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Best Baseball Parks

Staying with the “best of” and “baseball” themes let’s look at the 10 best places to watch a baseball game.

#10 Coors Field – Denver, CO

Good food, lots of offense, plenty of cheap seats and beautiful Denver, Colorado.  It is tough to beat that combination.

#9 PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a “tourist” destination but if you are passing through stop and see a ballgame at PNC.  It is a really a great tribute to the ballparks of yester-year.  Located on the Ohio River it has a great river walk, awesome food, great ambiance and a great view of the Pittsburgh skyline.

#8 Comerica Park – Detroit, MI

I really enjoyed this park when I went to it.  It is very comfortable inside the park.  The sight lines are really great.  It is a “sunken” stadium as the lower box seats and field are below street level.  The food is good and the beers are pretty cheap.  It is an urban park in a part of Detriot that is “coming back”.  It is near the casino, Ford Field and Hockeytown.   

#7 AT&T Park – San Fransisco, CA

This park is very beautiful.  They built it right on the bay where kayakers and other boaters wait for home run balls.  The Promenade lets people peak in on the game for free and sample yummy food while strolling along the China Basin.  Everything about the park is really beautiful.  It is another park built with elements of the classic old brick and steel ballparks.  It has superior sight lines and has plenty of affordable tickets.

#6 The Ballpark at Arlington – Arlington, TX

This park is a classic design of the old ballparks with many element of old Ebbet’s Field.  It is a very cozy ballpark with unique outfield walls and a great centerfield porch.  Outside the park you can pop in the museum or instruction center for kids.  It is another park that is built down below street level.

#5 Chase Field – Phoenix, Arizona

Chase Field (formerly the BOB) has classic elements combined with some great modern amenities.  You have to mention its signature pool in right field, the kids area behind centerfield and the dirt path to the mound almost immediately.  Not to mention it is always 100 degrees plus in the summer so it has a retractable roof and huge HVAC system.  You have to love the water cannons erupting when the D-Backs hit a homerun.  They also have many suites for price levels of all kinds from box to pool to dugout suites.  There is also plenty of affordable parking and good food.  This ballpark is a model for all new parks to follow.

#4 Oriole Park and Camden Yards – Baltimore, MD

Oriole Park is a great ballpark.  It is faced with a beautiful wrought iron and brick facade to cover up the walkways like in the older, classic ballparks.  It’s right field is faced with an old warehouse which also gives it that “throw-back” look.  However, the upper deck was built without support beams extending into the lower deck so there are no obstucted view seats.  One of the most unique things are the double decker bullpens in centerfield.  Kind of weird but neat to see.  The food and atmosphere are second to none.  Fans belt out belt out “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and enjoy libations and crab legs right outside the park.

#3 Yankee Stadium – Bronx, New York

The house the Ruth built.  I could probably just stop there because this historic relic is meeting the wrecking ball next year.  However, see it if you can.  Check out monument park and touch the bat.  It is hard to believe they shrunk this field…it is massive.  You have got to love the ornate work on the upper deck roof and on the exterior of the park.  They don’t make them like this any more.  I don’t think I would want to be a catcher though.  If you let one go you will have to run a mile to get it.

#2 Fenway Park – Boston, MA

Fenway is a remarkable ballpark.  From the classic exterior elements to the massive green wall in left field, it is easily the best ballpark in the AL.  I love the short-porch in right field, also known as Williamsburg, a tribute to the great lefty, Ted Williams.  Getting back to the Monster, it contains one of only two remaining manual scoreboards in baseball.  Around the park the food is awesome and the streets are shut down to give every home game a kind of festival feel.

#1 Wrigley Field – Chicago, IL

Wrigley is the king of all parks.  It is in need of dire repair (will probably be closed for the 2009 season) but it is beautiful.  I love the ivy covered brick outfield wall and the basket.  The manual scoreboard in centerfield is also amazing.  If the Cubs are lucky enough to win they fly the large white flag with the blue W at the end of the game.  They also have celebrities sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame in the 7th Inning as a tribute to the late, great broadcaster, Harry Carey.  Most seats are really nice giving you a great view of the field.  The bleachers however are an experience all there own.  I call it, the largest singles bar in North America.  Simply put, if you don’t like wild parties with booze and half-naked women, get a box seat.  Around the park is just as decadant with about 20 bars with a couple of blocks in any direction.  You can also join one of many roof top parties looking into the ballpark.

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Best Baseball Rivalries

The BEST OF week returns to the BPD rag. 

In the heat of the baseball playoff race I thought I would start with best baseball rivalries.

I will not include AL v. NL teams because it just seems unnatural.  I have never been big on the interleague play to begin with but for anyone to assume the Cubs v. Sox is up there with the Red Sox and Yankees is just ridiculous.  I think Interleague play has run its course and we should get back to the NL playing the NL and the AL playing the AL. 

Now, on with the show.

#10 Anaheim Angels v. Oakland A’s – It is a newer rivalry.  It has been going strong since the 1960s with each team winning dozens of division titles, pennants and a couple of World Series championships.  The one has often had to get through the other to get to the playoffs.  They have had fantastic teams over the years.  The A’s of the 70s were dominant and then the Angels started winning more regularly in the 80s.  You had the Bash Brothers and then eventually the “Sock Monkey” in Anaheim.  It is ranked #10 right now but this rivalry will pick up steam in the coming decades.

#9 Chicago Cubs v. Milwaukee Brewers – This is also a newer rivalry.  More than 10 years ago this would be listed as White Sox v. Brewers, not the Cubs.  However this rivalry is intense.  Granted it hasn’t been filled with too many Hall of Fame players or moments, but the fans have made it great.  Currently they are both very good so I see this rivalry getting better over the years as well.

#8 NY Yankees v. Cleveland Indians – This is a down right hate fest.  Yankees fans and players hate the fans and the city.  They have almost as much dislike towards Cleveland as they do towards Boston.  The Indians fans have hated the Yankees forever.  This rivalry dates back almost 100 years and these teams have met hundreds of times in the regular season and in the playoffs.  The Yankees boast their 26 championships and the Indians have fallen in the post-season to most of those teams.  However, the Indians have knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs numerous times as well.  Not to mention the Indians own the single greatest blow out versus the Yankees.

#7 Atlanta Braves v. NY Mets – This rivalry was pretty insignificant until the 1990s.  The Braves had a couple of good teams before that but it seemed the Mets were always better.  This rivalry just had “moments” up until the 1990s when Bobby Cox was hired as manager in ATL.  After that the Braves were very good just about every season.  The Mets v. Braves games had new meaning as both teams were usually pretty damn good and in the playoff picture.  This rivalry should continue to grow.

#6 Baltimore Orioles v. NY Yankees – This one goes back to the 1960s.  Once again it was the Yankees winning most of the championships but in the late 60s through the early 80s the Orioles gave NY just about everything they could handle.  Baltimore won 7 division titles, 5 pennants and 3 world championships over that time period.  New York won 5 division titles, 4 pennants and 3 world championships.  You had several Hall of Fame players on each team and fantastic moments between the two teams, ending with the Jeffrey Maier interference home run in the playoffs.  Recently the rivalry has taken a hit.  Baltimore has been terrible the last 10 years or so and the Yankees are beginning to struggle too. 

#5 Cleveland Indians v. Detroit Tigers – This is another hate fest that has more geographical implications that cross over into multiple professional and college sports.  Wolverines v. Buckeyes…Detroit Pistons v. Cleveland Cavs…so naturally the baseball teams would hate each other, right.  This is true but the rivalry is one of those on again, off again kind of affairs.  It was really hot in the 40s and 50s as the area rivals had numerous Hall of Famers and championships between them.  How tense is it when one of your greatest all time players Hank Greenberg (Tigers) becomes a minority owner of the rival Indians?  How about the Rocky Colavito trade from Cleveland to Detoit.  Some Cleveland fans called it a curse because they went 30 years without post-season play.  During this time the rivalry cooled.  Cleveland was almost always the doormat and Detroit wasn’t much better (exception of 1984).  However this rivalry picked up again 90s and continues on today.  The Cleveland v. Detroit rivalry is now hotter than ever.

#4 Chicago Cubs v. St. Louis Cardinals – This rivalry has the potential to be one of the best of all-time but there is that whole matter of the Cubs not winning any championships since 1908.  That withstanding, this match up is classic.  It dates back over 100 years with the Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) defeated the St. Louis Unions (Cardinals) 47-1.  Through much of the early part of the 20th century the Cubs always had the edge in the rivalry.  As a matter of fact the Cubs had some down right dominant teams.  However, after the mid-40s the Cubs took their spiral downward and the Cardinals began to ascend.  However, the rivalry still had its moments like the ridiculous Lou Brock trade from Chicago to St. Louis and the monumental collapses of the 1969 and 1977 Chicago Cubs.  St. Louis won two championships and three pennants in the 60s and cooled during the 70s.  However both the Cubs and Cards picked up steam in the 80s.  In 1982 the Cardinals won yet another championship, seperating themselves further from the Cards.  However the game labeled as the Sandberg Game looked to change history 

#3 NY Mets v. Philadelphia Phillies – This is your classic on-again, off-again rivalry.  The Mets and Phillies have been regular enemies for the last 44 years or so.  It has everything a rivalry could want.  They are in the same division and only a 90 minute car ride apart.  Their is a curse involved.  That curse is the Phillies and since they built a skycraper taller than the one adorning the William Penn Statue, they have won no world championships.  And I am not just talking about the Phillies.  Non of the Philadelphia teams have turn the corner since.  It could be a great rivalry if the two teams were good at the same time.  A few times they have been battling for playoff position but usually one or both teams are out of contention.  This rivalry has picked up since about 2005-06 with both teams competing regularly for division titles and wildcard births.  The two teams have also exchanged players over time like McGraw, Dykstra and most recently, Billy Wagner.   

#2 SF Giants v. LA Dodgers – This rivalry has been struggling and if it wasn’t for the glorious past of these two teams I would have dropped them to #3 or #4.  What more can you say about these two teams playing each other?  In 1951 the Brooklyn Dodgers hold a 13+ game lead over NY in August and then “The Shot Heard Round’ the World!”  These two teams have played each other almost 2,300 times.  The most amazing thing is that in 118 years of professional baseball neither of these teams have faced each other in post-season competition.

 

#1 NY Yankees v. Boston Red Sox – What more can be said about this rivalry that hasn’t already been said?  They’ve had over 1,770 meetings.  The rivalry has the Rooters, the Babe trade and subsequent curse, 26 championships for NY and none for Boston over a 90 year period, 19 post-season meetings between the two, the Bucky Dent homer, the ARod slap, Boston beating NY on their way to a championship etc.  It is a great matchup that stirs the passions of millions of New Englanders and just as many millions of baseball fans nationwide.

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Super Bowl Observations and Tid-Bits

SuperBOWL

1 – OK, loved the inspirational fly by before the game but what is the point…ALL THE PEOPLE ARE IN A DOME. 

2 – And, speaking of flying, why have a blimp at ANYTHING held in a dome?  “Well, there it is, the desolate wasteland of Arizona and a building containing the Super Bowl!”  Now that is exciting.

3 – Now I want to address FOX and there choice of singer of the National Anthem.  It is the biggest sporting event in the world of sports and the best you can do is American Idol’s Jordin Sparks.  The game is held in the America’s southwest and they can’t get a country or Hispanic star?

4 – Speaking of entertainment…TOM PETTY IS OLD.  His career is over and his music is on the oldies channel.  If your plan was to pick an act so vanilla and plain that nothing contraversial would happen,  than Fox gets an A+.  However if your goal is to get something relevant and energentic than they failed miserably.

5 – On with the game!  Could that 1st half have been any worse.  It was filled with defense and poor offense.  Like the rest of the world I was expecting a score like New England 21 NY 17 at halftime.  There were a few nice defensive plays in that half but not much else.

6 – The poor 1st half didn’t only exist on the playing field.  WOW, commercials were really uneventful.  Horse training like Rockey…meh.  Go Daddy?  Not happy DADDY!!! 

7 – The 2nd half is great.  It was very exciting.  The Eli scrambling for his life, heaving the bomb for a complete was amazing.  The fade route to Plaxico was also money.  It would have been better if someone covered him.

8 – The 2nd half commercials were great.  Will Ferrel in the basketball shorts telling people to suck on a beer.  Awesome!  The baby puking into the Web cam was funny.  And, the best in my opinion was Underdog battling Stewie for the Coca Cola.  Surprise ending…Charlie Brown gets the Coke. 

9 – Alright, is it just me or did you see the illegal pick play to set up the Plaxico TD.  Eli launchs the amazing pass…COMPLETE!  Next play, slot receiver to the flat and the receiver wide slants and takes out 2 DBs.  Not just screens them…he takes them out!  WHERE WAS THE FLAG?!?!

10 – Bellichik leaving the field before the final snap.  I understand he already shook Coughlin’s hand but if your soldiers are on the field you stay on the field with them.  I have never liked him much as a human but I had tremendous respect for him as a coach.  Now, I think he is a little spoiled brat and a complete ASS for lack of a better word.

UP SOON…DRAFT NEWS AND PICKS.  Stay tuned.

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NFL Championship Game Predictions

  NFL Playoffs

 Well, 3 out of 4 isn’t too bad.  Here are my picks for the NFC and AFC Championship games.

NFC

Green Bay 14 New York 10 – I was leaning towards NY for days but then I realized that in a game of this magnitude on a frozen turf you go with experience.  Eli is new to this.  He has never played in a 4 degree game before let alone an NFC championship game.  Both defenses are good an there will be turnovers.  I ultimately think the team that controls the clock and ball the best will ultimately come out on top.  Look for Eli to make a crucial 4th quarter mistake.

New England 35 San Diego 20 – I really haven’t changed my opinion much on this game.  Brady should be able to pass against this defense and with Maroney running well they will move the ball at will.  San Diego will be in the game for a while but LT will be contained for the most part and Rivers will make a few mistakes.  If the game was in San Diego it would have been a closer game but in New England in January I’ll take the undefeated Pats.

 SUPERBOWL XLII will be Pats v. Packers part deux and unlike the first meeting, I will actually tune in to this one.  After all, history is on the line.

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