Sadly, the leftfield picnic area no longer exists, sacrificed to the demands of baseball's powers that be, who decided to raise the minimum number of seats a AAA park must have to keep its team to 10,000. Cozy little 6000 seat McCoy had to expand, and the only place where there was enough room to build the addition was on top of the old picnic area. Bother. Initially, they tried to replace it with a picnic area out beyond the rightfield wall, but it just wasn't the same. This year I noticed they added another picnic area behind first base, in roughly the mirror image location of the old one. I figured this might be an even better spot to watch a game than even the old area had been, and I started bugging our administrative assistant to see if our bank was still holding their annual BBQ. Alas, they weren't, or at least we weren't getting any tickets. However, early in August I got an e-mail from the team saying that the Providence Journal was holding a charity BBQ, and would I like some tickets for a good cause and free food. Veejane and I decided it sounded like a great idea, and she ordered tickets.
We got there when it opened to make sure we got our fair share of food, which turned out to be pretty good. Then we plopped down in the bleacher seats nearest first base (the two closest in the entire area) and talked baseball while baking in the sun waiting for the game to get under way. Which brings up the first of my two biggest disappointments with the new area, and requires a little bit of geographical orientation. Here is a satellite photo of McCoy (thank you, Google Earth). The picnic area surrounds the red & white striped tent to the right of the picture. The bleachers where we sat are just below and to the left of the tent. Notice the compass star in the lower left corner of the image. The game started at 6 p.m., and we were facing due west, directly into the setting sun, and it was bright. Any ball hit into the air was completely invisible until just before it reached the outfielder. The sun didn't go behind the horizon until about the fourth inning or so, so we squinted a lot. The setting sun is often a problem in the first base stands, as well, but the angles are such that you don't completely lose sight of the ball. The old picnic area was where the unroofed part of the grandstand now sits, along with the new red-roofed main gate. The sun was at your back, so the problem didn't exist.
The other thing the old area had going for it is that there were no bleachers in the corner closest to the field, as there are now. You'd stand there leaning against the fence, with almost the same view as a player in the dugout, with no worries about blocking the view of anyone seated immediately behind you. For those that wanted to sit, there were bleachers further down the line, and they also allowed people with picnic tickets to go up into the grandstand, so nobody suffered. The new area has a set of bleachers in the near corner, so no standing at the fence unless you hunker down to watch through the chain link, or are a clueless kid. Sigh. It's not like the bleachers are in any way comfortable. Standing would be a blessing.
There were also a hella lot of kids there. The bank BBQ was usually on a school night, so even when there was a large crowd, it would clear out pretty well by the fifth inning or so. There was one little girl there, maybe five years old, who had her glove with her, and she would stand at the fence, and she'd reach up with her glove in anticipation of a foul ball. The fence is about 4' high, and she could reach just high enough such that only the glove actually cleared the fence. It was the most adorable thing ever. We did get some foul balls in the area, including one that landed not to far from us which ricocheted around until it was rolling right past the little girl's feet. Unfortunately, she wasn't quick enough, and one of the zillion 10 year-old boys there snagged it. I was half expecting her to cry, but she seemed terribly excited that it came so close.
It's too bad. I understand that the only place they could've built the new grandstand is where they put it, but I still mourn for what was lost.
Pawtucket and Abe Alvarez lost to Scranton 5-3, despite Shawn Wooten going 4-4.
|And to settle a discussion Vee and I had whilst we were baking in the sun, Doug Mientkiewicz says, "I know something you do not. I am not left-handed."|