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It’s time for Wednesday Morning Night Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.
Instead of the usual sports roundup today, it’s going to be a battle of the new stadiums. That’s right, it’s Yankee Stadium vs. Citi Field!
A view of Citi Field from the parking lot
Yankee Stadium from the subway platform
When you’re the New York Yankees, you’ve got certain expectations attached to your new stadium project. Yankee Stadium, even with all the revisions and reconstructions throughout the ages, stood for baseball history, really. Its departure was significant. Along with Fenway and Wrigley, Yankee Stadium stood tall in the face of the new ballpark craze. Yankee Stadium was the House that Ruth Built. You don’t get to be much more important than that. So it goes without saying that there was plenty to be said against building a new ballpark in this era of retro-new baseball stadiums. It would have to ostensibly be exactly what it was while trying to improve itself in every way. As someone who’s never been inside old Yankee Stadium, I can’t definitively say that they succeeded on that front, but anecdotal evidence seems to support that fact. Looking at the shell of the old park right next door, I’d be hard-pressed to argue with that assessment. The Yankee organization succeeded in taking the old and turning it new, but it begs the question. Why?
A view of the old. Tough shoes to fill for the new.
Make no mistake, Yankee Stadium is a joy to visit. It’s state-of-the-art and every surface almost sparkles, it’s so new. The fans seem mostly enthusiastic about the new park and they come to see the games in droves.
"I sold my kidney to afford a ticket!"
Right when you enter the ballpark, you see precisely where the millions have gone. There are bright, high definition televisions everywhere and an overall regal atmosphere throughout the interiors.
Yankee Stadium is very shiny and new. It certainly looks like a lot of money was spent.
Unfortunately, all those shiny new additions to the ballpark seem to have taken its toll on the common man. In the current global recession, it seems rather ridiculous that the cheapest seats in the ballpark cost $14. Doesn’t seem that outrageous until you realize that those $14 seats are right next to the batter’s eye, a huge restaurant that obstructs the view of the opposite end of the outfield. You read that right. You pay $14 and you can’t even see Damon on the left if you’re sitting on the right. There are TVs up on the walls to allow you to see what’s going on the other side, but it seems like a major oversight. The next cheapest are the nosebleeders in the outfield for $23 and it goes up from there to over $1000 the closer and lower you get. It seems designed to bring in more money to the already bloated franchise, but at what cost? Do you think the working man with his two kids can afford a day at the ballpark at these prices? $92 just for admission, not to mention any food (which is also overpriced) and you’re looking at an expensive night just for three hours of entertainment.
A beautiful screen, but at what cost?
That being said, you can’t blame them too much for the extravagance. The park is beautiful and the Yankees are a rich team with rich fans. In the back of the park, by the bullpens, lives the Monument Park, commemorating the greats in Yankees history. In fact, the whole park is filled with historical reminders that go a long way in reminding the fan that this team is serious business. I’m making it sound worse than it is above, it’s really a solid location to catch a game of baseball. I’ve gone into the home run business plenty on this site, but let me say that I personally saw two go over that infamous right field wall (one by Cano and one by Rodriguez). It’s funny to me that this park can give up so many while Citi gives up so few. As of this post, no Met has more than six home runs in their own ballpark.
"It's really a solid location to catch a game of baseball." -Dan Mesa
Unburdened with a stadium fondly remembered, Citi Field also stands right next to the park that housed the team since the 1960s, the abomination known as Shea Stadium. That place was such a generic, character-less hole that the public was more than happy to see it torn down and replaced. Thanks to the lack of love for Shea, the ballpark designers were free to get creative and they came up with this unfortunately named little gem.
I'll bet not one of those says "We will always miss Shea."
Corporate sponsored names pretty much stink for all ballparks (I don’t mind Tropicana Field for some reason, maybe it’s because that’s synonymous with oranges for me?), but what doesn’t is the inspiration for the new ballpark (what a crappy segue…). Modeled after Ebbets Field, former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first thing you see after you are padded down or EM wanded by security (I kid you not, they were padding down incoming fans), is the Jackie Robinson rotunda, a beautiful callback to Ebbets and a worthy celebration of the man to break the color barrier in baseball.
A monument to Jackie Robinson is nice, but all the Dodgers gear can confuse. "Hey Dad, aren't we here to see the Mets?"
My friend Lee pointed out that a monument to a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Mets stadium is kind of out of place. I’m inclined to agree, but the space is so beautiful and the cause so important that I can neither fault them nor be mad about the inconsistency.
Urinals from the future!
I don’t really have anything bad to say about Citi Field. Prices are still more expensive at the ballpark than others in smaller markets, but that’s just New York, I guess. The urinals look kind of funny, I guess, the outfield wall is colored black and orange, making it look like the Giants play here, and they’ve still got the same problem with airplanes flying over and disrupting the calm of the game.
Wouldn't be a Mets game without planes taking off and landing.
The park feels smaller than Shea, and for a reason, they cut out about 15,000 seats, but it really does the ballpark some major good. Gone are the super steep stairs and feelings of vertigo up in the nosebleed section. The diminished size and the warm feeling that brick evokes gives the park a homey, intimate feeling that the cold concrete of Shea just didn’t offer and the aloof, superior atmosphere of Yankee Stadium just can’t match. One of the major tenets of the retro-new ballpark craze is to have ridiculous corners and unique parts of the park that really bring the home to home-field advantage and make for a unique park. One look at right field in Citi and and rational right fielder would faint. There are so many odd angles, an overhanging patio (hitting it counts as a home run, even if the ball bounces back into the field), and super-high walls that help keep the home run numbers down, but will undoubtedly increase the number of triples given up in the park.
Right field is full of insane angles. BONUS: Clay Zavada's mustache is on the big screen.
Even the backstop is made of brick, making getting home on a wild pitch that much harder. BONUS: This picture is following Angel Pagan's game-winning, first-in-his-career grand slam.
The best thing I can say about Citi Field is that it rekindled my love for baseball. Entering the ballpark I was feeling some fatigue from the long season. By the end of the game, I was pumped for my upcoming baseball trip to Japan and I couldn’t wait to get back home and watch more baseball this season. How can you not love a ballpark that reminds you of everything you love about the game?
The only welcome holdout from Shea, the home run Big Apple
New York City is lucky to have not one, but two great new ballparks this season and they both succeed at the goals they were shooting for. Yankee Stadium is everything it was, almost down to a ‘T’ and to its own detriment while Citi Field was allowed to be something completely new and chose to embrace its past. Maybe I’m just a sucker for brick (I love you Camden Yards!), but Citi Field just feels more like baseball to me.
Winner: Citi Field
When Schneider tagged me in her version of this I almost pulled a Linus Torvalds (http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2009/02/25-things-about-me.html), but instead I decided not to do one at all.
Then I came across two “25 Random Baseball Things” articles and fell in love with the idea as a way to release pent up excitement about the upcoming baseball season. Hope you enjoy it..
1. Baseball was the first team sport I ever played. To this day I don’t really understand what motivated my father to sign me up for the game. My grandfather is afraid of playing catch due to an incident where he got beaned, my dad is mostly apathetic toward sports in general, including baseball, and my older brother hated little league baseball. My best guess is that we were living in the mostly Cuban (at the time) Hialeah where little league baseball is the predominant sport.
2. I always wanted to play catcher as a kid, but I never got the chance to. I wasn’t ever going to be a pitcher, but I figured that catching involved the second most amount of action on the field. Instead most of my time was spent in the outfield, where I did a pretty good job, and one glorious season at second base. Whenever I play softball or baseball, I will usually play catcher or second base, unless the team needs me to play outfield.
3. My favorite team is the Florida Marlins and I still remember going to a game at Joe Robbie Stadium, as it was called then, to see them play in April of 1993. This was the first professional baseball game I ever attended and was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me before then until I actually walked on the field some years later.
4. I very quickly developed an intense hatred for the Atlanta Braves that still sticks with me to this day. It’s no coincidence that I also despise the Florida State Seminoles who share the absurdly racist and obnoxious tomahawk chop chant. Last year I found out that my uncle used to be a Braves fan since they were the closest team to Florida before 1993. I still feel deeply betrayed by this fact, even though he is now a Marlins fan.
5. When my family moved to Oregon sometime in 1995, I experienced something of a baseball Dark Ages that I didn’t really kick until 2003 and didn’t fully kick until last year, despite moving back to South Florida in 1997. Between 1995 to 2003 I went to one AAA baseball game (Portland Rockies), two pro baseball games (Seattle Mariners and Florida Marlins), one spring training game (Tigers at Yankees) and watched almost no baseball on tv.
6. I’m very ashamed to say that I maybe watched one or two of the games of the 1997 World Series, neither of which were Game 7. To this day I still root against the Cleveland Indians, partly because of that World Series, partly because they remind me of the Braves, and partly because living with Ohio-native Dean Strelau in 2007 allowed me to gloat about snatching two National Championships away from Ohio State, which led to a general dislike of any team from Ohio.
7. I quit playing baseball and started swimming competitively in 1998, a decision that I regret to this day. Sure, I wasn’t a very good ball player at that point, considering I did it mostly for fun, but I wish I had stuck with it. In case you were wondering, I wasn’t a very good swimmer either.
8. In that final season, my team played in a tournament against a team that traveled over to the states from Japan. We held our own for the first two or three innings, but eventually they got the best of us. I still remember that we had to use Japanese-style balls, but we didn’t have Japanese bats, which had some sort of rough coating on them that made them a bit different. I have a sneaking suspicion that we might have played a little better with access to their special equipment or if we used the standard American baseballs and bats instead.
9. The event that led to my baseball renaissance was the Steve Bartman incident in the 2003 postseason. Bartman will always be a hero of mine thanks to his paving the way for the Marlins 2003 World Series victory. I will gleefully ask any Cubs fan about how devastated they felt back in 2003 to be robbed of a pennant.
10. When the Marlins made it to the World Series in 2003 I wore a Marlins jersey that I’ve owned since the mid-90s to school. I’ll never forget that day, because in first period AP Statistics, Dan Gollins called me a front runner because he’d never seen me wear any Marlins paraphernalia before. I stand by the fact that I’ve been a Marlins fan since their inaugural year and I still get mad thinking about him calling me that, but I also kind of understand where he’s coming from and begrudgingly admit he’s got something of a point.
11. Speaking of the 2003 World Series, I have distinct memories of watching two of the seven games at Cornell during a campus visit that DPE flew me up for. I watched one of the games in the now-destroyed Class of ’26 with two Yankees fans. The other I watched in my brother’s apartment down on Gunn Hill.
12. This is a complicated one: I attended middle school and one year of high school down in South Florida at Cooper City High and the rest of them up in Central Florida at Sickles High. After prom at Sickles, I was invited down to Cooper City for prom with my old friends as my ex-girlfriend’s date, much to the ire of my current girlfriend. I still remember being quite insensitive as I called my girlfriend from their prom and told her that I wanted so badly to stay an extra day so that I could go with Josh Kushner to see the Marlins play the Diamondbacks that Sunday (23 May 2004 – http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/FLO/FLO200405230.shtml) because Dontrelle Willis was pitching against Randy Johnson. Better sense prevailed and I ended up going home as scheduled. The Marlins lost 4-3 that day and I’ve still yet to see Randy Johnson or Dontrelle Willis pitch in person.
13. The first Orioles game I went to was on 27 July 2005 against the Texas Rangers (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL200507270.shtml). I’m pretty sure it was Sammy Sosa Bobblehead Night, although I could be wrong. It was a Wednesday, so I was worried about how long it would take me to get home cause I had work in the morning, but I figured it wouldn’t be that bad. After a 97-minute rain delay, the game FINALLY got underway. The Os and Rangers tied up the game in the 9th and the game ended in the 11th with the Rangers winning 11-8. I got home at 0200AM, but that baseball game is one of the best I’ve ever experienced.
14. One of my goals in life is to see a baseball game played in every ballpark. So far I’ve seen games in Joe Robbie Stadium/Pro Player Stadium/Dolphin Stadium (Marlins), the Kingdome (Mariners), Tropicana Field (Rays), Camden Yards (Orioles), RFK Stadium (Nationals), and Shea Stadium (Mets). Of these stadiums, the Kingdome, Shea, and RFK no longer house their respective teams, the Marlins will be leaving Dolphin Stadium by 2010ish, and the Rays are trying to get a new stadium approved leaving me with one solid stadium visited out of thirty. I’ve got a lot of work to do.
15. Once I’ve visited all the MLB stadiums, barring further stadium moves, I have decided to undertake the much more ambitious and difficult goal of seeing a game in all 13 Nippon Professional Baseball stadiums. I’ve only been to Japan once and Okinawa doesn’t have a baseball team, but I will get this done some day. Koshien Stadium here I come!
16. I am absolutely opposed to the DH rule in baseball. To me, it makes sense that any player who takes the field should have to bat for himself. Sure, it allows aging players or players with poor defense to have a spot on the roster, but I just think it takes away from the spirit of the game to have a guy whose only job is to bat while you have a whole group of guys whose only job it is to pitch. You could argue that pinch hitters serve that role in the NL, but the rules state that those guys have to step onto the field after they hit, unless there’s another substitution. Lack of a DH promotes greater strategy in baseball, period.
17. Rookie of the Year was the first baseball movie I ever saw. I’ve also seen Little Big League, A League of Their Own, Major League, Mr. Baseball, Hardball, and The Sandlot. My Netflix queue includes Field of Dreams, Mr. 3000, The Bad News Bears, and Fever Pitch. I think A League of Their Own and Little Big League are my two favorites.
18. I have a man-crush on 2008 Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria.
19. I’ve been to two games at Tropicana Field, one when the team was known as the Devil Rays and one after the name change. I was initially totally opposed to the name change, but it’s amazing what a name change, color scheme change, and a winning season will do for a team and their venue. The Trop is still one of the worst stadiums I’ve ever been to, but it was a lot more fun to go this past year.
20. I boo Darek Jeter when he comes up to bat for absolutely no reason. In retrospect, I should have been booing A-Rod this whole time.
21. There’s something about eating a hot dog in a ballpark that makes it taste infinitely better.
22. I always semi-rooted for the Devil Rays, but I definitely jumped on the Rays bandwagon this year and I fully intend to continue to root for them as my AL team. My NL team is, of course, the Marlins. I will actively root against the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, and Indians. In the All-Star game, a non-Braves/Phillies game, or any Interleague game, I will root for the National League team. I don’t mind rooting for the Cubs unless they are in the postseason. I think it’s funny that they haven’t won a World Series in 100 years and I want the streak to continue.
23. My favorite ballplayers through the years: Benito Santiago, Chuck Carr, Cris Carpenter, Brian Harvey, Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, Hanley Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Mike Lowell, and Evan Longoria
24. I have never caught a foul ball, ground rule double, or home run in the stands. It’s a selfish thing to do as a grown man, but I’m not sure I’d be able to give any ball I caught in the future to a kid at a game. Wouldn’t it be enough to give the second or third away?
25. Once they are old enough to enjoy it, I plan to take my recently adopted little brothers and sister to a ball game in the hopes that it will inspire the same love for the game that I have in them.
You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ‘em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.
Hey sports fans, it’s been a while for the blog, but we’re officially back in business! The sports world has had quite a few great and exciting stories since then between the Olympics, Favre, injuries on the Rays, and surprising stability in the standings on the AL and NL East.
I love the Olympics. As I often tell people, I feel like it’s the last real way for modern, civilized countries to wage war against each other in the modern world. Thanks to economics, you’d never see China and the US fighting each other in the foreseeable future (God I hope so!), but the Olympics allow the full competitive expression of Team USA and Team China without involving the seven million strong People’s Liberation Army.
Anyway, the overall main competition between the US and China involves medal count, which I can happily say the USA is currently winning with 29 medals to China’s 27, but China is also gunning for most golds, which is is leading with 17 golds to the ten that Team USA hold.
Team USA has been doing pretty well overall, but I’d say my favorite moment is that Men’s 4×100 (which I cannot find a good Youtube video for) was that monstrous win over the braggadocios French (.08 seconds!). Other than that, the Micheal Phelps gold medal count is the next biggest story as he becomes the greatest Olympian in history. The one problem I have with him winning is that I know some of his times are suit-dependent, but sports technology is so ubiquitous that you can’t really discount athleticism because of it.
Brett Favre has FINALLY found himself a home: the New York Jets. Man am I glad that at least some of this nonsense has been resolved so I don’t have to watch him all over SportsCenter, although now I’m stuck hearing about Aaron Rodgers all day.
What does this mean for Green Bay now? Well, aside from Rodgers’ decent performance in that pre-season game, they can’t possibly have as good of a starting quarterback with Aaron at the helm, but their season still needs to be pretty solid. If they don’t make the playoffs, you can bet there will be hell to pay in Green Bay.
Brett Favre and the Jets have it slightly easier. Favre still has to do well, but I think there’s a lot less pressure on a man whose career has already been proven. All he’s really gotta do is not get hurt and keep the Jets competitive and he’ll be fine. If he outperforms Rodgers (this will be endlessly compared), then he’ll be a super success out in NY.
As the post season approaches, the MLB standing races continue to really heat up, particularly in the AL Central and NL West as the Twins/White Sox and Dodgers/Diamondbacks, but you all know that I’m a junkie for the Eastern divisions and none of them disappoint with their respective drama.
The Tampa Bay Rays still sit in first place in the AL East three games up on the Red Sox and eight up on the Yankees. The Yankees, in particular, are in a stunningly low position for a traditionally powerful second half team, but that’s the way the new East has been going. Tampa’s mind blowing arrival as a competitive team has baffled everyone and changed the nature of the East. What’s keeping the East dramatic is how Boston won’t fall back from three games back and the recent injuries of Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria on the Rays. Both are clutch players, but the long loss of Evan Longoria (speculated to be until 1 Sept) can only hurt the team since he is their prime offensive performance. Hopefully the Rays can hold on to their first place spot until then.
NL East continues to be as close as ever with the Phillies still leading, the Mets one game back, and the Marlins 1.5 games back. The Phillies have a tough series they’re in the middle of against the Dodgers, the Mets are coasting against the Nats, and the Marlins are playing a tough one against the Cards.
Shea Stadium Review
Got to see a game at Shea on Sunday and I’ll have to say I really enjoyed it. Even though the stadium is about to be torn down, it’s still got a heck of a lot more of a baseball feel than Dolphin Stadium. The concourses have an open feel, but very narrow. In fact, the park itself just feels very cramped, but this may be because of its location (NYC) forcing the stadium to take up a limited amount of space and also because the new Shea is being constructed literally right next to the old stadium.
Fans are pretty into the game and they show it with loud cheering. The park is huge, but not so big that it looks empty like Dolphin Stadium. Also cool is the big apple that comes up after a home team home run. I didn’t get a chance to see it, but it was pretty cool.
Shea is a decent ballpark, but I would say it’s a great thing that they are making a new stadium. There’s a bit of that old school design to it with spartan corridors and bland aesthetics, but it’s still a solid place for baseball with great fans.
It’s been a while since you’ve last heard from me about the Marlins, but it’s funny how things haven’t changed much since then. The Fish remain 1.5 games back from the Phillies as of today and are, once again, in a series that will challenge the very fabric of their team.
The next few games pit the Marlins against the Phillies and Mets, the teams directly above and below them in the standings. I’ll be fortunate to definitely attend a game against the Mets at Shea and I might even go to Citizens Bank Park for the Phils game this Thursday. My goal of attending a ball game at every major league ballpark isn’t going to achieve itself, is it?
I’ll be crossing my fingers to move the Marlins into first over the Phils. They’ve already achieved quite a feat by beating Jamie Moyer last night. The Marlins were 0-10 against Moyer up until last night when they broke the Moyer hex. Hopefully the win streak begins and remains against him for the future.
Tampa Bay Rays
In Rays news, Tampa remains in first place a full three games ahead of Boston (QUICK ASIDE: Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers! WTF is Boston thinking??) and are holding strong in a series against the bane of their existence, the Cleveland Indians. At this point all that remains for the Rays to do is continue their strong performances and stay in first in the AL East.
Tropicana Field Review
This Sunday I got a chance to see another baseball game at Tropicana Field and boy was I surprised to see a new, reinvigorated ballpark. My tickets were pretty sweet, thanks to my younger brother getting them from the company he’s interning at, located in right field just past first base about 30 rows up from the field, so I feel like I got a good chance to evaluate the stadium.
When I was last in the Trop, back in 2004, the stadium was pretty different with different screens and, more importantly, a different color scheme due to the uniform and name change this year. Formerly a green and purple colored team, the renamed Rays are now a dark blue and light blue team and the new stadium looks very nice in the new color scheme.
Also great in Tropicana Field are some of the new fan traditions. Taking inspiration from the SNL skit, fans are encouraged to bring cowbells to the stadium and use them in cheers, specifically when opposing batters have two strikes on the count.
Unfortunately, the Trop is plagued by a few problems as a consequence of its dome. Sure, being indoors in the Tampa Bay sun is a good idea, however, their climate control system is not as effective as it should be, creating a kind of stale, stuffy environment that doesn’t make for a comfortable sit during the game. The dome itself is a bit of an issue too, with the low rafters in the outfield affecting high fly balls and, in general, the non-retractable nature of the dome being an issue. Sure, in the super-hot summer complete with ridiculous rains, why would you want to have the dome open unless you’re me and love the hot weather, but on cooler days or nice days, not having the option really does affect your ability to enjoy the game.
Tropicana Field is an average stadium to see a game in. You could do worse for a baseball field :cough: Dolphin Stadium :cough:, but it still doesn’t even come close to my favorite (so far), Oriole Park at Camden Yards.