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  1. The boys of summer are back. And with them comes every baseball fan’s urge to soak in the sun in one of the many beautiful ballparks around the continent (couldn’t leave you out, Toronto). With temperatures rising, summer vacation approaching, and unused PTO sitting and waiting to be burned, it’s the perfect time to plan a stadium tour. Baseball stadiums are undoubtedly the crown jewel of American sports venues: the expansive green grass, quirky outfields, skylines, and geographical landmarks are just parts of what make these American sports cathedrals magnificent and charming. Not all ballparks are created equal, however: some need to be renovated, some should be burned, and some will go down in history as great American landmarks. Let’s put these parks in their place. 30. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays Let’s just get this one out of the way. The worst place on earth to play any sport. 29. RingCentral Coliseum, Oakland Athletics There’s a reason that there has been talk of moving the A’s out of Oakland. They play baseball in a football stadium that is no longer home to a football team. 28. Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays Slightly better than Oakland and Tampa simply because there’s a view of the CN Tower from the 3rd-base line. Everything else about it is forgettable. Points for having a completely symmetrical outfield? 27. American Family Field, Milwaukee Brewers You’ll notice a trend: retractable roofs and indoor stadiums will suffer on this list. Formerly known as Miller Park, this ballpark looks more like a corporate building. Not much to write home about. The best part is probably the left-field slide that Bernie Brewer slides down after a Brewers home run. 26. LoanDepot Park, Miami Marlins What is the statue thing in left-center field? It’s cool and big, but this place looks like it was built to be a Miami hangout spot rather than a place to watch baseball. 25. Globe Life Field, Texas Rangers They built a stadium with a retractable roof and artificial turf in Arlington because it got so damn hot in the summer time that it was borderline dangerous to play and watch baseball in the Texas sun. At that point it’s probably just time to move the team. 24. Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros Don’t be fooled by the team’s recent success as a measuring stick for the ballpark’s charm. The train tracks in left field are cute. But from the Chick-fil-a signs on the foul poles, indoor-feel (even with the roof open), and train-depot aesthetic, it’s just kinda meh. 23. Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers It’s the 8th wonder of the world that Miguel Cabrera hit 500 home runs while playing primarily in this massive ballpark. The view is subpar, unless you like industrial buildings; and the cars out in center field are a little awkward. As if they need to remind you that you’re in the Motor City. 22. Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks It has a beautiful feel to it, despite its stuffy, indoor nature. The contrasted, striped grass is fresh, and it has the perfect antidote to that desert sun: the right-center field pool. 21. Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago White Sox It’s an average ballpark with nothing special about it. A fine place for a ball game. I have always wondered what those candy cane things are out in center field. 20. Nationals Park, Washington Nationals Any place that is home to a recent World Champion and also sits in the nation’s capital is going to get some love. Unlike some of the new-age parks built in the last few years, the Nationals didn’t try and do too much when they built this beauty in 2008. Simple and sweet. 19. Progressive Field, Cleveland Guardians A solid place to play ball, although it is in need of renovation.The wall in left field is trying to be the Green Monster, but the trees in center are a nice touch. 18. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati Reds Catch a game here on a sun-soaked afternoon and you won’t be disappointed. The view of the Ohio River and Newport, KY hills are breath-taking. A calm, peaceful place to watch a pitiful team. 17. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies The coniferous trees behind the short wall in center field next to the zig-zagging tall wall in left-center, the right-center field bell, and the distant skyline provide real charm. 16. T-Mobile Park, Seattle Mariners The best of all the retractable-roof parks by far, this venue is the only hybrid stadium that truly has an outdoor feel. The grass just seems greener than most (probably because all it does is rain in the Pacific Northwest). The only downside is how much magenta is plaguing the architecture since the T-Mobile rebranding. 15. Citi Field, New York Mets The blue and jagged outfield walls, orange foul poles, and Home Run “Big Apple” out in center field are all unique aspects that provide an individuality to this 21st-century park. A true upgrade to the old Shea Stadium that could seat about fifteen people in the outfield bleachers. 14. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers It’s got history, it’s been the home to mythical teams with all-time great players. But nostalgia only counts for so much. It’s a relatively standard design without many distinctive qualities. And that storage-like batter’s eye in center field is an eye sore. The beautiful canyon that it sits in is what saves this park from not being lower on the list. 13. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees How dare I place this so low on the list. The reason it’s this high on the list is out of respect. First off, the field dimensions are atrocious. A lazy fly ball in almost every other park is a home run in left or right field. The skyline view is sorta meh considering it’s in New York. Most of all though, this is like owning a copy of the Declaration of Independence for your classroom. There is no history to this ballpark. It’s not the “House that Ruth Built”; and sorry, the “House that Jeter Built” doesn’t have the same ring. You’re welcome for not putting you lower, Yankees fans. 12. Truist Park, Atlanta Braves Atlanta did it right when they moved from Turner Field in 2017. Built into the beautiful Battery district, its simple design wins in an era of over-architected stadiums (talking to you, Miami). The brick wall beneath the Chop House provides a variable that complicates things just enough for visiting right fielders. 11. Petco Park, San Diego Padres Nestled in-between shimmering skyscrapers in downtown San Diego, Petco is a glorious place to witness a Major League game. The historic Western Metal Supply Co. building built into the left-field line is unlike anything else in the sport, while the minimal center-field architecture allows for a beautiful view of the city; the palm trees out there don’t hurt either. 10. Coors Field, Colorado Rockies Location, location, location. The mediocre Colorado baseball franchise has one of the best ballparks in the land in large part because of its Rocky Mountain backdrop. I suppose the team is adequately named. The pine trees and greenery in the center-field batter’s eye and rocky streams in the right-center-field bullpens make it actually feel like you’re in the mountains. 9. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles A beautiful home for an abysmal baseball team. The historic and repurposed B&O Warehouse behind the right-field porch, (which rivals the quirkiness of the Western Metal Supply Co. building at Petco Park) and the great skyline view provide pretty things to look at since Oriole fans need to look away from their pathetic team every so often. The new left-field wall design is bad, and frankly dangerous for any left-fielder trying to cut off a ball deep in the gap. 8. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals The crown jewel (get it?) of the lower Midwest. The crown on the center-field jumbotron. The waterfalls and fountains in the right-center field. It’s quite the picture. Only downside is that it feels a little dark there during night games. 7. Oracle Park, San Francisco Giants There may not be a more unique place in the league. The giant (yes, the Giants did this intentionally) Coke-bottle slide and old-time four-fingered glove behind left field are just odd. And what’s the deal with that car-shaped bulge in the left-field fence? But the sneaky-big outfield, right-field garages and short porch backing up to the Bay are special. Don’t forget the kayak wars. 6. Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels The grassy hills behind the left-center- and center-field walls would be highlights in most stadiums, but the rocky waterfall takes the cake here. It’s even more picturesque when Mike Trout is pulling a home run back in front of that waterfall. The massive Angels hats in front of the entrance are almost hilariously large and unique. 5. Target Field, Minnesota Twins If a Twins fan tells you they want the Metrodome back, just ignore them. Thank goodness that retractable roof idea was dismissed. There are many subtle aspects to Target field that make it unique. There’s the one-of-a-kind “living wall” batter’s eye sitting above the grassy berm behind the center field fence. The flower boxes behind the left-fence are a nice touch for a state that loves their summertime gardening (great photo ops here, too). If you’re going to play right field at Target Field, you’d better be ready for the four different surfaces to contend with: the Minnesota limestone overhang, the padded wall, the non padded section under the limestone, and the scoreboard. The skyline view with Minnie and Paul in the foreground is the perfect way to watch night fall on Minneapolis. 4. PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates Something with this franchise and Ps. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better view in baseball. The Clemente Bridge crossing the Allegheny River, with the majestic skyline behind it is hard to beat. The variable outfield wall with the “PIRATES”-sculpted hedges behind center field are just quirky enough to make the park itself unique. 3. Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals Now this is a baseball stadium. Everything about this place just pops. The vibrant green grass, the “arch” mowed into the outfield grass, the red bleacher seats. The Old Courthouse historical landmark peeks out from behind the left-center field wall, bringing majesty and history to an already historic franchise’s home. What really brings this one home is the shimmering St. Louis Arch towering behind the center-field Budweiser sign. I’ve never understood the whole Big Mac Land thing, though. 2. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs About the only negative things I can say about Wrigley Field are that it gets a little dark and shadowy at night (probably because they didn’t have permanent lights until 1988) and that playing outfield has to be about as dangerous as getting tackled by Ray Lewis. I wouldn’t have any interest in crashing into a brick wall covered in ivy to catch a flyball. The outfield basket is an oddity that must drive outfielders nuts. It’s got charm. It’s been around forever. It’s simple. There’s a reason it’s on every baseball fan’s bucket list. 1. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox The oldest ballpark in the Bigs, Fenway is the weirdest place to play baseball. The massive Green Monster is so close to home plate that singles off the fence are nearly as common as doubles. The short right field fence is just flat out dangerous. The triangle and garage doors in center field cause all sorts of problems. Oh and don’t forget Pesky’s Pole: a hitter can hit a lazy fly ball down the right field line that ends up a home run (and would very likely be a foul ball in 29 other stadiums). The Citgo sign is to Fenway as PB is to J. These quirks and its history are second to none. Congrats Boston, another thing to puff your chests out about. Honorable mention: Field of Dreams, Iowa Yes, it is heaven. Commissioner Manfred needs to seriously consider adding a 31st team in Iowa solely for the fact that there can be Major League baseball played in this haven 81 nights a year. I may start a petition for the All-Star Game to be held here every summer. You simply can’t beat it. Check out my other unique sports content at the Bad Loser Blog; covering basketball, football, baseball, and the human side of sports.
  2. How about a little good news... Baseball America lists both Josh Winder and Louie Varland(!) as part of their weekly "20 notable hot prospects". On Winder: "With a solid four-pitch mix topped by a fastball that reaches the upper 90s, Winder is progressively asserting himself as one of the Twins most promising starting pitching prospects." On Varland: "While admittedly old for the level and playing in a pitcher-friendly league, Varland has nonetheless impressed in Fort Myers’ rotation this year." Wander Javier has been as hot as any player on this week's list but I think he's fallen off the national radar (.296/.321/.741 during the past week).
  3. I just finished reading the June 9th Minor League wrap up, and I am really happy for Walker and the season he is having. It is so fun to look at our options of young (<25 years old) outfielders from AA, AAA, and the big club. How do you rank these guys? Buxton obviously is number 1, but then what? I think a case could be made for Walker, Rosario, Kepler, Arcia or even Hicks depending on one's personal preference for power, defense, speed, potential/upside or whatever. And what of Danny Ortiz, who almost never gets mentioned in the discussion of minor league OFs? Is Harrison 8th in this list of 8? If we trade, who do we trade and when do we trade? All I know is that I'm not fit to be GM, because I just don't know the answers. Rosario (Age 23; Twins - .298/.310/.440; Red Wings - .242/.280/.379) Hicks (Age 25; Twins - .262/.303/.321; Red Wings - .336/.415/.561) Arcia (Age 24; Twins - .276/.338/.379; Red Wings - .167/.195/.222) Ortiz (Age 25; Red Wings - .283/.332/.492) Kepler (Age 22; Lookouts - .299/.347/.490; Miracle - .250/.308/.333) Buxton (Age 21; Lookouts - .270/.336/.473) Harrison (Age 22; Lookouts - .269/.370/.401) Walker (Age 23; Lookouts - .263/.317/.585) (For the record, I *think* my personal ranking is Buxton, Rosario, Walker, Arcia, Hicks, Kepler, Ortiz, Harrison. What's yours?)
  4. I used 100 plate appearances as a qualifier and used OPS as the measuring stick of hitting performance. Here are the rankings in the American League of the 10 Twins with over 100 PAs: Catcher--Mauer--2nd of 14 First Base--Morneau--11th of 18 Second Base--Dozier--13th of 15 Third Base--Plouffe--8th of 13 Shortstop--Florimon--7th of 14 Left Field--Willingham--8th of 15 Center Field--Hicks--17th of 17 Right Field--Arcia--4th of 15 and Parmelee 14th of 15 Designated Hitter--Doumit--8th of 10
  5. I put together my own overall rankings of all 30 teams, based on 2012 performance vs. expected performance. For instance, the obvious surprise teams like the Orioles and A's rank very high. Teams like the White Sox that ended up better than expected also rank high even though they missed the playoffs. Teams like the Marlins and Angels which entered the season having spent tons of money on free agents and missed the playoffs are at the very bottom. Teams like the Rangers and Yankees who, even though are post-season bound, are still fighting to win their divisions with two games left and are ranked around 10th. I've put the Twins and Indians more towards the middle---terrible seasons, but ended about where people expected. Again, just my opinions. Thoughts? 1. Orioles 2. Nationals 3. Athletics 4. Giants 5. Reds 6. Braves 7. Padres 8. White Sox 9. Yankees 10. Rangers 11. Tigers 12. Cardinals 13. Mariners 14. Pirates 15. Mets 16. Astros 17. Cubs 18. Indians 19. Twins 20. Blue Jays 21. Royals 22. Rockies 23. Brewers 24. Diamondbacks 25. Dodgers 26. Rays 27. Phillies 28. Angels 29. Marlins 30. Red Sox
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