The Respect the Tek Guide to Ballpark Etiquette, Fenway Edition
I. Before You Go: Pack Light, Pack Early, Pack Often
A. Bring a hoodie. Bring an unopened bottle of water. Bring ID if you're going to purchase alcohol. Bring a hat, and remove it during the national anthem. Bring your kids if you're prepared to cover their ears a lot. Bring your mom. Bring snacks (if you work for Fenway security and you're reading this, we personally never bring snacks). Bring a camera, just in case Jon Lester throws a perfect game or goes squirrel-hunting or something.
B. If you're not one of the poor fools who have to work until after five, head out to the park early. Watch some BP; if the Blue Jays are in town, yell, "Millar!" at random intervals. Take advantage of Fenway's Family Hour to eat twice as many Fenway Franks as you'd normally be able to afford.
II. To Sit or Not to Sit, and What to Do Once You Find Out Your Seat's Behind a Pole
A. If you are lucky enough to be chilling in standing room, cultivate a wide stance. Don't interpret your neighbor's foot touching yours as an invitation. This is not the men's room at Logan Airport.
B. Believe it or not, you can hold out until an inning's end or a pitching change before you get up and get another beer. You can. Really. Baseball has all these breaks built in. There is never an excuse to be getting out of seat 11 of 23 and getting in everyone's way in the middle of a full count. Unless you're having a medical emergency, in which case, the Beth Israel Deaconess medical center is behind Fenway Section Twelve. We know, for Remy told us so.
C. Sometimes it can be polite to climb up or down over one seat into an empty row in order to make your way to the aisle. But only if nobody is actually sitting in that seat. In related news, please keep your feet off other people's hats.
D. Ballgames are social experiences, and of course you should chat with the folks you're with, but remember there are things that the strangers five rows ahead of you don't need to hear. Like, say, the results of your paternity test. Save it for Maury, or at least keep your voice down. That goes for you, too, girl on cell phone for ninety percent of the evening.
E. If you're holding up a sign that says "Hit it Here," make sure your seats are in fair territory.
III. Fun and Games and Dance-Offs
A. Fans over the age of ten years are invited not to participate in The Wave.*
B. Sitting near season ticket holders? Ask if any of them have ever caught a foul ball. Chances are you'll hear some funny stories from the 70s.
C. This being New England, there's always a risk of long rain delays. Sure, you can just drink yourself silly until the game is resumed or called off--we're sure Larry Lucchino gets starry-eyed at the very thought of all those concession sales. But the poor man's rainy ballpark pastime? Jersey bingo! Find a good people-watching vantage point and see if you can spot T-shirts for every member of that day's starting lineup, for the twenty-five man roster or the entire 2004 Legion of Superheroes. Obscure players, of course, are worth bonus points. If you see a Gagne T-shirt, that's an automatic bingo. If you see an unmodified Johnny Damon jersey, you are actually at Yankee Stadium, and that's a whole different guide.
D. Try and applaud spectacular plays made by the visiting team; it's the classy thing to do. Please note that every play a shortstop makes is not "spectacular"--just unfamiliar.
IV. Thank You For Being A Friend: The People Of Fenway
A. There is an official scorer who attends Red Sox games and monitors the umpires' calls very closely. He's in the back of grandstand section 15, and while he may appear to be a very drunk guy with his hat on sideways, don't be fooled: he has a superior view of the game, and pinpoint accuracy, and that, dammit, was a strike!
B. Fenway is home to some of the most knowledgable fans in the whole wide baseball world. It's also home to some of those people who call WEEI shows and talk the crazy talk.** When someone sitting near you starts in on an illogical rant about how he'll never forgive Pedro Martinez for giving up that home run to Bucky Dent, don't bother trying to correct him. Instead, turn to his wife and roll your eyes. Chances are she's rolling her eyes too, and you'll make a new ballpark friend.
V. "Yankees Suck" Is Not As Cunning as You Think It Is
A. Heckling is an art. Or a science. Or maybe one of those artsy-sciency things, like baking pie or being A-Rod's agent. At any rate, heckling definitely has its own set of rules:
1. Know who is actually in the opposing team's lineup. Bellowing insults at Josh Hamilton is less than effective when he's on the disabled list. He probably can't hear you from the comfy couch, and everyone who can thinks you're dumb.
a. Okay, so it's always tempting to heckle A-Rod, but try to restrain yourself. The thing is, when you heckle A-Rod, even the opposing fans probably agree with you.*** Heckling should rile the enemy up, not create battlefield camaraderie! This is not a World War I movie!
2. Don't bring other sports into your insults. It's a mistake to assume that everyone roots for every team a city has. Miguel Cabrera probably isn't gonna cry into his (purely decorative) glove when you point out how bad the Lions suck.
3. Once you've picked your victim, try and come up with something to say other than his name. The whole "Daaaa-rryl," "Rawwww-ger," "Bar-toooooo-lo" thing is only cool if 37,000 people decide to join in. Alone, you're just an annoying sing-songy voice, and a good target for flying beer paraphernalia.
4. Here's when it's okay to boo or heckle your own team's players: Never. Period. After all, you want them to win. However, if you really want to tell certain guys how much they suck--we can't say his name, so we'll call him Lugio Julo--at least hold off until he's actually done something that costs the team a run. Unfortunately, you won't have to wait forever.
Print these guidelines out and follow them for a wonderful experience at Fenway Park. Or, if you prefer, make a paper airplane, write a threatening note, and try and fly it into C.C. Sabathia's eye. That way, you'll have a wonderful night in a holding cell, and we'll steal your seats.
*Especially not when it's the fifth inning and your team is down by several runs.
***We have seen a Yankees fan outside Fenway Park hold an A-Roid syringe, and snicker. And in short, we were afraid.