TBtB: Miami Marlins

Before the Braves moved to the ’burbs, Marlins Park served as the go-to example of shady local political dealings to use public funds to build a new ballpark for the supremely rich. On a related note, Jeff Loria and David Samson were involved in the process.

Now the club is, at least figureheadively, run by Derek Jeter. Though his background is decidedly different from previous Miami chiefs, he kept alive the club tradition of Fish gutting this offseason. That means that among the ballpark’s fixtures, the players still aren’t.

The stadium itself is a little different, with its Lisa Frank-inspired sculpture in centerfield and fish tanks behind home plate. A source of mockery by some, I consider it a nice change of pace from the run of retro parks. The atmosphere, however, is decidedly less than inspiring.

The park has been called Marlins Park since its opening, though that may simply be a placeholder until a willing corporate sugar daddy comes along. That’s not terribly good planning, though I suppose that’s par for the course in South Florida.

 

Ballpark History

Built: 2012

Capacity: 36,742

Name: Marlins Park 2012-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Just the one, from its expansion season in 1993 through its relocation in 2012. However, that park had seven different names during the Marlins’ stay there (Joe Robbie Stadium, 1993-95; Pro Player Park 1996; Pro Player Stadium, 1996-2005; Dolphins Stadium 2005-06; Dolphin Stadium 2006-09; Land Shark Stadium 2009-10; Sun Life Stadium 2010-2011).

Distinctive Features: Architecturally, a whole lot of celebrating of Miami. The Marlinator, the multicolored home run sculpture beyond the centerfield wall that may not survive the current ownership group; two aquariums inside the backstop wall; bar/nightclub with pool as a nod to South Beach; bobblehead museum.

Ballpark Highlights:

Muhammad Ali tossed out the first pitch before the park’s maiden game in 2012. The Fish lost to the defending World Series champion Cardinals 4-1.

Deep in the bowels of the stadium, Jeff Loria constructed a special “revenue stealing” box to place all his ill-gotten payments through Bolshevik Bud’s dirty scheme to cripple the game’s angelic New York franchise. (dammit YR, did you hack my account again?)

Wandy Rodriguez tossed six shutout innings to lead the Dominican Republic to a 2-0 victory over Puerto Rico to earn the top seed from Pool 2 in the 2012 World Baseball Classic.

Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers in a 7-1 victory over Atlanta, his 58th and 59th of the season in his MVP-winning campaign. He was quickly traded after the season to New York.

And now, for a TBtB first, photos. I was down in South Florida last week, and I ventured down to the park to take in the Mets-Fish game. Jarlin the Marlin threw six no-hit innings in a spot start for the hosts, but the Mets scored four in the eighth against the Miami bullpen to continue their hot start to 2018.

LEFTClockwise from left: DJ Vertigo spins the tunes; Wil Myers as a Ghostbuster in the Bobblehead Museum; the glorious home run scultpure in center; the many empty seats.

TBtB: Detroit Tigers

 

Comerica Park is named after a bank. I guessed it was an insurance company. Not much difference, I suppose. Tiger Stadium was once called Briggs. That was named after a former owner of the club. Before that it was Navin Field, named after the protagonist in The Jerk (that may not be 100 percent accurate, but I don’t want to find out I’m wrong).

While it’s not the much-beloved stadium it replaced, Comerica is a nice little ballpark in the heart of the city. I went to a game there with the youngest Unacceptable boy a few years back. He didn’t ride the ferris wheel, but he did come home with an ugly Miggy T-shirt.

It originally played as a significant pitcher’s park, but the Tigers caved and pulled in the left field fence. That was a questionable move strategically and an unquestionably crappy one aesthetically.

 

Ballpark History

Built: 2000

Capacity: 41,299

Name: Comerica Park 2000-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Tiger Stadium (aka Briggs Stadium, Navin Field) 1912-1999; Burns Park (Sunday games only) 1901-02; Bennett Park 1901-11).

Distinctive Features: The throwback strip of dirt leading from home to the pitcher’s mound; tremendous skyline views beyond the outfield walls; centerfield fountain; grandstand ferris wheel and carousel, undoubtedly earning Sugar Bear’s eternal ire; lotsa Tigers.

Ballpark Highlights:

Brian Moehler earned a 5-2 victory in the first game at Comerica, which served as a bookend to his winning decision in the final game at Tigers Stadium six months earlier. That’s kind of cool.

In Game 161 of the 2003 season, the Minnesota Twins handed the Tigers a 9-8 defeat, the Tigers’ AL record 119th loss of the season.

In Game 2 of the 2006 World Series, the first played in Detroit in 22 years, Kenny Rogers tossed eight shutout innings in a 3-1 victory, running his 2006 postseason scoreless streak to 23 innings.

Justin Verlander became the first Tigers pitcher in 55 years to throw a no-hitter at home when he beat the visiting Milwaukee Brewers 4-0.

In 2009, hometown embarrassment Kid Rock was the headliner in a bill that included the previously dead Lynyrd Skynyrd and one-time Simpsons guests, Cypress Hill.

 

TBtB: St. Louis Cardinals

Now, it’s quite possible there is some obscure law in Missouri that says the home of the Cardinals must be named after the first family of bland American beer. But, screw it, let’s take some chances.

The National League’s most successful franchise has been playing in its current home for a little more than a decade, when new Busch replaced old Busch, which likely was the crème de la crème of the cookie-cutters, which is a complisult of the highest order.

Nothing much has changed with the relocation a few hundred feet south. The Cardinals still win a lot of games there, because that’s what the Cardinals always do. The club’s fans love the team, and themselves. But they pack the place every year.

It’s unquestionably a great baseball town, and a great baseball town with a rich history warrants a stellar name for the old ballyard.

Ballpark History

Built: 2006

Capacity: 45,529

Name: Busch Stadium 2006-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Busch Memorial Stadium 1966-2005, Sportsman’s Park 1920-1966 (named changed to, you guessed it, Busch Stadium, 1953-1966), Sportsman’s Park II 1893-1920 (park also known as League Park, 1899-1911, Robison Field 1911-197, Cardinal Field 1917-20, Sportsman’s Park (1882-1892).

Distinctive Features: A better view of the city’s most famous landmark than the old enclosed building once offered; outside Gate 3 is a duck-billed statue of Cardinals great Stan Musial, while odes to lesser St. Louis greats sit outside the team store; Gate 3 entrance designed to look like Eads Bridge over the Mississippi; so much red.

Ballpark Highlights:

In 2006, the year it opened, the home team returned to Busch with the World Series tied at one game apiece and rolled off three straight World Series victories to defeat the Detroit Tigers for the title.

In Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, the Cards rallied from a two-run deficit in the ninth, then another two-run deficit in the 10th, before David Freese’s homer in the 11th sent the Fall Classic to a Game 7. The Cards went on to win their 11th championship one night later.

In one of the more bizarre endings to a World Series game in history, future terrible Red Sox player Allen Craig scored the game-winning run on an obstruction call on former terrible Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks, allowing the home team to take a 2-1 series lead over Boston in the 2013 Fall Classic. P.S. – it was the right call.

In 2014, the Cardinals promoted Chris Correa to scouting director, choosing the internal option over Elliott Anderson, Julian Assange and several members of Anonymous.

 

TBtB: Los Angeles Angels

 

Sticking to a name has never been a strong suit for the franchise. Born the Los Angeles Angels, that soon gave way to the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels, the tonguesore of the recent past and even their new name, whatever the hell that is.* Similarly, the ballpark has gone from Anaheim Stadium to Edison International** Field and then Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The one constant is its nickname, the Big A, which will likely get some strong support in this here endeavor. It’s simple, but it works.

The ballpark, the second-oldest in the American League, is blessed in not just nickname. Mike Trout plays half his games here annually. Among ballpark features, that remains the best one.

One request: Please no Disney tie-ins.

* It turns out, their new name is also their oldest name. They’re the Los Angeles Angels again, making them the Duran Duran or Sirhan Sirhan of big league franchises.

**That sounds like the convention that leads to naming the airport in Fargo “Hector International.” Just because you send some flights into Winnipeg doesn’t make you a hub of global activity.

Ballpark History

Built:  1966

Capacity: 45,477

Name: Angel Field of Anaheim, 2003-present. Also, Anaheim Stadium, 1966-1997, Edison International Field of Anaheim 1998-2003.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Wrigley Field (the other one) 1961, Dodger Stadium, 1962-65.

Distinctive Features: The rock formation beyond the left field fence; low fences in the corners, allowing spectators to whack visiting outfielders in the back with Thundersticks; Big A sign relocated to parking lot; giant Angels caps outside stadium entrance.

 

Ballpark Highlights:

In 1967, the stadium hosted the All-Star game, the first time the contest was played before a prime time television audience.

In 1974, Nolan Ryan set the American League record for strikeouts in a game, when he fanned 19 Red Sox over the course of 13 innings. He also added 10 walks. And somewhere else in America, an infant future editor of Baseball Prospectus wailed uncontrollably.

In 1985, Angels first baseman Rod Carew singled off Frank Viola for the 3,000th hit of his Hall of Fame career.

In 1988, home plate umpire Enrico Pallazzo saved the queen.

In 2002, rookie John Lackey pitched Angels to 4-1 victory in Game 7 of World Series, giving the club its only World Series title.

In 2006, in the first World Baseball Classic, South Korea went 3-0 and eventual championship Japan went 2-1 to advance to the title round.

 

TBtB: New York Mets

Part 11: New York Mets

As alluded to in the opening piece, the Mets have one of the least objectionable corporate name for a ballpark, at least of those names without an existing tie to the franchise. Citi Field sounds good, simple, and could easily be mistaken for a name without a corporate tie-in if not for the unfortunate spelling. On a related note, it took me several years before I realized the first wave of corporate-monikered NBA arenas in Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Chicago – the Delta Center, America West Arena and United Center –  were named after airlines. They sounded so generic, not much different than the Memorials and Municipals of old.

The Mets’ former home, Shea Stadium, is almost certainly the stadium I’ve spent the most time in, between Mets and Jets games attended as a young lad. I haven’t been to Citi (or its crosstown and, it seems, inferior cousin built at the same time), but I hear it’s nice. I wish they hadn’t caved into pressure and pulled the outfield fences in, as others have done, which has only contributed to the K or HR frenzy in today’s game.

There should be no shortage of options for potential names, though I’m asking Jim to give Fred Wilpon the old Base treatment so we’re not inundated with some variation on Ebbets Field.

Here’s the Mets thread – hold the self-immolation.

 

Ballpark History

Built: 2009

Capacity: 41,922

Name:  Citi Field, 2009-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Polo Grounds, 1962-63, Shea Stadium, 1964-2008. Also, Mets’ National League forebears New York Giants played games at various stadia named Polo Grounds 1880-1957, and while Brooklyn Dodgers played at Washington Park 1883-1891, Eastern Park in 1892-1897, Washington Park (the sequel) 1898-1913, Ebbets Field 1913-1957.

Distinctive Features: Shea Stadium favorite, the apple; Jackie Robinson Rotunda, one of the park’s many nods to Wilpon’s Brooklyn Dodgers fetish; Shea Bridge.

Ballpark Highlights:

In 2012, Johan Santana threw a reverse Galarraga, benefiting from a blown call by third base ump Adrian Johnson to toss the first no-hitter in club history in the team’s 8,020th game.

Later that month, R.A. Dickey tossed a Vander Meer Light, blanking the Orioles 5-0 for his second-straight one-hitter. Four months later, he’d capture the Cy Young Award.

Still later that year, David Wright singled to center in the fourth inning against Pittsburgh, which mercifully allowed him to pass Ed Kranepool as the club’s all-time hits leader.

In 2013, the Mets hosted the All-Star game for the first time in 49 years. As this was during the It Counts era of the contest, the American League’s 3-0 victory gave the Junior Circuit HFA in the World Series, allowing the Red Sox to win the Fall Classic on home soil a few months later. Thanks.

In 2015, Eric Hosmer, the major leaguer who most closely resembles one of those evil snowmen Calvin used to build, raced home from third on a ground ball to Wright, scoring when Lucas Duda’s throw from first sailed wide of the plate. The run tied Game 5 with two outs in the top of the ninth, and the Royals would later score five in the outward half of the 12th to win the first all-expansion World Series.

 

TBtB: Kansas City Royals

Part 10: Kansas City Royals

As you might have noticed, we’re alternating between AL and NL parks in this exercise, just like they used to do with the All-Star Game before All-Star Game hosting duties became a prize for successfully extorting local municipalities.

The good folks of Kansas City have been spared such a fate, as the local nine plays its ballgames in one of the oldest facilities in MLB. I haven’t been there (though I did look on from nearby a few years back – oddly enough, a few hours before the Royals were set to play their home opener), but it still looks like a gem.

Like some others on the list, the park has undergone a name change, though in that case it went from the vanilla Royals Stadium to its current Kauffman Stadium. The change was made to honor its former owner Ewing Kauffman, one month before he passed away. In other words, it was the good kind of change, the kind that almost never happens.

Kauffman is probably the frontrunner, but we’ll see if we can get a few worthwhile replacements, if necessary.

Ballpark History

Built: 1973

Capacity: 37,903

Name:  Kauffman Stadium, 1993-present, Royals Stadium 1973-1993.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Municipal Stadium, 1969-1972. Also used by Kansas City A’s from 1955-67.

Distinctive Features: Obviously, the fountain behind right field; long-standing crowned scoreboard in straightaway center; Buck O’Neil legacy seat in Section 101; symmetrical outfield walls (hey, they’re distinctive now).

Ballpark Highlights:

In 1973, Nolan Ryan threw the first of his seven career no-hitters for the visiting Angels.

In the Royals’ 148th game of the 1980 season, George Brett went 2-4 in a 13-3 win over the A’s, pushing his season average to .400, the latest anyone was over .400 in the last 70 years.

In 1985, Jorge Orta reached on an infield hit, sparking a 2-run, ninth-inning rally in Game 6 of the World Series. The Royals would blitz the Cardinals the following night to win the club’s first World Series title. That’s it. Nothing else happened.

In 1915, KC rallied from a four-run deficit in the eighth, and a one-run deficit in the 12th, to beat Oakland in the AL wild card game, which marked the club’s first postseason contest in 29 years.

Two weeks later, with tying run Alex Gordon standing on third, Madison Bumgarner got Salvy Perez to pop-out to third in Game 7 of the World Series. The Royals would avenge the loss in the Fall Classic the following year.

 

 

TBtB: Pittsburgh Pirates

Part 9: Pittsburgh Pirates

As mentioned, I haven’t been to all that many of the parks on this list. I have been to PNC, on the back end of a double dip with Cleveland the day before. While Jacobs Field was a really nice place to watch a ballgame, it was truly overshadowed by its rival 100 miles to the southeast.

I can honestly say I can’t imagine how you can make a park any better than this one. The setting is wonderful, the views are spectacular, and it just feels like Pittsburgh the moment you walk through the gate. It’s the gold standard for future ballparks, and I’ll be surprised if anyone tops it.

Still, with apologies to all the fine associates or teammates or whatever silly name they give the employees at PNC Financial Services, the name could use an upgrade. An initialed bank name – and who besides Vlad knows what the P or the N or the C stand for, if anything? – just isn’t good enough for this gem.

 

Ballpark History

Built:  2001

Capacity: 38,362

Name:  PNC Park 2001-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Three Rivers Stadium, 1970-2000; Forbes Field, 1909-1970; Exposition Park III 1891-1909; Recreation Park 1884-1890; Exposition Park 1, II (1882-1883)

Distinctive Features: Limestone façade’ steel girders in left; spectacular views of downtown from much of the park; statues honoring Pirate greats Wagner, Maz, Clemente and Pops; Clemente Bridge outside park closed to vehicular traffic on game days; exhibit on city’s strong Negro League history; Allegheny River in reach for strong poke from lefthanded batters.

Ballpark Highlights:

In 2001, Jason Kendall became the first Pirate to get a hit in PNC Park, and later the first Pirate to get hit by a pitch there, equally fitting feats for the former catcher. Also equally fitting for the turn of the century Bucs, opponents managed both feats first.

In 2006, a two-out, two-run triple in the ninth inning by Michael Young off future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman led the American League to a 3-2 victory in the All-Star Game, extending the AL’s win streak to four games and its unbeaten streak to 10.

In 2013, the Pirates knocked off the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in the NL wild card game in the club’s first playoff game in 21 years.

In 2015, Andrew McCutchen starred in a video I never tire of watching.

Link