Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Happiest Place On Earth

When you throw out the term “the happiest place on earth”, you’re obviously referencing Disney World. However, if you interject the word “sports” into that phrase, then the title shifts about fifteen hours north, from Orlando to the place that holds two of the three major sports championship and also is home to a surging NBA team and the Big East champion.

Boston is the center of the sporting universe right now, and you realize that as soon as you enter the city. There’s Red Sox hats everywhere you look, no one without a Patriot hoodie and they’ve plastered the words “World Champions” on every article of clothing you can find. You have the right to feel pretty good about yourself when your beloved baseball team won it’s first championship in 86 years and your eternally underachieving football team has won three of the last four Super Bowls.

Shane, Dill and I left early Sunday morning for Duxbury, the home of Brendan Donahue, the Duxbury Dragons and the longest wooden bridge in America. We got there ahead of schedule, as Brendan was working until 3 or so, so we drove ten minutes down the coast to Plymouth Rock. After taking a forty-five minute walk down to and then across the jetty – in early March, mind you, so it’s bitterly cold – Shane and Dill had stolen their own Plymouth rocks as souvenirs. After that, we headed back up north towards Duxbury and Boston.

Duxbury is your typical New England sailing town, straight out of a Stephen King novel, minus the demonic forces. It’s spread out across a rather large distance, with a centralized “downtown” area containing a Wines & Spirits and Dunkin Donuts (so many Dunkin Donuts in New England, it’s amazing), along with the town’s sailing school. Brendan took us out and showed us Duxbury Beach, which must simply be awesome in the summer. You drove across a quarter-mile wooden bridge over Duxbury Bay until you got to the beach, which apparently hosts many a bonfire over the summer. Again, it’s really weird for there to be a beach where it’s that cold at any point in time in year, but just like any other place with seasons, you appreciate the warm weather more if there’s a couple feet of snow on the ground at other points in the year.

I realize it’s sort of against the idea of spring break to go somewhere that’s colder than the place you left, as Katie and Christina were sure to remind us of from their beach in Jacksonville Monday night, but for it being the worst possible time of the year, we still had a fantastic time. Brendan’s parents were as hospitable as they could have been and then some, so we weren’t lacking in that area as we settled our luggage in Sunday night before we departed into Boston.

After picking up Brendan’s girlfriend Jackie, we didn’t head right into the TD BankNorth Boston Fleet Garden, instead getting on the farthest “T” stop on the southside of Boston and riding it into town. It was about a fifteen minute ride, but considering we didn’t have to pay for parking, navigate the rather confusing thoroughfares of Boston or deal with traffic, the five bucks roundtrip wasn’t that expensive.

The one thing that’s really underrated about Boston is its size. It is absolutely sprawling, much closer to a New York or Chicago as opposed to a Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Nashville. It’s interconnected by a massive amount of bridges and tunnels, with the city sprawling towards the campus of Boston College and back out to the Harbor. With only a day to tour, we didn’t get to see half as much as I plan on taking in during our return visit.

The TD Bank North Garden (previously known as the FleetCenter, or it may still be known as that as well, I’m really not sure) does not stand up against the pure shininess of Cleveland’s Gund Arena. It’s interior is an endless maze of stairways, but it has one massive advantage over anything The House LeBron Is Keeping Open can offer: the banners.

As our final escalator ascended into the upper balcony of the arena, you could see through one door the banners full of retired jerseys. Bird. Parish. Russell. Cousy. They were all there, flanked by the sixteen World Championship banners. No matter how cheesy the Celtic’s leprechaun mascot was or how terrible it was that they don’t have cheerleaders (The Cavs girls alone were worth the price of admission), nothing could take away from the floor and the rafters.

The Boston fans couldn’t even be too upset by a two-point loss to the lowly Timberwolves, simply pointing out that it was less than a month until opening day and attempting to begin a “Let’s Go Sox” chant on the T after the game. When we toured Fenway Monday, you could tell this was the Red Sox town. No matter how well the Patriots do, they’re never going to pass how much the town cares for the Red Sox. The Souvenir Shop across from Fenway was bursting at the seams with BoSox merchandise, and even on a Monday in March, there were twenty-five people on the tour of the Park.

Fenway’s rather, well, crappy when you compare it to the beautiful perfection of PNC Park, but it’s the fact that it’s so quirky that makes it special. Pesky’s Pole, the Green Monster, the seventy-year old seats and the minimum of retired jerseys make you appreciate the mystique, but in the same breath, if you let any stadium sit around for eighty years, you’re going to chalk up some oddities, history and cool nick names. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to be sitting on top of the Monster when the Yankees come to town, but considering the fact the access to PNC Park is easier, there’s more parking and the seats all wide enough to sit comfortably in, I’ll take the gem down on the Allegheny any day.

I’ll get more random thoughts up about our lovely little trip, including extended analysis of the great T-Wolves/Celtics game we got to see, the current state of the radio and how I’m pretty sure I’ll only get to work a week or two this summer with all of the traveling I have to do, but I just wanted to get something up on the blog considering I haven’t posted in forever and it’s suffering from a little spring break malaise of it’s own. Hope everyone’s break is going well, and we’ll have extended college hoops and OC analysis, along with the final bracket for the Ultimate Dance Competition, sometime this week.

No comments: