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.



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.