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Monday, August 9, 2010

To All The Parks I've Loved Before...

Apologies to Willie and Julio for the title...

I thought I'd dig up something from the archives of the Outsports discussion board. A thread was started in 2002 about favorite major league ballparks. At the time, I had only been to six. I ranked them thusly: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Veterans Stadium (I made a note that the Vet ranked ahead of the others because of good memories as much as anything else), Qualcomm Stadium and Candlestick Park.

From 2003 through 2008 (during those happy years when I still had spending money) I managed to get to a lot more parks, and updated the list each time. So I thought I'd share my current rankings here on the blog. Ballparks listed in italics have been vacated by the teams that once called them home. Some have been torn down and replaced, others still stand.

1. PNC Park - Pittsburgh
2. Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia -- You may be surprised that I didn't put the Phils' home at the top. They're very close. The thing that puts PNC ahead by a nose is the view beyond the outfield fence. Just compare them...

PNC Park

Citizens Bank Park

I have always thought that when they replaced the Vet, the new park should have been somewhere downtown instead of in South Philly, as convenient as the sports complex is. Thanks to the shortsightedness of a lot of people -- politicians, the Phillies and just regular people -- the ballpark is where it is. They dropped the ball on this one.

3. Oriole Park at Camden Yards - Baltimore -- I had Camden Yards at number 2 on this list for the longest time, ahead of CBP. After seeing a game there last year, while it's still a great park and its downtown location is superior, as a facility it now comes up a little short by comparison.

The rest, with a few notes that I mentioned on the Outsports board in some cases...

4. PETCO Park - San Diego
5. AT&T Park - San Francisco (concession stands didn't have straws or lids for soda!)
6. Wrigley Field - Chicago Cubs
7. Nationals Park - Washington (not bad, but they got rid of the gay strip clubs for this? They did -- maybe still do -- have a Five Guys burger stand inside the ballpark, though.)
8. Yankee Stadium - NY Yankees
9. Fenway Park - Boston (It amazed me that people tried to start the wave and smacked around beach balls at the games I saw at Fenway. Beach balls! In Bahhston!)
10. Dodger Stadium - LA Dodgers
11. Progressive Field - Cleveland (sat behind the plate, two rows from the field, but the lack of amenities for the price and seat location was staggering)
12. Chase Field - Arizona (named after Chase Utley? Great hot dogs, though. I had one with a bunch of toppings, which usually isn't my style. Let's see...mesquite-grilled onions, jalapeƱo relish...wait a minute, those are Southwestern ingredients. Mango-lime salsa? That's the kind of bold flavor they enjoy in...Albuquerque!)
13. US Cellular Field - Chicago White Sox (couldn't walk around the lower level before the game because my ticket was in the upper deck)
14. Rogers Centre - Toronto (but it will always be Skydome to me)
15. Veterans Stadium (R.I.P.) - Philadelphia
16. Qualcomm Stadium - San Diego
17. RFK Stadium - Washington
18. Olympic Stadium - Montreal
19. Shea Stadium - NY Mets
20. Candlestick Park - San Francisco

I've been to 13 of the current 30 major league stadiums. It was 15 back in 2008, but since then the Yankees and Mets moved to new digs. I wish I had gotten to the Metrodome last year. I've been there, but only for football. The Twins are now in their new place, Target Field. (If I should somehow get money again, do I have to boycott Target Field as well?) I believe the next team getting a new ballpark is the Florida Marlins, so I'll have to try to make it to Miami before September 2011.

And while I've seen the Phillies (the Vet, CBP) and the Giants (Candlestick, AT&T) play home games at two different ballparks, I've actually seen one team at three different home stadiums! In 2003 I saw the Phillies and Expos play in Montreal. The Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals, starting out at RFK Stadium before moving into the new Nationals Park.

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