TBtB: Seattle Mariners

Part 8: Seattle Mariners
As mentioned in the opening thread to the series, the Mariners’ pending name change was the final push for this entire project. Among the first of the wave of new parks in the ’90s, the House that Edgar Built has been called Safeco since it’s opening. It’s a name that’s served the facility quite well, has a common baseball term jammed in there, and surely everyone in the Pacific Northwest has the name ingrained in his head as the home of the M’s.
Now it won’t be, (Officially. Fans of the club will undoubtedly be calling it Safeco for years to come). Still, the home team announcers and local papers, TV and radio folk will refer to it by the new moniker, flummoxing many casual fans. Above all, that’s the kind of nonsense this endeavor was designed to prevent. Names are meant to help identify, not confuse.
Based on previous competitions, my guess is that our voters will be overwhelmingly in favor of just keeping the current name on the joint. No argument there, but we can still get adventurous and come up with some decent possibilities if we were opening the place tomorrow before we vote to keep Safeco, can’t we?
Ahh, a boy can dream.

Ballpark History

Built:  1999
Capacity: 47,943
Name:  Safeco Field (1999-2018), Something Crappy (2018-)
Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Kingdome 1977-1999. Pilots played one season at Sick’s Stadium in 1969.
Distinctive Features:  Safeco’s retractable roof leaves open air, the only of its type in the big leagues; Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest and Mariners Hall of Fame located there; Extensive public art space.
Ballpark Highlights:
In the first game after the all-star break, Seattle dropped a 3-2 decision to traditional interleague geographical rival San Diego in the first game played at Safeco Field. The Mariners entered the ninth leading 2-1 before Jose Mesa yielded two in the top of the frame, allowing M’s fans to instantly reminisce about the Kingdome days.

On April 2, 2001, in the M’s first game since Alex Rodriguez left to sign a record FA deal with Texas, new Mariner Ichiro Suzuki went 2-5 with a run scored in a 5-4 win over Oakland. It was the first of a team-record 116 wins, and the first two of Suzuki’s 242 hits in his MVP season.

During the 72nd MLB All-Star Game, Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park took requests.

In 2009, Alexei Ramirez reached on a single to third on a play that sent Adrian Beltre to the disabled list with a “severely contused right testicle.” It was a play that still didn’t convince the future Hall of Famer to wear a protective cup, a very Beltrean decision.

In the span of less than five months in 2012, Chicago’s Philip Humber threw a perfect game against the home team, a sextet of M’s hurlers no-hit the Dodgers (exciting catcher Jesus Montero and no one else), and Felix Hernandez tossed a perfect game against the Rays.

TBtB: Philadelphia Phillies

Part 7: Philadelphia Phillies

And so we resume. We’re back in the National League East, visiting one of the oldest franchises in the sport.

Citizens Bank has been the sole title sponsor of the Phils’ home park since its opening in 2004. I never hear much about this one, so I’m guessing it’s just a generic new-style park, an improvement on the Vet but, ironically, somewhat indistinguishable from the other parks of its era.

The Vet, of course, was almost entirely indistinguishable from many of the digs of fellow original NL franchises – the Pirates’ Three Rivers on the other side of the state, the Reds’ Riverfront along the Ohio River and the Cards in Busch 1.0. The most memorable characteristic of Vet was its turf, a surface employed to cut diamonds in the offseason, and the legendary, let’s call it passion, of its home fans.

The Phillies have a long history, though most of it is pretty pathetic. But it’s in Philly, so finding a nice replacement name should be simple. On the other hand, the club has called Philadelphia home and itself the Phillies longer than any other North American sports franchise, so resistance to change runs deep.

We can subtitle this one The Gang Renames a Stadium.

Ballpark History

Built: 2004

Capacity:  43,651

Name:  Citizen’s Bank Park 2004-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Veteran’s Stadium, 1971-2003; Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium* 1938-1970; Baker Bowl/National League Park/Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds 1887-1938; Recreation Park 1883-1886.

Distinctive Features: Ashburn Alley, a pathway named in honor of Phils’ great and former broadcaster Richie Ashburn; a view of the downtown skyline; statues of Ashburn and other all-time Phils Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt and Robin Roberts; Home Team Success.

Ballpark Highlights: In 2007, St. Louis handed the Phils a 10-2 loss, marking the 10,000th loss in franchise history. The setback made the Phillies the first pro sports team to reach quintuple digits in Ls.

In happier home team news, on the season’s final day the Phils knocked off the Washington Nationals 6-1. Coupled with a Mets loss moments earlier, it capped off a furious late-season charge to the division title, helping dim memories of their own collapse 43 years earlier.

Two days after the first pitch was thrown, Brad Lidge struck out World Series fixture Eric Hinske to wrap up the club’s second World Series title in 2008. The game had been suspended by rain two nights earlier in the top of the sixth with the score tied 2-2, though the Rays had entered the inning trailing 2-1. In the wake of the suspension, Bud Selig determined that postseason contests could not be stopped before nine innings had been played, an entirely sensible ruling.

In 2010, in his first playoff appearance in his 13th big league season, Roy Halladay (RIP Doc) became the second pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter when he blanked the Reds 4-0, fanning eight and walking just one. Earlier in the season, the future Hall of Famer tossed a perfect game in Miami.

*Shibe Park opened in 1909, though it was used exclusively by the Athletics until the clubs began a time-share arrangement from 1938-54.

 

 

TBtB: Rays Voting Thread

The Rays nominating thread attracted about as much attention as mid-day Rays game with the visiting Athletics.

Alas, we press on.

Choose one of the five names listed below.
A) The Aquarium
B) Rays Field
C) Suncoast Dome
D) Thunderdome
E) Tropicana Field

 

Editor’s Note: This will be the final installment of TBtB for a while. We’re going to take the playoffs off and resume the series in November.

TBtB: Tampa Bay Rays

Part 6: Tropicana Field

When I was a wee lad, there were a handful of parks that were almost exactly alike, and a whole bunch more that didn’t stray too far from the basic template – fully enclosed fields, with symmetrical walls (often with the stupid yellow line four inches from the top of the fence) and, often, covered with turf. The National League was swimming in these. They were called cookie cutters, a nickname not bestowed with fondness.

Tropicana Field is the opposite of those sterile ashtrays, at least compared with its peers. It’s the last traditional fixed dome left, and one of just two parks with the fake stuff on the floor. It’s got the catwalks that come into play. Nothing else in the sport is like it. It’s also the only current ballpark built on spec, constructed in hope of landing a major league team, which it did eight years after it was built.

Alas, just being different isn’t enough, as the Trop is generally regarded as the league’s worst venue, by quite some margin.

Still, even crappy ballparks deserve a good name (do they?). So, let’s give the fans of Tampa-St. Pete something they can be proud of when they stay as far away from the park as possible on game nights.

But if finding a great name for this crappy venue doesn’t excite you, let’s consider this an opportunity to find a suitable name for its eventual replacement.

Ballpark History

Built: 1990

Capacity: 42,735 (naked), 31,042 (with tarp).

Name: Tropicana Field, 1998-present. Stadium was also known as Florida Suncoast Dome and Thunderdome (non-Mad Max version) before being occupied by Rays.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: None

Distinctive Features:  The aforementioned catwalks, the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame, the Ray-filled Touch Tank beyond the right-centerfield fence, the dank.

Ballpark Highlights: In 1999, Wade Boggs became the first player to homer for his 3,000th hit.

In 2005, cheapskate owner Vince Naimoli had a Mets scout ejected from the ballpark for using his private bathroom.

After a decade of futility, the newly christened Rays played their first home playoff game, a 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox en route to their lone World Series appearance. The game was punctuated by Evan Longoria homers on his first two postseason plate appearances and the appearance of those godforsaken cowbells.

In 2011, the Rays rallied from a 7-0 deficit against the New York Yankees, capped by Dan Johnson’s walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth. The victory completed an improbable final-month comeback to claim the AL wild card over the Chicken and Beer Red Sox.

 

 

TBtB: Nationals voting thread

We’re down to five selections for the Nationals’ park. The key question is whether one emerges from the pack to challenge the only name the place has ever known, Nationals Park. Nats fans, I’m sure, would be happy to call it anything if it meant getting out of the upcoming first round of the National League playoffs.

Choose One:

A) Anacostia Park
B) Capitol Street Grounds
C) Nationals Park
D) Navy Yards
E) Potomac Park

 

TBtB: Washington Nationals

 

 

Part 5: Nationals Park

The rare modern stadium without a corporate sponsor. Alas, Nationals Park doesn’t exactly ring out as requiring a lot of deep thought, though it is a nod to the place that predated old Griffith Stadium.

One would think the club’s D.C. location would offer ample naming opportunities for the ballpark. Then again, one would think the club’s D.C. location offered the architects ample opportunities for exciting backdrops, and they failed miserably in what’s an otherwise OK park, as I recall from my one visit there.

If nothing else, can we try to keep this thread from going all OTP: Politics, please?

Ballpark History

Built: 2008

Capacity: 41,339

Name:  Nationals Park (2008-present)

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: RFK Stadium 2005-07. Previous DC teams played at Griffith Stadium, 1911-1965, Boundary/Nationals Field, 1895-1911

Distinctive Features: A sliver of the crowd can get a glimpse of the Capitol. Cherry blossoms line the leftfield pavilion.

Ballpark Highlights: Randy Johnson beat the Nats 5-1 to win his 300th career game while pitching for the Giants.

President Barack Obama throws out the first pitch to open the 2010 season, proving conclusively that baseball was not his sport.

In 2010, top pick Stephen Strasburg was absurdly dominant in his closely watched Major League debut, striking out 14 Pirates* and walking none in seven innings.

In 2012, after almost seven full seasons of futility that bore striking similarities to another famous Washington outfit, the Generals, Teddy Roosevelt won the President’s Race.

Jayson Werth’s ninth-inning home run off Lance Lynn gave the Nats a 2-1 victory in Game 4 of the NLDS, the first time Washingtonians had seen the home nine win a postseason game in 79 years.

*At the time, the equivalent to fanning 11 major league hitters.

 

TBtB: The Boston Red Sox

 

 

OK, let’s face it. This one probably isn’t going to change. Fenway is just the kind of name we’re looking for in this endeavor, a distinct name with a connection to the neighborhood. And I’m not just saying that because of my lifelong Sox fandom. Fenway’s a legitimate keeper.

And, given the success of TBiA in our second installment, there is a natural tendency to go with what works. So, we’re probably not looking at a lot of real alternatives.

In the event that the status quo is the overwhelming choice, perhaps we can take this thread in a different direction. What would you call the place if you were starting from scratch? Block out the 100-plus years of history of the Fens and come up with the best possible name.

Then, when the vote happens, you can go ahead and vote for Fenway.

Ballpark History

Built: 1912

Capacity: 37,281 (day), 37,731 (night)

Name:  Fenway Park (2004-present)

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds 1901-1911

Distinctive Features: How long do we have? The Green Monster, manual scoreboard and that ladder in left; the triangle in center; Pesky’s Pole down in right; the wall in foul territory in left that shoots out toward the diamond, often forcing shortstops to play balls hit down the line; the Citgo sign.

Ballpark Highlights: In 1912, the year the park opened, the Red Sox won the deciding game 8 here to win the World Series, 4-3-1.

In 1917, Ernie Shore relieved a pitcher, whose days on the mound were close to numbered, after the starter walked the leadoff hitter and got himself ejected. Shore and the Sox caught the leadoff runner for stealing, then he retired the next 26 batters in order in the first perfect game to be later expunged by Fay Vincent’s great no-hitter purge of 1991.

One night after Carlton Fisk’s iconic 12th-inning home run pushed the series to a seventh and deciding game, Joe Morgan’s single in the ninth inning scored Ken Griffey with the winning run for the Big Red Machine in one of the best World Series ever played.

One of the single-greatest collections of baseball talent gathered at the 1999 all-star game, highlighted by the appearance of the greatest Red Sox player of all-time, and the guy my father wanted to name me after before Mom Unacceptable nixed his plans, Ted Williams.

In 2004, the Red Sox began the greatest comeback in the history of history, tying Game 4 with a ninth-inning run off Mariano Rivera then winning the game in the 14th inning on a two-run home run by David Ortiz. It was the impetus to the club’s first World Series title in 86 years.