are super popular that you should consider getting your tickets in advance. Most of these happen to be the games where there are fireworks such as Memorial Day and 4th of July weekend. We got a few games in advance - including Memorial Day Sunday and July 30, which is Clay Buchholz bobble head giveaway night! Get well soon Clay!

We left the game on Sunday in the bottom of the 5th inning. It was hot and TSI was getting sleepy and needed a nap. That's the beauty of going to a PawSox game, it's so close and the tickets are cheap enough that you don't feel too bad when you have to leave early! On the way out, I got to take a closer look at the area outside the ballpark. This season, they have lined the sidewalks around the outfield with pictures of some of the greats that have played in a PawSox uniform. As part of this addition, they created a nice little garden area with some pretty cool statues!

I do have to say that I love they included a little girl in this group of statues! Girls love baseball too!! I also love how one group of kids is just playing for fun, and the other is clearly playing more competitively. They are fun and full of whimsy. Someday, that'll be TSI!!

So, if you are a baseball lover and you live in the Rhode Island area - or even if you don't live in the Rhode Island area! - you must head on over to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket to check out a game. Who knows, maybe you'll get lucky and see one of the major leaguers that are set to come off the DL soon doing a rehab assignment!!

Play Ball!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

All Star Pizza - The Best Pizza in Rhode Island

During this MLB All Star break, it only seemed appropriate for my husband and I to pick up dinner from our favorite local pizza shop, All Star Pizza.

All Star Pizza, 417 Broad Street, Cumberland, RI 02864
Located in Cumberland, Rhode Island All Star Pizza is owned by brothers Brian and Steve Seagrave.

From the name, to the colors painted outside the building it is apparent baseball is going to be a theme in this pizza shop - but just wait until you step inside.

Once opened, the door chimes with "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" and everywhere you look are pieces of Red Sox memorabilia. There are bats, World Series pictures, pennants, a mini scoreboard/green monster, Red Sox pizza cutters, cotton candy and even a the light switches are Red Sox themed!

Red Sox Memorabilia in All Star Pizza
As much as it's fun to look around while picking up your order (or dining in at one of the high top tables located within the small shop), All Star really hits a homerun with its food.

They have some signature items like friend pickles and wieners served Rhode Island style (yellow mustard, diced onions, seasoned meat sauce and celery salt) and seriously some of the best pizza I've ever had. Their pizza dough and sauce are made from scratch and they smother their toppings in cheese.

Look at that cheese-covered pepperoni goodness!
I even hear in the fall they serve a special Thanksgiving Pizza (brown gravy, chunks of turkey, bread stuffing, green beans and mozzarella cheese). Yes, please!

In addition to the wonderful atmosphere and outstanding food All Star also offers free delivery and the best prices around.

If I had one (or two) small wishes it would have been 1) That All Star supported their local professional baseball team, the Pawtucket Red Sox a little bit within their shop and 2) Sports was on their TV instead of Cake Boss ;)

But seriously if you're ever in the area or looking to try some great pizza check out All Star Pizza. Tell 'em SoxyLady sent you.

All Star Pizza
417 Broad Street
Cumberland, RI 02864

Business Hours:
Sun-Thurs: 11 AM - 11 PM
Fri - Sat: 11 AM - 1 AM

View pictures of All Star Pizza's Menu on Facebook

No free pizza or other offers were exchanged for this review. In fact, nobody at All Star even knows who I am. I just want to support this local Rhode Island business and fellow Sox fans! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Boo Birds Sing

There's stormy weather in the forecast, and it made me think about one of the times when I feel it's okay to boo at Fenway Park, when it's not directed at the other team; If you feel you're being held hostage by a rain delay.

Rain is just a part of what you deal with as a baseball fan.  It's not played indoors like hockey and basketball, and it's not just an exciting, additional factor, like it is in football.  It's cause for cancellation of a game that is played almost every day of the Summer.  Therefore, it's hard to make up this games after they're called off.  Believe me when I say I'd much rather have an open field like Fenway than one of those artificial domes, that feels more like a novelty size child's toy than a ball park. However, there's been plenty of times where I feel this has been taken advantage of. 

Obviously not all Sox fans live in Boston.  Usually, a trip to catch a game involves a commute that lasts hours each way.  When one finally arrives, the ordeal isn't over.  If you didn't feel like parking outside of town and going through the nightmare that is public transportation revolving around a sporting event, you have to find a place to park that beast, and it costs $30.00 + dollars to do so.  Then you file in, probably pick up an official trash bag with a hood, because you forgot to pack any gear, buy some food, and wait for the delay to be called off, knowing in your heart the whole time the whole game is going to be called off.  You heard the weather man say 100% chance of precipitation in Boston tonight on the way up.

That excuse about how difficult it is to make up that game is always at the ready, should you ever imply the whole run-around is given to prevent loss of vendor revenue to anyone official.

So you sit there...In your hooded trash bag...Watching as time trickles on, just like the rain, only to have it called about an hour after the game was supposed to start.  Just enough time to make sure as many people as possible spent money on parking, rain gear and food.

Recently, my father had tickets to a game that was cancelled hours before it started.  He was so pleased that he didn't have to deal with the weather gamble that he was moved to write a letter to the Red Sox saying so.  I've never known Dad to take the time to write letters when he's anything but livid about something.  Sign my name on the bottom of that letter too, pops.

Anyone who has been in this situation knows exactly what I'm talking about.  Anyone else thinks I'm just bitching about the weather, which no one can control.  Fair enough, but it brings me back to my original point about being more clear about when it's okay to direct boos at something other than the other team.  Here's the break down:

-When your team is losing to a bunch of Canadians on America's birthday.
Nope.  Just turn that cap inside out, and rally like a good fan.

-When a consistently lackluster pitcher is giving the game away.
  No.  This is only going to make him worse, and build up resentment.

-When the organization waits until the last second to call a game, while the weather reports were telling the people of Boston all day not to worry about filling up the kiddie pool using town water.
Absolutely.  Boo the bejesus out of that place!  Better to get it all out there, than behind the wheel on the long trip home.


That's all for today's lesson.  Cheer up, though.  We're back in first!


Friday, July 1, 2011

The Seven Commandments of Fenway

This past week, I've had a few friends reply "So I guess you're the judge now on who's a real fan and who isn't?" after I posted the link to my last blog entry on Facebook, I thought "Yes.  Yes I am...And why not?" 

In light of this, I've decided to compile a list of rules one should follow in order to behave properly as a baseball fan, particularly within the walls of our beloved ball park.  So, without further ado, I present you with the SEVEN COMMANDMENTS OF FENWAY!!!

Yes, there's only seven.  The remaining commandments were lost in an unfortunate and unforeseen incident.

Thou Shalt Remember that You are at a Baseball Game.

While a baseball game is certainly a place to connect with other fans, it is not a cocktail party.  It is impolite to come and go as you please, making everyone in your row stand up to let you by, and blocking the view of the people behind you while the count is full.  If you need to leave your seat, wait to do it between innings.  If you can't wait that long, do it between at-bats.

Seeing people more interested in waving while talking too loudly on their cell phone, either at a camera or to a friend on the other side of the park who isn't going to see them anyway is also annoying.  While pretty much everyone has done this at some point, you should be mindful that you will be made fun of by complete strangers.  You may not be aware of it, but it is happening.

Thou Shalt Not Boo Any Member of thy Current Red Sox Roster

I'm typically not one to utter a phrase such as "How dare you!?", but I've found myself saying it at Fenway before, particularly during David Ortiz's dry spell.  When a player has been performing poorly for a while, it weighs heavily on his mind.  He doesn't need your entitled sense of indignation following him in wafts of hot air back to the dugout.  Since I've been a Red Sox fan, I've sinned;  I've booed two team players.  The first was  Manny Ramirez, because...Well, because of the same reason you booed him.  Also there was Eric Gagne, because he was clearly a Yankee spy.

What more proof do you need?

The fickle nature of many that inhabit the stands of Fenway was the reason Ted Williams refused to tip his cap for so many years.  No one's saying that you have to cheer or come up with with motivational posters to hold up at the game, or that you're not allowed to discuss your disappointment with a player's falling numbers...But absolutely no booing, especially when it comes to players who have already done so much for the team.  I don't buy the argument that it gives him incentive to shut the crowd up, either.  It is uncalled for and there's zero class in it.

Thou Shalt Not Waste Playoff or Yankees Tickets on Non-Fans.

I propose that when deciding whether or not a person is worthy of post-season or Yankees tickets, they should be quizzed.  I suggest asking them to name the players corresponding to all the Red Sox retired numbers.  If none of your potential "dates" pass the test, sell it to someone who is dying to go.

In December of 2003, my parents stood in line and acquired a ten-man-ticket-plan season ticket package.  That was quite a year to pick up one of those!  Their deal included four seats to ten regular season games (two of which are Yankees games), and four seats in one post-season game.  I was in my senior year of college, so my parents sold two of the seats for every game to a friend of my father's.

Turned out that was a bad idea, because the first thing he did was sell his seats for the Yankees games, and brag about how much money he made.  That wasn't the worst part though.  The post-season of 2004 was rather exciting, as you may remember.  The game my parents wound up getting tickets to was game 5 of the ALCS.  Despite strong suggestions from both myself and my parents that he should offer me the last ticket, Kevin (screw it, I'll use his real name.  The bastard deserves it.) decided to take a woman he'd just met to the game.  I'm sure she was very impressed by the gesture, but according to my parents, she knew next to nothing about the game, and apparently cared even less.  That's some bullshit, huh?

Also, small children that don't know anything about the game should brought a regular season, non-Yankees game for a test run to see if they show any interest in watching and sitting through one.  Too many times have I sat near a family, and the well-intentioned parents brought their children, thinking they were giving their children a memory they'd have for the rest of their lives. They realize only when the kids argue with each other the entire time, climb the seats, kick the back of my chair, and cry that they want to go home starting in the fifth inning, that maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

Thou Shalt Not Fake It

Of course you're going to meet people in the stands that know very little about the game, and readily admit it, but are enthusiastic about learning more.  However, many band-wagoners are highly annoying in their attempts to make it seem like they've been fans all along.  This makes it an important commandment, as it has to do with the self-preservation of one's own pride.  Faking it to try and appease the Faithful is a mistake, because you will eventually be outed, and that's just embarrassing for everyone.  You will also be the subject of scorn if you managed to fake your way into getting a ticket to an important game, and are found out when you ask "Why is everyone booing and clapping at the same time?" when Youkilis approaches the plate.

Thou Shalt Not Confuse Thy Team Colors

These days, it's fashionable to claim to root for the Red Sox.  The key word in that statement is "fashionable", and the influx of band-wagoners that have converged on Fenway Park since the mid to late nineties haven't exactly made themselves hard to spot, particularly if they're so ridiculous as to wear a pink hat, pink Ellsbury shirt and pearls...Yes, we have photographic evidence of this.

Green is not okay either.  I realize the Sox have been known to wear green uniforms one day out of the year during Spring training in honor of St. Patrick, but neither pink nor green shall ever be considered team colors, unless the club changes its name to the Boston Watermelons.

Only then...

Thou Shalt Be Mindful of Thy Beer

Pay attention, whether it be in watching your overall consumption level, or trying to carry one too many cups back to your seat, and sloshing it everywhere.  Either situation can become uncomfortable for all involved.  I know the beer isn't that great at Fenway, and it's no big loss to you losing a splash or two, but I don't want to wear it on my sleeve.  Please be particularly careful if you have higher-up seats right on the perimeter.  Too many times have I seen fans with their elbows perched on the railing holding a beer, blissfully unaware of it raining down on the fans below.  I don't know about you, but my chances of being stopped by police double when I leave a game, especially if we lost.  I prefer not to smell beer-soaked in such cases.

Worst case scenario:  Being soaked in a beverage disaster, and then antiqued by a mountain of powdered sugar from a piece of fried dough on a windy day.  Source

Thou Shalt Not Leave Early, Just Because Thy Team is Losing

-You took the train in, and you don't want to miss the last one out.

-You've got children with you, and they're getting cranky.

-You work the graveyard shift, and you have to be there in an hour.

Those are all acceptable excuses for leaving a game early.  Leaving because the team is losing is never, ever, ever, ever acceptable.  Leaving just to beat traffic is just as bad.  You're the very definition of a fair-weather fan if you do either, and you will deserve the walk of shame to the scowls of the real fans who know to stick around when their team needs them.