Page 2's Ballpark Tour
Eric Neel (2:58 PM)
Hey All, we're here. Thanks for coming. Before we get started, I just want to say, any problems you have (even about stuff I wrote) I'm blaming on Caple...
Nick - Portland, OR
Guys - I am SO jealous. CAN I HAVE YOUR JOB, PLEASE?! Great articles - Printed up every one of 'em. 3 quick questions: 1. Which park was the biggest (pleasant) surprise? 2. Which park was the biggest disappointment? 3. For those of us who plan on doing some sort of facsimile stadium trip in the future, any plans on turning this into a travel book, complete with maps, driving directions, recommended places to stay, etc.?
Jeff Merron (2:59 PM)
Good afternoon, everyone. Let's talk ballparks!
Eric Neel (3:00 PM)
Hey Nick, no chance I'm giving up the job. Got's to eat ... dogs, that is. Thanks for the review of the reviews. Biggest surprise: Edison. Biggest disappointment: BOB. As for your own trip and book ... hey, you, get offa my cloud!
Dan (New York, NY)
Hey guys..thanks for a series of entertaining reads. When you read each others ratings, did you find yourself disagreeing with your colleagues about some of their scores? Do you feel they overrated/underrated any parks? Or is there a general agreement in rankings?
Eric Neel (3:01 PM)
Yeah, Dan, we disagreed, some -- Merron, for example, was way too tough, and that Neel guy is a softie. But overall, I think we were all pretty much in agreement.
Gabe Middendorf (kensington Maryland
Great Job guys! You all are some of the first people to finally realize that the new parks are a lot better then the old ones, even if the new ones lack tradition. My one complaint is that you didn't go to San Juan.
G'town Hoya (Washington, DC)
Where'd you find the best barbeque on your tour?
Jeff Merron (3:04 PM)
Gabe -- funny you should mention San Juan. I wanted to go, but we didn't think of it until too late, and who knows if the Expos will be back? I've got one problem with the "tradition" inherent in old parks, which is that if you're not a fan, often you can't feel it. I'm a Mets fan -- so Shea was all about tradition for me, but Yankee Stadium? I didn't catch Babe Ruth's aura there, at all. Though I'm sure Yankee fans do.
Eric Neel (3:04 PM)
Oakland was mighty fine, but I've got to give the nod to KC. They know their meats out in the midwest.
Darryl (Pearland, TX
How bout doing the same tour for other sports such as the NFL or college football?
Ian (Terre Haute)
First of all, I really liked the series, even though I think you ran into some problems at the end where you all got sick of seeing the same things at every place, which may have skewed the numbers. That said, the big problem I had was that I think you, Eric, were incredibly biased towards the stadiums in your home town. There is no way that Edison Field and Dodger stadium should rank as high as they do. I mean, I've been to Busch Stadium over 200 times, but I would never say that it's a better stadium than most. I think the 78 that it received was pretty accurate. Jeff--I liked your articles the best. I think you had the most realistic appraisals.
Jeff Merron (3:06 PM)
We've got some college tailgating stuff in the works, but it's hard to think of a way we could systematically do arenas and/or football stadiums in quite the same way. Ideas/suggestions are welcome!
Eric Neel (3:07 PM)
It's true, Ian, I'm a romantic when it comes to the West. Never tried to hide that. That said, Dodger Stadium is a jewel -- ask anyone (read Rob Neyer's read on it earlier this summer, for example). And Edison was a real surprise to me. I hated the Big A, but the new park is really great. As for Jeff, I agree, he's rock solid.
Omar (New York, NY)
It seems you guys were really disappointed by the New York ballparks, as bad as they are, there is still that big aura at Yankee/Shea, then at most of the new ballparks...
Jeff Merron (3:11 PM)
To me, the aura's all abou the fans and New York baseball. Yankee Stadium -- I was really looking forward to going and hoped that it would exceed my modest expectations, but I was really appalled by the way folks in the bleachers (me and my friends and many others) were treated. Hard to appreciate "aura" when ushers/security are hassling you big time. Also, I didn't know this, but if you've got bleacher seats, you're stuck there -- can't go elsewhere in the stadium, even Monument Park. Hard to dig the aura there. But, I guess you get what you pay for: $8 tickets to see the Yankees is a bargain. Shea -- it was just dismal when I was there, and as I said, I'm a Mets fan who was there 30 years ago and watched all the big moments on TV. But, you know, I just didn't sense the mystical presence of Tom Seaver or Doc Gooden or Cleon Jones, even. It's just an old, decaying ballpark.
Eric, aren't you at least a little embarrassed that you rated Kaufmann Stadium and Edison Field the same score as Wrigley. Let's be serious, there's no way those two are on par with the friendly confines. It makes me a little sick seeing those two even listed above Wrigley.
Eric Neel (3:13 PM)
Kaufmann is some great park. It's not the same kidn of park as Wrigley, which is one of my all-time favorites, but it's great in its own way. I figured Jim's score for the friendly confines would've been a bit higher, but ... the thing is, the grades are just a starting point, just one view. What we hoped to do was get the conversation going.
Guys, while visiting all these stadiums over the past several weeks, did you ever think to yourselved, "Man, I gotta' get a life."?
Jeff Merron (3:14 PM)
I thought to myself, "Man, what a life!"
Marc (Springfield, MA)
I was very excited to read the rankings, but shouldn't the staduim have something to do with how good the team is? The Pirates have a great stadium, but the teams sucks - you know what I mean?
Eric Neel (3:16 PM)
Yes and no. No doubt the parks come alive when the team is playing well, but the parks have their own character, too, and you can soak that up no matter what's happening on the field.
Chris (Trenton, ON CAN)
Hey guys! What Florida ballpark was more impressive, Tampa or Miami's?
Jeff Merron (3:18 PM)
Miami's, by far. I wasn't expecting much, knowing it was a football stadium first and baseball park second. And I knew it would be hot and/or rainy. But the field is nice, the fans -- the few, the dedicated -- are into the game, and overall it's just a pleasant place to spend the evening, if you have to be outside in Miami in the middle of summer. The Trop -- well, all I can say is that St. Petersburg is a great town, and the stadium just doesn't fit, at all.
Mike (Burke, Va)
Hey guys, great job on the ballpark tour. If you could only visit one of the following which would it be (my budget is tighter than yours): PacBell, Wrigley, or PNC?
Eric Neel (3:19 PM)
If you want tradition and the simple charms of history (plus a run at the pennant this year) get ye to Wrigley. If you want bells and whistles, and spectacular views ... head to either PNC or Pac Bell.
Come back to Boston!!! The new owners have done some renovations to the outfield since Jeff did his review. Better selection of food and HUGE bathrooms. Seats are still uncomfortable but some things are better.
Jeff Merron (3:21 PM)
Oh, I'll be back -- I dug Fenway much more than my score would indicate (I was trying to be objective). Someone else raised the point that I should have known I was sitting in the worst seats in the park, and should not judge the park based on that. In fact, I knew my seats were the worst, but they were the best I could get. Here's the thing: the bleachers at Fenway are better than the right field grandstand, where I sat, which were horrible seats. So why were my seats about 50 percent more expensive?
Gordon Lee (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Hey guys, more pictures of your adventure would have been nice. Aside from that, what was your best moment at any ballpark throughout the season?
Eric Neel (3:22 PM)
The night I spent in KC, when the Royals came back on the Yankees and the locals lost their voices, their inhibitions, and their ever-loving minds was my highlight.
Hayley San Diego,CA
Yankee stadium is at the top with Fenway as the 2 best parks to be a fan and watch baseball, that is why we go. If I want good food I go to a RESTAURANT not at a sporting event. I have seasons in bleacher 39 at Yankee stadium and the fans are wild but they are the best in baseball. One good thing is NO alcohol is served in the bleachers. If it was people would be out of control.
Jeff Merron (3:25 PM)
Hayley -- you make a decent point about the food, but the fact is that if you're at a ballpark for four or more hours you've got to eat, and if you're going to pay a lot of money for the food, it should be decent, shouldn't it? I'm cool with Yankee fans -- being wild, that's part of what it's all about. But really, Yankee Stadium was mega-filthy and the people who work there just aren't nice. That does detract from the experience, if you're not a die-hard Yankee fan.
John (Oakdale, MN)
I think you're review didn't do justice to Renel Brooks Moon's ability as the Giants PA Announcer. She is absolutely fantastic ("fresh" being an understatement). On top of that, her voice is down right sexy.
Eric Neel (3:25 PM)
Sounds like you should write Renel ...
Hey guys. I loved the ratings, but I have 1 question. If you could, which stadium would you want to watch games in for the rest of your life. It doesnt have to be the best overall, but the one that is just great for baseball.
Eric Neel (3:26 PM)
My Dodger-loving grandfather will no doubt roll over in his grave to hear it, but I'd be happy with seats in Pac Bell from here on out.
Gene (Chicago, IL)
I don't mean to play the role of the abnoxious Yankee fan (I couldn't if I tried - I bleed Wrigley ivy), but your score of 73.5 for the House that Ruth Built seems waaayy too low. It finished behind the Cell, Busch Stadium and (gasp!) Pro Player Stadium. C'mon, history and 26 championship seasons have to count for something, even if the ushers are surly. By the way, nothing beats a Polish, some Old Style, and your butt in the right field Wrigley bleachers. Nothing.
Jeff Merron (3:29 PM)
My personal experiences at Busch and Pro Player were much better than they were at Yankee Stadium. And the history and championship seasons did count for something -- 10 points, in our system -- bonus points. I really think Yankee fans get a bad deal at their own stadium -- that's the primary point I'm trying to make. Everyone loves the stadium now, but if you asked folks 15 years ago, when the Yankees were losing, you would have heard a lot more negative things ...
Scott, New York
My girlfriend and I did our own 8-day, 4 stadium road trip this summer--we hit (in order) PNC, the Metrodome, Wrigley, and Comerica. I had been planning it since last December and when I saw the Page 2 installment, I was even more psyched! I think you guys did a great job--the parks I went to were all as good (or bad) as advertised. What park, no longer in existence, would you like to go back in time to see a game at?
Eric Neel (3:30 PM)
1. Marry that girl. 2. I've got two: Ebbetts Field, and I miss Old Comiskey. I don't miss Greg Luzinski in shorts and wide lapels, but I miss Old Comiskey.
Doug, NYC, NY
As Todd Pratt--then of the Mets--said a few years back about Shea, "It's a real dump, but it's OUR dump." A stadium may have a lot of bells and whistles, but it's what you make of the experience and the memories that should also be counted in your rankings.
Jeff Merron (3:33 PM)
Doug -- I couldn't agree more. It's hard to rank and try to be objective, though, and take into account intangibles that you can't personally feel (although we did try). What we were trying to do is spark some discussion, give some hints for when you're travelling and want to see another stadium, that kind of thing. If you're a Mets fan, you're going to Shea whenever possible, right? I can't tell you anything you don't already know. And that's cool. But for those who've never been to Shea (or the other ballparks), I hope we provided some kind of useful info and opinion.
Kevin (Gilbert, AZ)
Dude Eric, I think you totally dropped the ball on the BOB... How can you not give credit for the pool inside the ball park, either giving points for interior architecture, or the wild card... What better stadium can you go to see hot chicks at pool during a MLB game... Also, next time you visit the BOB, you have to sit in the Diamond Level, you'll have a whole different perspective... PS: I think us Arizona people want the cool cozy feeling of being inside, who wants the feeling of being outside when you know it's 115... Thanks!
Eric Neel (3:35 PM)
Kevin, I think the pool is gimicky, and it's reserved access anyway. I did give points for all the fine looking Arizonians showing off their bronze bodies. That said, take my scores with a grain of salt -- I was delirious from the heat, man. If you're happy, I'm happy.
Francisco Salazar (Camarillo, CA)
Were there stadiums that you wanted to go to, but were unable (i.e. Jeff, would you have wanted to go to Dodger Stadium)?
Jeff Merron (3:37 PM)
Man, I wanted Eric's schedule. I've been to Dodger Stadium only once, and loved it. Wanted to see Coors for the first time. And so on. I think each one of us wanted to do some trading, but schedules were tight and we couldn't do much.
Ernie, San Diego
I realize its a bit soon but are there any plans to rate the two new parks next year (SD and Philly). I work a couple of blocks away from Petco (Yeah I know)and it looks like its going to be one of the best. Can't wait for next season.
Eric Neel (3:39 PM)
Hey Editors, do you hear Ernie? Ernie's got a good idea. Send me to San Diego. Put me on the ferry from Coronado Island, let me dine on fish tacos and revel in the new bayside park. (One thing though -- got to change the name. Is it too late for a signature drive? Can we hold a bake sale and buy the thing back from Petco?)
Castle, Falls Church VA
I'm a Boston guy and love my Fenway, but how did you not give the Vet (for baseball) the worst score?! You were close, but I can't imagine a worse baseball experience than that place with the wacky turf & shower curtain bull-pens
Jeff Merron (3:40 PM)
I expected the Vet to be pretty bad (I've been there often enough, but a long time ago), but here's the thing: any ballpark that can get Eric Gregg out from behind the plate and working behind a bar instead has to have something going for it.
By the end of the tour, a few of you said that people started recognizing you. That must have been awesome. Did anyone who recognized you try to do anything to sway your ranking? (e.g. buy you a beer or a signature concession item, or show you the bathrooms below the main level that are always empty and clean as a whistle)
Eric Neel (3:42 PM)
It was cool being recognized. Folks were nice, except for the ones throwing things at me and shouting me down because of my west-coast bias. No one tried to buy my vote. I couldn't have eaten another thing or choked back another beer anyway.
Jon, St. Louis
Just one question. Did you ever make it out behind center field at Busch? If you had you would have seen some of the true hometown foods, like Toasted Ravioli.
Jeff Merron (3:43 PM)
I saw the Toasted Ravioli, and spent a lot of time behind center field at Busch. I just blew that call -- thanks for bringing it up here, Jon.
David (Newark, NJ)
Jeff, I go to a lot of games @ Shea, and don't you think it's ridiculous that they charge so much money to sit in the upper deck to watch a triple A team, vs. a decent team?
Jeff Merron (3:44 PM)
Yes. Really, if teams are going to go with variable pricing, they need to do some in-season adjustments.
Ryan, Seattle, WA
There has been some grumblings on some of the ESPN Radio programs that you guys should have rated the classic ballparks higher (Fenway, Yankee etc.) just because they are classics....how do you respond?
Eric Neel (3:47 PM)
Yeah, our ratings skewed a bit against the classics. We worried about that a little, about how to keep the playing field level. In the end, we figured letting you know what the biases and categories were (and putting the wild card category in there) would make it possible for you to adjust the scores in your head, according to your own feel for tradition and history.
Ned NYC, NY
Please help me I live in the same borough as Shea stadium where I once counted 102 airplanes fly over us while trying to enjoy the Braves beat the Mets
Jeff Merron (3:48 PM)
This goes to show you how experiences can differ even from game to game: the night I saw the Mets vs. the Phils, not more than a half-dozen planes pass overhead, and they weren't loud. Maybe because it was a foggy night? Don't know. But LaGuardia isn't going anywhere, and Shea isn't either (at least for a while), so what can you do?
Yankee Stadium best all time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Eric Neel (3:49 PM)
Got to love a guy with the courage of his convictions.
Omar, Boston, MA
Do you guys think that it would be better or worst for the Boston Red Sox to still play at Fenway, or move into a brand new ballpark in the city.
Jeff Merron (3:51 PM)
Both. The Red Sox should build a new stadium and play 60 games a season there. They should keep Fenway alive and play 22 games a season at Fenway. Charge premium prices for the Fenway ducats for the extra upkeep on two ballparks. I think it's a good idea. It's probably not too bright from a financial point of view, though.
bryan (Atlanta, GA)
You gave a lot of stadiums high marks for hot dog quality. but which park, has the absolute best hot dogs? that, in my opinion, is the most important thing about a ballpark.
Eric Neel (3:51 PM)
Best dog I had was in Denver.
Rick, Washington, DC
My biggest problem with the series was the way you treated each category as having the same weight. For instance, a total of about 20 points for food, vs. 5 for the thousands of people around you. How is that justifiable? I'd rather be at a game in New York, with smart, passionate fans and a decent--if not great--concession stand, than in a quiet, dead Baltimore with all the Boog's I can eat.
Jeff Merron (3:54 PM)
This was something we debated from before we even started the tour. The scoring system we knew wasn't perfect, but we had to come up with something and we couldn't change the rules mid-stream. We hope people will read the comments we made (not just the scores) and take as much from those as from our "grades."
aon (Wilmington, DE)
guys, what a summer it must have been! my question(s): who gained the most weight out of the three of you? and, what was the best game you saw along the way?
Eric Neel (3:55 PM)
We broke even. Put on a bit in the parks, lost a bit eating those little bags of nut snacks on the airplanes.
Bill (Arlington, VA)
Two Boston Stadiums? That is the stupidest idea I have ever heard. Are you secretly running the Expos?
Jeff Merron (3:57 PM)
Maybe. But don't the Celtics play some games at Hartford ever year? Don't the Packers play a game or two in Milwaukee? It might not be a very good idea, but if it's the stupidest idea you've ever heard, well, I'm happy to provide a memory.
Josh Hartnett (Seattle, WA)
Eric - As much as the A's are a great team to watch, I agree the "Net" deserves the rank it received. However, it's worth mentioning that Wednesday home games, EVERY Wed. home game, offers $1 admission (upper reserved) and $1 hot dogs - perhaps the best deal in baseball, especially to watch the A's battle an AL West rival.
Eric Neel (3:58 PM)
First, love your films. Second, you're right, we should mention the A's deal, and we should also mention that the A's play great ball and are worth the love and attention of their fans.
Mike (Long Beach, NY)
Jeff, don't you think they should renovate the bathrooms @ Shea? They are the worst bathrooms I've ever been in, in my life. Someone hated them so much, that when I went to a game, this guy pissed in the walkways.
Jeff Merron (4:00 PM)
Mike, I actually did some research into this, and they have renovated the bathrooms at Shea, a few times. The problems go pretty deep, I guess -- I think they have all kinds of plumbing/infrastructure problems that simply can't be solved without gutting the entire ballpark.
Jason, San Francisco, California
Hey Guys. Ever think of getting someone to create a model or illustration of what you guys feel is the perfect ballpark? What do you guys think the ideal capacity for a park should be? I'm working on a model now of a fictional park and just wanted to let you know that your ratings helped me alot in coming up with new ideas.
Eric Neel (4:01 PM)
Glad we could help. We'd love to see it when you're done.
In retrospect, I wish you would have ditched the point system. The comments and categories were very good, but the number of writers made the point system rather arbitrary.
Ummm.... The Packers haven't played a game in Milwuakee in about 10 years, and the Celtics haven't played a game in Hartford in the same amount of time. Guess the qualifications for that plum job don't include knowing about which you speak. My resume is on it's way.
Eric Neel (4:03 PM)
Wait a minute ... you mean grading is subjective? Oh man, what's the point then? I'm so bummed.
Jeff Merron (4:05 PM)
Oops. One qualification is (or should be) admitting you don't always get things right. Thanks for correcting me.
Chris, Birmingham, AL
How would the rankings be different if just one person did them?
Eric Neel (4:05 PM)
One of us would be three times as tired ... and three times as happy.
Eric Neel (4:08 PM)
Caple said Jacobs, I think. I'll trust his call. Best relish and tomatoes on my tour were in Arlington.
Evan (New York, NY)
I'm very disappointed you didn't partake in the Italian Sausages at Yankee Stadium. They are fantastic and are 10 times better than the hotdog, although I do like the hot dog's half wonder bread half hotdog bun
Jeff Merron (4:09 PM)
Yeah, it's a problem that you can't sample everything. But we'll check it out next time we're there.
Manny Sanguillen, Pittsburgh, PA
Does anyone want me to sign their sandwich?
Eric Neel (4:11 PM)
No, but it would be an honor if you'd cook it for me. All right folks, I'm out. Thanks for coming. Happy ballparking these last few weeks...
Jeff Merron (4:12 PM)
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