Monday, May 11, 2009

Boston- Fenway Park Review

Fenway Park
Year Built: 1912
Capacity: 37, 400
Surface: Grass
Cost to Build: $650, 000
Overall Grade: A+
Return Someday: Yes

We took a baseball bus tour trip in 2007 on Diamond Baseball Tours ( The tour took us to see games at Wrigley, PNC, New York, Cooperstown, Fenway, and Cleveland. It was totally worth it. We got to see a lot of ballparks on the east coast that we have never been to before. Check out their website for all of their trips available. I recommend this tour group, having had a great time on our trip. 
Anyway, this week's stadium review is Fenway Park, the oldest stadium in the bigs, and my wife's favorite ballpark. Talk about baseball's great history!!! Part of the bus tour included a behind the scenes guided tour of the stadium. We got to go on top of the Green Monster ("Monsta"), touch the Pesky Pole, see all of Fenway's wonders, and sit in Ted Williams seat (the lone red seat in the right field bleachers- section 42, row 37, seat 21, siginifies where the longest measurable home run ever hit inside Fenway's 1934 configuration landed. Ted Williams hit the home run on June 9, 1946 which measured 502 feet. In between the tour and the game we had some time to kill, so we decided to tour the colonial city. We saw Paul Revere's trail, Quincey Market, Boston Common (the U.S.'s oldest public park), and of course the area surrounding Fenway. When we returned to Fenway for the game, the streets around the ballpark had been shut down and there were musicians, food and merchandise vendors, and people partying it up. It was like a Red Sox mardi gras. This was going on even stronger after the game. The surrounding bars and restaurants were pumping on Yawkey Way. 

I was in for a real treat because my SF Giants were in town for some interleague action. Barry Zito was on the mound and ready to take on Big Papi and Manny. 

As you can see we took some great photos at this game. I even have my Ted Williams with the orphan statue picture as my blog header. The food was good, the stadium staff were very friendly, and the Boston fans were actually pretty cool. I expected a bunch of obnoxious and rowdy fans, but it wasn't the case at all. It was hispanic heritage night and the Red Sox honored a couple of hispanic high school kids with college scholarships. We had decent seats in RF. The hot dog vendors in the stands actually carry the hot dog wieners in a separate hot box container from the buns and use tongs to remove the hot dog wiener and place them into the square bread-slice like bun. I have never seen the vendors assemble the hot dog for you in the stands before. The other Barry, Bonds...Barry Bonds, was taking his typical visiting stadium fans abuse with boos and chants. The Boston fans even were holding up asterisk signs up...pretty clever. I have never seen that at Dodger stadium before. It's probably safe to assume that the Boston fans are much more intelligent than those in LA. Anyway, there was a silent auction at the concord level which had Red Sox memorabilia to benefit the Jimmy Fund. In the 8th inning, as tradition holds it, the stadium played "Sweet Caroline" and the entire stadium sang along, just like in Fever Pitch. My wife even got a game used ball tossed to her from the Giants pitching staff from the bullpen. Unfortunately, the Giants lost 10-2, partly due to Pedroia having a 5 hit game with 5 RBIs. Hands down, Fenway has the best atmosphere of any ballpark that I have been to. If there is one ballpark out there that you haven't been to, go to Fenway, you surely won't be disappointed. I hope that the Red Sox never get a new stadium. It would be a real shame to lose this one, like we just lost the House That Ruth Built. We can't wait to go back again someday!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Anaheim- Angel Stadium Review

Having been to 15 of 30 current MLB stadiums and a handful of MiLB, college, and spring training ballparks, I have decided to begin a series of review postings on the MLB stadiums that I have been to in my lifetime. My grading criteria includes: staff friendliness, food options, seat comfort, overall ambience, stadium appearance, and fan attitudes.I will begin with the Anaheim Angels and move on alphabetically according to geographical location. I will be going to Atlanta in June and the two new NY stadiums in September, so I will review those ballparks then.

Year Built: 1966
Capacity: 45, 050
Surface: Grass
Cost to Build: $24 million/ $118 million renovations 
Overall Grade: A-
Return Someday: Yes

I have been going to Angel Stadium since I was a kid and it was a multi-purpose stadium when the LA Rams were still in town. I've seen the Angels go from the California Angels to the Disney Anaheim Angels, to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. But nonetheless, I have always enjoyed going to the stadium. It has a very special place in my heart, because my parents used to take me and my brother to games here. The renovations that Disney did in 1997-1999 really made the Big A look great! I used to like the Angels as a team until they beat my beloved Giants in the 2002 World Series game 7. What a huge heartbreak loss that was for me. Anyway back to the stadium review.... great food varieties: Carl's Jr, Panda Express, typical ball park fare, roasted corn on the cob, mexican food, a Ruby's, and a Hooter's. YUMMY!!! The seats are very comfortable, the employees are very friendly and accommodating, it is a great family environment, the best in LA. Family fun is in the kids zone, and in the Nestle Family seating area, where there isn't any beer sold. They have a splash mountain looking rocky area in center field, where fireworks shoot out of after an Angels homer. Other notable landmarks are the two gigantic Angels hats in front of the stadium's main entrance and of course the iconic Big A in the parking lot. They have their 2002 WS Trophy proudly on display in the glass case by the stadium store. I hate walking by the store having that heartbreaking reminder. Even the nose bleed seats are nice...unlike their cross-town rivals. I would and am returning this season in July to see a game when the Yankees are in town. This stadium is right off the 5 freeway and it is very easy to get in and out of. For some reason, I always have a hard time finding my car after the games, but that's just me forgetting where I parked, not the stadium's fault.  One time we walked the entire parking lot around the stadium after a game trying to find the car. Expect a good looking fan base, especially since it is the OC. The fans a mildly tempered. Don't be afraid to cheer for your visiting team while wearing your team's gear environment, so bring the kids and enjoy the rally monkey's antics! 

Arizona- Chase Field Review

Year Built: 1998
Capacity: 49, 033
Surface: Bull's Eye Burmuda
Cost to Build: $354 million
Overall Grade: B+
Return Someday: Yes

I was fortunate enough to attend a D-Backs home game last season with a bunch of my lifelong buddies. We were in Tempe for my friends Eddie's bachelor party. Since Manny and the Dodgers were in town, and all of my friends are Dodgers fans, we decided to go to the game. I was the only one of the group rooting for the home team, due to my hatred towards the Dodgers. The stadium in Phoenix was the site of the 2001 World Series, where the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in a heartbreaking game 7. Chase Field was built in 1998 and has a retractable roof. The roof was closed when I was there. They have a TGI Friday's inside where you can dine and watch the game. The TGI Friday's has a bunch of memorabilia throughout on display with a bar and outdoor balcony seating to watch the game. It's definitely worth checking out. They are even open year round. I ate at the Fatburger inside the stadium, and it was awesome! I had the turkey cheeseburger and fries which was a greasy delight. There are so many different types of food places to eat like pizza, mexican, hotdogs, sandwiches, etc... It's definitely one of the more better stadium eats that I have been to. I was glad that the roof was closed, because it was in the high 90's outside that day, and it was very comfortable with the AC on inside the stadium. The seats seemed a little crammed, but then again, I was with a lot of friends that live large and fill in their seats well, so, I won't judge it that much. Chase Field is definitely a family-type atmosphere with a kids zone and they have their 2001 WS Trophy on display. The stadium staff was very friendly. The D-Backs fans were friendly and didn't give my friends a hard time for cheering for the visiting team and being decked out in Dodgers gear. Unfortunately, Man Ram and the boys in blue finished off the D-Backs, but a great time was had by all. I would definitely go back again!