Cam Newton-Winner

Posted February 11, 2016 by @mikecordisco
Categories: Uncategorized


Cam Newton NOT walking off the field before handshakes like Peyton did when he lost in 2010.


In the aftermath of Super Bowl 50 the biggest news story was not Peyton Manning possibly retiring on top or the Broncos ferocious defense. Instead, the media and fans alike turned their attention towards Carolina Panthers QB, Cam Newton. Why? Because of a sour demeanor in his post-game press conference that ended abruptly with a walk-out.

Going into the Super Bowl, Cam Newton was already a controversial figure because he has the gall to have fun playing a game- a game which is designed for our entertainment, mind you. Whether it’s dabbing or revealing his Superman logo or smiling, Cam attracted plenty of haters (and lots of fans) for his high-energy persona. So naturally after a poor performance in football’s biggest stage, his haters came out of the woods in full force and did not hold anything back. But was it deserved? Simply put, no.

Before delving into why it’s not deserved, I do want to point out that he should have handled the situation better. His reasoning for not diving on the ball wasn’t great and he should have at least explained why he left the press conference suddenly (or at least say something when leaving). While he IS a good leader, his actions didn’t reflect it. He failed in that moment, but to be human is to err. Cam is a young guy and hopefully he will look back at this and learn how to better handle failure in the future.

With all that said, the hate he has received has been terrible. It’s one thing to not be a Cam fan, but the hate he is generating is vicious. Digging deeper, without being racial, you see it doesn’t make too much sense. Going through social media he has been called a coward, un-American, loser, bum, and much worse. All that, for walking out on a presser? Well, I guess it’s deserved since the media did the same to Tom Brady. Oh wait, they didn’t. In fact, looking at the story, people are complimentary of Brady (passion, desire to win, raw emotion, sore loser) for the same things Cam is being trashed for. Why the double standard? Now, the Super Bowl IS a much bigger platform. But the same principles should apply regardless. At the end of the day, Brady is a loved, “terrible loser” while Cam is a ridiculed “sore loser”. That doesn’t make much sense to me. Going even further, Cam even plagiarized his “show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser” quote. The man who said it? The man who the Super Bowl trophy is named after.

As for the press conference, I wish he didn’t walk off. But, but, but, but- he lost the biggest game of his life and didn’t play well. He has to answer questions just minutes after the game and has to do so with the CORNERBACK of the WINNING team talking about him literally just a few feet BEHIND HIS BACK. Put yourself in his shoes and see how you would handle it. I consider myself a good guy and I very well could have done the same.

But here’s the real reason Cam shouldn’t be belittled. He is one of the NFL’s “good guys”. Many All-Stars with fame and money don’t give back to the community or they only do so in name. Cam actively involves himself to help others. He hosts and attends camps for kids where he actually engages with them opposed to being there for ten minutes and leaving. He fed over 800 kids this past Thanksgiving. Does that sound like a loser? A coward? A scumbag? Not to me, especially when you have players like Greg Hardy and Vontize Burfict in the league. If you’re using scumbag on Cam, what are you calling those players?

While I hope Cam learns from this experience, I also hope he continues being the Cam Newton that got him to where he is today. At the end of the day, if you can impact the lives of others in a positive way while bringing joy to your fans, then you’re a winner in my book. Keep dabbin’ Cam, keep dabbin’.







Posted January 22, 2016 by @mikecordisco
Categories: Uncategorized

Hello World,

Not that anyone reads this blog, but I intend to starting writing again. Not always about baseball though. It might be personal diaries, political opinions, or even motivational thoughts. Either way, it will probably still be a replacement level blog.


Ballpark Review: PNC Park

Posted September 29, 2015 by @mikecordisco
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates

Year Opened: 2001

Capacity: 38,362

Games Attended: September 16 & 17 2015 v Chicago Cubs

Sec 119, Row B and Sec 317, Row J

Anyone who loves ballparks will tell you PNC Park is considered the holy grail of baseball stadiums. It routinely ranks at the top of ballpark rankings. A quick google image search will reveal hundreds of breathtaking photos with the skyline in the backdrop. So PNC Park certainly was the most hyped up and anticipated park I have made it to- and it certainly lived up to the hype.

1) Aesthetics- 23/25

Exterior- 4/5

Unlike most other modern parks, PNC did not go with the red brick exterior. However, the exterior still has a smooth, clean design. And to me, it conjures up images of a castle which I like.

Interior- 9/10

My words can do no justice for how amazing PNC Park is so I will just rattle off some of the great features of this park. The video board in left, the batters eye in center with “Pirates” sculpted in the shrubbery, the 21 foot out-of-town scoreboard in right that honors Roberto Clemente, the drinking patio in left, the green fence with blue seats that honor Forbes Field, and the mini facade in the upper deck.

Backdrop- 10/10

The bridge. The river. The skyline. Wow.

2) Seats & View- 17/20

Sight lines- 9/10

Not only does PNC provide amazing views, but the seats are built so you can actually get the most out of these views! Even when sitting up close there is no lack of angle that hurts perception on reading fly balls to the outfield. Seats are also angled down the line to face back in towards the infield which is always a good thing. You won’t have to worry about weird seat angles, overhangs, support beams, or anything else in that nature.

Proximity- 5/5

PNC Park is built so they have the closest seats in baseball. Home plate seemingly runs right up to the fence. Moreover, there are essentially just two levels, so the “upper deck” really isn’t an upper deck at all. And the rows in the second level do not climb up forever as they do at other parks.

Comfort- 3/5

I felt fine, but the comfort of the seats was simply average. There wasn’t a ton of leg room or side-to-side room. It was what you would expect.

3) Atmosphere- 11/15

Fan Participation- 5/5

MLB needs Pittsburgh to be good because this city is a legit baseball town. 90 loss seasons will hurt anyone’s attendance, but now that the team is a contender again, PNC is a boisterous place. Both games were loud, with fans involved on every pitch and waving their pirate flags all over the stadium. It was a ton of fun to experience the PNC crowds.

Attendance- 4/5

Not a perfect score because their attendance still sits at 75-80%, but both games I attended were pretty packed.

Fan Knowledge- 2/5

I only did not give a 1 as a benefit of the doubt to all other Pirates fans. For both games I was stuck behind the dumbest fans of all-time. One guy thought Jake Arrieta, with his 96mph fastball moving 5-10 inches, was throwing a straight fastball any A ball player can hit- and he would not shut up about it. The next day one guy wanted to know why Jordy Mercer was batting fourth and was going in on Clint Hurdle. He must have forgot Kang was hurt and replaced by Mercer not 10 minutes before. Both fans claimed to be ticket holders who have been coming out to games for years.

4) Attractions- 12/20

Museum & Team History- 6/10

The only thing that would have made this park perfect was more attention to their storied history. The Pirates have been around since the 19th century, played in the first World Series, have won several championships, and has been the home of several Hall of Fame players. Yet there is no team museum and the retired numbers are tough to locate in the stadium. The one redeeming quality are the four statues on the outside corners of the park- Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Honus Wagner, and Willie Stargell. And there are banners in left field honoring Negro League players who played in Pittsburgh.

The one explanation for not having a team museum of their own is that the Heinz Museum across the river has an entire room dedicated to baseball history Pittsburgh. Still, it would have been better if PNC had their own.

Things to See & Do- 6/10

The Pirates had one of the larger team stores I’ve seen with a good selection of products. The center and right field concourse is also cool because it’s open and has a great view of downtown Pittsburgh, as well as a picnic area. The Pirates have a couple bars/restaurants on multiple levels of the stadium. Overall though, there isn’t much to do other than take in the beauty of the park and take a ton of photos. If you have time- visit Heinz Field which is next door.

5) Food & Drink- 10/10

Hot Dog- 4/5

I got a special dog with BBQ sauce, mustard, ketchup, and onions. Damn it was good. Only downer was that the dog was so big so the bun fell apart.

Best of the Rest- 5/5

I got the special Pirates craft beer and it was really good. If you don’t want the Pirates special brew, there are more than enough craft brews to choose from. They also had wings, Primanti Bros, gyros, burgers, and more. Everything smelled and looked amazing- for an affordable price!

Bonus- Pirogis!

6) Game Entertainment/Presentation- 4/5

PNC Park has one of only three mascot races worthy of excitement- the Pirogi race. As for the rest of their entertainment, it’s nothing special but they do get bonus points for trying to do different “games” and cams than other parks. For example, one game was designed for a person to do a physical activity to win a prize.

7) Cleanliness- 4/5

It was a clean park. It’s 14 years old now so it’s not in mint condition, but clean is clean.

8) Local Scene & Location- 5/5

It’s tough to beat the scene in the Pittsburgh. One- it’s right across the river from downtown. Even if you cross the bridge back over, there will be food shops open and it’s only a short walk to the Strip District where there are bars galore. If you stay on the stadium side, you will also find eateries and bars nearby. Other attractions include Heinz Field, Mount Washington, Heinz Museum, Art Museum, and more.

9) Access & Cost- 4.5/5

PNC, for how amazing it is, has to be the most valuable stadium in baseball. Tickets, even my first level row B tickets, were cheap. The food and drinks are cheap (for stadiums). With a winning team and fantastic park they can easily charge more which made it so surprising that I could get amazing seats for under $50.

As for access, if you plan on walking from nearby then you get the honor of walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The bridge is closed off on game days, allowing fans to walk to and from the stadium for games. However, full points are not given due to traffic. I didn’t drive to the games, but traffic in Pittsburgh is terrible so I’d imagine this stadium isn’t as accessible by way of car. However, it seemed like most people walked and I would recommend it just to walk across the bridge and get that view.

10) Misc- 3

Out-of-Town Scoreboard- 1

PNC has my favorite out-of-town board in baseball- and the fact it’s 21 feet high in honor of Roberto Clemente is just icing on the cake.

Stats & Info- 1

The scoreboard did a tremendous job providing useful stats. What separates PNC from all other parks I have been to is the pitch f/x data. Yes, you heard that right. Along with velocity and pitch count, PNC shows you the horizontal and vertical break of a pitch.

Concourse- 1

11) Personal Opinion- 5/5

Public Enemy once said “don’t believe the hype”. When it comes to PNC Park, that is most definitely false. PNC Park is worth the hype and then some. It has the best backdrop, views, food, and stats/info of any park I have been to. It is without a doubt the #1 park in baseball.

Overall Score- 98.5/115

Ballpark Review: Coors Field

Posted August 25, 2015 by @mikecordisco
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Franchise: Colorado Rockies

Year Opened: 1995

Capacity: 50,398

Game Attended: August 20th v Washington Nationals

Sec 119, Row 1, Seat 6

Although you won’t see it at the top of any ballpark rankings, I may have been more geeked up to visit Coors Field than any other park so far. Despite a stadium that has too many seats and has seen too many losing seasons, there still seems to be a special something about the place that gives it a good vibe and charm. And Coors definitely lived up to my expectations.

1) Aesthetics- 21.5/25

Exterior- 5/5

The outer design of this ballpark is beautiful- up there with Globe Life and Yankee Stadium. It is composed of red brick and the best part is the home plate entrance, which gives off an Ebbets Field vibe. What separates it from a lot of other brick clad exteriors is the clock built into the top of the entrance. It’s a small touch, but it works.

Interior- 8.5/10

Coors Field might be one of the most underrated ballparks in baseball, based on beauty alone. But from the giant video board in left to the “woods” in the bullpen and beautiful views of the Rockies from the right field seats, there are a lot of unique style points that few other parks have. The ballpark reminded me a lot of Citizens Bank. The video board in left with seats that extended to center, the fence in right field with an out-of-town scoreboard, and the multiple decks in right.

Backdrop- 7/10

This rating is hurt slightly from the fact that while this is an “open” stadium, the video board, center field seats, and decks in right block any type of super scenic view. Moreover, the Denver skyline is located behind the home plate section of the park. However, on a clear night with the sun setting, there is no better view in baseball than the Rocky Mountains.

2) Seats & View- 16/20

Sight lines- 9/10

I sat down the first base line, about the first section into the outfield. Usually at this angle, it’s tough to read what the pitcher is throwing and you lose some angles on balls to the outfield. That wasn’t the case here. I could differentiate between different pitches and had a good read on balls hit to all parts of the field. Moreover, seats down the line across all levels angle in towards the infield so you have a better view and don’t need to twist your neck all night. Something like this would have been helpful at Minute Maid.

Proximity- 3.5/5

Sitting in the first row, we were close. I had a very similar first row seat at Philly once and it was not this close. However, the upper deck is far away. This is a mega 50k seat stadium with huge dimensions. So while the view of the mountains is cool and you can track the movement of all players on the field, you will be farther away than most other parks in the higher levels.

Comfort- 3.5/5

I felt fine here. Seats are kind of skinny, but you have leg room. However, the left and center field seats are all bleachers. These are actually pretty good outfield seats so that hurts, but at least they back support- something some stadium bleachers don’t have (i.e. Yankee Stadium).

3) Atmosphere- 10/15

Fan Participation- 3/5

So the Rockies suck and it was a week night game, so attendance wasn’t the best. The participation was okay, but once it got late in the game and it seemed like the Rockies were going to win, the stadium got loud. They were standing and cheering despite every level but the first level being empty, you couldn’t really tell from the volume.

Attendance- 3/5

Again, the night I went there was maybe around 20,000. But they draw over 30,000 on average and that’s despite a team that has sucked for most of two decades.

Fan Knowledge- 4/5

The fans that were here are a pretty good bunch. I could hear fans talk amongst themselves and spoke to those around me. I don’t think the city lives and breathes with the team, but they have fans and the fans understand the game.

4) Attractions- 10/20

Museum & Team History- 2/10

I heard they just built a team museum, but didn’t see it or see any signs for it. As for honoring team history, the Rockies have very little of it. There are no statues, plaques, or anything like that- or at least that I saw.

Things to See & Do- 8/10

So one things Coors Field will make sure of is that you don’t run out of things to do. You can stop in early and watch a great round of BP (because it’s Coors and there will be souvenirs hit). You can go to the Sandlot Bar where you can get fresh Blue Moon among other beers. You can call half an inning of the game and go home with a DVD of it. You can watch the sun set over the Rockies in right field. You can check out the “Purple Seats” in the upper deck, which indicate that you are now one mile above sea level. I had a big check list to cross off for Coors and that’s always a good thing.

5) Food & Drink- 8/10

Hot Dog- 4/5

The Rockie Dog is about a foot long dog that typically comes topped with peppers and onions. It was damn good and one of the best stadium dogs I have had so far.

Best of the Rest- 4/5

I didn’t get everything on the menu, but I would have loved to. They had foot long brats which I heard were really good, loaded potatoes, fajitas, BBQ, and even salads for those who like to eat clean. In the end though, I went for the bonus point signature dish- rocky mountain oysters. Which were good. As for beer- stick to Coors and/or Blue Moon. Prices weren’t anything to write home about, but it wasn’t terrible.

6) Game Entertainment/Presentation- 3/5

The entertainment was as standard as it gets- find the ball when it’s mixed up, video board race, mascot race, and some fan cams. The Rockies seem like a team that would benefit with a better entertainment package, but the baseball lifers such as myself don’t care.

7) Cleanliness- 3.5/5

The park is clean, as expected. But I wasn’t a fan of the bathrooms- they were all pretty small with small sink spaces.

8) Local Scene & Location- 4.5/5

The park is located downtown and as in most cases, that is a good thing. There are lots of bars and restaurants within a block or two of the park, so finding food and drinks before/after the game is easy- and there will be a good atmosphere to boot. One place I would recommend is Jackson’s, located right across from the home plate entrance. And if you are spending the day in Denver, the stadium is just a block or two away from the 16th Street Mall, so the neighborhood Coors is located is about as good as one can hope for.

9) Access & Cost- 4.5/5

Coors Field is both accessible and cost-friendly. You can drive there as it’s right off the highway. But you can also take the bus or light rail for really cheap and it drops off a couple blocks from the stadium. As for cost, the team isn’t very good and there are 50,000 seats. So good tickets are easy to get. And if you really want to be frugal- grab seats in The Rock Pile. It’s the second level outfield bleachers in center and they go for $4-$5.

10) Misc- 4

Out-of-Town Scoreboard- 1

Coors Field had the kind I like! Non digital, showed every game at once, had inning, score, runners on base, and pitchers.

Signature Dish- 1

Stats & Info- 1

Had all pertinent stats and was easy to find.

Concourse- 1

11) Personal Opinion- 4/5

As mentioned at the top, Coors Field lived up to expectations. It wasn’t the best park in the world, but it certainly is a good park and should be in the top half of anyone’s rankings. Unique parks are a favorite of mine and Coors is certainly a unique park. It’s clean, aesthetic, has quirks, and is functional. Bravo, Coors.

Overall Score- 84/115

Ballpark Review: Globe Life Park

Posted July 31, 2015 by @mikecordisco
Categories: Uncategorized

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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- 66.5/115

Royals Making Mistake in Sending Down Yordano Ventura

Posted July 22, 2015 by @mikecordisco
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: ,

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 @mikecordisco
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

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- 74.5/115

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.