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Volume One, Issue Forty-Nine: The One Where Baseball Stadiums Are Ranked

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Illustration for article titled Volume One, Issue Forty-Nine: The One Where Baseball Stadiums Are Ranked

Pablo Picasso died April 8, 1973, at the age of 91.

April 8, 2017

The winner of our NCAA Tournament pool — who, if you’ll remember, has been awarded with the ability to assign any topic for me to write about in this newsletter he/she desires — was a man named Tyler Molina, not, I’m told, of the catching Molinas. (He is of the Buffalo Molinas.) He has given me his topic, and we will get to it next week, when I have a little more time to research it. For now, though, you’ll have to deal with a “Will’s traveling and has his Dad in town and has a baseball game to coach this weekend and is generally underwater right now in every possible way” newsletter list. I hope you do not feel cheated.

As part of the Leitch Across America series (now, probably smartly, called “The Sports Tourist”), I’ll be in Detroit for the next few days, writing about the city’s sports scene. And on Monday, I will be at Comerica Park, watching the Tigers play the Red Sox. This is, in fact, the first time I’ve ever been to the Tigers’ stadium, which lowers the number of Major League Baseball stadiums I’ve never been to down to four. The four I haven’t seen yet:

  • SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia (to be fair, they haven’t played a regular season game yet)
  • Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas
  • Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
  • Marlins Park, Miami, Florida

I gotta get to Globe Life Park before they close the place, and I know I’ll knock off SunTrust Park in the next week and Marlins Park for the All-Star Game, so I’m getting close to have caught them all, a legitimate life goal and sadly impressive achievement. So because I don’t have time this morning to properly research Tyler Molina’s idea, here is simply a ranking of every active baseball stadium I have been to. This is will have to hold us off for a week in which, hey, check it out, let’s add a war to everything else going to shit. Sweet.

  1. AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants. Essentially a combination of my three next-favorite ballparks, except it’s smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Even the food is good.

  2. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs. Sure, I’m a Cardinals fan, but I’m not an unfeeling monster.
  3. PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m pretty sure I’ve made a mistake not making this No. 1. I can’t think of place that almost represents baseball to me more.
  4. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox. The cramped seats might bother me when I get older, but for now, it’s impossible not to feel special, and privileged, every time you’re at Fenway.
  5. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles. I wrote a whole piece about how much I love Dodger Stadium and will simply direct you to it here.
  6. Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles. It has been a decade since I’ve been there, but I’m told it’s impressively eternal. It’s the one that started the throwback ballpark trend, and while I’m generally against nostalgia, man, that was an excellent trend to start.
  7. Citi Field, New York Mets. Obviously, it’s a huge pain to get too ... but I really love this stadium. Maybe the most underrated stadium experience in baseball? Sure, it’s a neighborhood ballpark planted in the middle of something that is not a neighborhood (hello, chop shops!), but man, once you’re in it, it does sort of feel like ‘50s Brooklyn.
  8. Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals. You can call this biased all you’d like, and you’d probably be right, but honestly, it’s basically a place I have to go to at least twice a year so I can feel refreshed, like myself again. All told, I’m lying to you and myself by putting it this low.
  9. Coors Field, Colorado Rockies. A late-summer trip to Denver for a long weekend of baseball is a vastly underrated human experience.
  10. Target Field, Minnesota Twins. Bigger than it feels when you’re there, which is an excellent, excellent sign.
  11. Petco Field, San Diego Padres. The only thing bad about this place is the baseball.
  12. Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners. A much, much different stadium with the roof open than with the roof closed. As always, root against rain.
  13. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies. It has been a rough few years there, but when this place is sold out and the team is good, it gets hoppin’. Shame it’s out at a sports complex, though.
  14. Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers. It’s a scooch too big, but this place is a blast. And pretty fantastic fans to
  15. Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians. I’ve seen it at its best, but it’s one of those places that’s maybe a little bit too open to hold the sound. Being downtown by everything else helps, though.
  16. Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays. A little too big, a little too sanitized, a little too dated in the way that only things built to be futuristic can be.
  17. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees. The replace-Penn-Station-with-something-measurably-depressingly-worse fiasco, baseball version.
  18. Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks. Not a bad little spot, actually, but the weather in Arizona requires the roof to be closed way more than a baseball’s stadium roof ever should be.
  19. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati Reds. I used to say that Turner Field was League Average Stadium, a Value Over/Under Replacement Park think. I think it’s probably GABP now.
  20. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals. There are people who swear by this place, but I don’t see it. It feels like the overdone, overlarge ‘70s stadium it is, and, worst of all, it’s way out in the middle of nowhere. Baseball stadiums should always, always be downtown. There are 81 games a year! Keep downtown hopping.
  21. Nationals Park, Washington Nationals. A carbon-copy of all the “newer” type stadium, only with no personality to call its own. (Other than the Presidents race, of course.)
  22. Coliseum, Oakland A’s. Sure, it’s massive and ugly and old, but it has an undeniable charm. I’ll miss it if they ever managed to escape it.
  23. Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Way too far away — though I recommend taking the train there — and oddly artificial feeling, even for California.
  24. Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago White Sox. One of those places where the best seats are a lot better than the cheap seats, even disproportionately so. It’s worth paying a little extra here.
  25. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays. Not as bad as you think it is, it’s still inferior to just about every other place you go, even some minor league stadium. (At least then you’re outside.) Still, going to a Major League Baseball game is better, objectively, than anything else you might be doing, no matter where you are.
Illustration for article titled Volume One, Issue Forty-Nine: The One Where Baseball Stadiums Are Ranked

Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)

1. Final Four Teams Are Never Just “Happy To Be Here,” Sports On Earth. This one of those deadline game stories that turned out really well.

2. UNC Celebrates in Game No One Will Want To Remember, Sports On Earth. It is much more fun to write about something lovely rather than something ugly.

3. Review: “Colossal,” The New Republic. I don’t understand why people like this movie. (This is happening a lot lately.)

4. College Basketball Tortured Fanbase Rankings, Sports On Earth. A beta version, but a fun beta version.

5. Memorable Moments From Arenas Past, Sports On Earth. Maybe you’ll like this piece and maybe you won’t, but it does have many videos of stadiums imploding.

6. The Dumbest Sports Stories of March 2017, Sports On Earth. The video of the coach blocking the little kid’s shot just kills me. I’ve been there, man.

7. Go, Go Gonzaga, Sports On Earth. I was cheering very, very hard for Gonzaga. Illinois sympathy pains, I think.

8. Looking for the Rare Wire-to-Wire Championship Season, Sports On Earth. Only four in history, and it allowed me to talk about the 2005 White Sox, maybe the most underappreciated great team of my lifetime.

9. Ballpark Eats, NPR’s Only A Game. I’m a regular on their show — I was just on this morning, actually — and this week they asked me about baseball food.

10. Dive Into Five, Sports On Earth. Dive! Dive! Dive! Dive in me ....

As I say every week: If you are the sort to subscribe to a weekly newsletter, I would have to think it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to subscribe to one of the three podcasts I do. You don’t even have to listen to them! Just download them. Here they are:

Grierson & Leitch, Grierson and I talked about “Ghost in the Shell” and “The Last Picture Show,” but this will forever be known as the episode where we dug deep into “The Room.”

The Will Leitch Experience, no show this week, but a special one coming next week.

Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, no show this week.

To Detroit tomorrow. Now I gotta figure out how to get this dude off my shoulder.

Illustration for article titled Volume One, Issue Forty-Nine: The One Where Baseball Stadiums Are Ranked


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