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BILL SHAIKIN / DOWN THE LINE

Some parks age better than others

Boston's Fenway Park at 100 is really showing its age — it's 'a dump,' in one player's words. Dodger Stadium at 50 has seen better days, but has ample potential and room (as in land) for improvement.

April 21, 2012|By Bill Shaikin
  • Fenway Park -- a tiny ballpark wedged into a tiny city block, with tiny seats -- turned 100 this week.
Fenway Park -- a tiny ballpark wedged into a tiny city block, with tiny seats… (Elsa / Getty Images )

Fenway Park 100,Dodger Stadium 50

The Boston Red Sox alumni took the field Friday, from Jim Rice to Carl Yastrzemski, from Johnny Pesky to Pedro Martinez, all in a graceful celebration of Fenway Park's 100th birthday.

If Frank McCourt had had his way, the party never would have happened.

McCourt tried to buy his hometown Red Sox in 2001, with a plan to build a new ballpark on his Boston waterfront parking lots. He had the right idea.

Luke Scott of the Tampa Bay Rays took a lot of grief last week for calling Fenway "a dump." He had the right idea too. The Angels have held Sunday chapel services in the shower because there was no other space available in the visiting clubhouse.

Fenway Park is a tiny ballpark wedged into a tiny city block, with tiny seats from an era before fast food had been invented, let alone Lipitor.

It is a dump, but it is a beloved dump, where Grandpa saw Ted Williams and Dad saw Carlton Fisk and the kids saw David Ortiz.

When the triumvirate of John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner beat out McCourt and a host of others to buy the Red Sox, the new owners decided to rehabilitate Fenway rather than abandon it. If the outpouring of civic affection on Friday was any indication, the good people of Boston have long made their peace with Fenway's limitations.

McCourt moved on to buy the Dodgers, and to sell them. With ownership of the team set to change hands in eight days, the new owners — Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Magic Johnson and Co. — ought to keep the Fenway experience in mind.

Dodger Stadium has room that Fenway does not — room to grow, to expand, to breathe. For all the amenities a new ballpark might have, the chance to point to the mound and say, "That is where Sandy Koufax pitched," would not be one of them.

Superstar in the making

Matt Kemp has been so freakishly hot that the anecdotes pile up. When Kemp hit his eighth home run Friday, he had more homers than four teams in the National League — the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates.

In his next at-bat, even as the Dodgers had a runner on first base and none out, Kemp saw four consecutive balls.

Amid all the heroics, the most encouraging statistic for Dodgers fans might be this: All of those eight home runs went to right field, or to the right of dead center.

If Kemp were homer-happy and pulling the ball, a slump almost inevitably would follow. That he has pulled none of his home runs speaks to strength, to patience, and to the possibility that last year's near-MVP season might be just a building block.

Couldn't havesaid it better

San Diego sportswriter Sarah Trotto's Facebook post about the death of her grandfather Frank Kuntz included the following:

"RIP to my grandpa, who was 102. He was a Cubs fan, born the year after they won their last World Series. Unfortunately, the Cubs couldn't win one in his lifetime."

—-Bill Shaikin

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