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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Exploring Boston: the Bleacher Bar

It's been a very busy week here, and I was feeling pretty frazzled last night. I decided to walk a bit to clear my head; and to treat myself to a quick bite out for dinner, instead of cooking for myself.

I headed out without any particular plan other than to find a quick and simple dinner.

Fenway Park is a 5 minute walk away, and the Sox were playing the Orioles last night. As I passed by, the streets were emptying as the stragglers poured into the park --- the game had started --- and I could hear the various murmurings and roars of the crowd. On a whim, I decided to try the Bleacher Bar, a literal hole-on-the-wall pub built under Fenway's centerfield seats, with an entrance on Landsdown Street (the street that runs behind Fenway's "Green Monster" wall). I'd seen the Bleacher Bar entrance from the street, but had never been in there before.

It turns out I'd unknowingly seen the bar from the other side, and so has everyone who's been to Fenway or watched a Sox home game on TV. But I'm getting ahead of  myself.

The bar is built in what was once a small garage for ballpark field maintenance equipment and supplies. The main feature of the bar is the former outfield garage door, opening onto center field. The door no longer operates, but has been replaced with a metal gridwork or heavy mesh, so you can sit at a table or bar and look out onto center field, at ground level. You have a direct, line-of-sight view over second base and the pitcher's mound, to home plate.

No photos are allowed inside the bar because flashes would go off directly in the batters' line of sight, and the bar owners don't trust patrons to turn off their camera flashes. So, when I got home later, I turned on the game, grabbed this screen shot from my TV, and added the yellow arrow to show the viewing port/door to the Bleacher Bar.

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Until last night, I had no idea that opening is a bar's viewport!

The bar itself? Like most all the Fenway-area restaurants/pubs, the fare is ordinary and overpriced --- e.g. $5 beers and $10 sandwiches. But the view was amazing. When the outfield played without a shift, I was sipping a Harpoon IPA maybe 20 feet from the centerfielder.

I also learned something about HDTV. Naturally, the bar's walls were plastered with flatscreens for the patrons sitting away from the opening. But the on-screen play lagged about a full 12 seconds behind the live play on the field. It was disconcerting at first, because the "live" TV coverage actually seemed like an instant replay. In many cases, a play would run to completion, or the pitcher would be on his next pitch, before the TV showed, "live," what was already over on the field.

I had no idea the signal processing and packaging added that much of a delay to a "live" broadcast. Twelve seconds is a lot.

It was fun dinner, even though the Sox were losing when I left, and went on to lose for good, later on.

But the Celtics won in a game that mattered a lot more, so all in all, it was a pleasant evening.  :)