Ranking the Ballparks

At least one major media outlet does this every summer, but it’s always fun. Today it’s the Sporting News’ turn. They break up 1 (Fenway), 2 (PNC), 3 (Wrigley), 4 (Camden Yards); and 5 (AT&T) into separate pages and then lump 6-30 together. There isn’t a lot of analysis here — I think some editor just decided that lists were good things because dorks like me link to them — but there are worse ways to spend the doldrums of your afternoon.

Comments? Apart from the unfortunate use of Nyjer Morgan to pose for a picture in and extol the virtues of PNC Park (“I walk to PNC Park every day . . .It’s definitely great playing for a club that has had so many great players in the past . . . How can that not inspire a player?”) there is little to take issue with here. Given the sameness of most of the newer parks, most of the distinctions to be made are minor ones. I mean sure, you could spend five hours arguing how there is no WAY that the Ballpark at Arlington should be ranked seven slots behind Progressive Field in Cleveland, but there are probably 329 better things you could do with that time. All of these newish parks pretty much have some bricks, some faux-timey flourishes and a lot of convenience, but with a couple of exceptions, they’re all the same. And even those exceptions — San Francisco and Pittsburgh — are more functions of setting than the parks themselves.

The only real beef I have here is that I think Dodger Stadium is ranked too low at number nine.

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  1. lar said...

    Talking about Camden Yards:

    “2. The Sun scoreboard’s hit/error lights. The art of a stadium is to delight or surprise you, like a banjo hitter’s well-timed single or a Gold Glover’s ill-timed error. Camden Yards’ scoreboard shows that even a naming rights deal can have a purpose: The “H” and “E” in “THE SUN” signal the official scorer’s decisions.

    ADAM JONES, Orioles center fielder and leading batter (with a .308 average): “It’s pretty cool. I normally don’t look at it, but other people tell me about it.”“

    Fantastic quote.

  2. David said...

    Okay, I’ll say it and risk the wrath of the Fenway faithful.  SHENANIGANS!  Fenway has no business being at the top spot.  Top 10 maybe, but 1, no way.  Most of the seats down the line don’t face the infield, but look out towards center (obstructed view seating…).  Sitting in RF, you are blinded by the Sun as it sets for the first hr and a half.  Other than that, great, it’s old, it has it’s charm, etc, blah blah blah.  Much like I said about old Yankee stadium in that it’s like the rest of NY, it’s full of New Yorkers and smells like piss, Fenway is the same, but substitute New Yorkers for Massholes.  Give me Dodger Stadium, ATT, Wrigley, Camden, etc anyday.

  3. Bill @ the daily something said...

    Love PNC Park, but no way is it (or Fenway, for that matter) ahead of Wrigley.

  4. Arun said...

    I’d be curious to see somebody that knows absolutely nothing about baseball or its history rate the 30 ballparks in depth. Even though all of the nostalgia and charm probably should count for something….it would be interesting to see a set of rankings that doesn’t include them.

  5. Drew said...

    In response to the snarky comment in the article, people might stop complaining about the Dodgers Rotunda at Citi Field if there were anything else in the ballpark that mentioned the Mets.  If you didn’t know they played there, the only sign you’d have would be the totally bland white-on-blue “LETS GO METS” over the giant TV in centerfield.  Fans aren’t just upset about the Rotunda; it’s just representative of the problem on the whole, which is that it seems like the team is trying to hide the fact that they’re the Mets.  And fans don’t care for that sort of thing.

  6. SJ said...

    I’ve watched games in all three post-war St. Louis ball parks and they just keep getting worse. Old Sportsman’s Park may have had poles that obstruct some views, but it was a great place to watch a game. Old Busch was as artificial as its original turf and the new Busch shouldn’t be ranked any higher than that mess in Cincinnati – they are built by the same people with the same tacky materials. Maybe it’s because it is such an improvement over Candlestick, but I really like AT&T and I also like Progressive (Jacob’s); both are modern enough to have good fan facilities and AT&T has a great setting (but no nearby parking, that’s why the trolley stops right at the park) and they both are built with real materials. Kaufman is a good place to watch a ballgame (the new additions are an annoyance, though), but you have to like doing it pretty much alone these days and it still has that feel of being an artificial turf place but in its favor, it does have great parking.

  7. Jeff Berardi said...

    The best part about Fenway is the fans. Every game is a sellout, you’re packed in way to close to not get to know your neighbors, and everyone is really clued into the game. One thing that always makes me laugh at other venues is the use of the jumbo-tron to get cheers going. Fenway fans, on the other hand… are special:


    No coaching required. I rest my case.

  8. tadthebad said...

    I agree that Fenway should not be the top spot (nor should Wrigley; there are golf courses that are flatter than its playing surface).  I don’t know which should be, though typically I hear AT&T and PNC mentioned.  The one thing about Fenway, though, is the proximity of the stands to the action.  Very little foul territory makes for a great experience.

  9. Mark said...

    Okay, I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll happily say it again: anybody who ranks Fenway at #1 of ballparks has almost by definition never actually sat in it to watch a game. Cramped, tiny seats, no leg room, no elbow room. The people who write flowery sonnets about Fenway presumably either only watch games there on TV, or from the press box. Or maybe they’re guests of John Henry, whose seats are presumably comfortable.

  10. Greg Simons said...

    @Jeff Berardi – When you say “everyone is really clued into the game,” does that include those that chant “Yankees suck” when, say, the Blue Jays or Orioles are in town?

    “Fenway fans, on the other hand…are special.”  Yes, they sure are, though our definitions of special may differ slightly.

  11. ma said...

    They completely tore up the Wrigley surface a couple of off seasons ago and got rid of the crown that the old surface used to have.  Added a drainage system too.

  12. J. McCann said...

    Maybe they should make 2 lists?

    One for fat people and one for 1910’s style skinny people.  I could believe that for thin people Fenway and Wrigley are the tops, but for fatasses like me, PNC is #1.

  13. Steve said...

    Wrigley is a dump.  It’s not a good place to watch a game and there are tons of obstructed view seats.

  14. Nate said...

    Does that mean AT&T bumps up to top 3? I gotta say, when the weather is pleasant in SF there is no better place to be in the city than China Basin. Sat pretty much everwhere from front row to nosebleed and have enjoyed them all. Hell, they even have a knothole area for the true cheapskates.

  15. Chris said...

    Actually, Dodger Stadium is ranked too high. I’m not sure how recently you have been there, but between the ubiquitous ads and the thugs who populate the bleachers and the horrible parking, it’s not what it once was.

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