Monday, March 22, 2010

New York- Yankee Stadium Review

Yankee Stadium
Year Built: 2009
Capacity: 52,325
Surface: Kentucky Blue Grass
Cost to Build:
$1.5 billion
Overall Grade: A
Return Someday: Yes

In 2009, professional sports most winning franchise got a new home, and they christened it by winning their 27th World Series Championship. The new Yankee Stadium, "the House that Jeter Built", is a very beautiful ballpark. It should be, after all, it is the most expensive stadium ($1.5 billion to build) the majors to build. The seating prices definitely are reflective of the stadium's cost to build...way too pricey! Even with all of the modern amenities and upgrades, I still prefer the old Yankee Stadium.The new stadium is really really nice, but it's just not Yankee Stadium to me. I felt like I was watching the Yankees on the road in a super nice ballpark. I miss the old 1923 stadium a lot. I also liked Citi Field better than the new Yankee Stadium, which is really hard for me to admit to. I'm sure the House that Jeter Built will eventually grow on me, but it will take some time. The new stadium comes complete with the Great Hall, where players of the past are honored. The stadium also has a Hard Rock Cafe, the NYY Steak House, a Lobel's Butcher Shop, Monument Park, a Steiner Sports memorabilia shop, the Yankees Museum, the largest video screen in sports, and Babe Ruth Plaza...just to name a few.

My favorite thing about the new stadium is the Yankees Museum. They display jerseys, autographed baseballs, WS Trophies, bats, etc... from former and current Yankees players. I really enjoyed the Babe Ruth display case. You can see the museum before the game or on the guided stadium tour. Save your money and avoid the Stadium tours. The Stadium tours aren't that great. You got to see a lot more in the old stadium. The only good things are seeing a less crowded Monument Park and the new Yankees Museum. Going into the Yankees dugout was cool too. No stops were made to the visitor's clubhouse or press boxes. It's really not worth the 20 bucks per person.The customer service at the New Stadium is far superior than that of the old Stadium. In addition, the food options are an enormous, much needed improvement from the latter. There are a lot of NYPD staffing the stadium as security, and they are actually really friendly for getting directions. Getting to the stadium is very easy via train. The Stadium is family friendly, and even visiting fan friendly. Just expect to pay an arm and a leg for some decent seats.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New York- Citi Field Review

Citi Field
Year Built: 2009
Capacity: 41,800
Surface: Grass
Cost to Build:
$900 million
Overall Grade: A
Return Someday: Yes

"Meet the Mets, greet the Mets..." The other New York team, the Metropolitans (aka the Mets) opened up a fabulous new stadium in 2009. It is designed as a tribute to Ebbetts Field, former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Mets pay homage to old time NY baseball with their ballpark, not just by the exterior design, but also with the Jaclie Robinson Rotunda. This area is completely dedicated to MLB's first black player, with quote from Jackie on the walls, to pictures and stats of him, and a huge 42 on the floor. The rotunda is definitely a must see. My only issue, is they pay tribute a little too much to the Dodgers and not nearly enough to the Mets, honestly, hardly any at all.

This is by far one of the nicest ballparks in the majors, and Citi Field is definitely a huge improvement over Shea Stadium. Believe it or not, I actually liked Citi Field better than the New Yankee Stadium. The ticket prices are by far more fan friendly than those in the Bronx. The fans were very friendly, as well as the staff of Citi. The ballpark food options are really good. The toppings/ condiment stations are the best that I have ever seen. The have onions, sauerkraut, jalapenos, ketchup, brown mustard, etc... Very cool setup. Another one of Junior's secrets, is to go to the main level up from the escalator and sign up as a designated driver. They will put a wrist band on you to get a free soda. They actually give you a big soda, not a dixie cup full of soda like some other parks do. See my pic below as proof !!!

The old Big Apple from Shea is on display in the stadium's public areas, and there is a new Big Apple beyond centerfield. Citi offers a lot of retail shopping options. Check out the Nike store before you buy anything in the main shops, they seemed to have nicer shirts and hats. Even though the Mets are always considered NY's "other team," kinda like the Clippers and Lakers relationship, the Mets definitely have a nicer place to call home. If you are in NYC, do yourself a favor, head over to Queens and hit a Mets game, you'll totally love the new ballpark and the fan atmosphere.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Los Angeles- Dodger Stadium Review

Dodger Stadium
Year Built: 1962
Capacity: 56,000
Surface: Grass
Cost to Build:
$23 million
Overall Grade: C+
Return Someday: Yes

Dodger Stadium, baseball's largest seating capacity stadium and third oldest ballpark, is located in Chavez Ravine in the heart of Los Angeles. Let's face the facts...the Dodgers are and always have been LA's true team. Growing up in LA, this is where I attended my first ballgame as a kid, where I saw the Houston Astros against the Dodgers in 1985. I remember seeing the blue and orange seats, and thinking that the Dodger fans sat in the blue seats and only Astro fans sat in the orange seats. I remember as a kid, stopping the LAPD patrol cars that would drive down our street to get LAPD Dodger baseball cards from them. I love listening to Vin Scully on the radio or on TV. It's really cool that he has been the voice of the Dodgers since the 1950's. Vin is by far the best baseball broadcaster in the majors. His voice can be heard echoing throughout the stadium during a game, due to many fans traditionally bringing their am transistor radios to the game. "It's time for Dodger baseball..." It will be hard to imagine watching or listening to a Dodger game without him. The Dodgers have honored Vin by naming the Press Box after him. If you get to the stadium early, you can catch Fernando Valenzuela for an easy autograph outside of the Vin Scully Press Box, before he begins his Spanish radio broadcast of the game. The Dodgers have a lot of tradition. They have the history from their Brooklyn days with Jackie Robinson, to playing at the LA Coliseum, to Tommy Lasorda, to Koufax, to world famous Dodger Dogs, to Fernando-mania, to beachballs, to Kirk Gibson, and four WS championships...just to name a few.

With that said, this is a stadium review, not my walk down memory lane!!! So, putting aside my fond childhood memories, I am going to do my best to give Dodger Stadium an impartial review. Depending on what day of the week, your experience of the stadium can vary greatly. If you want the best overall experience, go to a weekday daytime game, if possible. It doesn't get very crowded, but most importantly, the typical Dodger fan knuckleheads aren't there. If you don't know what I am talking about, think of typical Raider fans, and bingo, there you have it. This is a must if you are looking to bring the kids or are trying to root for the visiting team. I strongly recommend NOT wearing any visiting team gear at all, unless you don't mind get messed with, and possibly assaulted. You can avoid the profanity, fights, and potential physical harm. I have seen fans get in fights and there was even a fellow Giants fan that got shot while I was at Dodger Stadium. At all costs, avoid the outfield pavilion seating, as this is where the trouble makers like to sit. If you must go to a weekend or weekday evening game, remember, the lower & pricier the seats are, the safer you will be. If you are looking for a good family weekend outing, either shell out the bucks for lower section seating or drive down the I-5 to Angel Stadium. As far as the stadium staff, they aren't very fan friendly at all. The could really use some customer service training, especially if you are sitting in the top deck section. The food has gotten much better over the years, but still has a ways to go. Try a world-famous Dodger Dog at the game. Make sure that you get a grilled Dodger Dog, they are much tastier, than the regular ones. The grilled dogs aren't sold everywhere, so you will have to hunt a little for me, they are worth it. One of Dodger Stadium's best kept secrets is the Stadium Club. This is a bar and restaurant that is open to the public before and after the game. It overlooks right field. If you want to eat there during the game time, you will need a special pass and reservations to get in. Season ticket holders are given a couple of these passes, so thanks to my buddies, Eddie & Robert, I have had the privilege to watch a game while dining in the Stadium Club. It is a really cool, high end type experience.

I would have rated Dodger Stadium a little higher if the fan factor wasn't such an issue, but at least you know what to expect, when you go to watch one of baseball's historic teams in Chavez Ravine.

Kansas City- Kauffman Stadium Review

Kauffman Stadium
Year Built: 1973
Capacity: 39,000
Surface: Grass
Cost to Build:
$70 million
Overall Grade: A
Return Someday: Yes

Kauffman Stadium is now MLB's 6th oldest stadium, built in 1973 and received a $150 million renovation in 2009. It is located in the Truman Sports Complex, which also has the Kansas City Chiefs stadium adjacent to Kauffman. It is named after the Royals original owner, Ewin Kauffman. Kauffman Stadium has had it's historical moments over the years. It's first began on 5/15/1973, as only one month old, hosted Nolan Ryan's first of seven no-hitters. Kauffman also hosted it's only All-Star game during the inaugural season. Kauffman Stadium has hosted two World Series in 1980 & 1985.

I really enjoyed my 2006 trip to Kauffman, and I would like to take the opportunity to share with you a story about how I have received the "Royal treatment" by the Royal's organization. The Royals staff are truly a class act. We brought my parents on this road trip to see Johan's Twins against the Royals, and I had bought some nose bleed seats directly behind home plate. The height of the seating area above the field became too much for my lifetime Twins fan mother, due to her uneasiness with heights and we went to speak to the Royals customer service reps. They gladly swapped our tickets to bottom level seats right behind homeplate for no extra charge. This was a big-time upgrade. I have a lot of respect and gratitude of the Royals' staff for doing that for us. This wasn't the first time that I was given the "Royal treatment" by the Royals staff. When I was about 14 years old, I wrote to practically every baseball organization requesting my favorite players' autographs. The only team to respond back was the Royals. They sent me autographed pictures of George Brett, Bo Jackson, and Kevin Seitzer. I actually still have them. The stadium staff were the friendliest in MLB that we have encountered so far. The food options were pretty standard ballpark fare, the ballpark seating was very comfortable and the stadium's ambience was very pleasant. The fans were just as friendly as the Royals staff, even if you are sporting a visiting team's gear. A special THANK-YOU to the Royals organization. The other MLB organizations can definitely learn a thing or two of what I have dubbed as the "Royal treatment." I tip my cap to you and look forward to returning someday in the future.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Welcome to Baseballville!!! Yep, it's that time again my friends. It's Spring Training and I am pumped. I ordered MLB.TV to watch the games on my computer, and I even got the MLB At-Bat 2010 app for my iPhone to listen to the games when I am away from my computer. A special thanks to my awesome wifey for getting my those for my B-Day, so I can help feed my lifelong addiction. I have been watching the Spring Training games and I am so excited to see how this year will unfold. So far, I am very impressed with Stasburg and Chapman's Spring Training pitching performances. They are living up to their reps so far. I know it's early, and even some of you discount Spring Training performances labeling the games as "meaningless." But I love this game so much, that I appreciate all of the efforts from the WBC, Caribbean Series, and Spring Training.
With this posting, I am going to give my faithful readers my bold predictions, and highlight some of my plans for the season. First with my baseball plans. We will be going to AZ in a couple of weeks to check out two Cactus League games. Friars vs. Cubbies and Pads vs. Giants. Should be fun, just like every year that we've gone out there. If you've never been to a Spring Training game, do yourself a favor and go. Get the lawn seats and enjoy the warm sunshine watching some much needed hardball, after a cold baseball-less winter. I promise you that you will have a blast.

My good friend Rob, has season tix at Chavez Ravine, and he has offered an open ended invite for me to go to some games this season, as he generously always done so every year. I already told him that when the Reds or Nats are in town and either Chapman or Stasburg are on the mound, count me in. I saw Chapman pitch in San Diego last year for Team Cuba in the WBC, but he didn't pitch very well against the two-time WBC Champs, Team Japan. I predict that he will do pretty well this season. Time to enjoy a world famous Dodger Dog.

Since the 2010 All-Star Game is at the Big A, this summer, I am going to try to go, as long as the tix aren't outrageously expensive. I will at least try to go to the HR Derby, if anything else. I've never been to an All-Star game, nor a World Series game, both of which I hope to do sometime in my lifetime. We aren't really going on any baseball related vacations this summer, like we have the past 4 years, so I will definitely be using my online subscription to get my fix this year.

As far as my predictions go for the upcoming season, here's what I have come up with:

NL East- Phillies
NL Central- Cubs
NL West- Giants
NL Wild Card- Marlins

AL East- Yankees (of course !!!)
AL Central- Twins
AL West- Mariners
AL Wild Card- Tampa Bay

Initially I was leaning towards the Cardinals and Twins winning their respective divisions, but I'm not too sure with the Cards and Twinkies anymore, because of Pujols and Nathan having arm issues. If they miss the season from having surgery, their teams might not do too well, since they are crucial parts of their respective teams' overall success.

My friends, please keep in mind that historically, I have not been very successful with making pre-season don't go running off to Vegas with them! Speaking of Vegas, while I was there a few weeks ago for my buddy's bachelor party, I made a couple of sports book bets on the AL and NL winners. Since I have never bet on sports in Vegas, I thought that I'd give it a shot for fun. I picked the Mariners and the Giants...we'll see what happens.

Last, I am even excited that I will be playing in my usual Fantasy Baseball League- I hope to repeat my success from last year, as Junior's Dynasty looks to actually win it all this year!

Regardless of how my predictions turn out, or how my Fantasy Team does, I am happy that baseball season is finally back. As I look onward to the 2010 season, as with every MLB fan, we all have one thing in common...HOPE for our team to win it all this year- as for me... # 28 here we come!!!