NOTE: Here is the seventh in an occasional series of Features describing the author’s visits to various MLB ballparks around the country. After finishing his cross-country trip at the end of June, the author went back to the most familiar baseball ground of all: the Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics and the closest major league park to your correspondent’s home.
How bad has it gotten for baseball in Oakland? After completing my transcontinental trip at the end of June, I made a point of going out to the local team’s digs, with the full intent of writing up a review of the Oakland Coliseum soon thereafter.
That was over a month ago. Let’s just say, interest in East Bay baseball has fallen off a bit in recent years.
It is probably fitting that the game I saw, an Athletics contest versus the Tampa Bay Rays on the night of Monday, July 17th, was the worst attended game at the Coliseum in several years. But all things come to pass eventually, and here, at last, is that long-delayed review of the Oakland ballpark experience.
NOTE: Here is the sixth in a series of Features describing the author’s first visits to various MLB ballparks around the country; this will be the last to come from the author’s recent cross-country trip to Pennsylvania and back to the Bay Area. (Conditions permitting, there will be further posts on viewing games at the local parks in Oakland and San Francisco.) Having enjoyed a sweltering blowout in Cincinnati, your correspondent headed west through St. Louis and across Missouri to Kansas City for a Monday night game between the Boston Red Sox and the homestanding Royals on June 19th.
A big part of what inspired a desire to travel across the country and take in games at major league ballparks along the way was, naturally, the proliferation of new stadiums across the baseball landscape. By my count, more than half the ball clubs now play in parks that were built from the mid-1990s and onward. If you’re a baseball fan, you want to play with the shiny new toys, right?
Well, the people in Kansas City would seem to want to say, “Not so fast.” Because it turns out, they have a pretty good stadium there in the Truman Sports Complex, and despite its age, Kauffman Stadium still presents the fan with a terrific place to watch a major league ball game.
NOTE: This (long-delayed) post is the fifth in a series of Features describing the author’s first visits to various MLB ballparks around the country. After spending a week among my relatives in southeast Pennsylvania, including a visit to the Phillies’ home, Citizens Bank Park, I was back on the road and headed for my next major league destination, Cincinnati, for a June 17th game between the Reds and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.
A first visit to any ballpark is, to a certain extent, dependent upon the luck of the draw. My initial experience at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park illustrates that point perfectly.
For instance, the fact that it was sunny and boiling hot in the Queen City that Saturday afternoon was not in any particular way part of the plan. Had the weather been relatively cool, or overcast, or even a touch rainy, an afternoon spent in Great American Ball Park’s upper deck might have been a pleasant experience. Instead, as fate would have it, that day was a grueling experience in baseball survival, with plenty of liquids consumed while hoping and praying that the few wispy clouds in the sky would block out the intense heat of the sun, if even for a few moments.
So any first visit to a stadium is at the mercy of things beyond the home organization’s control. That’s why it’s imperative that a club get the things it can control completely right, to ensure that those first-time visitors will want to come back. In the Reds’ case, the team got a lot of things right with Great American Ball Park–but there were a few swings and misses, too.
NOTE: This post is the fourth in a series of Features describing the author’s first visits to various MLB ballparks around the country. After stopping in Pittsburgh on my trip across the country to take in a Pirates game at PNC Park, I finished my drive east at my birthplace of Philadelphia, where a week spent among my relatives culminated in a visit to the Phillies’ home, Citizens Bank Park.
My gameday experience at Citizens Bank Park was unlike my other ballpark visits this season, for several reason. For one, I was not alone in Philadelphia; I was joined at the Phillies’ game against the Boston Red Sox by several of my relatives. Indeed, one could fairly say that I joined them, as my aunt and uncle bought the tickets and treated me to the evening at the park.
That fact—that I did not buy my ticket—also meant that I did not choose my seat but took what was given to me. As it turned out, we were destined for the park’s “Hall of Fame” club area—a mezzanine level that fronts a high-end, restaurant-style facility that sits within a section of the concourse devoted to greats and memorable moments from the team’s past. All well and good, I suppose, but that’s the sort of thing one can appreciate on a leisurely second or third or thirty-eighth visit to the stadium; for my purposes, my primary interest lies in the fan’s experience in watching the actual game. And so my focus remains, for this as well as future reports.
Speaking directly to that focus, I can report that the fan’s experience watching a game at Citizens Bank Park is…OK. Not spectacular; just OK.
NOTE: This post is the third in a series of Features describing the author’s first visits to various MLB ballparks around the country. The first two visits, to San Diego and Anaheim, happened during an April visit to Southern California. The third stop, at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, was the first of several stops planned during a cross-country trip from California to Philadelphia and back.
I screwed up.
I was in Pittsburgh on Saturday, June 10th, having arrived in the Steel City the day before after four days of cross-country travel. I woke up early enough to take in downtown Pittsburgh’s Saturday morning scene, including a walk down to the Fort Pitt site at the famous confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, before returning to my hotel room for a little relaxation and a pre-game nap.
The nap part, it turned out, was a mistake.
The great Clemente stands guard over Pittsburgh at PNC Park.
I set my alarm for 5pm, certain that that would get me to the ballpark in plenty of time for the game. Unfortunately, that night’s game was actually that afternoon’s game, with a 4pm start. When I woke up, they had already reached the third inning, and I had to hot-foot it back through downtown and across the iconic Roberto Clemente bridge to join the game in progress. By the time I found the available open entry–most of the gates were closed by the time I arrived–got up to the third level, bought my food, and settled into my seat, it was already the top of the fourth inning and the visiting Miami Marlins were ahead 3-1 over the homestanding Pirates. Continue reading A View From The Park: Pittsburgh→