Thursday, September 04, 2008

Moving on to St. Louis's new Busch Stadium.

I had the pleasant fortune to see Ian Snell for the second time in the trip (the first at PNC). To get to Busch, I walked from hanging around the arch (yes, it's touristy as touristy gets, but it's still pretty cool - also apparently it was only finished in 1965 - I had always imagined it as being significantly older than that) through the ghost town that was St. Louis's downtown in the evening to Busch. Busch had among the nicest entrances of the stadiums I visited, complete with a very cool brick facade. The view is a nice cross-section of the St. Louis downtown, dotted most importantly, with the arch (I wonder if St. Louis likes or hates being best known for the arch - on one hand, it must be irritating to have everyone just ask about the arch, but on the other hand it might be better to have people know one thing about St. Louis than nothing.) The best vantage points offered were unusually on the upper deck - I walked around and could get a view from just about any angle for which there was upper deck - the best being around the right field corner. Walking around the field level, the only real view was in left field, and it was hard to see over raised stands in many of the places. I experienced my second moment of rudeness during the trip when while attempting to stand in an area in the outfield, the usher not only told us we couldn't be there, but asked us what we were doing there - it was next to a little play area for kids, so my friend Jesse said that he was checking it out to bring his niece, to which the usher incredulously interogated him asking what his niece's name was, with the tone of voice leading us to believe he thought Jesse was lying and that he could trick him with this question. Obviously this was just a minor moment of rudeness, but we were both kind of pissed off. All in all a very good park, and a park I would be reasonably happy to have in my hometown, but not up to the standards of many of the other parks on my trip - the nicest thing about it was definitely the outside facade and entranceway.

If Busch didn't have problems before, it was bound to lose after getting compare to the next park, the truly incromprable Wrigley Field. First things first, Wrigley Field had far and away the best area around the ballpark. It wasn't a parking lot, or even a couple of streets around the ballpark with things, nor was it in a downtown area that had lots of big buildings, but barely seemed alive - it was a leigitimate neighborhood. There were plenty of places to eat and drink before or after and to just put the ballpark in context. I talk a walk around the perimeter of the stadium before going in. Inside, the park did not disappoint - sure it did not have the trappings of the newer parks - it was more confusing to get to the seats, the concourse was not as scenic or as one with the outside, and the seats itself were smaller and less confortable. In addition, unlike the new parks, the extra vantage points were limited. But the atmosphere, and the park itself are unrivaled - it's something you can just create - it's something that exists because of eighty years of tradition (obviously some of the traditions are newer, but they all seem to seamlessly blend in, like the 7th inning recitation of Take Me Out to the Ballgame started by Harry Caray). The view was fantastic, electronic scoreboard-less and all, and I got the pleasure of seeing Carlos Zambrano hit one out. After the game, I was able to walk all the way down to the field, and touch the brick wall between field and stands behind home place. Wrigley Field is the type of desitnation worth working a trip around.

Bush stadium, with the arch in background.

Busch Stadium brick facade

Wrigley, Ivy and all.

Wrigley facade - not sure why Bank of America is the bank of opportunity.

Also - as an aside, I just learned that Marshall Crenshaw wrote the title song to Walk Hard. Phenomenal.

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