During the last few days, I did enough laps around Fenway Park to have run the Boston Marathon.
Part of it was selfish. This was my fourth trip to Fenway, and I love the old place.
Cubs scouting reportCubs vs. Washington Nationals at Nationals Park
TV: WGN Friday and Sunday; Comcast SportsNet Saturday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Jason Hammel (7-5) vs. Tanner Roark (7-5) Friday at 10:05 a.m.; Jeff Samardzija (2-7) vs. Gio Gonzalez (5-4) Saturday at 3:05 p.m.; Jake Arrieta (5-1) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (6-4) Sunday at 12:35 p.m.
At a glance: The two teams split four games at Wrigley Field last weekend, with the Nationals winning a day-night doubleheader Saturday. The Cubs (37-46) have improved of late, and they're fresh off a series sweep at Boston. The Nats (46-38) are battling Atlanta for the top spot in the NL East. Friday's game is an early one for the Fourth of July. Hammel and Roark have identical records and ERAs (2.98). Washington entered Thursday leading the NL in team ERA (3.04). On offense, Adam LaRoched checks in at .302/.408/.498, while Ian Desmond leads the team in homers (15) and RBI (51).
Next: Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park, Monday-Thursday
-- Bruce Miles
The other part was to have a good look around and see how the Red Sox did in renovating a ballpark that is now 102 years old.
The answer is, they did a spectacular job.
If you look out onto the field during a game or are watching it on TV, it's pretty much the same Fenway where Ted Williams hit and where Yaz played the caroms off the Green Monster.
With a few quibbles -- which we'll get to -- the renovated Fenway Park is everything Wrigley Field can and should become, once the political wrangling in Chicago is done.
And Cubs fans will love it, videoboards and all.
The game at Fenway today plays the same as it did decades ago. High flyballs drop just over the Monster for home runs, only today, there are four rows of seats there instead of netting. Line drives that would be homers in other parks hit the Monster, and if the outfielder plays it correctly, he can hold the batter to a single.
Home runs still curl around the Pesky Pole in right field, just below a patio party deck.
A couple of my Fenway laps were solo, as I sat in different locations and took photos. But Tuesday, I joined a few writers for a guided tour that gave us an inside look around the ballpark and took us into the belly of the Monster.
It was hot and cramped inside, but I did get the view the NBC cameraman got in 1975, when he captured Carlton Fisk willing his homer fair in Game 6 of the World Series, arguably the best ballgame ever played.
Our tour guide, Ed, also took us through some office spaces and into other areas that are up-to-date, both for fans and Red Sox employees. Fans, players and employees of the Cubs deserve to have all that.
So often I hear that the food at Wrigley Field isn't nearly as good as it is on the South Side at U.S. Cellular Field. Maybe with some expansion, the Cubs can have workers prepare food on site, making it hotter, fresher and better tasting.
The Red Sox also are able use a street (Yawkey Way) outside the ballpark before and during games. Fans gather to listen to music and enjoy some food and drink. Using the street effectively expands a small ballpark and allows fans to roam around outside a little bit before and during games.
The Red Sox also use one of the stores across Yawkey Way to post the starting lineup using oversized baseball cards. It looks really cool.
You can imagine a similar scenario on, say, Sheffield Avenue if the Cubs are able to expand Wrigley Field outward.
Those aforementioned quibbles with Fenway include a glut of signage around the ballpark, way more than what the Cubs are asking. The seats are too narrow, as are the aisles at Fenway, but I suppose they have to squeeze in as much as possible into a small space.
I do believe that most fans are onboard with what the Cubs are asking (and using their own money to pay for it). The big-screen videoboards, or "Jumbotrons," might be a sore point for some traditionalists, but as people I talked to around Fenway said, "When you get everything done, you'll wonder why it didn't happen sooner."
• Follow Bruce's Cubs and baseball reports via Twitter@BruceMiles2112.