TBtB: Arizona Diamondbacks

 

Following the lead of the Rangers, the Diamondbacks owners were in negotiations over the conditions of their 20-year-old ballpark, which I like to think of as Miller Park Southwest (I’ve only been to Miller, but they strike me as pretty similar. Their retractable roof set-ups look alike from my screen, and the Bernie-only slide in Milwaukee is countered by the pool built in the desert for inebriated Phoenicians and celebrating Dodgers). That issue appears to be settled. At least for now. You can never say never, since there’s no quit in extortionist.

I do have high hopes the name you guys come up with will be a good one. The Diamondbacks, while a little long, is a great baseball nickname, meeting my two main requirements (uniqueness and local relevance), and as a bonus, it’s got a baseball term tucked in. Along those lines, despite arriving on the scene much later than the rest of the major facilities, Phoenix’s Sky Harbor is the best-named airport in America, or at least the best since the tongue-tickling Idlewild became one of 11,232 things in New York to change its name to JFK in the mid-60s.

Of course, the club also represents one of the true sources of destruction of the American ideal. Our problem isn’t in the ability to name things, but nickname them. Two perfectly suitable diminutives exist for Diamondbacks, either Backs or Snakes, and Diamonds would do in a pinch. Instead, we get the thoroughly artless D-Backs. If the Pittsburgh club was born near the turn of this century, instead of the last one, we’d undoubtedly be eschewing Bucs for P-Rates. Blecch.

Ballpark History

Built: 1998

 

Capacity: 48,686

 

Name:  Chase Field 2006-present. Formerly called Bank One Ballpark (2000-05).

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: None, though the area is rife with spring training stadia given the Cactus League is now entirely a Valley production.

Distinctive Features: The skinny tie of dirt that connects the pitcher’s mound to home; swimming pool beyond right field; first retractable roof stadium paired with natural grass; like everything else in Phoenix, working AC. The Diamondbacks annually rank first in the Fan Cost Index, which estimates the average price for a family of four to attend a game. That’s a nice feature.

Ballpark Highlights:

On Oct 3, 1999, Jay Bell tripled and homered to lead the Diamondbacks to a 10-3 win over visiting San Diego, the 100th victory of the campaign for a team just one season removed from its first year of existence. Of the sport’s other 13 expansion franchises, only five (New York Mets, LA Angels, Seattle, Houston and Kansas City) have ever won 100 in any season.

On May 8, 2001, Randy Johnson fanned 20 Cincinnati Reds before exiting after nine innings of the eventual 4-3, 11-inning Diamondback win. Because the game lasted more than nine, even if the Unit didn’t, the feat isn’t listed in the record book alongside Clemens, Wood and Scherzer.

Luis Gonzalez’s cued a single over the head of a drawn-in Derek Jeter off future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera to cap a two-run ninth-inning rally and one of the best World Series of the last 30 years. The fourth-year Diamondbacks won their only title despite Bob Brenly’s dogged efforts to prevent that from happening.

In 2006, Jake Peavy and six relievers combined to shut out Mexico in the United States’ inaugural game of the World Baseball Classic.

In 2009, Opening Day starter Brandon Webb, who had placed first, second and second in voting for the three previous NL Cy Young awards, was lifted after four innings. He would never throw another pitch in the big leagues, thus retiring as the greatest Diamondbacks-only player in club history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TBtB: Houston Astros

Exhibit A in the Trouble with Naming Rights. Minute Maid Park was formerly known as Enron Field, until that energy trading company became the poster child for corporate malfeasance. Contrast that with Houston’s former home. The greatest potential embarrassment for the Astrodome was if George Jetson’s dog started humping Mr. Spacely’s leg.

While Enron was a crappy company, it was a pretty solid corporate name for a ballpark. It rolled off the tongue quite nicely, particularly given how you could squint your ears and think it was Home Run Field. Its replacement makes you think of Florida, even if the corporate office for Minute Maid is right there in the 281.

As with the Fish Tank, Houston went a little overboard on the quirk, but in a location where it doesn’t necessarily fit as well as it does in South Beach. You have the railroad to nowhere above left field, and, Tal’s Hill, now leveled, in center. I guess you have to try a little harder when you’re replacing the Eighth Wonder, even if the old place had gotten quite long in the tooth.

Unlike the recent batch of five parks where the old name was a strong contender, I doubt MM is even nominated here. It’s just that useless.

Ballpark History

Built: 2000

Capacity: 41,168

Name: Minute Maid Park, 2002-present. Before that, Enron Field 2000-02; Astros Field, a few months in 2002.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Astrodome, 1965-1999; Colt Stadium, 1962-64.

Distinctive Features: The train honoring the site’s history as Houston’s Union Station; the left field wall scoreboard below the Crawford Boxes; Home Run Pump in center, tallying Astros homers hit in the park since its opening; Tal’s Hill and flagpole, (2000-1916), the 30-degree incline and in-play pole, both cursed by a generation of NL centerfielders.

Ballpark Highlights:
A disputed ninth-inning home run by Brad Ausmus just cleared the pointless yellow line in left center, rallying the Astros from a five-run deficit in a 2005 NLDS game with Atlanta. Nine innings later, a Chris Burke homer gave the ’Stros a 7-6 win to claim the series in the longest playoff game in ML history.

Looking to close out the series, Brad Lidge gave up the Holy Shit Homer to Albert Pujols to keep the Cardinals alive in the rematch of the 2004 NLCS. Two nights later, the ’Stros would win Game 6 in St. Louee to earn their first Fall Classic appearance.

In the first World Series game played in Texas, Geoff Blum hit a 14th-inning home run off Ezequiel Astacio to propel the White Sox to a 7-5 victory. The following evening, the visitors finished off the sweep for their first title in 88 years.

On Opening Day 2013, the tank-mode hosts accidentally beat visiting Texas 8-2, marking their first game in the American League after 51 seasons in the Senior Circuit.

Alex Bregman’s 10th-inning single to center scored pinch-runner Derek Fisher to give Houston a 13-12 victory in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series. Three nights later, in Los Angeles, the Astros would claim their first world title.

 

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