If there's one thing that Fenway Sports Group excels at, it's getting as many seats as they possibly can into Fenway Park. Over the last decade, they've found a way to fit more than 2,500 extra bodies into Boston's historic ballpark, leaving it changed, yes, but most importantly, viable. The days when the idea of replacing Fenway entirely was being thrown about are not so far in our past that we can start taking its continued use for granted.
But a couple hundred seats here and there are not the difference between keeping Fenway Park and being forced into some generic new park, so why is it that the plan to add 160 seats over the coming offseason (as reported on by the Boston Herald; pardon the cynical headline) is not only noteworthy, but actually some of the best news from an altogether bleak year?
It all has to do with camera angles. Red Sox fans will be familiar with the camera well on top of the wall in center field. That's going away. The plan is for the Red Sox to replace that camera well with new seats, moving the video equipment up into what the team is calling a "basket" under the Bank of America sign--that's the smaller massive scoreboard off to the left of the primary one, for those who don't keep track of the naming rights.
The upshot of all this? The possibility of some dramatically improved camera angles.
Nothing is likely to change with NESN. Their camera angles have been among the best in the business for a while now, providing a dead-on view of the pitcher and batter from center field, giving fans a fairly accurate representation of the strike zone. But when the Red Sox have gone national? Not even close. How many games have Red Sox fans had to watch on FOX with the should-be-antiquated classic camera angle that makes it look like the pitcher is halfway between the batter and first base? How many times have we been tricked into getting upset over accurate calls made to look bad by the angle, or ignored bad calls made to look good?
The camera doesn't change what happens on the field. That much is obvious. But when it comes to the product we fans are provided, there's been a huge drop-off in quality in recent years when it's left NESN's hands. It's hard to say why this has stuck when better options are clearly available, but hopefully this will force the change that has been a long time in coming.