Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ballpark Rankings Part 1

This week I will start my ballpark rankings. I will only rank the ballparks I have been, too (which is 25 of the 30 current ballparks), and the ballparks will be ranked by a point system. There will be three categories: personality, which is basically a ballpark’s signature features, history, and game experience. Each category will be rated from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.

Atlanta Braves (Turner Field)

Personality: 6, the Braves did a pretty good job as far as giving their stadium some personality. The open concourses that they have always help the personality, and the Coca-Cola Sky Field is cool. You can also see downtown Atlanta from a lot of the seats. However, they don’t have any signature features that are special just to their park.

History: 10, the Braves have their history all over the place. They have a Braves museum inside the stadium, they have a plaza outside the stadium with statues and retired numbers, and they did a good job of displaying their banners for when they won the division, NL, or World Series, as the banners are legible.

Game Experience: 8, Turner Field is a great place to see a game. As far as I could tell, there is not a bad seat in the house and the atmosphere is good. I also like the tomahawk chop, as that is a purely Braves thing. The Braves also have a nice, big scoreboard and a really good sound system.

Overall Score: 24

Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park at Camden Yards)

Personality: 10, the Orioles could not have done much better with the personality at their ballpark. The warehouse is great for the personality and the whole look and feel of the ballpark is fantastic. You can also see downtown Baltimore from inside the stadium.

History: 10, the Orioles did a very good job displaying history. One of my favorites is the fact that they have placed plaques on the ground marking every home run ball that has ever landed on Eutaw Street out in right field. There are probably about 100 of them out there, and it is very neat. Eutaw Street also has a Orioles Hall of Fame wall, with plaques for each member. They also have statues of the Orioles’ retired numbers just outside the ballpark, along with a statue of Babe Ruth (who was born in Baltimore). To top it off, there is the Sports Legends Museum just outside the ballpark, which contains the official Orioles Hall of Fame along with other Oriole exhibits. And a short distance from there is the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, which you can find by following 60 baseballs that are set into the sidewalks.

Game Experience: 7, the Orioles stadium is a nice place to see a game, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the best, either. Baltimore has a small scoreboard and if you sit at the bottom of the upper deck, you can hardly see because of all the bars in your way. Also, they do not have open concourses and that always hurts, because you can’t see the game as you walk around the concourse.

Overall Score: 27

Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park)

Personality: 10, Fenway is full of personality. They have the Green Monster, Pesky Pole, a very good all-around green color scheme which includes the advertisements, and, on top of that, it was built in 1912.

History: 9, the Red Sox did a good job of displaying their franchise’s history. They have statues outside the ballpark of Ted Williams (twice), Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio. Also, they have a Hall of Fame with plaques of former Red Sox greats and do a great job of displaying all of their pennants, championships, etc.

Game Experience: 10, Fenway is a fantastic place to see a game. It doesn’t have many seats, so that makes it feel more intimate, and the fans and atmosphere are just great. They also have a nice new big scoreboard this year, and that helps, too.

Overall Score: 29

Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ballpark)

Personality: 8, the Reds really did a good job of giving their ballpark some personality. First off, they have it located right by the Ohio River. Unfortunately, they built it where you can only see the river from a very small number of seats. Also they have a boat out in center field, with smokestacks out in right-center. The smokestacks shoot fireworks when a Reds player hits a home run.

History: 10, the Reds have what is probably the best museum of any team right outside of their ballpark. It is very, very large, and is all about the Reds, including their official Hall of Fame. The Reds did a fantastic job with this, and are deserving of a 10 out of 10 with that museum. On top of that, the Reds have statues of Joe Nuxhall, Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski, and Frank Robinson outside the ballpark and have also put some of their history all along the concourses.

Game Experience: 7, the Reds have a nice big scoreboard and that is always a good thing for the game experience. They also have a very, very nice club level, which is air conditioned and is much nicer than the Rangers’.

Overall Score: 25

Cleveland Indians (Progressive Field)

Personality: 5, the Indians don’t necessarily have a bunch of signature features. They have a big wall out in left field, and you can see downtown from many of the seats.

History: 9, the Indians recently added a great new feature to their ballpark. They added Heritage Park in 2007, which is located out in center field and has plaques of all the former Cleveland greats and other bits of Cleveland baseball history. There’s also a statue of Bob Feller outside the gates and the Indians do a nice job of displaying their pennants.

Game Experience: 7, there is nothing wrong with the game experience at an Indians game, but there’s nothing special, either. The Indians also have a nice, big, new scoreboard in left field, and there are open concourses, which always help the experience as you don’t have to miss any of the game while ordering food.

Overall Score: 21

Rankings so Far:
1. Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox) – 29
2. Camden Yards at Oriole Park (Baltimore Orioles) – 27
3. Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds) – 25
4. Turner Field (Atlanta Braves) – 24
5. Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians) – 21

Come back next week for my second edition of my ballpark rankings.

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