Ballpark Review: Globe Life Park

Posted July 31, 2015 by Disco
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Franchise: Texas Rangers

Year Opened: 1994

Capacity: 48,114

Games Attended: September 14, 2014 v Atlanta Braves; September 24, 2014 v Houston Astros; July 29, 2015 v NY Yankees

Sec 216, Row 1 , Seat 1; Suite; Sec 39, Row 27, Seat 15

They say everything is bigger in Texas and Globe Life Park can be added to the list of examples. While the park is dwarfed by its neighbor in AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Park definitely is a giant structure in itself. It is also a hard park to judge. For everything it does great, there is seemingly another flaw to bring it down a peg.

1) Aesthetics- 17/25

Exterior- 5/5

Outside of Yankee Stadium, Globe Life has the best exterior design of any ballpark. It almost looks like a castle, as it sits on an open grass space surrounded by a lake. Each corner gate of the park has columns that rise up, just like those of a castle. There is beautiful red brick with designs of Texas achievement sketched into the brick- some depictions include cowboys, cattle, and the space program.

Interior-  7/10

Globe Life is known for borrowing from other stadiums. They had a manual scoreboard in left field like Fenway Park (now it’s LED). They have a facade that resembles Yankee Stadium. The grandstand in right is supposed to bring back memories of Tiger Stadium. On their own, these are really cool tips of the cap. When executed all together though it makes the look of the park messy. Yes, I love that it makes the park somewhat unique, but the execution isn’t quite there. One really cool thing are the office spaces in center field. I think if they had just picked their favorite quirk- the grandstand or offices or fence in left- and forgot the rest, the whole look of the park would have been better.

Backdrop- 5/10

It is rare these days to see a fully enclosed park and that is a good thing. Unfortunately, Globe Life is not one of those parks. While I like the grandstand and I like the offices in center, everything looks clunky. For example, the decks in both left and right jut in front of the offices and it makes the backdrop just look awkward. If left field or right field had been left open, I would be a bigger fan.

2) Seats & View- 11/20

Sight line- 5/10

There are some really good seats here- and some not so good ones. My favorite location was on the second level, between the bases. With these seats you feel close to the action, get great angles, and food service! However, at this park the closer you get to the foul poles, the worse angle you get. I also sat down by the foul pole on the first base side, in section 39. The way the seats were built, the rows stack up high the further you go back. So you feel close to the field despite being 20-30 rows back. However, you can’t see most of right field. Any ball hit there I couldn’t see if it was caught or not. As for the upper deck- it is really high up.

The right field outfield seats look really good for an old-time experience, but there are the support beams, overhang, and you can’t see the video board because that is located on top of the grandstand.

Proximity- 3/5

As I mentioned above, some seats will let you feel like you are right in the middle of the action. Other seats make you feel like you are a mile away. The first and second level are fine, but the third and fourth level are worse than most other parks.

Comfort- 3/5

The seats do squeeze together, but there is average leg room so it’s not too bad. The only thing that made me feel uncomfortable was the barefoot guy a couple seats down who had the ashiest feet of all-time. His feet looked dead.

3) Atmosphere- 9/15

Fan Participation- 3/5

I was expecting a lot more because I know a lot of passionate Rangers fans but I was slightly let down. Maybe this was because the Rangers have been a bad team the times I’ve gone. But despite a Rangers win in all games I’ve gone to, the loudest I’ve heard the park was for a fight in the stands.

Attendance- 3/5

Again, this is due to the record of the team over the past couple seasons, but I went to two games in 2014 that were sparsely attended and the Yankees game this season looked to only be at 60% capacity.

Fan Knowledge- 3/5

The fans that do show are very loyal and try their best, but aren’t what most consider experts of the game. Sorry Dallas, Houston had you beat in this regard for best fans in the state. It pains me to say that because Dallas is a nicer city.

4) Attractions- 8/15

Museums & Team History- 7/10

The Rangers have a team museum which will always be a plus in my book. It’s not nearly as well done as Turner or Yankee Stadium, but it has some pretty neat stuff in there, including designs for Globe Life. My favorite part was a line of plaques outline “firsts” in Globe Life history, such as first game, playoff game, All-Star game, etc. All were losses by the Rangers/AL and all were games decided by 1 run.

Outside of the museum though, I didn’t see much celebration of team history. But with no World Series titles in over 50 seasons, you can understand why.

Things to See & Do- 1/5

The concourse is large and there are a ton of places to eat and drink, but very little to see and do. I wish I could expand, but there are no cool statues, plaques, monuments, or anything in that vein. If you don’t go to the team store then just walk around and find some food.

5) Food & Drink- 9/10

Hot Dog- 3/5

The most average I have had at a game. Definitely tasted like a generic dog.

Best of the Rest- 5/5

Globe Life has the best food offerings of any park I’ve been to. They have beers of Texas, beers of the world, craft beers, and more. They have BBQ plates in addition to ballpark staples. They have giant portion foods, such as a 24 inch hot dog, 24 inch kabob, mega burgers, and mega sandwiches. And bacon.

Signature Dish- There are too many to choose from between the Boomstick (24in hot dog with chili, cheese, onions, jalapenos) to the Beltre Burger ($26 to give you a reference for how big it is). +1

6) Game Entertainment & Presentation- 2/5

It is not that good. They have something going on every inning, but it’s all very boring and unoriginal. And the mascot is one of the worst in baseball if not the worst.

7) Cleanliness- 4/5

For an old, big park, I thought Globe Life is very clean. Not brand sparkling new clean, but better than average.

8) Local Scene & Location- 1/5

There is nothing to do here. It is in a giant land area it shares with the Cowboys stadium and 6 Flags. That is it. No local shops or restaurants. You go to the game and then you leave. The area is not bad, but it is just an area with nothing else to do.

9) Access & Cost- 2/5

The accessibility is terrible. You can only get to Globe Life by car and while there are main highways that can get you to the game, there will always be terrible traffic during the week. Moreover, because the park is in the middle of nowhere, it will take quite a bit of time to get there and you will eat up a good amount of gas driving from most nearby towns that you might be staying at.

Game tickets are relatively expensive but it all depends on how good the team is and how good the team they are playing is. I got 200 level tickets for $20. But I also got tickets against the Yankees for too much than I should have for a weeknight game.

Food and drink though? GLP has some of the best prices in baseball. I would love to give a better ranking here just for that, but the access is really that annoying!

10) Misc- 0.5

Stats & Info- .5

All relevant information is very accessible. It’s on the LED boards around the park and the main video board. My one problem- they didn’t keep track of the pitcher’s stat line. Just their balls, strikes, and pitch count. Not hits allowed, runs allowed, etc.

Concourse- 0

Closed. Very disappointing. The concourse were spacious though which is always nice.

Out of town Scoreboard- 0

It was LED which I didn’t like and they only had 4 scores up at time and rotated them. I hate that.

Personal Score- 3/5

I like the park and I know the ratings from this will make it seem terrible- it is not. From food and drink to aesthetics to overall game experience, this park is above average. But there are so many wonderful parks out there that it just doesn’t quite stack up to most of the pack.

Overall Score- 66.5/100

Royals Making Mistake in Sending Down Yordano Ventura

Posted July 22, 2015 by Disco
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The big news out of Kansas City today is that starting pitcher Yordano Ventura is being sent down to AAA for “struggles”. The same Yordano Ventura who was a revelation last October, christened “the new Pedro”, and was the Royals Opening Day starter this season. While Ventura spots an ugly 5.19, it is a somewhat misleading ERA- something ERA often does. Ventura should not have been sent down, and is in fact, their best pitcher. For a team trying to make it back to the World Series, this move sure does seem like a head scratcher. But if we take a closer look, maybe we can find something that the Royals didn’t like.

To start, here are Ventura’s 2014 numbers.

183 IP, 7.82 K/9, 3.39 BB/9, 0.69 HR/9, 3.60 FIP, 3.74 xFIP, 2.4 fWAR (2.6/200IP)

For a 23 year old rookie, those are some good numbers. Most of those numbers are above average and as mentioned, he was 23 with a FB velocity just over 96MPH.

Now compare that to 2015…

76.1 IP, 7.66 K/9, 2.95 BB/9, 0.83 HR/9, 3.69 FIP, 3.68 xFIP, 1.0 fWAR (2.6/200IP)

His K rate is pretty much the same and he traded less walks for more home runs. His FIP is about the same from 2014 and he is on pace for the same fWAR. So, what’s the problem? Where is the perceived struggle? Let’s dig a little bit deeper.

Last year Ventura had a BABIP of .288 and a LOB% of 73.5%. This year those are .321 and 64.8% respectively. Despite pretty similar peripherals to 2014 (his K% is down just 1% and his BB% is better by just 1%), he has been unlucky on balls in put in play, leading to more runs and thus an ERA that jumped two runs, from 3.20 to 5.19. So that must explain the discrepancy between FIP and ERA, the numbers will normalize, and the Royals are nuts…right?

Well, the story doesn’t end there. There may be a reason for the higher percentage of home runs and balls in play landing for hits. If you look at his soft, medium, and hard hit ball percentage you will see some major differences. Last year 20.2% of balls hit were classified as soft v 25.1% classified as hard. In 2015, only 10.5% of balls hit are considered soft while 33.3% are considered hard. Along with that, his pull percentage went from 40.3% to 49.6%, with that difference coming entirely from balls hit to the opposite field. His contact percentage on balls in the zone has gone up 5.1%. All of the above can explain why his BABIP and HR% have both increased.

What can explain this discrepancy? I am not quite sure. His 4-seam and 2-seam fastballs are each down 1 MPH, but a 1 MPH decrease shouldn’t create such drastic changes. Moreover, even with the slight drop in velocity his FB reaches 95-97 MPH, which is still hard. Looking at his Pitch F/X values, the only pitch that is noticeably worse than 2014 is his 4 seam FB, which he throws more than any other pitch (38.8% of the time, down from 53.9% in 2014). Its value is -7.4 or 7.4 runs below average, a drop of about 13 runs from 6.3 in 2014. You take 13 runs off his season line, and suddenly you have a 3.66 ERA.

As to why his FB is so hittable and leading to harder hit balls that batters can pull, I don’t know. I am not good with Pitch F/X and it would be great if someone were to do the analysis on it.The obvious guess is that he is not locating in the zone, which can explain the fewer walks (more balls in the zone and more balls in play before getting deep in the count), higher contact percentage, more balls in play being pulled, and more balls being hit hard at the expense of soft hits.

Yet in spite of his struggles with the FB, Ventura has still been above average this season and the Royals best starter. Whatever is going on, I am sure it is something he can fix at the ML level. In a perfect world you might want to send him down to work on mechanics or whatever the problem is- release point, tipping pitches, grip, etc- but when you are trying to contend for the division and the pennant, you cannot replace your #1 starting pitcher down the stretch.

Ballpark Review: Minute Maid Park

Posted July 2, 2015 by Disco
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Franchise: Houston Astros

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity: 41,574

Game Attended: June 26th, 2015 v New York Yankees

Section 128, Row 20

Minute Maid Park is strange to me. It looks like an amazing park from pictures and TV, with the facade in left and view of downtown Houston, but it is often maligned in ballpark reviews and rankings. After visiting, it still feels strange to me- I had never seen baseball played under a roof before!- but I just don’t see how some people are so down on it.

1) Aesthetics- 20/25

Exterior- 3.5/5

Like most modern parks, Minute Maid embraces the brick layered design. It is a fail-proof look, but with so many teams embracing a brick laden exterior, Minute Maid doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

Interior- 9/10

Minute Maid Park is beautiful. I love the Crawford seats, I love the facade with the train on top, and I love Tal’s Hill. Minute Maid is extremely unique and that is what makes it so great. Some people hate that it’s disingenuous and quirky (there is no need for Tal’s Hill they say). But who cares? Funky dimensions, fences, and features is what makes baseball and baseball parks so special compared to arenas of other sports. One real interesting feature is how the park is “split in two” due to the roof. In left field is the facade and view of downtown Houston while the jumbo video board takes up the whole of right field. The only downside to Minute Maid is the roof. While it does get to be REALLY hot in Houston for most of the season, the aesthetics of the stadium would improve without the roof. The whole time I kept thinking, “it’s comfortable in here…but how amazing would this stadium look with the roof open”.

Backdrop- 7.5/10

Foul pole to foul pole, this is one of my favorite views so far. Obviously an open roof would help, but the buildings of downtown Houston rising above the facade in left make for a wonderful background to the game. Despite having no backdrop in left, the view in left more than makes up for it. Those who are able to enjoy an open roof game will marvel at the view.This is an 8 with the roof open and 7 with the roof closed.

2) Seats & View- 15/20

Sight line- 7/10 From walking around the park pre-game, there are not too many bad seats. But there are a lot of average ones. Where we sat was the first section into the outfield on the first base side. We had good sight lines for balls in play and the video board. But you really have to crane your neck to face the pitcher. Moreover, there isn’t much of an incline on the first level, so if you’re short, you better hope no one tall sits in front of you. In right field on the first level you will have a great seat in the first several rows. After that your sight line on fly balls is cut off because of the second deck overhang. Seats down the third base line are angled in to face the pitcher so you don’t need to crane your neck. But then you can’t see the wonderful out of town score board on the left field fence. As for the upper deck, sight lines are great unless you are at the very top. Then beams and A/C tubes block your vision. So this rating is a tough call- there are good views, but several areas where it does lack.

Proximity- 4/5 Despite sitting 20 rows up, I felt really close to the action. Moreover, third and fourth level seats are angled so you feel on top of the action. Obviously the highest seat in the park isn’t going to be great, but you don’t need to bring binoculars to keep track of the action.

Comfort- 3/5 I was not cramped in my seat, but there wasn’t a lot of side to side space, although the leg room was pretty good. However, from where I was I did have to crane my neck which did get uncomfortable. For me it was a minor issue, but for some I can see it being annoying or problematic. I’m sure there are a lot worse parks in terms of comfortable seating (see Fenway) but there are also a lot more cozy parks.

3) Atmosphere- 10/15

Fan Participation- 4/5

The fans were loud and made their presence known every time something good or bad happened to the hometown team. When the Astros came from 6 down to tie the game, everyone was standing and hollering and it was a really fun environment (other than the fact the Yankees had just blown a 6 run lead). However, things were quiet when the Yankees were leading and some fans left early when the Yankees went up for good.

Attendance- 3/5

: I know the Astros attendance has been bad while they’ve had losing season after losing season, but with the Yankees in town the game I was at was packed. I don’t think it was a sellout, but the park was at least 90% full. The fans were loud and made their presence known every time something good or bad happened to the hometown team.I would rate this higher based on the game I was at, but I know it was a weekend game v a premium opponent.

Fan Knowledge: 3/5

: My one complaint and the one thing keeping them a tier below your NY, Boston, and Philly tier fans is they don’t respect standing with two strikes two outs. I stood in that very situation with Dellin about to close the game out- and was scolded. Afterwards when joking to my friends about it, they started chirping from up the aisle. Now maybe these were rogue fans unrepresentative of the Astros fan base, but it is a baseball game. You are supposed to stand with two strikes and two outs, at the very least.

4) Attractions- 5/15

Museums and Team History- 3/10

On the outside, they only have a tiny plaza with Bagwell and Biggio statues with a few other plaques. But it looks like the Astros almost went out of their way to hide this “tribute” area from the public. Inside, there is no team museum as far as I could tell. The Astros have “only” functioned as a franchise for just north of 50 seasons now, but there is no real tribute to their team history. Granted they have no World Series, just one pennant, and until recently, a lack of quality players throughout those 50+ years. Yet ballparks that pay homage to their team legacy definitely stand out from those that do not. They have retired numbers in the park, but I couldn’t even find murals of past players of big moments in team history.

Things to Do and See- 2/5 Outside the HR Oil Pump in left- an oil pump displaying all the HR’s ever hit in MMP- there wasn’t any special attraction to the stadium, unless you count Tal’s Hill (which I don’t). There is the train on top of the facade, but you can’t actually go up and check it out before or during the game. Your only real chance to check it out is to hope the home team goes yard during the game. The team store was relatively big, but didn’t offer anything too special. Moreover, the organization and layout was terrible leading to overcrowding and insanely long lines.

5) Food & Drink- 4/10

Hot Dog- 1/5 The Astro Dog. You can top it with chili cheese, onions, spicy mustard, and more. It’s made with Nolan Ryan beef which has a great reputation. In spite of this, the Astro Dog was terrible. By far the worst ballpark dog I have had and I don’t see another stadium serving a worse dog. The only redeeming quality was the toppings, but the hot dog itself tasted terrible and looked like no hot dog should look on the inside.

Best of the Rest- 3/5 As for the other food options, I only got the hot dog but they had some really good concessions like build your own fajitas and BBQ plates. I’m sure I would have liked them if I tried it. But the cost for these dishes were $10+. There was even a salad bar which I was tempted to try, before reminding myself I was at a ballgame. Beers here are quite expensive, as you pay just under $12 for 24oz. That coupled with the Astro Dog and I walked away as an unhappy camper with this aspect of the Minute Maid experience.

6) Game Entertainment & Presentation- 4.5/5

In-Game Entertainment- 4.5/5

The Astros do a solid job with their in-game entertainment. There were no mascot races which I liked because too many teams have them while only a few actually do them well. There were your run of the mill kiss cams and whatnot, but the real show is their mascot, Orbit. I believe Orbit is relatively new, but boy is he killing the game. The Phanatic better look out because I think Orbit has a legitimate claim to best mascot in baseball. His best performance when I went was a parody video to the Napoleon Dynamite dance in an effort to get fans to Vote for Jose (Altuve) for the All-Star game.

As far as music goes, I didn’t notice anything that stood out in particular.

7) Cleanliness – 3.5/5

Concourse- Minute Maid still feels really new even though it opened up in 2000. The concourse was clean and everything still seemed high-tech, although that might just be a side-effect of it being a retractable roof stadium that is closed 90% of the time.

Bathrooms- I wasn’t a fan of the bathrooms, but I’m not going to let that spoil their ranking here. It smelled like a bathroom, but then again, IT’S A BATHROOM.

Rows & Seats- I did notice from walking around before the game that there was leftover food in the upper deck from the night before. Fortunately, the first level was clean.

8) Local Scene & Location- 2/5

There is no local scene. There are a couple eateries outside the stadium but because there are only a couple they are extremely packed. Despite MMP being located in downtown Houston, there is nothing to do in downtown Houston. Just walking around the city the next day there are only corporate buildings. I saw no cafes, no restaurants, and few bars. You’ll have to drive elsewhere to find something to do. As for getting to the park- you’ll need to walk if you are staying close by or grab an Uber. Location- Minute Maid is located downtown so it provides for a great backdrop and convenient place to get to. Unfortunately, there is just nothing to do in downtown Houston.

9) Access & Cost- 3/5

Accessibility- Access to MMP is run of the mill. There is light rail and bus that drops off near the stadium and it is very walkable from downtown Houston. Most people will most likely drive in though, and while it is easy to drive to once you get to the city, there will be traffic on the highway that takes you into downtown. It would be better if there were more, simpler alternatives.

Cost- For premium games tickets can be pricey (first level for a Yankees/Red Sox game will probably be around $100) but seats elsewhere in the park are moderately priced and non-premium games run a little bit easier on the wallet. However, both food and drink are priced higher than other stadiums- or at least other stadiums I have been to outside New York.

10) Misc.- 4

Stats & Info- One thing I demand from stadiums is for relevant information such as speed pitch, speed type, pitch count, and players stats to be available and easy to find. At Minute Maid, these information is not easy to find despite a giant video board. One thing I hated: the video board is great- but is a waste of space. In the main, center portion of the board where player head shots, info, and stats are shown, they put a logo of the hitting team. So instead of an A-Rod head shot with player information, it was the Yankees logo.

Out-of-Town Scoreboard- One thing I loved: the out of town scoreboard. It shows the full nine inning box opposed to just a score and what inning it is. You don’t see too many stadiums do that.

Concourse- Minute Maid gets a major check mark for having an open concourse. In today’s day and age there is no excuse for a closed concourse. Fans should still be able to see the action when waiting in line to get food or drink or walking to the bathroom.

Roof- As much as I wanted the roof down, it is necessary. 4 months of the season it is 90+ outside and often it is 100+ with a lot of humidity. The roof is pretty much a necessity.

Tradition- It is always great when a ballpark has tradition and the playing of “Deep in the Heart of Texas” certainly qualifies.

Personal Score- 3.5/5 Watching baseball indoors was weird. But once the action gets going you don’t notice it because you get into the game. It truly is a great park to watch a game and it was a really fun game. Of all the modern stadiums I have been to, MMP might be the most unique and I like that. In fact, the view of left field with the fence, the facade, the train, and downtown Houston is one of my favorite sight lines of any park I have been to. There were some flaws- the food, lack of attention paid to team history, and waste of video board space were all bothersome- but that did not take away from what this park does right.

Overall Score- 74.5/100

Minute Maid Park has a lower score than expected, but it was hurt due to the smaller factors I don’t care as much about. As far as aesthetics, seats/view, and atmosphere, MMP is certainly one of the top dozen parks in baseball.

Ballpark Review: Dodger Stadium

Posted June 26, 2015 by Disco
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Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers

Year Opened: 1962

Capacity: 56,000

Game Attended: June 13, 2014 v Arizona Diamondbacks

Section 158

I had the pleasure of attending a game at Dodger Stadium last year. What made it even more special is that Clayton Kershaw was on the mound and the Kings won the Stanley Cup that night, so 20% of the stadium responded accordingly. The rest of the crowd had no idea who the Kings are. Dodger Stadium sneaks up on you with how old it is. It’s been around since 1962, making it the third oldest stadium in use.

1) Aesthetics- 19/25

Exterior- 3/5

It’s an old stadium and the exterior of almost every old stadium is terrible. However, there are some redeeming qualities. It is not entirely closed (open in the outfield) and palm tries are abundant around the outer concourse by the parking lot.

Interior- 8/10

Dodger Stadium was built in the 60s and it still has that feeling and look, but in a good way. You definitely get an old-timey vibe being at Dodger Stadium. Not an old-timey Fenway or Wrigley feel, but more 50s/60s. From the hills of Chavez Ravine in the backdrop to the faded blue fence and yellow seats, it does look like you hopped in a time machine. Yet it doesn’t come across as outdated or cheesy like similar stadiums built in the same time period. These days a lot of parks have giants video boards and grand stands in the outfield. Most ballparks are built in cities or the heart of a city downtown. Not Dodger Stadium.

Backdrop- 8/10

It’s out by the woods, with trees as a backdrop- and it is completely refreshing. Most parks have buildings in the background, or a closed backdrop. The trees and hills of LA are a perfect fit for this vintage park.

2) Seats & View- 12/20

Sight lines- 6/10

One of the few flaws is the view, but that is to be expected from an old stadium. Sitting on the first level isn’t bad, but when you are sitting far down the foul lines, you really have to crane your body to see the pitcher and you don’t have a good angle for most balls in play. The bleachers do seem like a great hangout spot if you really want to get down and dirty with the local fans. As for the other levels, that’s where the fights and potential violence takes place.

Proximity- 3/5

Moreover, you do feel a lot farther away from the action on the higher levels than most stadiums today. Again, it is tough to blame Dodger Stadium because of its age, but it still is a flaw.

Comfort- 3/5

No complaints here on the seating. Not living like a king but not cramped either.

3) Atmosphere- 12.5/15

Fan Participation- 4/5

LA loves their Lakers, but they also love their Dodgers. The Dodgers are definitely an “it” thing to do, but there are also a lot of dedicated, hardcore supporters.

Attendance- 4.5/5

The team is usually among the league leaders in attendance and it makes for a fun time at the stadium. Any true baseball fan will have a blast here. And those just hoping for a good time won’t be disappointed either.

Fan Knowledge- 4/5

Across the board the Dodger fans get strong marks. Even casual fans seemed to know a lot of the team.

4) Attractions9.5/15

Team Museum & Team History- 6/10

With the rich history of the Dodger franchise, Dodger Stadium is a let down. This stadium is primed for a team museum, but alas, there is none. There is a cool mural in the stadium of past players, but there isn’t much to commemorate their team history and legendary players. At the same time though, it is Dodger Stadium. You go there because it is a classic, not because of its team museum or statues.

Things to See and Do- 3.5/5

The team store is amazing. Not only is it giant, but there is plenty to choose from. I bought myself a Brooklyn hat and it is honestly the most comfortable hat I own.

5) Food & Drink- 7/10

Hot Dog- 3.5/5

Ah, the Dodger Dog, arguably the most famous hot dog in baseball. After having it, all I can say is, it’s good. Not great, not bad. Just good. Worth having when you go there, but you won’t be missing much if you don’t have it. The Dodger Dog still doesn’t top the Philly Frank for me.

Best of the Rest-3.5/5

As for the other concessions, it was pretty much all of the same. It seemed like every stand offered the same things- hot dogs, chicken fingers, fries, and drinks. So there isn’t much diversity here. Moreover, while the food is good, it is nothing special and pretty pricy.

6) Game Entertainment & Presentation- 2/5

Why the low score? Because it’s Dodger Stadium! They don’t need between inning gimmicks or mascot races. Just warm weather, good baseball, and the hills of LA in the backdrop. If anything, I wanted to give them a high score for NOT having too much of an entertainment presence.

7) Cleanliness- 4.5/5

This is one area in which I was blown away. I know Dodger Stadium is old and somewhat of a “vanilla” park, but my one major takeaway was how clean it is. You could tell they did some off season renovations because this park was cleaner and shinier than some parks I’ve been to that were built within the past decade.

8) Local Scene & Location- 3/5

It’s LA so there are a million things to do. But the low score is due to the fact that the stadium is kind of away from it all. In order to get anywhere post game, you have to drive and you have to deal with traffic. No bueno.

9) Access & Cost- 2/5

It’s no Yankee Stadium, but the Dodgers are a premium draw that can charge a lot based on team performance, the market, and the lure of the stadium. For weekend games against a top team, expect to spend a lot. But you can find deals in other parts of the park- upper deck and bleachers. However, these value seats aren’t always good seats. As for food and apparel, expect to pay up.

Your only hope is getting here is driving. The problem is that LA is notorious for terrible traffic. So while there is ample parking, expect to leave early to arrive on time.

10) Misc +4

Stats & Info- 1

This is the one park getting a bonus point for its lack of statistical information. They have a small video board and small scoreboard and aren’t looking to upgrade either any time soon. But that helps with the vintage feel this park exudes.

Concourse- 1

Tradition-1

The history of the park gives it a bonus point. They also play organ music which is always welcome.

11) Personal Opinion- 4.5/5

Dodger Stadium is a special place and I am already thinking of my next trip back. It is baseball paradise for those who want to grab a dog, a beer, and enjoy a ballgame without the thrills and complexity of modern ballparks. There is no giant video board distracting you or anything else you see at parks nowadays. When you go to Dodger Stadium expect warm weather, good baseball, a good crowd, and a fantastic time. This is arguably the best experience I’ve had at a non-Yankee game in my life.

Overall- 80/100

This is a much lower score than expected, but this definitely is in my current top 3. It’s more of the non-stadium aspects that bring it down- local scene, entertainment, etc. But the simplicity and vintage beauty of it make this a classic stadium.

Ballpark Review: Progressive Field

Posted June 10, 2015 by Disco
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Franchise: Cleveland Indians

Year Opened: 1994

Capacity: 38,000

Games Attended: June 6 & 7, 2015 v Baltimore Orioles

Sec 51, Row X, Seat 1; Sec 34, Row P, Seat 1

When I first told friends I was going to Cleveland, I got a lot of crazy looks. I was even pointed towards this video of Joakim Noah of the Bulls basically saying, “Who the F goes to Cleveland by choice?”. Well, I do Noah, I do. While I didn’t have great expectations for the city, I did have some expectations for Progressive Field. Although it’s been around for about two decades, it was and still is considered one of the best parks around.

1) Aesthetics- 21.5/25

Exterior- 3.5/5

For a modern park, the exterior is rather outdated. The main entrance by home plate gives the impression you are about to walk into an old, cookie-cutter stadium. And the open, outfield entrance is nothing to write home about in terms of exterior design.

Interior- 9/10

“The Jake” as Progressive used to be known really is a beautiful ballpark. It has a gigantic video board atop the bleachers in left and it fits the mold of the stadium perfectly.The Indians retired numbers are plastered on the right field upper deck so you can’t miss it and they fit into the look of the park seamlessly. Every time I look at the pictures I took here, I am blown away.

Backdrop- 9/10

Beyond the video board in left are city buildings and Quicken Loans Arena, which is a huge plus for me. Something about skylines and buildings in the backdrop of a stadium are just aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Despite the board in left and an upper deck in right, there is open space in center so you don’t feel like you’re in a stadium and you get more city sight lines. The park is nestled on a downtown city block which gives it a really unique field, compared to a stadium like Turner or Nats Park, which are kind of in the middle of nowhere.

2) Seats & View- 17/20

Sight lines-9/10

After walking around the park I concluded there is almost no bad view- except for the bleachers in left. I sat several rows back near home plate the first game I was at and had great sight lines, even on balls hit deep in the outfield. The second game I was equal to the infield/outfield cutoff on first and still felt really close to the action. No matter where you sit (except the bleachers) you will be able to see the video board. The upper deck is angled very steep like Turner, so you have a great view and don’t feel like you are in a nose bleed seat- and you get an even better view of downtown Cleveland! Now- the bleachers. I like that it had back support. But you can’t see balls hit to deep left (the outfield disappears with the high fence) and you you need to do a 180 turn and crane your neck up high just to see the video board.

Recommendation: 100 level, anything on the first base/home plate side. Also, the right field standing room only ticket. Its right by the food court with the brats and sliders and what not, as well as a bar. You get a great view, can still see the video board, and are right by the bullpen, which is built into the crowd so you can be just feet away from pros throwing 90 MPH- a fantastic seat. And I believe standing room only is $13 and comes with a free drink (with beer as an option).

Proximity- 4/5

As mentioned above, you feel close to the action. I refrain giving a perfect score because you’re not RIGHT ON TOP of the action- but still pretty close.

Comfort- 4/5

The seats had a ton of leg room. What keeps the score down is that some seats like the bleachers truly are not comfortable.

3) Atmosphere- 10/15

Fan Participation- 4/5

Considering the low attendance figures, I was surprised by the great atmosphere. Fans packed the lower levels and bleachers for both games. Almost everyone was in Indians gear (or Orioles gear). A lot of hecklers, cheers, and jeers as well. When the super fan with the drum got his beat going, everyone joined in every time- it was really cool. HOWEVER, in both games the stadium started to empty out after the 7th inning stretch. Which was crazy considering the first game was a 2-1 game. If not for that, the score would have been higher.

Attendance- 2/5

While the games I were at were pretty full, there is no denying the Indians current attendance rate 40%. Not good.

Fan Knowledge- 4/5

I could hear fans all around me talking about the team, trade rumors, and more so it showed the fans were passionate. Cleveland is a baseball town, all they need now is a competitive team.

4) Attractions- 8.5/15

Museum & Team History- 6/10

One of the few disappoints was this aspect of the park. Heritage Park is the only real attraction. It’s located behind the batters eye in center and it honors players in Indians history. Now it does a good job highlighting a lot of players and moments throughout the years, but it was only plaques. Heritage Park is billed as some grand place that honors their history. Nope. It’s just a small area with plaques. To end on a positive, I like how they displayed their retired numbers at the top of the right field upper deck. Some might find it “out of the way” but I think it spiced up an area that is typically bland in most parks.

Things to See & Do- 2.5/5

They had a decently sized team store, but it was poorly organized and the checkout line was placed so it got in the way of people browsing around (in my opinion at least). Outside of this, I couldn’t find anything to do other than wait for the first pitch.

5) Food & Drink- 8.5/10

Hot Dog- 3.5/5

When it comes to topping off your dog, there is a big debate about stadium v ballpark mustard in Cleveland. I am not a mustard guy, but I went with the ballpark mustard and it was better than most mustard I have had in the past. As for the dog itself, it was as average as it gets (but $3!).

Best of the Rest- 5/5

As far as the rest of the food- holy cow everything looked and smelled amazing. I also got an Italian sausage with peppers and onions which was really good, for a low price ($9 with toppings). The Prog also had a burger stand that smelled incredible in a right field food location that had sliders, the sausages, and other great food. They offer Rally Burgers for $5 and Pierre’s ice cream as well. This is the best value food you will get in MLB. The drinks were also good. The Washington Post had an article last year stating Progressive had one of the best offerings in baseball and its true. They did have your run of the mill stuff, but offered a lot of local and other craft brews which was really cool. Another feature I like is that you can walk the concourse at the top of the section and still see the game, and then walk to your right to access the food concessions. They also have food tables at the top of the seats on the first level, so you can sit down and eat your food there and still watch the game before getting back to your seat.

6) Game Entertainment & Presentation- 1/5

It honestly was like they didn’t even try. They had the shittiest mascot race I have ever seen. It was a straight race and over in 10 seconds. The promotions crew could hardly seem to care about getting the fans (mainly kids) pumped up and each inning ketchup and mustard mascots would dance on the dugout. And the main mascot, Slider, barely had a presence.

7) Cleanliness- 3/5

Just like Turner, the cleanliness is what you expect for a stadium in its third decade. Its clean but you can tell it has wear and tear. One thing I liked is how spacious the bathrooms were. Normally it is very crowded but the Prog gives you a lot of personal space at the urinal, which is always nice.

8) Local Scene & Location- 4/5

There isn’t a ton to do, but considering the park is built into the heart of downtown, there was enough cool stuff to do before and after games. On the surrounding blocks there were plenty of bar restaurants to get some drinks and grub. Also nearby is the Browns stadium, Lake Eerie, and the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame which is a must-see when in Cleveland. There is also a casino a couple blocks away if that is your thing. Overall, downtown Cleveland was way cooler than I (and Joakim Noah) would ever believe.

9) Access & Cost- 4.5/5

With the- generally speaking low attendance of the past few seasons and mediocre play on the field, seats are cheap. But there are tons of great views and seats, which makes that an even more valuable ticket. As mentioned before, this is the cheapest food I have seen at a pro park- it’s even cheaper than a lot of Minor League ballparks. The hot was $3.50. A 16oz can of Bud was $7.5. A jumbo sausage or brat is $5-7. They had rally burgers for $5. And ice cream for $4!

As for access, the local train drops off nearby and the stadium is located right off the major highway. And if you’re in the city, it’s easily accessible by walking.

10) Misc- 1

Stats & Info- Progressive has an amazing video board in left and they can’t provide clear, important game and player information. This is my biggest complaint of the park. 0 points.

Out-of-Town Scoreboard- It is very noticeable but they wouldn’t show all the games at once. If you were looking for a specific out-of-town game score, you had to wait and miss some of the game action until that score was displayed again. 0 points.

Concourse- At the top of the section you can walk along and see the field. But if you want to go get food, you enter a different part of the concourse where you can’t see the game. Tsk tsk.

Roof- No need for a roof in Cleveland.

Tradition- There was several traditions at The Prog. Cleveland Rocks is played after wins which is awesome. There is some awesome song played in the 8th called “Hang on Sloopy”. EVERYONE knew the words. And finally- the drum guy! Every time the Indians mounted a rally he would bang away from the top of the bleacher and the whole crowd would join along by clapping.

10) Personal Opinion- 4.5/5

I want to get the negative out of the way. I HATED the use of the video board and lack of game information. For the batter, they would display their picture, season stats, and only show what they did that game via a box score graphic. Most stadiums have info on date of birth, service time, etc- some neat stuff. The Prog does not. Moreover, they only have pitch count and radar on the side LED panels on third and first- but nothing on the giant video board. One thing parks do that I love is show what pitch was thrown (e.g. slider). I couldn’t find that information here which was a big no-no for me. Also, they only display one teams info at a time. When the Indians were batting, you couldn’t look up there and see the Orioles lineup and game info if you wanted to. Also, the out of town scores sucked. They only showed just a few at a time and only had the score, not who was on base and who was pitching, as all other out of town boards always show. I didn’t like that. HOWEVER, it didn’t take away from my game experience and Progressive was awesome. It felt like a small bandbox but still had the modern, stadium-like aspects to it which was great. Fitting it in downtown Cleveland is amazing as that is so much better than being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by parking lots- you can actually walk to a game here! The food and drink was great, the fans were good, and the views were awesome. The Prog is another must-see stadium.

Overall Score- 83.5/100

As Drew Carey once proclaimed: CLEVELAND ROCKS

Ballpark Review: Turner Field

Posted June 1, 2015 by Disco
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Franchise: Atlanta Braves

Year Opened: 1997

Capacity: 49,586

Games Attended: May 23 & 24, 2015 v Milwaukee Brewers

Sec 204, Row, Row 1, Seat 4; Sec 105, Row 5, Seat 4

Over Memorial Day Weekend I had the chance to catch two Braves games in Atlanta. When reading ballpark rankings in the past, Turner Field always placed near the bottom. So my expectations were not that high.

1) Aesthetics- 16/25

Exterior- 3/5

The open outfield exterior of Turner is great, especially the brick wall where the ticket windows are located. However, the exterior running from third around to first definitely make Turner look more like a stadium than a field.

Interior- 7/10

From afar, Turner Field doesn’t seem special. But seeing this place in person was awesome. The video board looked nicer, the advertisements looked nicer, everything looked nicer. I love the championship banners displayed in left and the coke bottle and Chik-Fil-A in the upper deck. For an older, “bland” stadium those details make it stand out from others (think US Cellular).

Backdrop 6/10

You can’t see the skyline from the lower levels, but you can from the first base side of the upper deck and it is a great sight. While Turner lacks a skyline like Pittsburgh, fountains like KC, or any other unique part of the backdrop, it still comes together as a whole.

2) Seats &View- 15/20

Sight lines- 8/10

In the first game, we sat in the 200 level. This is still the field level but further back than the 100 level. Despite that, it was still a good seat that felt close and gave a great vantage point of the whole field. For the second game, we had the pleasure of sitting five rows back of home plate. These were by far the best seats I have had for a ML game. Even though we sat so close, there was still a good angle to pick up balls hit to the outfield. These tickets also came with access to the 755 Club- which was a blast- as I’ll mention later on.

Proximity- 4/5

Before the games we walked around to get a feel for the park and the upper deck was great as well. You don’t feel like you are sitting up too high at all and the top row of the upper deck was just as good as the first row. The vantage point is good, you get a view of the skyline, and the seats are angled so that people sitting in front of you won’t be in the way.

Outfield seats are also nice and are probably the most affordable. Really, there are very poor seats in the house.

Recommendation: 200 level, the sections that align with the batter circle on each side. There were probably 50 fouls hit into these sections each game. A lot of people went home happy with a souvenir as a result.

Comfort: 3/5

The seats were somewhat cramped, but there was good leg room.

3) Atmosphere- 11/15

Fan Participation- 4/5

The atmosphere was fantastic. The crowd was into the game and knew when to cheer and boo. Hearing the tomahawk chant in person was great and when it came time to close the game out for a Braves win, the crowd noise was deafening. Braves fans certainly impressed me.

Attendance- 3/5

A lot of people, myself included, rag on the Braves for low attendance figures, even when they were annual division winners. However, both games I attended had to have had at least 30,000 people there.

Fan Knowledge- 4/5

Braves fans are the real deal.

4) Attractions- 14/15

Museum & Team History- 9/10

The team museum is in Scouts Alley and one only needs a token to enter. The museum was very in-depth, showcasing uniforms throughout team history, the dugout bench from Fulton County, history on the different cities and eras of the franchise, as well as lockers highlighting awards and stories from past players and seasons.

Stuff to See and Do- 5/5

The attractions at Turner Field blew away just about all the other stadiums I have been to. First, when pull up to the parking lot you see they still have a cutout of the old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, which is really cool. You can go stand on the old pitchers mound or dig into the batters box. Moreover, the spot of Hank Aaron’s 715th career HR is marked off with the original fence. As you walk past this in the parking lot and carry onto the stadium, you see several statues, plaques, and tributes to past players such as Warren Spahn, Eddie Matthews, Greg Maddux, and many more. For a history junkie like myself, this is awesome.

Now once inside the stadium, you have Scouts Alley to the right. For just 10 tokens, you get a free Braves shirt and a chance to take batting practice in a cage or speed pitch. It’s a great gimmick for kids to enjoy their Turner experience, while making easy money.

5) Food & Drink- 8/10

Hot Dog- 3.5/5

To begin- the classic hot dog. They offered a jumbo dog for $6. Take or leave that price, but it was a better foot long dog than I expected. Most longer hot dogs suck, in my opinion. But this wasn’t bad. Not the best ballpark dog, but not disappointing.

Best of the Rest- 4.5/5

A lot of this ranking is based on the food I ate, the food offerings, and the beer. As for the beer, they just have the run of the mill drink choices. But a 25oz’er for $10 is good for ballpark prices (I once got a 16oz Bud from Yankee Stadium for $12). They offered some southern food and BBQ along with ballpark staples. There was even a Chik-Fil-A stand which is the greatest thing ever. At least it was until I walked around the 755 Club. Food wasn’t free up there, but it was amazing. You could get 5 star, restaurant quality fajitas, pasta, or asian food for $12. Yes, only $12. There are also dessert stands with froyo, cheesecake, and giant cookies. A meal might be $12, but it’s the best $12 I’ve spent at a ballpark.

6) Game Entertainment & Presentation- 2/5

The one thing I can’t really recall, because of its low presence, was game entertainment. There was a mascot race and a lot of the “Kiss Cam” stuff, but that was about it. Although they did have a unique “oblivious cam” that stayed on a person until they realized they were on camera. Now some people find the lack of game entertainment to be a good thing, but it hurts Turner Field in my rankings.

7) Cleanliness- 3/5

Turner Field was meh when it came to cleanliness. I mean, it was clean, but you could tell was a 20 year or so old stadium. Some of the bathrooms smelled funky and you could tell the concourse had been through some shit. But it didn’t detract from the game experience.

8) Local Scene & Location- 1/5

There is no local scene at the park other than a rib joint. But downtown Atlanta is a five minute drive and there is more than enough to do there.

9) Access & Cost- 2/5

Between Scouts Alley, the good food, and merchandise, it can be easy to spend a lot of money at the park. But for the quality of your seats and food, there is good value in the money you’re spending. Their ticket prices and food prices are probably above average, but unlike a lot of places you get your money’s worth.

As for access, you have to drive. There is ample parking which leads to a lot of tailgating, but there is no good transportation system getting to the park.

10)- Misc +3

Stats & Info- 1

I have seen better, but all the info needed was present and easy to spot. They went pretty in-depth with player info, going so far as to state their MLB service time.

Out-of-Town Scoreboard- 0

Wasn’t a fan.

Concourse- 1

It was open so I could see the game when getting beer.

Roof- 0

Tradition- 1

The Tomahawk chop!

Personal Opinion- 4/5

As I mentioned at the start, I had low expectations for Turner. But I was amazed with the whole experience. If you want to tailgate, you can do so. If you want to catch BP, you are more than welcome to (and A LOT of balls were hit into the LF seats). If you want to learn about the team history, you can do so. If you want to buy some cool gear, you can do so. If you want good food, you will get it. If you want a good seat, you will have one. Turner Field is a great park worthy of visit for baseball fans.

Overall Score- 79/100

Ballpark Review: Nationals Park

Posted May 10, 2015 by Disco
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Franchise: Washington Nationals

Year Opened: 2008

Capacity: 41,418

Game Attended: September 5, 2014 v Philadelphia Phillies

Section 409, Row 1, Seat 1

With the third ballpark review, I take on Nationals Park. It’s a nice park with some cool aspects to it, but it fails to single itself out from the other modern parks. Despite that, I enjoyed my time and recommend knocking this park out next time you visit D.C.

1) Aesthetics- 16/25

Exterior- 4/5

The exterior is pretty modern looking and different than most parks so I like it. Also, the left field gate is my favorite gate of any stadium so far. You just walk past the entry and boom, you’re on top of the field left seats as players are taking BP.

Interior- 7/10

I love the scoreboard and the stadium is nice (as it should be when it’s less than 10 years old) but there isn’t anything special about the place. There is no cool skyline in the distance, no unique design to the fence or its alignment, or any other distinguishing feature. It is about as regular as a park can look without being a cookie-cutter stadium.

Backdrop- 5/10

From select seats in the upper deck you can see The Capitol building which is really cool, but only a handful of fans get that view. Moreover, there is a lot of construction and ugly buildings visible in the backdrop, which hurts its rating. That said, it still has a solid look to it.

2) Seats & View- 12/15

Sight lines- 4/5

I sat in the upper deck and had a great view of the game. On the third base side I could still pick up what kind of pitches were being thrown and had a great vantage point of all the players so I could track their movement. From walking around, I could tell there were other great views. I thought the left field seats were really cool. When you walk through the main gate in left, the seats are right there, straight ahead. I’ve never seen a stadium with a design like that, but I thought it was awesome and it gave a great view of the game, the bullpen, and the scoreboard.

Proximity- 4/5

Like most new parks, seats are built closer to the action than ever before.

Comfort- 4/5

No complaints from me.

Best Seat- Left field

3) Atmosphere- 11/15

Fan Participation- 4/5

Even though the team has been good the past few years, I wasn’t expecting much of a fan base. I was pleasantly surprised at the game I was at. Fans were vocal in support and they have even had a special “Nats” chant for each run scored. This fan base has potential so long as the Nats keep winning.

Attendance- 3.5/5

I went to a September game, on a Friday, in a season where the Nats won 96 games. It was crowded, but they could have drawn more.

Fan Knowledge- 3.5/5

4) Attractions- 4/15

Museum & Team History- 1/10

There is no team history. And through no fault of their own, there is little team history to show off.

Stuff to See and Do- 3/5

Much like The Bank, there isn’t much in the way of anything at the park.The boardwalk area is alright and featured a live band. The team store was really big with a nice selection, but it was the only such store I saw. Also, there is a cool wall with fat heads of the players and a height chart, so that you can measure yourself compared to a Nationals player.

5) Food & Drink- 7/10

Hot Dog- Ballpark foul. I didn’t have one.

Best of the Rest- 7/10

There was a good amount of food choices, especially in right field where they had some boardwalk-esque atmosphere going on. From what I remember though, the food there was relatively expensive. But they had anything from burritos to Caribbean jerk chicken. I ended up with chicken fingers, which were alright, but extremely salty.

6) Game Entertainment & Presentation- 5/5

The Brewers may have started the mascot races in the Majors, but the Nationals mastered it. The Racing Presidents are by far the best racing mascots in baseball and they get physical with it. Some fans might enjoy this more than the game itself.

7) Cleanliness- 4.5/5

The park was clean, as it should be when it’s new. The concourse is pretty open and the bathrooms were nice.

8) Local Scene & Location- 1/5

There is none. You have to take a crappy transportation system and the stadium is kind of in the middle of nowhere. There are food carts and a restaurant right outside the stadium, but that is it.

9) Access & Cost- 2/5

Tickets are a little bit on the costly side, but it is not too bad and the upper deck tickets are pretty cheap. However, you will find yourself spending a lot on food, drink, and transportation getting there. Otherwise I would have given a better cost score as far as their game tickets go.

Access is terrible though. Driving is tough and using the location transportation is terrible. You definitely need to take time to plan out how you will arrive here.

10) Misc +2

Stats & Info- 1

Concourse- 1

Tradition- 1

The president’s race!

11) Personal Opinion- 3.5/5

I think the park is better than what my overall score will show. As I have mentioned, it is a nice, clean park with a good atmosphere and a couple cool aspects such as the player height chart and the boardwalk area. But overall, there is no special quality to the stadium to separate it from the other modern stadiums (like PNC has with the skyline or ATT with the bay). I do recommend a game here.

Overall Score- 68/100


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