Sox & Smoots

I hit another bucket list item last weekend when I visited Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox (yes, noobs, it’s baseball). This is the oldest major league baseball park and a true icon of the sporting world. The teams were all doing pre-season training down in Florida, so I wasn’t able to catch a game, but from my vantage point in the Bleacher Bar, I was still able to gaze over the field while enjoying a Sam Adams like a real Bostonian.

A few movies brought me to this point, including The Sandlot Kids and Fever Pitch, plus the tremendous story of the Curse of the Bambino, which held the Sox back from a title for 86 years after they foolishly sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. The 86-year curse was broken in style 10 years ago when they came back from being down 0-3 and then won 4 games straight to beat the Yankees 4-3, followed by a 4-0 spanking of the Cardinals in the world series. That must have been an epic, watershed moment for the whole of Boston and I wish I’d been around to see it.

The park is barely noticeable from the outside. The whole area has been built up with clubs, shops and houses, so that you can’t really stand back and see clearly that a large sports field is there. You can literally be standing beside it and think you’re just standing by the wall of some big warehouse.

After a few beers, I took a long walk over Harvard Bridge towards MIT and Harvard and I saw the most befuddling sight. Every now and then, there was a yellow painted marking on the ground and a number that incremented by 10 each time. The distance seemed too long to be measured in feet or metres. I paced it out myself, found that the unit was around 2 metres, and wondered, “Who the heck measured this bridge in some weird unit and marked it on the ground for all to see?” Determined not to let this madness get the better of me, I kept walking to the end of the bridge, whereupon I saw the final marking of 364.4 Smoots +/- 1 ear. As the story goes, this is the length of a drunk frat boy named Smoot, whom his friends used to measure the bridge one night. The +/- 1 ear is for accuracy, because one wants to be precise with such matters.

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