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April 13, 2014 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I have a friend visiting me that wants to watch the Red Sox and so I got tickets for the upcoming Red Sox v. Orioles game in Boston (Friday, January 18). Said friend is a big baseball buff, while I only have passing interest and haven't been following any baseball closely for more than two years now. My friend won't judge me for that or anything, but still, can someone give me a quick rundown of interesting talking points for this game?

How have both teams been doing so far this season? Who are favorites to win? Who are the players to watch out for?
posted by anonymous to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I asked my Red Sox loving 9yo and if he were at this game he'd be watching out for Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who hit 53 home runs last season. My son thinks the Orioles have the advantage this week.
posted by Songdog at 5:51 PM on April 13, 2014

SNL just did a spoof on David Ortiz' (aka "Big Papi") antics with Obama. A story blown out of proportion by the Boston media, IMO. (Gee, that never happens!!)
posted by Melismata at 5:55 PM on April 13, 2014

The Red Sox have been doing very poorly so far this season. Two of their starting players are on the disabled list (Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks). Most games either their hitting has been abysmal or their pitching has been abysmal. They are currently in last place in their division.

One bright spot is Grady Sizemore, who is new to the Red Sox this year. He was an all star player a few years ago, and then had a series of injuries followed by multiple surgeries that kept out of the major leagues for two years. He didn't play any game at any level for two years. He came back this year, signed with the Red Sox, and he is playing great. His field is strong, and he is hitting over 300, and he just seems like a really nice good. It's a very feel good story.

The other feel good story is Jackie Bradley Jr. He's a rookie who had a fantastic spring training last year but then couldn't really cut it in the few games he played in the majors last year. This year he did terribly in spring training and was basically displaced by Grady Sizemore. But then when Victorino was put on the disabled list the Red Sox brought Jackie Bradley up to fill in the slot and he's been playing great. All-star level fielding plus also batting very well.

Xander Bogaerts is another rookie to watch. Very confident, great batter, very sweet nice guy. Everyone has him pegged as a future all star.

Have fun at the game!
posted by alms at 5:58 PM on April 13, 2014

For Fenway in general, you can talk about how crazy expensive the beer is, and make a point to hunt down the one kiosk that sells craft beer. I mean, that's what I do whenever I go.
posted by Ruki at 6:01 PM on April 13, 2014

The other feel good story is Jackie Bradley Jr.

I got to see him play minor league ball in RI and he was amazing, clearly head and shoulders above everyone else and it's been too bad to see him not performing quite to that level this season. I haven't watched much ball this season but it's been interesting to note who came back to the Red Sox (a good number of people from last year) and who didn't (screw you Ellsbury, you look weird with no beard). Dustin Pedroia who everyone seems to love (he's small and doesn't seem like he would be good at baseball but he is very good at baseball) and he's out with a wrist injury too. The Sox are pretty familiar, not totally filled with new faces. (I am watching them play the Yankees right now which is the eternal rivalry, they appear to be losing)

Also Fenway is always good to chatter about. Oldest ballpark in the major leagues, very small, weird anomalies (Green Monster) right in the middle of the city. Much loved, much maligned. Oriole Park, in contrast, was built to look classic (i.e not one of those huge "wtf is it for?" sorts of sports arenas) and people seem to think they did a good job. It was made with a bunch of accessibility features which have won a lot of awards and it's also a stadium within the city.
posted by jessamyn at 6:25 PM on April 13, 2014

Take a scan of Over the Monster for some Red Sox talking points.

The Red Sox are coming off of a World Series win but so far they're not doing so well. They lost one of their stars to the hated Yankees in the off-season but expectations are still very high for them and many cite them as favourites to take the division. Dustin Pedroia, who is with David Ortiz one of the faces of the franchise, was taken out of the lineup shortly before today's game with some wrist pain. With that said, it is very, very early in a long season and nobody's really panicking yet. I second alms' recommendations for players to watch.

Fenway's a historic ballpark. It has uncomfortable seats and some obstructed views but for some baseball fans visiting for the first time is akin to a religious experience. If you get a chance, I recommend taking the tour earlier in the day.

I don't follow the Orioles closely. Everyone seems to forget them. Both of these teams are in the American League East division which by reputation has been for the last few years baseball's toughest. The Orioles are one of those teams that has the potential to surprise people, though--that division is often very, very tight and lately it has been dominated by the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. However, the Yankees are not expected to be as strong this year and if the early days are much of an indication the Red Sox may not be as strong as some were predicting. Those conditions make it quite possible for the Orioles to surprise a lot of people. Their first baseman, Chris Davis, had a break out year last year with his 53 home runs. The Orioles also acquired in the off-season Nelson Cruz, one of the players who was suspended for 50 games last season for being associated with a clinic in Florida that has been linked to PEDs.

Really, though, don't think you need to think about it too much. I've been to ball games with people who do not care for baseball whatsoever but when they are in the park they do get caught up in it. It's a great experience--the sights, the sounds, the smells--and you can really enjoy yourself without even having much context. I've also found that baseball fans generally are happy to provide their opinion on matters and tend to be pretty friendly.
posted by synecdoche at 6:28 PM on April 13, 2014

All the talk is going to be about Pedroia. Especially since last year he got injured in game 1 of 162 games and kept playing all the way through to October. His injury last season was a ligament in his thumb. this year he jammed his wrist in the series against the milwaukee Brewers, the first series of the season. He went down to into almost a pushup position and in bracing his fall his jammed one of his wrists. he will go see doctors tomorrow, monday, which is an off day.

check out some of the blogs soxspace.com, sportsofboston.com, and you will get the information you need.

lots of guys are up from pawtucket (Herrrera, bradley) . Jon Lester our number 1 pitcher is looking to extend his contract, but has denied initial offers from the sox.

I would talk about the lack of a leadoff hitter. i find that to be interesting right now. ells bury went to New York so we don't really have one and it has had terrible implications on all hitters.
posted by Jewel98 at 6:43 PM on April 13, 2014

You're basically watching a game between established excellence (the Red Sox won last year's World Series) and an up-and-coming squad. The Orioles are an exciting young team that has been in contention each of the last two years after more than a decade of futility. Unfortunately, the most exciting young Oriole of all, Manny Machado, is injured, so you won't see his dazzling defense at third base. On defense, look for Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, one of the best in the game at throwing out attempted base stealers; it's always exciting when a baserunner tests his arm. (Wieters was once one of the hottest prospects in the game; so far in his career, his bat has been just average, but he's off to a hot start with the bat this year.)

Finally: the Orioles are trying out Tommy Hunter as closer this year. He's a good pitcher overall, but his weakness is the home run, so if the Red Sox go to the bottom of the 9th down by one, there's a better chance than you might think of a last-minute change of fortune.
posted by escabeche at 7:58 PM on April 13, 2014

I come from Orioles Country and now live in Red Sox Country. Talking with family back home over the past decade or so, I was surprised to learn that there is a huge rivalry between the two teams, at least in the Orioles fans' eyes. They think of the Sox like Sox fans think of the Yankees and get really, really mad when Sox fans pretty much blank them. I took my folks to a game at Fenway and my Dad was flat out morose that no Sox fan gave him stick for wearing Oriole orange. I'm not sure where this hatred came from, maybe because it's cheaper to see Sox play the Orioles at Camden Yards than vice versa so Sox fans crowd out the home team when they play?

Also, John Henry's Other Team, Liverpool Football Club, just won a big game against a major rival for the title of the Premier League. If they stay on course, then Henry is line to get two championships in the space of a year.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:38 AM on April 14, 2014

robocop is bleeding, to answer your question, yeah, we tend to get obnoxious Red Sox and Yankees fans down were because our games are affordable. It was worse during the decade of futility when we actually got crowded out, now there's typically a good showing. But we'll always hate the Yankees more.
posted by spaltavian at 6:06 AM on April 14, 2014

As someone who didn't pay attention to baseball until my twenties I'd like to add that going to a game with a serious fan is a great way to learn to watch and enjoy it, especially if they like to talk about the game and you're comfortable asking questions.
posted by Songdog at 6:49 AM on April 14, 2014

Ask your frind

Is it The Pesky pole or Pesky's pole?
Is it The Wall or The Green Monster?

Before the game learn where Canvas Ally is, where Williamsburg is, just how far is that lone red seat in the bleachers, and why it is there and what the Mores Code means on the manual scoreboard in left field... Amaze your friend with Fenway Trivia
posted by Gungho at 8:34 AM on April 14, 2014

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