Yesterday afternoon, I saw this happen:
That's the Cincinnati Reds just after they beat Los Angeles to become the National League Central Division champions this year. And because they beat L.A., they helped San Francisco clinch the West, making it an all-around fun afternoon. (N.B.: I wore a Giants hat to the game.)
More Cincinnati and Great American Ball Park photos when I get back to Chicago.
It's a beautiful afternoon for a ballgame, at least here in Cincinnati, where I hope to see the Reds become the first team this season to clinch its division outright. I'll actually be wearing a Giants hat, as a Cincinnati win against the Dodgers today moves San Francisco's magic number to 1—and I want to see them in the playoffs.
Anyway, it's 21°C, partly cloudy, and Oktoberfest is right outside my hotel room. I am optimistic about this trip to the 24th park in the Geas.
Update: O noes! I missed the world's largest chicken dance!!!11!1
I've banged away at the 30-Ballpark Geas for four seasons now, long enough for three new parks to spring up since I started. Next weekend I'm visiting Cincinnati, the 24th park, leaving eight to go. (Citi Field and New Yankee Stadium got added to the list because they replaced parks I visited before finishing the Geas. The third new park, New Marlin Ballpark, replaced one I hadn't ever visited before, and therefore wasn't already ticked off only to be un-ticked by new construction.)
With the MLB 2013 Schedule released ridiculously early this week, a path forward has presented itself. Barring rain, war, or other unpredictable misfortune, here's the likely End of the Geas, five years after it began:
† vs. Cubs
The trip to O.Co in July is a bonus game, added simply because the Cubs have never played there before, and going to the West Coast would likely result in a stop to see the family regardless.
So, there it is: An early-season road trip to Toronto and New York; a mid-season West Coast trip followed by a triangle trip through the Great Plains; sneaking in a quick overnight trip up to Minneapolis; and ending at the home of the Cubs' ancient rivals, the Cardinals.
The Cubs might even win one or two of those games...
Yesterday I showed Alfonso Soriano stealing third. Here's the result:
Man, those were great seats. $80 at Petco; $251 at Wrigley; $450 at New Yankee.
My last one this morning is the last one I took of Petco Park:
Now if only the Cubs had won...
The 30-Park Geas took me to Petco Park last night, where the 4th-place Padres beat the 4th-place Cubs:
I thought the park was OK. Like some of the other 21st-century parks, it seemed to lack character. It felt more corporate than, say, Camden Yards or even AT&T Park. The fans seemed to agree, as only about 27,000 showed up (out of a capacity of over 42,000.
But the lack of demand for seats let me get an 8th-row field box for under $80. And that, in turn, let me get photos like this one of Alfonso Soriano stealing 3rd:
Or this one of Travis Wood pitching:
I'm now up the coast, at my folks' house. More photos tomorrow.
I visited my 22nd baseball park last night, the quasi-retro Citi Field, to see the bottom-ranked Cubs take on the second-place Mets:
The Cubs got their first run on the Mets' second pitch and by the bottom of 5 they were up by 5 runs. At the point I took this photo, the bottom of the 6th, it was still 7-2 Cubs and the Mets' so-called "fans" were leaving the park like something on the field stank worse than...well, the two teams on the field:
Then, in the bottom of the 9th, still leading by 4, Carlos Marmól took the mound for no reason anyone could discern, and nearly gave away the game:
Entering with a four-run lead, he gave up a solo homer to Valdespin with one out, then walked Ruben Tejada, pinch hitter Daniel Murphy and David Wright to load the bases.
Pinch-hitter Ike Davis followed with a single, bringing up Duda. Marmol's quick reflexes saved the Cubs.
"Marmol's quick reflexes" my ass. With the bases loaded and no one expecting Marmol to do anything helpful, a single-A pitcher from the Carolina League could have caught the droopy thing Duda hit straight at the mound and gotten the game-ending double play. But let's review what happened to get us there: Marmol gave up three runs and three (consecutive!) walks in 10 minutes. And he didn't even need to be there.
I would like to end on a happy note. I found a decent pale ale at the park, brewed right in New York City: Sweet Action from Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery. What a nummy session beer—and the only one sold in 470 mL cans (cf. 350 mL cans for everything else). I'll be make sure to get some Sweet Action next time I'm in New York. (And some Redhead maple bacon peanuts, from Grand Central Market. Who invented these?)
And why am I here? That, at 7pm tomorrow:
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...
30-park geas continues apace. Here's my progress so far:
† 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.
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.