TBtB: Moving On

As expected, there was no serious objection to the names of the ballparks the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees call home – Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium.

Milwaukee, too, is retaining its current name. While there were some nominees thrown out, the consensus seemed to be that Miller Park works for the Brew Crew.

That leaves us with two holdovers from By Acclimation Week. I’m kind of shocked that so many people think Oriole Park or OPACY is a suitable alternative when the positively glorious Camden Yards is there for the taking, and the name the park is most often called. But we’re going to vote anyway.

Colorado will follow, but we have to sort out the potential nominees first.

 

TBtB: New York Yankees

Ah, perhaps the toughest entry of all for me to come up with, given how I place the Yankees just above Pol Pot and one spot below You Tube stars on my hierarchy of historical malevolence, and that’s only because the Yankees have slipped down a few spaces after the nice anti-bullying spot they recently did.

Yankee Stadium III is that rare new park that seems to be least appreciated by the fans of the club, particularly in comparison with the facility it replaced. From what I can tell, it tends to do better on rankings from non-Yankee partisans.

The name has been a constant, from the place that George Herman had a hand in constructing through the 1970s renovation that maintained the old footprint through the newer place located nearby. It’s not terribly original, but it’s also hard to imagine it being called anything else. Hell, if Yankee fans at BTF are representative of the fanbase as a whole, the bigger question isn’t whether the name is good enough for the park, but whether the ballyard is good enough to be called Yankee Stadium.

Ballpark History

Built: 2009

Capacity: 47,309

Name: Yankee Stadium 2009-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Yankee Stadium II (sort of) 1975-2008; Shea Stadium 1973-74; Yankee Stadium I 1923-1973; Polo Grounds 1913-22; Hilltop Park, 1903-12. Stadium also used as home for Major League Soccer’s New York FC.

 

Distinctive Features:  Monument Park; roof frieze; exterior of Indiana limestone (my Hoosier pride); the moats; all those damn pennants.

Ballpark Highlights:
In the first season of the new park, the Yankees appeared on their way to a Subway Series loss to the crosstown Mets when Alex Rodriguez popped up with two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth. However, Luis Castillo dropped the can of corn, giving the Yanks a 9-8 victory.

Later that year, short-rest starter Andy Pettitte extended his record for most career postseason victories to 18 in a 7-3 win over Philadelphia, giving the club its 27th World Series title.

In 2010, Alex Rodriguez homered off poor-spelling Blue Jays pitcher Shawn Marcum for his 600th career dinger, becoming the youngest to join the club. Baseball, Bud Selig and Biogenesis made sure he never reached 700.

In 2011, Derek Jeter became the second player to homer for his 3,000th hit (following equally unlikely candidate Wade Boggs). Icky Yankee mouthpiece Randy Levine strong-armed a fan out of the historic baseball.

One month later, Curtis Granderson hit an eighth-inning grand slam off Oakland’s Bruce Billings. It was the third Yankee slam in the team’s 22-9 victory, the only time in major league history a team had three homers with the bases loaded in the same game.

Teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter lifted Mariano Rivera with two outs in the eighth inning in the future Hall of Famer’s final game, culminating the first of back-to-back long farewell tours for Yankee greats.

 

TBtB: Baltimore Orioles

Oriole Park at Camden Yards remains the template for the modern park, in all the right ways. Place it in a convenient, central city location? Check. Incorporate the surrounding area into the design? Check. Offer the customer new ways to enjoy the game beyond what was previously available? Got that.

Only two problems. They almost got the name perfect, but the Oriole Park part was simply unnecessary. Without its useless appendage, Camden Yards would be on the Mount Rushmore of baseball park names. It still might be (feel free to use the comment section below to discuss the four best ballpark names in history).

The other problem: The oldest of the Unacceptable children has spent three of the past four years at school in Charm City, and every damn time I’ve been out there during baseball season the O’s have been on the road. I’ve got one more year, and if I have to drag him out of class early or let him miss the first couple of days just so I can take in an O’s game, that’s gonna happen.

Next: This Miller’s from Bud

Ballpark History

Built: 1992

Capacity: 45,971

Name: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 1992-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Memorial Stadium 1954-1991. Original Baltimore franchise played in Oriole Park IV, 1901-02.

Distinctive Features: the B&O Warehouse beyond right field; the barbecue pit operated by Oriole and Nickname Great Boog Powell; the park once had great views of the downtown skyline, though subsequent construction has limited that; pretty much all the other features were distinctive when Camden Yards opened, but have subsequently been appropriated by other parks.


Ballpark Highlights:

On April 6, 1992, Former Ballplayer and Sitting President (titles in order of importance) George H.W. Bush threw out the first pitch before the O’s contest with Cleveland, officially opening Oriole Park at Camden Yards and launching a new wave in ballpark construction.

On Sept, 6, 1995, California’s Shawn Boskie coaxed a pop-up from Cal Ripken to escape a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth inning, officially qualifying the contest as a major league game. In the process, Ripken set baseball’s least-dramatic record.

Serving as a harbinger of baseball’s future, five Indians pitchers combined to blank the host Orioles over 11 innings in the sixth and deciding game of the 1997 American League Championship Series.

In Game 1 of a doubleheader, the Texas Rangers scored the most runs in a game in 110 years in a 30-3 pasting of the O’s. I beg you not to mock Wes Littleton’s save in that contest.

On Opening Day 2008, a disabled 13-year-old boy was devastated when he couldn’t secure a ticket to see his beloved O’s, a tale brought to life by enterprising Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Templeton.

Due to the ongoing Baltimore riots in 2015, the Orioles game with the White Sox game was played before zero fans.

TBtB: Milwaukee Brewers

Of all the paid-for ballpark names, this one probably works the best. The title sponsor’s name is short and kind of generic, so we aren’t dealing with something that’s obviously corporate. Miller’s ties to the city run long and deep. And, of course, the team’s nickname pulls from the very industry of the brand. You could argue that Miller Park would be one of the best names for the park even if the brewery wasn’t forking over the dough for the privilege.

The park itself is a blend of ballpark design elements. It has the arched brick exterior common with the retros. Its retractable roof is a modern marvel, and allows Bud Selig’s former team to host all of those games snowed or hurricaned or collapsed out of other locales. And its setting far from the urban center traces back to the cookie cutter era, the location an accommodation of the area’s rich tailgating culture.

While my money is on Miller retaining its title, we could use this opportunity to honor one of our own. Alas, a) he’s already a tribute to the most famous club in Brew Crew history, and b) he wasn’t terribly fond of the place.

Thus, we might have to figure out some other way to memorialize Mr. Wallbangers, whose circle in BTF’s Hall of Fame is just one poster deep.

Next: Voting Resumes in Texas

Ballpark History

Built: 2001

Capacity: 41,900

Name: Miller Park, 2001-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Milwaukee County Stadium 1970-2000 (before that, County Stadium hosted the Milwaukee Braves from 1953-1965.

Distinctive Features: Bernie Brewer slide; fan-shaped roof; Ueck; the race where Randall Simon tapped his inner Gilooly; the ever-present scent of tubed meat on a grill.


Ballpark Highlights:

In a moment that encapsulated his stewardship of MLB, a flummoxed Bud Selig declared a tie after 11 innings of the 2002 All-Star Game, a result aided by managers Bob Brenly and Joe Torre forgetting how extra innings work.

In 2007, the United States Bowling Congress Masters finals were held at Miller Park with the playing surface fitted with four lanes. I like to think this was the inspiration for the Brew Crew’s bowling pin celebration at home plate two years later.

In 2008, Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano threw baseball’s first neutral-site no-hitter when he blanked the host Astros in a game moved to Milwaukee due to Hurricane Ike. A few weeks ago we got our second, since sadly zero no-hitters have been thrown by MLB pitchers at Estadio Hiram Bithorn.

Later that year, Dave Bush and four relievers combined to silence the eventual World Series champion Phillies in Game 3 of the NLDS in the first playoff game played in the Beer City in 26 years.

Jean Segura broke Baseball Reference* when he stole first base on an attempted steal of third in an April game against the visiting Cubs. One pitch later, he was thrown out trying to steal second, the base he started the mess from.

*See Sean’s explanation at the top of the boxscore page.

TBtB: Colorado Rockies

The westernmost park I’ve ever visited. My one night there, I watched Aaron Cook throw a 79-pitch, four-hit, no-walk shutout against the Padres in a nifty one hour, 58 minutes. I haven’t been paying attention: Does it still play as such a severe pitcher’s park?

Truthfully, it’s behind only PNC on my personal favorite list. Just a beautiful place in a really nice setting. And that’s something coming from me, as I don’t like spending time west of the Mississippi, or south of the Ohio. I’m weird like that.

Coors, of course, is one of those rare corporate names that truly feels right for a number of reasons. Can we improve on a park named after the world’s best beer-flavored water? Based on its inclusion in By Acclimation Week, I’m not sure we’re going to try.

Tomorrow: The Birds’ Nest

Ballpark History

Built: 1995

Capacity: 46,897

Name: Coors Field, 1995-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Mile High Stadium 1993-94.

Distinctive Features: the Rockpile bleachers in the outfield just beyond the Rocky Mountain themed landscaping; the purple ring of seats on the 20th row of the upper deck, signifying one mile above sea level; Blue Moon Brewery at The Sandlot.


Ballpark Highlights:

During construction of the park, workers discovered several dinosaur fossils on the grounds, including a triceratops skull. The club honored that find by choosing a triceratops as its mascot, Dinger.

On Oct. 1, 1995, the Rocks outlasted the Giants 10-9 in a typical Coors Field slugfest to claim the NL wildcard, becoming the fastest expansion team to reach the playoffs in ML history (a mark later broken by their rivals to the southwest).

On May 5, 2002, in a game against the visiting Dodgers, the Rockies dabbled in PDD* with the launch of the humidor. Three years later, Jason Jennings blanked the visiting Padres for the first 1-0 victory in park history, more than 10 years after the maiden game was played there.

On Oct. 1, 2007, Matt Holliday may or may not have slid home safely with the winning run in a one-game playoff with San Diego, culminating one of the all-time great closing runs in baseball history. The Rockies would keep the momentum for the following fortnight, sweeping the Phillies and Diamondbacks to reach their only World Series.

In 2016, Ichiro Suzuki collected his 3,000th hit with a seventh-inning triple off Rockies pitcher Chris Rusin. We can only hope that a Peyton Manning celebratory text went unreturned.
*Power Dampening Device

TBtB: Chicago Cubs

We just passed the halfway mark in our countdown, but things will pick up considerably now.

Just as College Week gives Jeopardy host Alex Trebek a younger group of contestants to insult, and Fleet Week depletes the stock of antibiotics on our nation’s maritime vessels, By Acclimation Week is going to speed up the Taking Back the Ballparks project.

If my assumptions are correct, each day this week we’ll check off another team, a ballclub whose ballpark has no need for a new name, and any suggestions otherwise will be greeted with responses ranging from huh to legitimate anger.

The first is the most obvious of all: Wrigley Field. While not the true corporate name we think of today, it’s probably not a coincidence that the park’s moniker is shared with the name of the chewing gum company one-time owner Phil Wrigley ran. In some ways, Wrigley was the original Busch. Or, perhaps, the original Trump, a comparison that likely pleases the Ricketts, if no one else in Chicago.

Obviously, Wrigley isn’t going anywhere. Hell, the neighborhood around it has assumed the name of the ballpark. And if there’s a single greatest justification for keeping a ballpark’s name for eternity, that’s probably it.

Tomorrow: Evil’s Residence

Ballpark History

Built:  1914

Capacity: 41,649

Name:  Wrigley Field, 1926-present; Cubs Park 1920-26; Weeghman Park 1914-1920.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  23rd Street Grounds 1876-77; Lakefront Park I 1878-1882; Lakefront Park II 1883-84; West Side Park I 1885-1891; South Side Park 1891-1893; West Side Park II 1893-1915.

Distinctive Features:  The ivy; the neighborhood; the rooftops onlookers; the overhanging second deck; the manual scoreboard; the continued dominance of day baseball; the marquee; the troughs, the chads and trixies.
Ballpark Highlights:

With darkness falling, Gabby Hartnett deposited an 0-2 pitch from Mace Brown over the left-centerfield bleachers, giving the Cubs a 6-5 win over Pittsburgh, a victory that propelled them to an NL pennant. The Homer in the Gloamin’ was arguably baseball’s first famous walk-off dinger, and it remains the sport’s best named (sorry Bobby).

On July 1, 1943, night baseball came to Wrigley when the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League held its All-Star game under temporary lights.

In 1945, a dumbass brought a goat to a game and somehow thought that was OK.

Just a little over 25 years ago, in his fifth big league start, Kerry Wood turned in perhaps the single-most impressive pitching performances in big league history. Wood fanned 20, walked none and yielded just two baserunners – one when HBP magnet Craig Biggio took a curve off the shoulder and a questionable hit by Ricky Gutierrez that bounced off the glove of Kevin Orie. He managed this against the winningest team in Astros history, which was led by the NL’s best offense.

In 2003, the Cubs were within five outs of their first World Series visit in 58 years when all hell broke loose, almost none of it having to do with a foul ball into the stands.

On Oct. 22, 2016, Kyle Hendricks outdueled Clayton Kershaw to lead the Cubs to a 5-0 victory and a triumph in the National League Championship Series. Two weeks later, in Jacobs Field, the Cubs would claim their first World Series title in 108 years.

 

75 Percent Less Fat: No. 42

I am not always the most consistent of music fans. For instance, I loathe Queen, finding most of their work utterly inane. And yet, I’ll listen to the occasional Muse tune, a band that clearly doesn’t loathe Queen.

Similarly, I’ve always dug Echo and the Bunnymen, one of the many UK-based, Ian-fronted bands of the 1980s I enjoyed (Joy Division and Ian Curtis, Lightning Seeds and Ian Broudie, Icicle Works and Ian McNabb, among others). But while Ian McCullough clearly took his cues from this band, The Doors are among my least-favorite acts of ever.  And one of the reasons I so despise the Doors is because of just how full of himself Jim Morrison was.

All of this brings us to No. 42. A few years before Oasis proclaimed themselves bigger than the Beatles, Ian Brown and co. were lauding themselves as the new messiah. And if you didn’t get that message on the band’s self-titled debut, then “Second Coming,” made sure you caught on the second time.

While the follow-up certainly called into question their claim to higher powerness, the band’s debut disc at least kept open the possibility. From the slow building opener, I Wanna Be Adored through to the clublike nearly 10-minute Fool’s Gold*, the album is just chock full of great sons. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to name another album from the college/modern/indie rock library that produced as many “classic” songs as this one.

Highlights include: Elephant Stone, where screeching guitar work gives way to a pop gem; the fuzzy She Bangs the Drums; the beautifully gory Made of Stone; and the messianic I Am the Resurrection.

Important Information:

Name: The Stone Roses s/t

Released: 1989

Record Company: Silvertone

Running Time: 49:02

Track Listing:

  1. I Wanna Be Adored
  2. She Bangs the Drums
  3. Elephant Stone
  4. Waterfall
  5. Don’t Stop
  6. Bye Bye Badman
  7. Elizabeth My Dear
  8. (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister
  9. Made of Stone
  10. Shoot You Down
  11. This is the One
  12. I Am the Resurrection
  13. Fool’s Gold

*Only on the U.S. version. The original UK release excluded both Fool’s Gold and Elephant Stone.