Day 53 “Some Rankings”

Sorry everyone!  I went to the San Francisco Giants home opener today, however my head cold is kicking my butt!  I hope it goes away soon!  I am not good at being sick…  So I am only going to rank the MLB stadiums I have been to so far!

1. Petco Park – San Diego Padres

2. Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles Dodgers

3. AT&T Park – San Francisco Giants

4. Chase Field – Arizona Diamondbacks

5. Angels Stadium of Anaheim – Los Angeles Angels

I have been very lucky to be able to see four Opening Days for the Padres, Angels, Dodgers and Giants!   Anyway, I will go to Stadium Journey soon and do some reviews on all the places I have been. I just need some rest.

Day 49 “Sunset Strip”

Lancaster mascot KaBoom!
Lancaster mascot KaBoom!

I went to the Opening Night of Minor League baseball last night, it was in Lancaster, California, about 70 miles north east of Los Angeles.  The Lancaster JetHawks took on the Lake Elsinore Storm, it was cool and breezy, I thought the dessert was going to be a little warmer, I was wrong.  I had a seat right behind home plate, this was the California League and the teams were the Advanced A affiliates of their respective teams, JetHawks were with the Houston Astros and the Storm with the San Diego Padres.  The game wasn’t very close, the JetHawks won 8-2, I walked around the stadium to check it out a little bit, I wasn’t impressed, I didn’t like the sight lines, when you looked out from home plate, all you saw was an on ramp for highway 14 heading south towards LA.  I went down by the Lake Elsinore bullpen, not many people were down there, I figured I would have a better chance at getting a game ball, I always want a game ball!  I figured I would collect game balls of the different leagues I went too, the balls are marked with California League right on them, it would have been a nice addition to my collection of the 3 game balls I got at a Northwoods League game last year…  Yeah, I didn’t get one, the players kept throwing them to the few young kids that were around, I wasn’t liking those kids!  Check out the review of the stadium on Stadium Journey and what I had to say about it and how I rated it here: http://www.stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/clear-channel-stadium-s249.

As I was sitting watching the game by the bullpen, I tried to keep warm, I am smart enough to keep a fleece blanket with me in my “man purse” as an usher called it at the LSU vs Georgia I went to a few weeks back, that helped a little bit, the wind is what made it cold, the temperature was 60…  I heard a pitcher ask the bullpen catcher if it is always so cold, the catcher laughed and said no, but get used to the wind he said with a chuckle, then he got closer to the pitcher and said quietly, get used to that score also…  I laughed to myself, the kid didn’t have much confidence in his team.

Well I am not going to write to much tonight!  I am sitting on the Sunset Strip in LA right now and it is after 8 west coast time, I went to the Dodgers home opener today, the traffic was terrible getting in and out of the game!  I ran out of time to write so I need to get this posted. My brother called today and we are planning on having a get together in the middle of June at a Brewers game, we are hoping to get a bunch of people there that have supported me and Baseball Buddha, so keep those days open, more details to come on the date!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html.  Please, also ,share this on your Facebook page and Twitter, I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

Day 45 “Opening Night”

Dodgers bullpen!
Dodgers bullpen!

I went to the Dodgers vs Padres game at Petco Park last night and had an awesome time! The place was packed and the Dodgers and Padres fans were into it! There was a big party around the stadium for about four hours prior to the game with lots of food and drinks!  I was very impressed with Petco. The stadium opened 10 years ago in the downtown area of San Diego and lots of condos have sprung up since then.  Inside the ball park there is so many unique site lines and interesting features. There is a historic building incorporated into the park, Western Metal Supply Company. The building looks great the way it is utilized, check out the following link to see more of it: http://www.heritagearchitecture.com/pro_wmb.html.  I walked the entire place and was constantly surprised at what I found. In the outfield there is a park for families to come letting the kids run around and fans can watch the game on a big screen TV that is situated on the back of the centerfield wall.

The bullpen is also very cool. I felt “kinda” sorry for the pitchers, but the fan appeal is great. It is in left field with a stacked set-up. The Padres bullpen is in front of the visitors with seating at the same level as the visitor bullpen. Fans could get very close and were able to watch players from each team stand and talk to each other. I stood and watched the bullpens for an inning as I watched the game on a TV. I was standing on stairway, everyone was coming over and shouting to Dodgers reliever Brian (Fear The Beard) Wilson. He look smaller in person, by the way…

Western Metal Supply
Western Metal Supply

I went up to the second deck. Looking at the right field seats, it reminded me of the set-up at Wrigley Field. I had a great view of the entire ball park.  I looked over near the Western Metal Supply building and to the right was a large scoreboard which was straight down from the bullpen. The design of the park with the building, worked very well with the skyline of downtown. I went to the third deck and watched the game from behind the first base dugout. I was up very high and, again, the view was fantastic. I looked out to the centerfield wall which had retired numbers on it along with some huge torches that would go off between innings. That was very different, but cool! I enjoyed the fans. I talked to a lot of them and they were having a great time on a perfect night for baseball – okay, it was a little cooler than I would have liked but it worked well with the atmosphere. Dodgers’ fans were telling me about Dodgers Stadium and how nice it is with a lot of history, compared to Petco. Even though, they all liked this park. My frustration was the price of everything. I paid $30 for parking in addition to $24.50 for a ticket to the park in the outfield. The food choices were excellent and I loved the fact that all kinds of places existed in this place; but – I paid $9.50 for a bratwurst…  I know the vendors have to make money, but I can’t see how a family of four can afford a place like this. However, I say to all the baseball and stadium enthusiasts out there, “you have to experience the place!” It is my top “new” ball park. I have only been to four – Petco Park, Miller Park, US Cellular Field, and Chase Field – so don’t get too excited. I was at Turner Field, but it was over 10 years ago. My top MLB park overall is Wrigley. I haven’t been to Fenway yet, so that may change! Again, I just want to say well done San Diego, well done! Check out this website for a more in depth review of Petco Park: www.stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/petco-park-s24!

Park in Outfield at Petco
Park in Outfield at Petco

I have to say I was disappointed in the outcome of the game because the Padres didn’t “Fear the Beard”. They lit Brian Wilson up for three runs in the bottom of the eighth and they won 3-1.  I can say, “I am happy that I got to be apart of their Opening Night of the MLB season.”  Next up, Angels Stadium in Anaheim to watch the Los Angeles Angels take on the Seattle Mariners (I really think the Angels have identity issues) for Opening Day, even though it will be a night game…

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html.  Please, also ,share this on your Facebook page and Twitter, I appreciate all the help I can get!

McKechnie Field – Pittsburgh Pirates

22When I was driving to McKechnie Field, through the neighborhoods, I knew I was going to like this park before I even saw it. I like a ballpark that is part of the city landscape.  For me, there is a charm of playing a baseball game in the heart of the city with a chance of foul ball hitting a passing car.  When I arrived at the park, I was not disappointed. The park was situated around industrial buildings, automotive garages and residential homes in the older part of town, with the businesses advertising parking in their lots at reasonable rates. I found a church lot, 3 or 4 blocks away, for $4 and I walked from there. The street was bumper to bumper with fans trying to get to the game. The day was overcast, again, and chilly. I had some butterflies, and if I had butterflies I wonder what it is like for the hard core Pirates’ fan that was coming to McKechnie for the first time.

28“McKechnie’s nostalgic charms in its city neighborhood appeal to many baseball traditionalists and ballpark enthusiasts, and some consider the facility to be Florida’s version of Fenway Park. It’s built in a Florida Spanish Mission style, with white stucco on the main grandstand and cover bleachers over the reserved seating section. The Pirates and the City of Bradenton celebrated their 40th anniversary together during the 2008 spring training season, which included an agreement between the city and the Pirates to continue their partnership through 2037.” (Wikipedia)  I highly recommend reading about more of the history of this field, just click on the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McKechnie_Field.

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The park was open and airy, home plate was less than 30 yards from the street, the place had a very historic feel to it. Recent renovations made it possible to walk around the entire stadium and sit in the outfield. There is a large concession area on the 1st base side that had been added in the last couple of years. I walked the original concourse that was behind home plate and down the 3rd base side, which butted up against the outside sidewalk and street.  You are on top of the action and very close to the players in the dugout.  I rate this as my number one venue to see a spring training game, keep in mind I like the nostalgia. I took a lot of video of this place and I thought I had taken more pictures than I actually did!  I hope you enjoy the pictures I posted and hopefully very soon I will have a video!

23If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014” which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help http://www.baseballbuddha.com/ then click on the “How To Help” tab.  Please also share this on your Facebook page and Twitter, I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 21 “Spring Training Stadium Rankings”

I am going to rate the spring training stadiums I have been to.  This is my personal take on them and the only criteria I am going to use is, (A) – how I felt when I was there, and (B) – if I would drive 2 hours to see a game.  I will add a column to my current Games page on the website and rename the page Games & Rankings.  I hope to have the page redesigned by tomorrow, I have been to 7 parks, actually 8 if I count City of Palms in Fort Myers that is not being used.  Every time I go to a new park that I have not rated I will do a review and rank it, I will only do this for MLB teams at the moment.  When the MLB season starts I will rank the different stadiums as I attend games at each, the main parks will be put into a different category obviously than their spring training counterpart. I hope to have the video figured out by then and have a nice edited clip with the ranking.    I will try to take a lot of pictures until then and then hopefully I can start ranking other minor league or college stadiums.

The following is in the order of ranking from best to least.  I have learned a great deal the last month, I know now that I have to take more, and better, pictures of the stadiums that I attend games at. You might think that is a given but at times it is overwhelming to get all things accomplished, I will get it!  I am having a great time doing all of this and I know that some of you want more pictures and video of the fans, food and the atmosphere of the stadium.  Sorry I don’t have a lot of pictures of the stadiums currently, but I included the Wikipedia link for each so you may read more information.

  1. Ed Smith Stadium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Smith_Stadium When I walked
    Ed Smith Entrance
    Ed Smith Entrance

    up to the stadium which was located in an residential area, it had a great presence to it. As I walked into the stadium I also had a great feeling, it had an “Art Deco” look to it and just seemed bright. I liked the colors and how it was laid out. I had seats right behind the visiting teams dugout, so that probably helped.  It was a beautiful day to watch a game, and the Orioles were taking on the Minnesota Twins.  There were a lot of fans in the seats for a Monday and they were excitable.

  2. Roger Dean Stadium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Dean_Stadium I loved where this was located, next to a university in a residential area, with a cool “urban” shopping area next to it. I sat behind the Miami Marlins dugout when they were playing the Miami Hurricanes. The day was partly cloudy, there wasn’t a lot of people at the game but the feel and the look was great.  Both the Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals play games and practice here.
  3. JetBlue http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JetBlue_Park I watched the Boston Red Sox take on two college teams at this place. I would rate it higher but it is just too new and out in the middle of no where, well next to the airport.  It was overcast, but the crowd was big and into it. So far, the Red Sox fans were the most enthusiastic I have come across. Also the scoreboard, I was told, was the original Fenway one. I didn’t verify this but I believe what Todd and Bob tell me!  I will be attending a Red Sox vs Orioles game there tomorrow night so this ranking might change.
  4. Charlotte Sports Complex http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Sports_Park This is a very nice place, but it is out on the edge of town. Parking was easy to get and I didn’t have to pay. The place was clean, the crowd was fun and the sun was shining, You can walk around the entire stadium; but, from the outfield looking in it didn’t have a presence to it, the booths were just “blah”. I like the main gate and getting in and out was very easy.
  5. Walking up to Hammond Stadium
    Walking up to Hammond Stadium

    Hammond Stadium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammond_Stadium I love the walk up to this stadium from the parking lot. The distraction – cars in the walk up that took away from the view and getting into and out of the place was horrible. The stadium is in year 1 of a 2 year renovation makeover. You can now walk around the entire ball park. I was there to watch the Twins and the Red Sox. The crowd was great, and it was packed.

  6. Bright House http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bright_House_Field This was a very nice field but walking up to it I didn’t like. It was hard to get to and in a residential neighborhood and next to the highway. It was a beautiful day for a game, the place was packed with Phillies fans, but people didn’t seem as friendly. I sat in the outfield and when I looked back towards home plate everything seemed dark.
  7. Tradition Field http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradition_Field When driving up to the stadium I thought I was going to love it. It was located next to a large Shopping Mall, in a fairly new industrial area that was very clean and spacious. The stadium had a big presence.  However, when I went inside and to the outfield and looked in, it felt very cold. There wasn’t a lot of fans at the game. It was a bit overcast day, the overhang was concrete which I am sure that had a lot to do with the cold feeling. The stadium seating was “Mets” blue and overwhelming with the small crowd.  The Mets were playing the Miami Marlins.  This is the only place I won’t drive 2 hours to see a game at if I wasn’t a fan of either team…  Sorry Mets fans this place needs work!

Remember these are only my rankings, I am sure that others feel differently. The above descriptions are just my initial reactions and I will reserve the right to change them as I attend other games at each place.  To see the rankings on the Website go to www.baseballbuddha.com and click on Games on the top of the main page, soon it should read Games & Rankings, then scroll to the bottom under all the games.  I will get it better organized in the future!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014” which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html .  Please also share this on your Facebook page and Twitter, I appreciate all the help I can get!