The Boston Red Sox will play their home opener at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon, kicking off a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the venerable park’s existence.
The Sox will face off against the Tampa Bay Rays, a team who wasn’t even around when Fenway celebrated its 80th anniversary, yet the two teams have quickly built a bitter rivalry.
That rivalry has been spurred on even more lately by comments from new Rays’ designated hitter Luke Scott, who played many games at Fenway as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.
Don’t count Scott among people who will be tipping their caps to the old ballpark’s anniversary.
“As a baseball player, going there to work, it’s a dump,” Scott told MLB.com. “I mean, it’s old. It does have a great feel and nostalgia, but at the end of the day, I’d rather be at a good facility where I can get my work in. A place where I can go hit in the cage, where I have space and it’s a little more comfortable to come to work.
“You’re packed in like sardines there. It’s hard to get your work in… You have to go to their weight room if you want to lift. From a fan’s perspective, it’s probably pretty cool to go see a game at a historic park. But from a player’s point of view, it’s not a place where you want to go to work.”
If you’ve ever had the privilege of visiting Fenway Park, Scott’s comments certainly could be considered fighting words for the many fans who have scheduled pilgrimages to the old park in Kenmore Square that is the oldest in Major League Baseball.
However, from a visiting perspective, Scott’s assessment really isn’t that far off. The visitor’s clubhouse is indeed tight, there are no training amenities for visiting teams that are now available in many of the newer ballparks, and while fans certainly may enjoy the experience of seeing a game at Fenway, sardines would be the correct word to use for many of the seats there. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a suite, you will absolutely be rubbing shoulder to shoulder with fans to the left and right.
Still Scott is clearly trying to up the ante in terms of the rivalry, and dissing Fenway Park on the eve of its 100th anniversary is certainly one way to do just that.
Scott also talked about the Red Sox fans in not so nice a way last month as well, calling the Sox faithful “vulgar.”
“Just their arrogance,” Scott told MLB.com at the time. “The fans come in and they take over the city. They’re ruthless, they’re vulgar, they cause trouble, they talk about your family, swear at you. Who likes that? When people do that, it just gives you more incentive to beat them.”
The Red Sox may have started out their season by stumbling out of the gates to a 1-5 record under new manager Bobby Valentine, and fans certainly have reason to be a bit vociferous after last season’s spectacular September collapse and clubhouse revelations regarding beer drinking and chicken wing-eating. However, with Scott opening his mouth twice in the last two months about Red Sox fans and their park, the Fenway faithful will have fresh meat to sink their teeth into.
Scott may want to bring along some really good earplugs on Friday afternoon, he will likely need them.