Coming to you live from Starbucks on Gervais Street in downtown Columbia...
Just a few thoughts and grades of the state of stadia in baseball this year:
Really love to see the new Nationals stadium open. Of course I wish I hadn't spent two years watching the Nats play in RFK instead of the gem they have now, but I digress. Even though the Nats clearly suck and are in a very competitive division for whenever they are able to play closer to .500 ball, having a gleaming new stadium makes a huge difference in overall perception. A good example of this is the Pirates new stadium, PNC Park. When PNC opened, fans came by the thousands to check out the new park, despite the fact that the Pirates were horrible. The general view of the franchise was uplifted as analysts, players and general fans saw the new stadium as an impetus for change within the organization. Of course, that hasn't proven to be true over the longer-term, but that initial push for several years can make a big difference if handled correctly.
Washington Nationals Park gets an A in my book, at least for now.
Moving on to New York where two shite ballparks will be closed out this year. Starting with the Mets, I'm pretty happy to see Shea close it's doors. Having been to one game there, it was not a place that made me feel better about myself. And I was there with some of my best friends in the world. But there was a certain charm to it as well mostly contained in the attitudes and fervor of the fans. It wasn't like going to a Dodgers or Braves game where the fans were really not that interested in what happened on the field. Rather, the Mets fans were passionate both in support of the Mets and against whomever they played. The new Mets park will be a beautiful throwback and will draw capacity crowds for years to come. Sadly though, it will go by the name of Citi Field. Whereas Shea was named for the man who made baseball in Queens possible, this new stadium will be named after a stupid financial services company. It's not like the Mets are short on cash. Just makes me sad.
Citi Field gets a C - great layout, terrible name
In that respect, the Yankees (or Yinkees, to quote a great, old Kornheiser line) are getting it right. The new Yankee Stadium is being created out of the mold of the original structure, before the terrible "improvements" undertaken during the early Steinbrener years. It will be called Yankee Stadium and will ensure that kids going to their first game will remember basically the exact same view as generations of fans have since the 1920s. I really like the idea of building a new stadium that mimics a classic, instead of trying to recreate a fictionally "classic" layout. I love the throwback parks, but the routine is getting a little tired now that half the league play on such fields.
NEW Yankee Stadium gets an A, provided it doesn't do like NEW Comiskey Park that eventually became US Cellular Field. Yuck.
Finally, a wee note on the sad state of sports in Cleveland. Apparently drawing from the Cavaliers precedent in taking Gund Arena (named after blind owner Gordon Gund) and turning it into Quicken Loans Arena, the Indians have spun Jacobs Field, named after the owner that helped turn the franchise around, into Progressive Field. Just weak. Maybe they don't make as much cash as the Mets, but were the Indians really struggling over the past fourteen years when they've been in that stadium?