BASEBALL TRIP AWARDS:
BEST MUSIC -
  • chris: camden/petco (music appropriate to the moment)
  • meryl: camden (good music during rainout, good music to get crowd going)

  • BEST GROUNDS CREW -
  • chris: toronto/camden/great american (they danced to ymca)/rfk (gotta feel for them because they had to put on/take off the tarp three times before the game finally started)
  • meryl: camden

  • BEST EMPLOYEES -
  • chris: RFK (usher very nice and attentive, ticket salesman was well-informed and friendly)
  • meryl: RFK

  • MOST ENTHUSIASTIC FANS -
  • chris: mets (they make their presence known no matter where they are, and they're hilarious)
  • meryl: mets

  • BEST GAME -
  • chris: dodgers at cardinals (walk off homer from pujols in the bottom of the 14th)
  • meryl: dodgers at cardinals

  • BEST GAME EXPERIENCE -
  • chris: mets at blue jays
  • meryl: mets at blue jays

  • WORST GAME EXPERIENCE -
  • chris: see below and diamondbacks at rockies (159 minute rain delay, expensive tickets, had to drive from kansas city to get there)
  • meryl: yankees at indians (botched birthday message, bad seats, annoying people next to us)

  • BEST SOUVENIR CUP -
  • chris: red sox (big with hologram)
  • meryl: athletics (opaque, sparkles, and a's colors)

  • BEST SEATS -
  • chris: u.s. cellular
  • meryl: u.s. cellular

  • WORST SEATS -
  • chris: yankees at indians
  • meryl: blue jays at seattle or yankees at indians

  • CRAZIEST FANS -
  • chris: mets
  • meryl: mets

  • BEST PROVIDED ENTERTAINMENT -
  • chris: royals (parachuters, fountain, good between inning stuff)
  • meryl: royals

  • NICEST FAN -
  • chris: angels day camp lady (gave us free tickets)
  • meryl: st. louis guy (friendly and curious about trip)

  • PLACE YOU'D MOST LIKE TO WATCH A GAME -
  • chris: wrigley (great pre and post-game activities, great atmoshere and history) or any mets game.
  • meryl: wrigley or coliseum (to see the a's)

  • BEST NEW FIELD -
  • chris: miller park (great game day atmosphere, innovative design)
  • meryl: miller park (free kids stuff, cool dome design, intimate for closed stadium, tailgating scene, good fans)

  • BEST CLASSIC FIELD -
  • chris: fenway (intimate, oldest field, very unique, lovely field)
  • meryl: fenway

  • BEST MOMENT OF TRIP -
  • chris: getting the ball at petco park, blue jays fans running onto the field, crowd booing against the traffic cops in atlanta
  • meryl: staying up all night in kinko's in arlington

  • WORST MOMENT OF TRIP -
  • chris: dropping the ball at at&t park
  • meryl: being harassed by the border cop in detroit

  • BEST MEAL -
  • chris: fran's milkshake in toronto, conway's red top in colorado springs, pub on 75th and amsterdam in nyc, flying bisquit in atlanta, nachos at rock bottom in boston, hockeytown cafe in detroit, the old fashioned in madison, oreo shake in sioux falls, BBQ sauce at moab brewery in utah.
  • meryl: burger at pub at 75th and amsterdam in nyc, breakfast in dallas, fish tacos at moab brewery.

  • WORST MEAL -
  • chris: highway 63 diner in dubuque, ia. hit it here cafe in safeco park
  • meryl: el taurino in sweetwater, tx.

  • BEST NATIONAL PARK:
  • chris: yellowstone (so much to learn about biology, stewardship issues, ecology, geology, great rangers and ranger-led programs etc.)
  • meryl: yellowstone

  • BEST TOUR GUIDE/RANGER:
  • chris: chris brown at yellowstone (very knowledgable, friendly, and easy to approach; an inspiration)
  • meryl: mr. watson at yellowstone

  • BEST CITY:
  • chris: toronto (big, but not overwhelming, great neighborhoods, diverse, great film festival, plenty to do, populace is fit, it's in canada)
  • meryl: toronto

  • BEST VALUE:
  • chris: national parks pass $50 (gets you into any national park in the u.s. 90% of the ranger programs and activities are free once inside)
  • meryl: national parks pass (paid $50 and got $170 worth of value)

  • WORST VALUE:
  • chris: 4 innings of the rained out rockies game - approx. $170 in gas, $48 for tickets, $6 for parking.
  • meryl: diamondbacks at rockies

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    OFFICIAL BALLPARK RANKING:

  • chris

  • my criteria: i asked myself for which park i'd most like to have season tickets - so that included all pre/post game activities, fans, park design, food, etc.
    TOP TIER:
    1. fenway - the oldest park in the majors and the only one that gave me goosebumps when i got there. centerfield bleachers aren't the greatest seats, but that's the clear exception. very intimate, gotta love the green monstah, gotta love red sox fans who have had it as hard as most fans and still love their team. great pre/post game atmosphere. expensive parking.
    2. wrigley - great pre/post game atmosphere, great history, brings you back to the golden age of baseball better than any park in the majors, great ivy feature in outfield, crazy outfield wall, gotta love the rooftop bleachers and the fans are wonderful. no parking.
    3. petco - unique modern park with several notable features - from the towers to the park beyond outfield to the metal supply building that they had to build around. good skyline, in downtown. a bit too large.
    4. miller - great pregame atmosphere, cool looking park with nice retractable roof. great (free) pregame activities, sausage race, bernie's dugout, nice murals. big, but contains it fairly well. only one offsite business, but people bring their own entertainment so it's okay.
    5. citizen's bank - open area at main entrance like turner, plenty of pregame activities onsite, open concourses, good looking, easy parking. good fans and intimate. view from home plate could have been better, too far from offsite eats, etc.
    6. at&t - very nice park with a difficult outfield. like the walking path along the outfield wall, mccovey cove and the food. too many ads. what's up with the seagulls?
    7. camden - ushered in the new era of design, great skyline, in downtown, b&o building is awesome, good field crew, good music. fans aren't that exciting.
    8. dodger - i grew up going to this place so it'll always hold a place in my heart; a more sentimental choice than anything. great dodger dogs, fans bring entertainment, parking is easy, but getting out isn't. one of the more interesting park histories in the majors.
    MIDDLE TIER
    9. yankee - big and not particularly great, but the history makes it the best of the middle tier.
    10. pnc - good modern park with open concourses and intimate feel. nice view as well.
    11. minute maid - nice features and clean look, but some bad sightlines and that stupid hill in center field drop it below other modern greats.
    12. comerica - good park in downtown, open concourses, like the bullpen locations and the dirt path from the mound to the plate.
    13. safeco - good looking field with massive umbrella style retractable roof, open bullpens and concourses, and nice art installations. pricey and bad sight line in center field bleachers.
    14. jacobs - other than the poorly executed birthday announcements, this is a good park. their jumbotron is quite large, the luxury boxes on the left foul line are nice, the mini-monster is a good feature, and i like the downtown location. a bit on the large side.
    15. turner - liked the open entertainment area beyond centerfield, love the tomahawk chop and the sculptures around the park.
    16. ameriquest - nice incorporation of different park designs, liked the pregame activities, but didn't like that you had to pay for them. too big.
    17. kauffman - like the rounded edge of the stadium and the fountains are a unique feature, also like small market teams and the ease of parking/getting out after the game. upper level concourss were too separated and game day atmosphere was too subdued.
    18. angel - concourses were separated from the field. crappy hot dogs. nice exterior features and centerfield rock/water feature. good football stadium conversion.
    19. great american - nice enough park that just fades into the middle tier with a few other HOK designed parks. good view of the river and a nice centerfield feature, but not real unique other than that.
    20. coors - quite a nice place with good pregame activities and good looking food. too large and too expensive to be really recommendable. rock pile seats in deep centerfield are probably the worst in the majors, with the exception of the third deck last row seats at rfk.
    21. u.s. cellular - pretty run-of-the-mill. modern and nice looking, but really blends in with so many other middle/lower tier parks.
    22. new busch - newest park but too standard looking. it was clean and had a nice brick facade, but felt too corporate. too much emphasis on advertising. felt too large. nice skyline view from home plate.
    23. shea - not a bad place for a dual-use facility. large and outdated, but mets fans are great. getting out of the place is a headache. new shea stadium is coming soon enough and, with these fans, it might end up being a top ten park.
    24. rogers centre - retractable roof stadium with turf. gotta love the location and ease of access. cn tower towers over park. hotel in outfield is truly unique. best jumbotron in majors. a bit large.
    BOTTOM TIER
    25. coliseum - some badly angled seats, third deck isn't used anymore, parking is expensive, but bart is viable alternative. fans are pretty rowdy and provide some entertainment.
    26. chase - big ads in outfield, retractable roof that's pretty much always closed. real grass is nice, but doesn't look great because the heat is tough on it. like the path from mound to home. not all that impressive from outside. on the large side. easy downtown parking. pool is interesting, but for rich people and detracts from the game.
    27. rfk - big dual-use stadium. wavy exterior walls, upper deck seats actually aren't that bad, soccer lines are visible. parking is easy. pleasant staff, poor food options.
    28. tropicana - fairly decent turf and uses actual dirt. fans are quiet, but engaged and informed. smallish place which was nice. ultimately, though, i just don't dig the indoor games.
    29. metrodome - good example of why dual-use facilities suck. poorly angled seats, far too big, turf sucks. good pregame activities, fans were good, commercials on jumbotron in between innings, visibility was difficult. leaving the place was actually the coolest experience - the difference in air pressure pushes you out the door with surprising force.
    30. dolphin - we only got as far as the parking lot on this one. not a great neighborhood, exterior looked crumby, mainly a football facility.
  • Meryl:

  • TOP TIER:
    1. Fenway - no one can top the intimate feel of this ballpark. Great angles in the field, great features, crazy fans, great out of park atmosphere. You really can't help but think about anything but baseball when you're there. GREAT souvenier shop on Yawkey way. Fenway also has the only closed off street included as part of the admission - you must have a ticket to walk on famed Yawkey way.
    2. Wrigley - close second to Fenway. The one thing that puts it a bit lower are the overhangs (the farther back in sections you are, the more the section above blocks your view). Altogether though, great baseball atmosphere, legendary bleacher seats (both in and outside the stadium), great fans who love baseball and having a good time.
    3. Miller Park - tailgating is a religion at this park, fans make it a point to get to the stadium HOURS before in preparation. Encouraged alcohol drinking in such abundance (mascot is a drunken man) that a taxi service is provided by the ball club. Intimate feeling indoor park, especially considering the extensive seating capacity. Free games for kids.
    4. Citizen's Bank - great fans (well known for being crazy) are a main reason for this being a great park. Pretty good sight lines, good proveded entertainment (baseball pinball), and large open concourses with two rows of food, so smaller lines and the ability to watch the game while in line.
    5. Minute Maid - first HOK design of the trip. Interesting features (train running across left field, random hill in center field - with a flag on it - only in Texas). Good kid play area, great baseball facts in the outfield (information about different position gloves, how a baseball is made, and how you choose a bat size). Some bad sight lines.
    6. Coliseum - call me a homer, but I love the Coliseum. It is the giant concrete jungle, but it's a great place to watch games. Great pomotions (dollar Wednesday), and great fans (including, of course, "Crazy George"). Entertainment always provided, as promised, not one, but TWO fights between belligerent fans. Great field as well (as far as grooming goes), especially considering it is a dual use field. And of course, I love my A's.
    7. AT & T - I hate the Giants, but I can't deny that they have a great park. Great outfield features (Coke bottle that is a slide, giant glove, and of course McCovey Cove). Food is great and outfield kids area is good too. Crazy field dimensions add to triples that would be doubles anywhere else. Notable crappy fans.
    8. Petco - different for an HOK design - white and blue are main colors (green is dominant in other HOK designs) as well as adobe-looking features. Has interesting pillars with luxury boxes in them, cool old factory building, and great picnic area in deep right field. It is however much too massive for my taste.
    9. Camden - was the retro revival. Used its area to its advantage (B & O Railroad building in right field). Cool features (bronze baseballs along right field concourse marking longballs, museum right outside the park). Not so notable fans except fans yelling "O" during national anthem, employee who has worked every home game since the 50s.
    10. PNC - nicely groomed, fits a lot of people however still feels pretty intimate. Has nice views of the city from behind the plate (especially in right field where you can see the river). Lots of places to eat, in a good downtown area, cheap seats in the outfield but good seats.
    MIDDLE TIER
    11. Turner - nice pregame activities, energtic fans, great cheer, good open concourses (nice festival area beyond the outfield). Good displays of club history.
    12. Comerica - nice field, especially considering it's in Detroit. Nice features (merry-go-round with Tigers instead of horses, GM fountain), however, notably an HOK knock-off.
    13. US Cellular - pretty big park, I like the use of black and white, which is nice because for some reason most parks have green seats and White Sox colors are black and white. I liked how open the outfield concourse is.
    14. Shea - not that great of a ballpark in theory, but the fans are great so it makes up for it A LOT. Has a nice diamondvision and display area in right field and fans are always into the game. Getting out is hard, but fans are pretty funny in the process.
    15. Safeco - a little too big for my taste, with pretty bad seats. That said, it's nice looking and it has an interesting retractable roof.
    16. Jacobs - nice diamondvision, bad seats, and bad employees. Intimate looking considering how many people it seats. I like the outside of the stadium and the use of white steel.
    17. Great American - has a nice feature in right field, but fans are pretty boring considering they have a decent field with good players. I don't like that it is really KG Jr.'s team, I'd feel like shit if i was one of the other players. They did give us free seats.
    18. Rogers Centre - Not a very nice looking park in the traditional sense, but the fans were pretty funny, it has the largest diamondvision in baseball and great views of the downtown area especially considering it's a stadium with a retractable roof. Plus, it's in Toronto, and that's a great city.
    19. Yankee - amazing history and a great Yankee Hall of Fame area in center field. That said, fans are spoiled brats and if you have outfield seats (which are FAR overrated) you're confined to only the outfield area.
    20. Chase - amazingly large, but has some nice features. Lots of food choices (including 2 restaurants in left and right field) and cool idea that there's a pool in right center.
    BOTTOM TIER
    21. Angel Stadium - nice features on the outside (cool giant hats and a giant "A") and nice feature in the outfield that most people think is a bit too much of a production (but Disney did own the team). However, there are some AWFUL sight lines (especially the seats we had, but they were free, so you can't really complain).
    22. Ameriquest - a bit too gigantic for my taste, but hey, it's Texas, everything has to be bigger. Nice play area in centerfield, but of course for a price. Also, cool business offices that line the outfield. Notably, it features cool design elements from other historically famous ballparks.
    23. Coors - WAY too big, supposedly it has a nice view of the Rockies, but we saw no trace of such. Interesting that in the upper deck there is a row of purple seats to document the mile high elevation. Not very good seats, we paid $48 for 3d deck seats (too many different seating prices as well as different tiered games when seats get even MORE expensive).
    24. RFK - not a very nice park theoetically, however, the employees were very nice. Not great seats (especially ours in the outfield) however, it doesn't deny it's a giant concrete jungle, which I like; it doesn't pretend to be anything it's not.
    25. New Busch - it would be a great stadium, however it's brand new and nothing special, so it's low down because it was a dissapointment. If I hadn't seen the other 3,000 HOK designs during the trip, I would have thought it was great, but, it looked just like all the others, which was pretty dissapointing because this is the innagural season. However, it did have nice views of downtown and the Gateway Arch.
    26. Kauffman - Pretty pathetic looking stadium, it doesn't look like it fits a lot and the fact that the Royals aren't so hot this year so no one goes does nothing to help. I don't like the fountains in centerfield, it feels too much like a mini golf course feature. I really don't like the lack of outfield seats either.
    27. Tropicana - pretty plain looking dome stadium. Nice that it's a dome because it gets so hot, but it's nothing special and the concourses are extremely blocked off and it feels a bit too closed in.
    28. Dolphin - only saw it from the outside, but reminded me a lot of the Coliseum. Large, concrete, with nothing special. Sucked that we couldn't go into the parking lot to get a better shot of it, but oh well.
    29. Metrodome - pretty dumpy looking. The seats are HORRIBLE, obviously first and foremost designed for a football audience. The concourses are blocked off, it looks way too big, and I didn't like the "blow-up" roof. Especially didn't like the fact that they didn't even respond to our letter considering that not too many fans show up. They do have a good amount of promotions and had a nice fan fest area outside of the park.
    30. Dodger - HAVE NOT SEEN