By David Mullen
In my last column, I reviewed the Major League Baseball parks in the National League. Lucky enough to have seen a Major League Baseball game in every park, this week we will review the American League venues as many families like to mix in a baseball game as part of their summer vacations.
Choosing the worst ballpark is easy. It is the much maligned Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. It is so bad they had to adapt a different set of rules to play there. The catwalks are in the way of the field. Hit one and it’s a double. Hit another one and it is a home run. It is tough to get to, the concourse is like a shopping mall food court, and there is no ambiance.
I love the Oakland Coliseum because I grew up there, but it has not aged well. However, the team has done everything they can to maximize the experience.
In left field, they have a brew pub called The Tree House. The food is really good. And if you can catch a day game before the Oakland Raiders start playing there in August for the final time, an Oakland A’s game is fun. The grass is kelly green, the weather is perfect, and the fans are very creative. Go to Jack London Square before or after the game.
I am not a fan of U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. I really like the classic old Comiskey Park better. On a visit to the new version, an attendant backed me into a parking space, took my fee and ran. Then the real attendant came over. Welcome to the South Side of Chicago.
A similar feeling runs through me when I go to Detroit. I loved old Tiger Stadium. Fans sat right on top of the field. As I have always said, Comerica Park is more of an amusement park than a baseball park. But it is worth going downtown for a Lafayette Coney Island dog.
I have always wished that they did not build a retro ballpark in downtown Houston. Houston is a modern city. It is the home of the Astrodome and of NASA. But Minute Maid Park has started to grow on me. Maybe it is because the Astros are so good. You can’t beat the convenience of the location. Are you listening, Dallas?
And speaking of convenience, I have had some great times out at Globe Life Park in Arlington. But it is just too far. I can even deal with the heat over the traffic.
Oh, for the love and want of public transportation!
The location of Rogers Centre in Toronto, home of the Blue Jays, is great. It is right downtown and near a slew of bars and restaurants. Go to nearby Wayne Gretzky’s. Progressive Field in Cleveland is nice but not all that distinctive; however, it is close to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Two older stadiums that benefited from upgrades but are not downtown are Angel Stadium of Anaheim (although the team is now called Los Angeles for marketing purposes) and Kauffman Stadium, home to the Kansas City Royals. Angel Stadium has a little too much Disney in it, but I caught a foul ball there so it will always have a place in my heart. Kaufmann is the perfect size for baseball and, we all know, Kansas City has some great barbeque.
One can almost smell the fresh seafood at the waterside stadium in Seattle’s recently renamed T-Mobile Park after years of being Safeco Field. It is at Pioneer Square, and offers great before and after the game drinking and dining options.
I love Yankee Stadium. The new version did as much as possible to preserve the old history and charm, while adding modern conveniences. And across the street rests Stan’s Sports Bar, which is a must for a pregame beverage. Now here is where many debates begin. I love the tradition of Fenway Park. I am just not a big fan. I have been on top of the “The Green Monster,” met the mascot “Wally the Green Monster,” and I still don’t care for that 37.2-foot wall in left field.
Target Field in Minneapolis is terrific. Much like Coors Field in Denver, it took a blighted area and gave it an economic shot in the arm. As did my American League favorite park, Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It set the tone for all of the ballparks that followed. Enjoy your trip. Play ball!