The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Marlins at <strike>Cubs</strike> Giants

My baby sister got tickets for last night's Giants game at AT&T Park. I had the distinct feeling of being at a Cubs game, first because of the Giants' defense (including a walk-a-thon in the 4th), and second because they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory after tying it up in the bottom of the 9th. (The goat of the game? Former Cub Ryan Theriot.)

We did have great (if chilly) weather and great seats:

Back to Chicago this afternoon...and lots of work to do before then...

The 30-Park Geas, clarified

The 30-park geas continues apace. Here's my progress so far:

City Team Park Built First visit Last visit Next visit
Chicago Cubs NL Wrigley Field 1914 1977 Jul 24 2014 Sep 24
Los Angeles Dodgers NL Dodger Stadium 1962 1980 Jul 28? 2001 May 12
New York Mets NL Shea Stadium§
Citi Field
1966
2009
1988 Sep 15†
2012 Jul 6†
1997 Apr 19†
2012 Jul 6
Houston Astros NL Enron Field
Minute Maid Park‡
2000 2001 May 9
2009 Apr 7
Milwaukee Brewers NL Miller Park 2001 2006 Jul 29 2008 Aug 11
Kansas City Royals AL Kauffman Stadium 1973 2008 May 28 2008 May 28
San Francisco Giants NL AT&T Park 2000 2008 May 31 2014 May 27†
Chicago White Sox AL U.S. Cellular Field 1991 2008 Jun 6 2011 Aug 1
Cleveland Indians AL Progressive Field 1994 2008 Jul 10 2014 Aug 11
Baltimore Orioles AL Camden Yards 1992 2008 Jul 26 2008 Jul 26
Philadelphia Phillies NL Citizens Bank Park 2004 2008 Jul 27 2008 Jul 27
New York Yankees AL Yankee Stadium*
New Yankee Stadium
1923
2009
2008 Jul 28 2008 Jul 28
Washington Nationals NL Nationals Park 2008 2008 Jul 29 2008 Jul 29
Atlanta Braves NL Turner Field 1996 2008 Aug 13 2008 Aug 14
Oakland Athletics AL Oakland Coliseum 1966 2009 Apr 25 2009 Apr 25
Detroit Tigers AL Comerica Park 2000 2009 Jun 24† 2009 Jun 24
Boston Red Sox AL Fenway Park 1912 2010 Aug 21 2010 Aug 21
Pittsburgh Pirates NL PNC Park 2001 2011 Jul 9† 2011 Jul 9
Los Angeles Angels AL Angel Stadium 1966 2011 Sep 3 2011 Sep 3
Miami Marlins NL Marlins Ballpark 2012 2012 Apr 19† 2012 Apr 19  
Tampa Bay Rays AL Tropicana Field 1990 2012 Apr 20 2012 Apr 20
San Diego Padres NL Petco Park 2004 2012 Aug 6† 2012 Aug 6
Cincinnati Reds NL Great American Ballpark 2003 2012 Sep 22 2012 Sep 22
Seattle Mariners AL Safeco Field 1999 2013 Jun 28 2013 Jun 28
Arizona Diamondbacks NL Chase Field 1998 2015 Jul 24 2015 Jul 24
Still to come
Colorado Rockies NL Coors Field 1995
Minnesota Twins AL Target Field 2010
New York Yankees AL New Yankee Stadium 2009
St. Louis Cardinals NL Busch Stadium 2006
Texas Rangers AL Rangers Ballpark 1994
Toronto Blue Jays AL Rogers Centre 1989

† vs. Cubs
‡ Renamed Minute Maid Park in 2004; moved to AL in 2013
§ Shea demolished in 2009; Citi Field opened 13 April 2009
* Yankee demolished in 2009; New Yankee opened 3 April 2009

Last edited: 27 July 2015. This page replaces the original page started in 2008 and the 2011 update.

More thoughts on Florida's MLB parks

I had a visceral, negative reaction to Marlins Ballpark, which I have tried to figure out since Thursday's game. Going to Tropicana Field the next evening, and driving through Florida for six hours or so from Miami to Tampa Bay to Orlando, gave me some perspective.

According to my camera, Marlins Ballpark's playing field had a full stop more light than Tropicana's. That means the playing field in Miami had twice as much light falling on it as the field in St. Petersburg. Yet Miami's stadium seemed darker and more like a night game. Here's the outfield, with the dark roof and the wall of windows to its east:

And here, again, is Tropicana Field:

The darker stands had, I think, a subduing effect on the crowd. The Rays game had 18,700 fans in a 37,000-seat stadium; the Marlins pulled 23,000 into about the same number of seats. Yet Miami seemed emptier, quieter, less engaged. (Maybe Miami fans need cowbells?)

One more difference: Marlins Ballpark seemed to have no roving vendors. No one sold peanuts, beer, or those "We're Number 1" foam hand things. At Tropicana Field, you could hear these guys all over the park, many of them with, shall I say, distinctive ways of getting attention.

Marlins Ballpark, the newest and possibly most expensive ballpark in Major League Baseball, ranks bottom on my list, below even O.Co Coliseum in Oakland and Sox Park here in Chicago. Like Marlins Ballpark, O.Co gets low marks also because of its architecture: from the razor-wire-covered gangways to Mount Davis, it's an ugly, purely-functional park, redeemed only by the A's fans. (Sox Park has the Chicago White Sox; 'nuff said.) Keep in mind, I still have 10 left to visit before I can be certain—but I don't think any of the remaining 10 will feel so unlike Wrigley that I never would want to return. I mean, I had a great time at the Oakland game, so I might go back; but a free World Series ticket to Marlins Park? Not unless the Cubs were playing.

Perfect 27

Home, finally, after a pretty relaxing day of traveling and reading, with some help from American Airlines getting me home four hours earlier than expected. I hadn't planned to post tonight, but then I heard about this:

That's the 21st time in Major League history:

It was baseball's 21st perfect game and first since Philadelphia's Roy Halladay threw one against the Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010. It was the third in White Sox's history, joining Mark Buehrle against Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009, and Charles Robertson against Detroit on April 30, 1922.

Nice work, Mr. Humber. Nice work.

More from St Petersburg

Poor Tropicana Field. It's the last of the old domed multi-use parks. It opened in 1990, just two years before Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the park that brought back classic baseball architecture.

Despite my complaints about the pretty-but-sterile "Baseball Experience" at Marlins Park, I do understand the need for roofs in places where it gets hot and rainy. I actually like Miller Park quite a bit, and mostly I like Enron Field Minute-Maid Park. They feel like baseball parks.

Tropicana Field tries so hard but has so much to overcome. Its façade, for starters:

Inside, it has some really good concessions (two thumbs up for Everglades BBQ and their pulled pork sandwich), good seating (enhanced by having only 18,900 people show up to the game), some fun fans (more cowbell! more cowbell!), and a baseball team who seem to enjoy being there. The roof is kind of cool, too:

I mean, I wouldn't necessarily want to be on the field during a hurricane, but it does keep the rain and heat out.

It's clear to me, after visiting 21 parks, that the era between the last jewel-box park in the 1940s and Camden Yards in 1992 produced some of the unhappiest places on earth. Let me turn it around: I am very happy that baseball architects have, for 20 years, built enjoyable parks that still evoke the best parts about going to a game. This summer I plan to go to Petco Park and, possibly, Citi Field. Oh, and Wrigley, of course.

Which reminds me: yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park's opening. Wrigley's century is two years from now. Possibly one of the teams will make the post-season by then.

Tropicana Field

I'm pooped, so I'll just post the Obligatory Field Photo from my (inexpensive and very good front-row upper-deck) seat:

More photos and some stuff about the longest, straightest road I've ever driven, when our program continues...

Marlins Park, Miami

What a surprising phenomenon.

Miami has constructed the—well, let's not pussyfoot here—newest baseball park in the country, and somehow has created the most boring venue in history for watching a baseball game ever devised.

In fairness, I went to the park expecting the Marlins to win, for the simple reason that my Cubs suck like a Dyson this year. (No, really, I mean more than usual.) The Cubs did not disappoint, leaving forty men on and losing 127 to 3. I feel confident that we'll go all the way to 160 games this year, and possibly next year, though I'm skeptical of the Cubs getting into the post-season during Parker's lifetime. Or mine.

I digress. I was excited to go to the newest of baseball's jewels, and to see what $515m buys a club these days. I was...underwhelmed. And then I got antsy. And then I decided that $515m buys a baseball park so devoid of anything resembling baseball that it's best described as a "Baseball Experience" at some theme park in a place where no child has ever held a bat or a ball.

By the third inning, I hit upon the one thing that, more than any other, explained my discomfort and disappointment. There are no shadows. Not on the field, the players, the stands, on nothing. Everything looked flat and sterile. It was like being locked in a warehouse on the first spring day of the year, knowing that life was brighter and more real outside, but unable to join it until the sadness in front of you finished.

Outside, it was 25°C and sunny. Inside, it was 23°C and...inside. No breezes, no shadows, no connection to the rest of the world. Inside Marlins Park I experienced Entertainment, not a baseball game. (I spoke to a press agent at the park who confirmed that they closed retractable roof about an hour before game time, because they worried about the heat. The heat. In Chicago we cry for joy when we have a game day this beautiful; in Miami, they close the roof.)

Apparently I'm not the only one who thought so, judging by my section around the 5th inning:

I'm not satirizing here. This was the 7th game ever in this park, and barely 3/4 of the seats had asses in them. And do you know why? (I'm addressing you, Mr. Loria.) Because it wasn't baseball. It was indistinguishable from any other corporate-designed, corporate-managed Experience that attempts to distill something down to its marketable components and misses entirely the reason that people enjoy it. People who like Marlins Park will probably Olive Garden, the Twlight books, and Mitt Romney: facsimiles all. But none of them real.*

I mean, would Wrigley Field ever stoop to this?

All right, I concede, Ricketts might hire cheerleaders, but they'd be real cheerleaders, dammit.

I will close with this, the view from my seat, which the park designers got right. Every seat in the park, I am certain, had a good view (which we know is not the case at Wrigley). But after tomorrow's game, I'm going to rank-order the 20 parks I will have seen, and I suspect Marlins Ballpark might come out poorly.

* And also not worth $40 for the ticket and $10 for each beer. Not to mention, for the love of dog, can you at least have more than four awful beers on tap? Heineken, Corona Light, Bud Light, and Miller Light qualify, collectively, as 1.25 beers—and Heineken is 0.8 beers on its own. Is there a single brewery in Florida? Dang.

Retro ballparks

The Atlantic Cities today examines the retro ballpark trend, of interest to anyone following my 30 Park Geas:

The retro style quickly split into two schools; one, like Camden Yards, that strictly embraced classical design elements and the other that used more progressive forms (i.e. curtain walls, retractable roofs) while still implementing postmodern idiosyncrasies.

The historical references and unique site configuration that makes Camden Yards successful was eventually re-imagined in other cities through forcibly quirky stadiums surrounded by seas of parking. The best example of that, and what fittingly could be the last retro-classic ballpark, would be Citi Field.

The more modern half of the movement, meanwhile, has pushed along to an almost unrecognizable point. Since the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati opened in 2003 with its contemporary, glass-wrapped facade, newer stadiums are more willing to embrace less familiar forms.

The anti-Camden trend takes its next step when Marlins Park officially debuts next Wednesday. Similar in form to the spaceship and entertainment palace known as Cowboys Stadium, Miami's new facility moves baseball stadium design even further from the nostalgia-drenched movement.

Next up for me: Miami and Tampa Bay in two weeks.

The Stupid Tax

I don't mean the tax is stupid; I mean a tax on stupidity. As in, mine.

I'm planning two baseball trips this year, the first to Florida to see the Cubs play the Marlins on April 19th, and the Twins at the Rays on the 20th. So far, I've got my flights, the Rays ticket, and a car reservation. Marlins tickets went on sale this morning.

This is when I discovered I have to pay a stupid tax. Because, when I checked out the Marlins' schedule a couple of weeks ago, they were planning on a night game on the 19th. Unfortunately, the final schedule has the April 19th game at 12:40pm. Remember how I have my flights already? Oops. I need to come in Wednesday night for the Thursday day game.

American Airlines will be pleased, I'm sure. I will not, as this is suddenly the most expensive set of flights I'll be taking this year, including this month's trip to London. Stupid.

Update: This is why I love American Airlines, and why talking to an actual person is helpful. It turns out, the fare to arrive the night before is $11 less. Unfortunately, I had to pay a penalty to change the ticket—but it was a lot less than I had feared.