Sunday, August 31, 2008

Okay, now that I'm back in town, it's about time for another entry. I suppose it's in order for me to at least say a little something about the ballparks to which I went (I think that's grammatically right?).

Well, we'll say a little bit about each in order.

First, I went to PNC Park in Pittsburgh - it felt like a cozier park than most (and it is with less than 40 thousand seats in the entire park - something it's probably easier to get away with in Pittsburgh than some other cities (no offense to the fine city of Pittsburgh)). Everywhere you walked seemed to offer an open view of the field, and around home plate was a neat circular ramp that connected the different levels. The view was one of the best - a view of the river (one of the three rivers I suppose, but I'm not honestly certain which) with a cool looking yellow pedestrian bridge (why doesn't New York have pedestrian bridges?) in the background. As one could at all the newer stadiums, I was able to circumnavigate the stadium and the outfield gave many excellent vantage points to stand from as well as a beautiful view of the river, if it was a really boring game, which, as a Pirates game, probably has a fair chance of occuring. This was the only stadium at which I got stadium food, a sub-par hot dog, which shouldn't be so much a negative, as a lack of positive, as stadium food is for the most part expected to be bad. While for the most part I was more interested in the parks themselves than the values of the tickets/seats on this trip, it bears mentioning that for about 20 dollars we were able to sit on field level only a few rows back from the field down the right field line (there actually only are really two levels). What also should be noted is the excellent out-of-town scoreboard which shows every game, who is pitching, what inning the game is in, and how many runners are on base.

After Pittsburgh, we next visited Cleveland's Progressive (ne Jacobs) Field (Progressive is a kind of ridiculous name, but what far beats that is the name of the next door home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is the Quicken Loans Arena, though they try to make it slightly more palatable by calling it the “Q”). This was the second oldest ballpark I saw on my trip, and was along with Camden Yards, one of the leaders of this new generation of ballparks, opening in 1994, replacing old Municipal Stadium (the Mistake on the Lake). The view is not quite as scenic as the bridge in Pittsburgh, but it’s a nice little view of some of the buildings of Cleveland. The outfield area has a bar and seating area as well towards left field a little Indians Hall of Fame with huge plagues of the best Indians of all time (Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, Larry Doby, etc) and a wall with many others, and many more modern Indians on it, and props always go to any park that honors its great players. In addition, Cleveland had the hippest scoreboard – the clips shown in videos were better than any other stadiums I attended, including Back to the Future and The Big Lebowski amongst others.

Like PNC, and most of the other parks we went to, the whole experienced seemed more outdoors than in, one of the positives that all of these stadiums have over parks like Shea where, for one, you’re indoors except when you’re outside of the stadium or at your seat, and two, there is absolutely no standing room, and no room to walk around to catch different vantage points of the game. While I’m at this point, let me make another point about the plusses of all of these newer stadiums compared to Shea. From getting into each park, to getting to the seats, to walking around, each offered a vastly more pleasant experience than Shea. With a couple of small exceptions in Detroit and St. Louis, people were courteous instead of rude – this is such a simple thing that makes such a big difference. I understand that I might walk into a section that is unbeknownst to me off limits, or that I may find myself accidentally blocking someone’s sightline – but it is not hard to just ask nicely for me to move and explain why rather than rudely demand that I exit. Another plus about all of these parks, is that I could, for the most park, walk freely around the stadium; at Shea, only ticket holders can access the field level.
Okay, back from my digression – a very positive experience at Progressive, or the Prog, as I’ll start calling it now. More stadiums (I think stadia would sound better) tomorrow.

Okay, this is an aside - through some random wikipedia searching - I was on the MC Skat Kat page (the animated cat from Paula Abdul's Opposites Attract) and found that according to the page, he died in 1991. How did an animated cat die? I don't remember that scene in the video. What continues to be remarkable about this is that the cat has a birthday - and was 14 when the video was released, and attempted a brief comeback in 1995, apparently four years after his untimely death.

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