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Archive for the ‘Great Ballparks’

SABR 44 Ends With a Flourish: A Fantastic Time at the Ballpark

August 03, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks, Great Games, SABR

Today was the last day of the SABR convention in Houston. I think this might have been the best one I’ve been to since Boston in 2002, which was my first and therefore special. Every convention has had some outstanding things about it–Jim Bouton’s keynote in Seattle comes to mind–but this one was on a high par in every aspect. I didn’t see a single research presentation that I felt was a dud, and all the panels were top notch, especially since all the panelists were top notch.

But it was all wonderfully topped off today by the Houston Astros themselves. First they invited us into the ballpark for two last amazing panels, one with three former Astros–Alan Ashby, Larry Dierker, and Art Howe–and one with three members of the front office–Sig Medgal, David Stearns, and GM Jeff Luhnow. Those guys really hit it out of the park, figuratively speaking.

But then the actual young Astros hit it out of the park, literally speaking. We saw one of the most entertaining games of baseball imaginable. If you were going to take a person who didn’t know baseball to a game to show them how exciting and nifty it is, this one would have been a good candidate. Here, I made a list of awesome things that we saw in this game: (more…)

Second exhibition game at Marlins Park

April 03, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Ballparks, Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

I have now visited my 21st major league stadium, Marlins Park in Miami. For the second game in a row, we made our way to the park, this time by public transit. We’d spent the afternoon on Miami Beach for some very pleasant walking around looking at nice buildings and eye-popping cars and motorcycles and then did the Transit Experiment.

The Transit Experiment consists of using one’s smart phone to try to get somewhere. In this case, it wasn’t that difficult at all. We hopped the Route 120 bus to he Adrienne Arsht omni transit center, switched there to the free Metromover to Government Center, where we caught the Metrorail train to Culmer, where we got on a shuttle bus direct to the ballpark.

Okay, looking at that list now–bus to mover to train to bus–it seems like it was really complicated. But it wasn’t really more difficult than many of the other ballpark-via-transit jaunts I’ve taken, including Seattle suburbs to Safeco, Silicon Valley to then-PacBell Park, or even my own house to Fenway Park.

All told from when we left Miami Beach to when we reached the ballpark was just under an hour. After the game we took the shuttle back to the Metrorail to the South Miami stop which is near to corwin’s parents’ house, and his Dad came to pick us up there. From time of last pitch to walking in the door here in the Coral Gables area was just over an hour. Very decent time, and the total cost was $7 per person. (It would have only been $5 per person, I think, if we’d bought the one-day Easy Ticket before getting on the first bus, but we hadn’t and so paid $2 cash to get on there, and then Easy Ticket thereafter.)

But you didn’t really come here to read about public transit, did you? You want to know how the Marlins Park was at night.

Let me tell you, it was gorgeous. (more…)

Exploring the new Marlins Park! April 1 2012 with the Yankees

April 01, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks, Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

The Miami Marlins know how to throw a party. As any good party-thrower knows, one of the keys is to invite lively guests. The Marlins picked a good one with the New York Yankees, who brought legions of fans to the dress-rehearsal exhibition game at Marlins Park on April 1, 2012.

Some were expatriate New Yorkers who have been in Florida for years. Some were spring training pilgrims from all over.

But the Marlins had no shortage of supporters there today, and for all the complaints there have been about the team bilking the city, the mistreatment of the local residents over parking issues, and so on, there were throngs of people in brand-new Marlins colors ready to fly their Fish flags. Many of them were hispanic families, with three (or four) generations in attendance together. If this team wins, it appears there will be plenty of folks on that bandwagon already.

A UFO LANDED IN MIAMI!
The park does look a bit like a spaceship just set down in the midst of a residential neighborhood. But the first impression of the place came not from the visual, but from the sound. From a few blocks away it sounded like the biggest, loudest block party on Earth was going on, and we soon discovered why. (more…)

Brent Mayne in the news again!

May 26, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks

I hear that Phillies infielder Wilson Valdez just became the first position player to win (as pitcher) a major league game since Brent Mayne did it back in 2000. This means Brent Mayne’s name is suddenly in the news again. Mayne was the backup catcher for the Colorado Rockies when he performed the feat.

I actually watched the crazy extra-innings Braves-Rockies game in which Mayne got the win on television from the Jersey Shore one night while on vacation. I wrote about it the following year, when I tried to get Mayne’s autograph one night in Seattle at Safeco Field, when he was playing with the Royals and I was there for a game. I never did get Mayne’s autograph, but I did get a batting practice ball that night, and the autographs of Mike Cameron and Brett Boone, back when they were both stars for the M’s.

So here’s the flashback post from August 16, 2001, in which I recount my trip to the ballpark and Mayne’s pitching performance along the way: (more…)

SABR 40: day two wrap up (Braves game)

August 07, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History, Great Ballparks

Yesterday before dashing for the bus to the ballpark, I actually managed to see a little more than half of Robert Fitts’s presentation on Babe Ruth and Eiji Sawamura, the 17 year old pitcher who struck the Babe out and became a national hero. The young pitcher had forfeited his future in academia by taking the pitching gig, as “professional athletes” were not allowed to continue in school at the time, but the lure of facing Ruth was too enticing and he signed with the team Yomiuri was putting together.

This was during the same MLB all-star tour of Japan on which Moe Berg did some of his infamous spying. The MLB team played 10 games on the tour and won them all, but the game Fitts described, which the young Sawamura pitched, was a near thing. Sawamura held the big leaguers in check, ending up losing 1-0 on a solo homer by Lou Gehrig.

I ducked out of the room just as Fitts was reading an ironic quote from some optimistic observer of the baseball tour of Japan, claiming that these nations would never be wracked by war again. (World War II was just around the corner.)
(more…)

SABR in DC! Day One

July 29, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks

First day of the SABR Convention! We are in Washington, DC this time. For those who want a micro-blog experience of the convention, check out http://twitter.com/ceciliatan (and search on twitter.com for #sabr for even more!) I will try to write up decent posts here as I did last year, too.

You may recall that last year I was forced to post via the horrible WebTV interface in my hotel room because my laptop died on the way to the convention. Let’s hope not to repeat that performance.

On today’s slate we had:
Tour of Nationals Park
History of DC Baseball Talk by Phil Wood
Baseball-ese Talk by Paul Dickson at Smithsonian

My friend Eric, who has worked for the last four years as a stat consultant for the Red Sox (but not this year–economic cutbacks all around…), has come along with me on the trip. We got up at the literal crack of dawn to catch the 5:55 am train from Boston so we could make it here in time for the 3pm ballpark tour.
(more…)

April 6, 2009: Baby Photos

April 06, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Ballparks, Yankee Fan Memories

Welcome back baseball! Here at Why I LIke Baseball, this week will feature new content every day in our special welcome back baseball week! Herewith, post #2 of the celebration!

I promised photos of the New Yankee Stadium, and so I’ve uploaded them to my Flickr account. Here are some of the highlights:

Click on any of the small images to see the full size image.


Walking past the old place with the new one beckoning on the horizon. Construction of a new parking garage and playing fields and restored playgrounds for Macombs Dam Park is also continuing.


View of the grand entrance hall on 161st Street, taken from the second level.
(more…)

April 5, 2009: New Digs

April 05, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Ballparks, Yankee Fan Memories

Welcome back baseball! Here at Why I Like Baseball, this week will feature new content every day in our special welcome back baseball week! Starting with:

NEW DIGS

Today I set foot for the first time in the New Yankee Stadium.

The first thing I did, though was park in one of the old parking lots. Good old Lot 8, which used to be right next to the stadium, making it a quick run for the exit at the end after the final out. Now it’s on the far side of the old building from the new one, and at $19 to park today, not such a great idea any more, but until I try one of the new lots, I’ll take my chances.

Parking there meant I had to walk past the old stadium, which strangely enough had its lights on and flags flying inside, making it look a bit like the old place was set up for the ghosts to have their own game. The phone booths are empty, the spaces where the old signs in the entryways were now blacked out like missing teeth. (more…)

On Stadiums

December 10, 2008 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks

(Originally posted on February 17, 2000 and re-posted to the new URL on December 10, 2008)

I’ve waxed poetic before about Yankee Stadium, and well, I’m about to do it again. Yankee Stadium embodies, for me, the Platonic Ideal stadium. If my baseball history is right, it was the first three tier stadium, as well. Add to that the fact that it is The House That Ruth Built, and the tremendous amount of baseball history that has been made in that park, and, well… I could go on and on. (But won’t.)

It does occur to me, though, that my views on Yankee Stadium are a bit skewed by the fact that, well, I’ve never really been anywhere else. There was one year when the stadium was being refurbished in the seventies. I remember going to Shea for a Yankee game that time–but most of what I remember about it was that it poured rain. And I do mean poured; Niagara-like spouts of water were shooting from the upper decks. We arrived home sopping wet and wringing out our clothes. I was probably about seven years old at the time.

So, not counting that one soggy trip, I was at Shea for a concert in the 1980s (was it 1983?)–The Police, Joan Jett, and R.E.M. I don’t think that counts either.

And I’ve been to Fenway Park only once, despite the fact that I lived a block from the place for five years, and it was to see a high school World Series game in around 1995. (more…)

October 8, 2008: Hold that Tiger!

October 08, 2008 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Ballparks

You can Save Tiger Stadium.

This from the Old Tiger Stadium Convervancy:

Reports of Tiger Stadium’s demise are greatly exaggerated. For over a year The Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy has been quietly working on a plan to preserve the entire playing field and a significant portion of the beloved old ballpark. (See what is still standing: http://www.aerialpics.com/G/TigerStadiumDemo.html)

On Tuesday, the Detroit City Council rejected a plan that would have demolished the entire structure, but have given the Conservancy only until Friday to come up with the money to fund their plan. The Conservancy has “reached agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding that will ultimately transfer title to the stadium to the Conservancy and grant a long-term lease of the playing field. We … are continuing to pursue our goals of preserving and redeveloping the historic Navin Field grandstand and upper deck, restoring the playing grounds as a first-class youth baseball facility and revitalizing Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood.”

To move forward, the Conservancy needs to raise $50,000 by Friday “to provide for six months of onsite security while we put our long-term financing in place. Our $15M project plan expects to receive $4 million via a federal earmark and more than $6 million in historic preservation and economic stimulus tax credits.” They have already raised $170,000 and must hit their goal of $219,000 in the next 24 hours.

Make your donation at http://www.savetigerstadium.org. The Conservancy is a registered Michigan non-profit corporation and has been accorded 501(c)3 status by the Internal Revenue Service, making all donations tax deductible.

For updates, visit: http://savetigerstadium.wordpress.com/

September 21, 2008: The Curtain Comes Down

September 22, 2008 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks, Yankee Fan Memories

Here’s a trivia question you’ll be able to stump your friends with in 2013. Who hit the last home run in Yankee Stadium?

Answer: Jose Molina.

Jeter tried to do it, but his line drive was caught just short of the wall. Johnny Damon tried to do it, blasting a three-run shot to put the Yankees ahead in the third inning. But after the Orioles had tied it up again in the top fourth, it was Molina who came up with the two-run blast that put the Yankees ahead for good.

If the Orioles’ defense had been a little bit better, then Mariano Rivera would have gotten a save. Instead, it was a comfortable 7-3 lead when the strains of Enter Sandman blared for the last time, but the appearance was no less pressure than in any playoff game. National media watching. Fans in full voice.

Oh, and did I mention, the Yankees elimination number stood at one when the game began? (more…)

June 1, 2008: For the Birds

June 01, 2008 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Great Ballparks, Yankee Fan Memories

I have now initiated my friend Brian (let’s call him Brian…) to the fun and wonder of Major League fandom. I took a trip to Baltimore to take him to his first major league game, a tilt of Orioles versus Yankees.

The reason I went all the way to Baltimore for this is that the company he works for gets tickets at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Nice tickets. Behind home plate nice. So when he asked if I’d come down and see a game with him and explain what all the fuss was about, of course I said yes.
(more…)

September, 7 2006: California Dream

September 07, 2006 By: ctan Category: Great Ballparks, Yankee Fan Memories

The Yankees and Red Sox are both off tonight, so here’s something to fill the void: an account of my recent trip to Anaheim to see the Yankees play the Angels.

It’s really, really sunny in Anaheim. It’s so sunny that when corwin and I took in a beautiful day of baseball at the “Big A”–which they now call Angel Stadium–we got sunburned even though we sat in the shade all day. Perhaps it was just how scorching hot the Yankee bats are that left us reddened.

We came to in Anaheim for a business trip, but when we realized the Yankees would be in town at the same time we were, we decided to bag out of the conference a day early and take in a game. You’re never too old to play hooky for baseball. It wasn’t our first trip to The Big A; we went a few years ago to see an A’s/Angels game back when it was called Edison Field and owned by Disney. But this would be our first Yankee road trip since the day we took my Dad to Tropicana Field for his 70th birthday.

Although there have been the kerfuffle’s about nomenclature, not much about the field itself seems to have changed since Arte Moreno bought the Angels. We didn’t have a lot of time to walk around before the game, as it started at 12:35 for no apparent reason. Trained to 1:05 starts in the East, we were nearly late. Instead, we had just enough time to hop a cab from the hotel, get some barbecued chicken down at field level, and then find our seats way up on the 500 level.

Our normal preferred place to sit in any stadium is in the upper deck behind home plate. We couldn’t quite get behind the plate this time, and were a bit off to the third base side, but upon reaching the seats we discovered a distinct advantage to their location: our seats were shaded and would remain in the shade the entire game. (Did I mention the Southern California sun is much brighter and hotter than the weak rays we are used to in the northeast?)

I was disappointed to find that Jason Giambi was out of the lineup since the Angels were starting lefty rookie Joe Saunders, as I remain convinced that Giambi will hit a home run for me whenever I’m in the park. (I’m of course wrong about this, yet the delusion persists.) Instead, as Derek Jeter’s ball left the yard in the first inning corwin turned to me and said “I guess he told Jeter to hit one for you instead.”

“Well, then Bernie has to hit one for you,” I replied. Even though corwin had neglected to pack his Bernie Williams shirt.

Well, of course, Bernie hit one in the second. 3-0 Yankees. The embarrassment of riches continued in the third as the Yankees piled on five runs, capped by Bernie’s second home run in two innings. That knocked Saunders from the game, and destroyed any possibly tension we might have felt about the game. (The Angels have that knack of beating the Yankees…) Jeter hit a second shot himself in the eighth, so he and Bernie really paid us double.

It was Southern California, and we got to kick back and chill out. Dude. By the end of the day, Bernie had four hits and in the eighth inning a chance to hit for the cycle, something I’ve never seen. Sadly, he grounded out. It was also interesting–by which I mean like how it’s “interesting” to watch crocodiles at the zoo–to se Alex Rodriguez in the depths of his slump. Three strikeouts, two of them looking, and a pop-up–his swing simply looked terrible. But he was a little lucky, hit a grounder that got through the infield in the middle of the five-run rally… and as we now know, as soon as they got home, went on a tear.

The only really urge to scream like a New Yorker I had was in the bottom eight, when Kyle Farnsworth came on to pitch. He walked the first two men, gave up a single and a stolen base, then walked the number nine batter, and was removed summarily from the game. All I can say to that is… what the F***, Farnsworth? Three of the four men he put on scored, and the Angels even scratched a run off Mo in the ninth, thanks to defensive indifference. The final score on our lazy afternoon ended up 11-8, a little scary, but given where we were in the standings, we didn’t let it bother us.

Anaheim. Great place to see a game, especially when the Yankees win.

Notes on the Season as of September 7th:

Dmitri Young was released by the Tigers today. Does this mean the Boys and Girls Clubs won’t play his ad for them anymore?

Boston media today is crowing delusionally about how the Red Sox “almost swept the White Sox,” and did take two out of three. Excuse me guys, but you scored a total of five runs in three days, squeaking out the two wins 3-2 and 1-0. Football season starts tonight and it’s time to concentrate on the Patriots.

June 11, 2006: Clean-Up Spot

June 11, 2006 By: ctan Category: Great Ballparks, Great Games

Well, it just goes to show that no matter how long you follow baseball or what capacity you are involved in the sport, there is always something new you haven’t seen or done. Today I was at Fenway Park to see David Ortiz hit a 3-run walk-off home run against the Texas Rangers. That was not the new part–Big Papi does that kind of thing regularly. No, it was what happened after that and before the next game started.

See, at Fenway today they played a doubleheader. Problem was, it was yesterday they were supposed to play the doubleheader, but the rain did not cooperate. So today, in brilliant sunshine, the plan was to play two. The first game started at noon and the second was to start as quickly as possible after the first one ended–the gates were scheduled to re-open for the new crowd at 4:30, with a 5pm start time (so the game could be televised on NESN before the ESPN Sunday night exclusivity came into play).

In order to turn the ballpark over for the new crowd, the public address announcer exhorted people to pick up their own trash, but very few people actually did. So as soon as the crowd began to clear out, Fenway Park employees of every stripe began to put on gloves, fluff out trash bags, and start filling them.

Bill Nowlin and I were in the park today to pass out flyers for SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) and recruit new members. (If you are into baseball history or love stats, you should join at www.sabr.org.) We had credentials for both games, so after the first game ended we were just supposed to wait around for the next one.

But just waiting around while groundskeepers, office workers, ushers, concessions employees (we could tell all these by their varying modes of dress and uniforms) were all drafted into trash pickup duty was hard. We drifted down toward the group who were fanning out from behind the visiting dugout. Finally Bill asked someone “Where can we get a bag and help?”

We were pointed to one guy who had trash bags and vinyl gloves. We each took a bag and gloved up, and went to work.

Pizza boxes, beer cups, ice cream spoons, the Sunday Boston Globe, chicken fingers, half-eaten hotdogs–almost every seat had something under it and we sped through picking up as much stuff as we possibly could. A bat boy in full home whites was doing it. Even Larry Lucchino, Red Sox Vice President, was filling up a bag in my section, though he was the only one of us who had a camera man following him around. Scoreboard operations put on the theme music to Sanford & Son and blasted it over the PA. My guess is that it was the only trash/junk-related song they could come up with (though surely they have a Garbage album up there..?).

I’d say with all the people helping, the main grandstand was cleared in under thirty minutes, which is pretty damn impressive. And here’s where I’m supposed to make a punny conclusion about trash or garbage or something, but with the Red Sox in first place (despite almost getting swept by the Rangers–only Papi kept it from being so), nothing appropriate comes to mind.

February 17 2000: On Stadiums

February 17, 2000 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Ballparks

I’ve waxed poetic before about Yankee Stadium, and well, I’m about to do it again. Yankee Stadium embodies, for me, the Platonic Ideal stadium. If my baseball history is right, it was the first three tier stadium, as well. Add to that the fact that it is The House That Ruth Built, and the tremendous amount of baseball history that has been made in that park, and, well… I could go on and on. (But won’t.)

It does occur to me, though, that my views on Yankee Stadium are a bit skewed by the fact that, well, I’ve never really been anywhere else. There was one year when the stadium was being refurbished in the seventies. I remember going to Shea for a Yankee game that time–but most of what I remember about it was that it poured rain. And I do mean poured; Niagara-like spouts of water were shooting from the upper decks. We arrived home sopping wet and wringing out our clothes. I was probably about seven years old at the time.

So, not counting that one soggy trip, I was at Shea for a concert in the 1980s (was it 1983?)–The Police, Joan Jett, and R.E.M. I don’t think that counts either.

And I’ve been to Fenway Park only once, despite the fact that I lived a block from the place for five years, and it was to see a high school World Series game in around 1995.

Admittedly, most of what I remember from that trip to Fenway was how exciting the game was–and it was. We of course didn’t know any of the players or any of the teams, but what a thrill to see a seventeen year old player blast a home run over the Green Monster! I don’t know that kid’s name, but I gotta wonder if he went on to the big leagues, or if he finished college somewhere and is now working a desk job somewhere…

So, this year will be the first time I really see a big league game somewhere other than Yankee Stadium.

In fact, it looks like I’ll see more of the Yankees at Fenway than I will in New York. I scored tickets to June 19, June 21, and September 8 here in Boston, whereas I’ll probably only see a game in April and a game in August in New York. (OK, maybe I’ll see two games in August, and that will even things up.)

And then there are the five spring training games I’m going to see all over Florida: Dunedin, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Winterhaven… (and if I get really, really lucky, the Yanks/Sox game in Fort Myers. But it sold out before I could get tickets.)

But back to stadiums. Now every time I have a road trip planned, I look at the baseball calendar to see if there’s a game going on nearby. I’m still kicking myself over not going to see a Yanks/Mariners game last August at Safeco Field, when I was in town there, which turned out to be the bench-clearing brawl game…. (Then again, maybe it’s just as well I wasn’t there…. )

If I have my way, in the next five years or so, I’ll see a bunch of the other stadiums that are out there. Everyone raves about Coors Field and Camden Yards. Will the new PacBell Park be less windy than Candlestick?

And then I’ll come back, and tell you that Yankee Stadium is still the canonical stadium.

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