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.

 

TBtB: Cleveland Indians

 

I visited Progressive Field on the first of a back-to-back with my PNC jaunt. Though obviously overshadowed by its rival to the southeast, the Jake remains a beaut, and perhaps represents the largest improvement from the old park to the new (I guess Cascadia Field, Allegheny Park and China Basin are also contenders).

It once was filled nightly, back when Manny and Albert and Jim Thome were bashing the American League over the head. Attendance has fallen considerably in recent years. Perhaps a name change from the ubiquitous Progressive Insurance company could pump up interest.

In other news, all vestiges of Chief Wahoo will soon be removed from the site. At the risk of offending the BTF site’s chief, wahoo!

Ballpark History

Built: 1994

Capacity:  35,051

Name: Progressive Field (2009-present), Before that, Jacobs Field (1994-2008).

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Municipal Stadium, 1931-2003; League Park, 1901-1932; 1934-35, periodically after through 1946.

Distinctive Features: 19-foot-high left field wall; raised bullpens, from which an occasional errant throw can screw over David Murphy; Heritage Park beyond centerfield, honoring great players and moments in Tribe history; that damn drummer guy.

Ballpark Highlights:

On June 12, 1995, a capacity crowd of 41,485 watched the first-place Tribe beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 to move to 31-11. It was the first of 455 consecutive sellouts, then a major league record.

In the penultimate game of the abbreviated 1995 season, Albert Belle connected on his 50th homer to go along with 52 doubles, a baseball first.

In 2001, a four-run eighth and five-run ninth allowed the Indians to rally from a 12-run deficit, and a Jolbert Cabrera single in the 10th scored Kenny Lofton with the winning run in a 15-14 triumph. The major league record for the largest comeback was completed against the Seattle Mariners, a team that would go on to win a record-tying 116 contests that season.

In Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS, Joba Chamberlain introduced the baseball world to the midge.

In one of the more memorable Game 7s of the past 20 years, the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years with an 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Tribe. Cleveland rallied from a four-run deficit to send the game into extras, but a two-run top of the frame could only be halved by the hosts in the bottom. The outcome gave the Tribe the distinction of owning the longest title-free drought.

 

 

 

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.