Sometimes the place is as cool as the game
Hey, you check out the new ballpark in Miami?
Fish tanks behind home plate? Some kind of zany sculpture out in the outfield? Retractable roof? Far more convenient location where the old Orange Bowl was instead of out in the boonies where the football team plays?
Nice place, by all accounts, and with a night off there during a HOTH trip in a week or so, maybe I can find a ticket or four and take in a game.
After all, isn’t baseball more about ballparks more than any other sport is about its playing facilities?
Think of it.
We wax poetic about the old parks, like Tiger Stadium (still right there at No. 1 on my list) or Wrigley, or the old Yankee Stadium, or Forbes Field or Shibe Park.
Because baseball, better than other sports, has idiosyncrasies in its parks that make them memorable and make a day there a lovely experience.
You can soak in history at Fenway with the Green Monster and the Pesky Pole. You can sit at Wrigley and feel the history and recall a pre-game spent in a saloon talking to Bill Veeck before sitting in the bleachers.
You can see weird corners and odd dimensions and, really, no two ballparks are the same.
Thankfully, they’ve gotten away from the cookie cutter monstrosities of the past, Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, The Vet in Philly, Riverfront in Cincinnati that were true abominations and did nothing to enhance what should always been a pleasurable day at the yard.
Now we’ve got Safeco in Seattle, perhaps my favourite of the new ones; the park in Phoenix that is gorgeous, the nice new place in San Francisco by the water and, as I’m told, the best of them all in Pittsburgh.
It truly is a sport that mixes its history with a modern touch, all the new parks try to be as intimate as the old ones while folding in some modern amenities and it’s a wonderful thing.
Part of the joy of going to a game is the park, the feel, the smell, the sights. You can’t say that about basketball or football or the pucks where the playing fields are cookie cutter (at least now that they’ve taken the old square corners and tiny surface out of Buffalo) and lack any semblance of unique.
I have no idea what the true “feel” is at the Marlins ballpark and it’s only in the news now because it’s new but I can safely say this:
The place the game’s played is almost as important as how the game is played if you’re looking to while away a few hours watching baseball. And that’s not a bad thing.
16-inning game won on homer after the guy botches bunt without a bunt sign on.
11 shutout innings from bullpen.
One-pitch double play out of a five-man infield in extra innings.
Guy walked to load the bases in extra innings.
Three-run top of the ninth.
Bautista plays right, first, right; Omar Vizquel at first.
Longest Opening Day game ever.
Guy bunting into double play by standing at home plate, frozen and forgetting to, you know, run to first.
Oh yeah, this is shaping up to be some kind of wild season and if Team Of Destiny ever looked like TOD, it was yesterday.
Right. Don’t forget we’re at 7:30 tonight thanks to TV and its golf coverage.
Can’t pre-empt the pucks over on TSN2, it seems.
There’s some of what I think about the latest episode of Orlando Idiocy that came up yesterday in here – Nothin’ But Net had to get cut down for space considerations – but, really, there is so much more to say.
Big time game from a big time guy when he had to know everyone in the basketball world was going to be watching him, wasn’t it? Don’t true greats elevate themselves in such instances to prove their worth to their teammates and fans and to, you know, put your money where your mouth is?
He all but bailed on his teammates and his confidantes in the front office and ownership and once again showed that at some very basic level, he just doesn’t get it.
Look, I’ve long had problems with Dwight Howard’s game. It struck me as impossible to believe that a player so obviously talented couldn’t extend his offensive game past the distance it took to dunk (although that’s getting a bit better) and that, to me, spoke to his work ethic.
But he always struck me as a good guy who never took himself too seriously and played the game with a fun attitude.
Now? Now he looks like just another petulant star who has no idea how good he has it. Stan Van Gundy can probably be a bit irritating if you have to deal with him every single day but that’s what good coaches are: They get on stars and subs alike, they make teams greater than the sum of their parts and I cannot imagine Dwight Howard will be coached by a better tactician or strategist for however long he plays.
We all have an idea how this is going to play out. Van Gundy will hold his nose and coach his butt off until the Magic flame out in the post-season and then will quietly go away.
Howard will be very good some nights and invisible the next and when it comes time a year from now to decide his long-term future, if I’m the Magic, I let him walk; and I most certainly do not let him pick the team’s next coach.
And outside of Mickey Mantle’s, I’ll take Bricktown suggestions in OKC for tomorrow night since it’s going to be a rare “wandering around town with nothing to do on the road” kind of evening.
Raptors? Dead quiet yesterday, no sense even doing anything with the 10-day guys since you don’t want to blow a day on a contract for a day that didn’t include even a practice.
We’ll get some news this morning, I’m sure. Figure, as oft-said, we get Alan Anderson back, Justin Dentmon in, I can’t get a true feel for what they’ll do with Ben Uzoh and I fully expect the waters to be calmed and James Johnson back in his usual role.