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True Life: I’m A Sub .500 Fan

Originally Posted July 2, 2010:

Cue the entry audio to MTV’s True Life.

Fans come in all different sorts of intoxicating personalities. We all know of the Fair Weather Fan. They join the party after the party has already started. They jump on the band wagon after the wagon has made its 100th winning stop. They can tell you the time they watched their team win the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 World Series, but not their rosters.

Then there are the Casual Fans. They can tell you the big three on the team, but they can’t name who the starting catcher is. Or who replaced the struggling superstar closer. Or who filled in for the team’s famous broadcaster when he was out for heart surgery.

I think more annoying than casual fans are Homer Fans. These fans, no matter how pathetic their team is playing, still think their team is God’s gift to Earth and there losing season is to blame on this guy. You can’t even confront these fans about their team without receiving a reaction like this.

But let’s face it, the greatest type of fans are the DieHard Fans. No matter what they are doing, they will drop everything for a chance to watch their team play. No matter their team’s performance, they are behind them 110% for the entire season and off-season. They don’t just sit and agree with the GM’s moves, they analyze, criticize, and scrutinize all the moves and makes their voice heard.

I would like to encourage everyone to at least be a diehard fan for one season (of course, please assess the situation… marriage and family should still be top priority, by a small margin). Follow a team, any team, pick a new team, any sport, and follow each and every play as if it were their last.

The greatest moment in a sports fan life is to follow your team to the championship from the beginning when their record was 0-0 and watching them win it all… But, winning isn’t just about bringing home the bling. Sometimes, winning is just about making it to the championship, just barely making it into the playoffs, just finishing above 0.500 for the first time in 12 years. I can honestly say that following a losing team for years as a diehard fan pays the biggest dividends in the end. Some fans have never seen a losing season (the last Yankees losing season: 1992. Yankee fans under 21 years of age definitely can’t remember that). Some have only seen losing seasons. The diehard that sticks through sub 0.500 winning percentages from their team year after year get butterflies in their stomach when their team is even competing for a wild card spot (some fans look at contending for the wild card a losing season). Welcome to my life as a Brewers fan since the late 80’s.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
If you root for the following teams year after year despite finishing in the red, you have earned your badge which gives you access to the greatest circle of fans in the baseball community.

Baltimore Orioles / St. Louis Browns / 1901 Milwaukee Brewers
For the Rest of the Story: Follow the Jump…

MLB Transformers: The Ultimate Hitter’s and Pitcher’s Parks

Originally posted July 17, 2010:

Something to read while you are waiting for the perfect, bright, and vivid double rainbow or you are jamming out to the double rainbow remix (seriously, if there are only two links you click in this entire blog ever, it should be those two). Or you are waiting for the great Chicago Cubs fire sale (you could get a life-size, life-like Aramis Ramirez to fill out your personal trophy case for a small chunk of change).

Growing up Transformers was one of my favorite cartoons. It was so futuristic. Based on a robot war of good vs evil, the Autobots and Decepticons, the two spacecrafts crashed on earth four million years ago. A volcano eruption awakened (or rebooted) the sets of robots and they continued their war on Earth. I can even remember pushing around my Optimus Prime and Bluestreak action figures around the house blowing up my sisters’ Barbies. Heck, we had more than twenty guys crammed into my freshman dorm room watching the 1986 Transformers: The Movie (which has the best 80’s soundtrack that played through the entire movie) on my top-of-the-line desktop computer. Now, the new Transformers movies have a bunch of action and some awesome digital effects (not to mention a great looking cast). The new movies gave me an idea. What if all the MLB stadiums could transform into two completely different stadiums. One that benefits hitters, while the other benefits pitchers.

Most of you have heard how Colorado’s Coors Field is a hitter’s park and how San Diego’s PetCo Park is a pitcher’s park, but has anyone ever thought to build the Ultimate Hitter’s and Pitcher’s parks? What if someone took every active MLB stadium and transformed them into ultimate stadiums, similar to Bruticus Maximus. Well… we did just that here at Kings of Cork. Not only did we take into account stadium fence distances (we did not account for wall height, just distance) but we also accounted for location and foul territory. And you may be surprised to find what stadiums contribute to the Ultimate Stadiums.

The Ultimate Pitchers Park: Decepticon Park

The new trend in MLB stadiums is to create excitement for fans and the game. And as the true home run king, Henry Aaron, said the most exciting hit in baseball is the triple. Thus, more stadiums are designing obscure fence lines to give the ball unpredictable caroms causing the outfielders to trip over their own feet resulting in a triple for the batter. This usually leads to deeper ball park fences as well to limit the number of home runs and increase the amount of physical energy used to get around the bases (less home run trots and more sprints, unless of course you are the Cincinnati Reds Adam Rosales and you sprint around the bases on a HR anyways).

Most parks don’t want to eliminate the home run, but they want to boost the difficulty of the field just enough to make the games more exciting. So what if we took all 31 (including Hiram Bithorn Park in Puerto Rico the Marlins play on from time to time) and combined all the fence lines but only kept each fence location that resulted in the longest playable field. The definition of ‘playable field’ is the amount of earth between home and the fence. Thus, it does not take into account the height of the wall. Sure, you may argue that the height of the wall should matter, but does it really? For example, a ball hit on a rope to a CF wall of 400ft but the height of the fence is 18ft will most likely carom off the wall as an extra base hit vs being a home run for a 8ft tall fence at 410ft. But take that same scenario and make it a fly ball, the ball would still hit off the taller fence, but the deeper fence would allow a possible play on the ball by the outfielder. Yes there is a bunch of physics that could argue both sides; but because we didn’t want to spend a year running the scenarios through our simulators (and because Hit Tracker supplies their field models as distance to the wall), we will assume the deeper the fence, the more pitcher friendly the park will be.

What would this ultimate park look like… below is a representation with the corresponding stadium next to it’s portion of the wall. Notice the several nooks and crannies out in right center field… a nightmare for not only a hitter looking for a home run but for a fielder trying to read a ricochet.

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

The Ultimate Pitchers Park

(stadium dimensions and home run data were found at HitTracker.com)

Here are some interesting facts about the Decepticon park:

  • Both left and right field corners come from Wrigley. Combine the distance (355ft down left, 353ft down right) with the Ivy and the 16ft walls, pitchers will be more than willing to give up shots down the line that their fielders can make plays on.
  • Left field to left center comes from PNC Park in Pittsburgh which makes the power alley 389ft from home. That will take a good poke from any batter to hit one out of the stadium near the gap.
  • Coors Field may be considered a hitter’s park, but it’s also boasts one of the most spacious outfields and owns the deepest portion from left center to center field in the big leagues. Its power alley is 390ft to 420ft on a straight line to center.
  • Center field is almost entirely owned by the new Comerica Park with the exception to the trademark hill from Minute Maid Stadium just slightly right of dead center. Comerica’s left and right center nooks are close to 430ft, while Minute Maid’s hill is at 435ft straight away center.
  • The Mets’ new home field, Citi Field, was made to be pitcher friendly (and Jason Bay has proven that with his power decline). Therefore, it’s no surprise to see Citi Field’s fence owning the first (about 410ft) and fourth (about 385ft) right field crevices from center field.
  • AT&T Park has a piece of its same high right field wall in both the Ultimate Pitcher’s and Ultimate Hitter’s park (which you will see below). This portion in right center is a lefty’s nightmare by making the power alley 421ft from home.
  • Turner field owns the largest section of wall in right center from 390ft to 400ft before trailing off into…
  • Fenway is the other park that has portions of its outfield wall in both ultimate parks as well. The curvaceous right field portion makes for an interesting look and gives right field some distance at 380ft.
  • If every single home run of the 2513 hit so far this 2010 MLB season were hit exactly the same in this park, they would result in about half as many home runs.
  • With the help of some cheap photo editing and Google Earth’s 3D warehouse, below is a 3D model of what the Ultimate Pitcher’s Park may look like from an aerial view (click the photo for a larger view).
Decepticon Stadium

The Ultimate Pitcher's Park

But we won’t stop simply at the distance of the fence creating the most pitcher friendly environment. Let’s explore the location of the stadium and the foul territory.

Foul Territory: The logic is simple; the more foul territory a field has, the more opportunity fielders have to make a play on a ball hit into the foul territory. Which active stadiums boast the largest areas of green between the foul lines and the fans… Well, the portion behind home plate would belong to the new (and old since measurements were kept the same from the “house that Ruth built”) Yankee Stadium with 84ft from home to the back stop. This provides plenty of room for catchers to roam for foul balls, but it’s also a curse for “Wild Things” passed balls which could lead to more runners advancing. The rest of the foul territory would belong to the Coliseum’s football accommodating foul territory. Just look at the room down both the 1st and 3rd base lines. As mentioned above, the area is so large due to the requirement of accommodating the Oakland Raiders as well (the foul territory was actually reduced in size during the 1996 renovations). This spacious foul territory has been found to reduce batting averages by 5 to 7 points. Not only that, but the larger amount of grass outside the lines allows pitchers to pitch fewer pitches and try to force hitters to hit more foul balls for outs.

Location: We can rule out the Mile High City on this one. Most everyone with an 8th grade education knows that an object will fly further through air that is less dense. So the lower the altitude, the more dense the air, the more drag on the ball, thus less distance. Out of the cities that have current MLB stadiums, six cities are less than 25 feet above sea level (Boston – 20ft, Seattle – 10ft, Philadelphia – 9ft, Miami – 15ft, San Diego – 13ft, Washington – 25ft). But elevation isn’t the only aspect that makes air less dense, humidity plays a large factor. Less humidity results in a higher density air due to the fact that a water molecule has less mass than both Nitrogen and Oxygen molecules. So a drier city results in more drag on the ball. Out of the six cities listed above, the driest city is Philadelphia at an average humidity of 76% during the AM and 55% during the PM hours. Thus, Decepticon Park would be located in the City of Brotherly Love. But, the ultimate location would be Death Valley, CA. At 282ft below sea level, it is the lowest elevation in the US and has a very low average humidity. If the location of the Ultimate Pitcher’s park was in Death Valley, CA and the winds of Chicago were also incorporated, this stadium would be impossible to hit at.

The Ultimate Hitter’s Park: Autobot Stadium

A hitter’s park is defined as the opposite of a pitcher’s park. It is where hitters thrive and enjoy the soaring statistics of home runs, RBIs, and inflated batting and slugging percentages. One of the most recent cases that prove the surrounding baseball environment can greatly impact players’ statistics is Jason Bay. This past offseason, Jason Bay went from hitter friendly Fenway (with the short left field for righties) to the gargantuan Citi field. Bay went from averaging 31 HR over the past five seasons to only have 6 HR through the All-Star break in 2010. Sorry Bay fans (and Bay fantasy owners), he will not be slugging more than 20 HR this season.

Compared to the Ultimate Pitcher’s park, the Ultimate Hitter’s park is not quite as diverse or exciting. Using the same process and assumptions as the Pitcher’s park, the 31 MLB stadiums were combined and the shortest distance to the combined fences were kept. What is left looks something like this:

The Ultimate Hitters Park

The Ultimate Hitters Park

Here are the facts on Autobot stadium:

  • Left field is no surprise with the Fenway’s Green Monster being the shortest left field wall at 315ft down the line and about 325ft to straight away left. Pop flies and line drives won’t be caught if hit deep enough. Instead players will have standup singles.
  • At the transition of the Green Monster to the shorter fence in Fenway’s left center, a small section of the Coliseum sneaks in at about 370ft before Fenway’s left center fence continues to center field.
  • A small portion of the Coliseum fits into center field at 390ft before the new Nationals Park goes from dead center to slightly short of right center with their electronic scoreboard.
  • The Coliseum, even with its vast foul territory, is quite a short field and the left side of the right field power alley is the last bit of the Coliseum in the Ultimate Hitter’s park before the short porch in Yankee Stadium’s right field becomes the shortest RF fence in the bigs at 344 ft.
  • The right field fence is surprisingly made up of the same two stadiums that make up a portion of the right field fence in the Ultimate Pitcher’s park. AT&T park makes it a breeze for hitters to hit water balls into McCovey Cove, where kayakers wait with fishing nets. The right field corner directly down the line belongs to Fenway at 302 ft. Coincidently, in both the Ultimate Hitter’s and Pitcher’s parks, the right field and left field lines belong to the same stadium (Fenway for the hitter’s and Wrigley for the pitcher’s)

Foul Territory: As mentioned above, not as much diversity and interesting fence lines like the Ultimate Pitcher’s park. But it would still be interesting to watch big hitting teams like the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Rangers hit at a ball park like this. Scores would push upwards to double digit runs for both teams and the rules may need to be changed back to the original rule of a team must score 21 runs to win. The foul territory for the Ultimate Hitter’s park would be as small as possible to get foul balls out of play quicker. Thus, this stadiums foul territory would come from two stadiums: one of the oldest and one of the newer stadiums. The foul territory down the lines would belong to Boston’s Fenway Park. Boston likes their fans up close and personal (that and so they can rain louder boo’s on their opponents). Combine Fenway’s foul territory outside the lines with the backstop from San Francisco’s AT&T park and there will be very few foul ball plays (AT&T’s backstop is a meager 48ft from home plate).

Location: Similar to the pitcher’s park above, location matters. Of course, there is little surprise where the highest elevation exists among current MLB stadiums. That belongs to the Mile High City, Denver, CO home of Coors field. Air humidity can’t even factor into this decision as the second highest stadium is at 1082 ft above sea level (Chase field). But where would the ultimate location be… Mt. Whitney, CA at 14,505 ft. That’s right, the Ultimate Pitcher’s park, which would be located in the Badwater Basin in Death Valley CA, and the Ultimate Hitter’s park would be located only 76 miles apart. Sure the highest elevation in the US is Mt McKinley, but the temperature there is almost never above freezing. That makes it hard to play baseball even in the Ultimate Hitter’s park.

What might the stadium look like… Here is a batter’s eye view of what the Ultimate Hitter’s park could look like at the dish (click the photo for a larger view).

Autobot Stadium

The Ultimate Hitter's Park

Like it was mentioned above, this field has nothing exciting as the right field in the Ultimate Pitcher’s park. But, I would still enjoy seeing any slug fest at a stadium like this. However, it would be very hard for the home team to secure any big pitchers and some teams have a hard enough time with this already. I would prefer to watch a game at the Ultimate Pitcher’s park over this one; or the two stadiums could be combined into one park that would be similar to the old Polo Grounds. Now that would be awesome.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise… Enjoy.

Bee is for Baseball

Bees have become baseball fans. But I don’t think the bees feel welcomed by the baseball community and protests seem to becoming more and more prevalent with some turning aggressive. We need to start including bees as fans to bring back the peace. Its a win-win for both the bees and baseball. The bees can be counted in the popularity counts which would put baseball back on top as the most popular sport in America.

Don’t Bee-lieve me that the bees aren’t an organized protest (OK, I’m done with the Bee comments)? Take a look at the timeline below:

  • July 2, 2009 – PETCO Park San Diego – The Astros and Padres are delayed for 52 minutes when 2000 bees swarmed Kyle Blanks in left field in the 9th inning. A bee keeper was called in to take care of the unexpected fans. Its too bad too because those bees would have put the attendance over 25000. Something the Padres are hoping more of in 2015 after spending a lot of money in the off-season on big names.
  • May 18, 2012 – Coors Field Denver – A camera man is evicted from his camera well when thousands of bees take it over in the 5th inning. The umps must of had important dinner plans with their wives because they barely halted the game and demanded the teams keep playing. A vacuum showed up in the 6th inning and relocated the bees outside of the stadium.
  • Sept 22, 2013 – Angel Stadium Anaheim – Felix Hernandez runs screaming like a little girl when bees start taking over the field. After the bees successfully scare the King, they move to the outfield and scatter the players out there. After 23 minutes, a man with a Gatorade cooler full of honey and wielding a broom takes care of the bees just long enough for them to terrorize the Angels outfield in the next half inning. No one was harmed but the bees are getting more aggressive in their fly in protests.
  • March 16, 2014 – Salt River Fields Scottsdale – Bees swarm the left field fence padding between the Brewers and the Diamondbacks. Left fielder Parra wanted nothing to do with the bees and headed to the infield waiting for them to leave. Many believe this upset the bees whom were simply looking for autographs. Now they just felt excluded.
  • March 18, 2014 – Steinbrenner Field Tampa – Things are starting to get ugly. Bees invade left field causing the Red Sox to panic. Teixeira decides to try distracting the bees by leading them out of the stadium with a trail of honey. But the inexperienced ground crew decide to use chemical warfare on the bees causing casualties over a 7 minute span. This may be considered the shot heard ’round the world for bees vs baseball.
  • April 3, 2014 – Chase Field Phoenix – Upset by the attack the previous month, the bees try to protest in center field but the game starts anyways. Angel Pagan sends a warning shot out into them when AJ Pollock charging. The bees retreat and plot their attack.
  • March 8, 2015 – Diablo Stadium Tempe – Bees decide to avoid the players and just sit with the other fans at a Royals vs Angels game. However, the fans avoid them and masked man comes charging in with chemical warfare. Bees lives were lost that day.
  • March 20, 2015 ‘B Day’ – Elk Fields Utah – The bees have had it. No more peaceful protests. Thousands of bees descend from left field and start attacking fans. One family sustained the most injuries when the mother was stung 15 times, the son was stung 40+ times, and the father was stung over 400 times… in the face!. Firefighters were called in and due to the aggressiveness of the bees, they had to take to chemical warfare. Bees lives were lost but let’s not forget their message or the war may never end. Bees are for baseball!

I Saw The Sign, It Opened Up My Eyes…

Then I got a Hit!

Troy Tulowitzki is batting a ridiculous 0.521 at home in Coors Field this season. That’s cray, cray good. That’s not-from-this-planet good. That’s cheating good.

Seriously, what is wrong with baseball fans these days?! Just because an opposing player is putting up out of the normal statistics, they immediately jump to the “He’s cheating. He’s a Cheater” accusations. Yes, the San Francisco announcers jumped straight to the conclusion that Tulo must be stealing signs. Because that makes the most sense for a runner-up rookie of the year candidate and two-time silver slugger. Did anyone question Babe Ruth when the league leader in home runs went from 10 to 50+ (maybe they should have)? Did anyone accuse Nolan Ryan of cheating when he struck out 301 players in a single season?

I swear everyone thinks they are getting screwed in some way or another. And they will btch and whine to get their way or what they think they are entitled to (and probably sue somebody or everybody along the way).

At least Tulo had some fun with the accusations at tonight’s game. He changed his walk-up music to Ace of Base’s The Sign (man I loved that cassette when it came out. Go ahead take away my man card, I was 9).

Cactus League Stadiums – Salt River Fields

With Spring Training coming to a close, I continue on reviewing the stadiums of the Cactus League. I know it’s too late now for you guys to care, but bookmark these reviews for planning next season’s Spring Training trips.

I’ve already reviewed Municipal Stadium, Diablo Stadium, and the new Cubs Park. Now, let’s head out to the stadium that is furthest East in Arizona.

Salt River Fields – Rockies/Diamondbacks

Salt River Fields

    What a complex!!! This is one of the top stadiums in the Cactus League, so it makes sense that it’s located in Scottsdale. If you do any research on Salt River Fields, you will see it referred to as Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Talking Stick is the local resort and casino and, even though I’ve never been inside, looks as nice as the baseball complex. And having a resort/casino so close to a park that shares two MLB teams is a huge bonus for visitors that wan’t to maximize visits to numerous baseball games without having to travel very far.

    But besides the perks of nearby amenities, the stadium itself is extremely comfortable which makes watching a baseball game very enjoyable. The grass seating offers very gentle sloping seats which is nice on the butt and ankles. It’s also very expansive giving lots of room to sprawl out and soak up the sun. But away from the grass, the stadium gets even more fan friendly. There are numerous patios that offer tables and pub seats. The two-level seating around the entire infield gives concourses cover and shade to the first level fans. But don’t worry second tier fans, there are shaders above you too to keep your precious Midwest white skin from burning.

    The concourse is large, both in the infield and outfield, which makes moving through the crowd a breeze. And the concourse in the infield offers a bar ledge for fans that want to walk around and enjoy the game from different angles (or the cheap fans that bought grass seats a better view than the outfield). Another benefit to this stadium is the ability to see the large scoreboard in left field from every angle. And even though I’m painting this stadium as a large park, it’s actually a great stadium to watch a game because it doesn’t feel large. The seats seem to be close to the field which gives the fans the perspective of being near the action from any seat.

    I really can’t complain too much about this stadium, but the biggest issue with it is the lack of establishments in the near vicinity. Unless you are staying at Talking Stick, there aren’t many bars or restaurants nearby. Now someone is going to point out that there is a small shopping center nearby that houses fast-food and BW3’s, but unless you want only a beer, BW3’s and fast-food really don’t hit the baseball fan’s pre/post game cravings. There are some bars and restaurants a bit further that have buses to and from the stadium on game days. These are extremely handy but unless you leave before the 7th inning, odds are you aren’t getting on the bus back to the bar. So just head to the taxi line (which is nice to have at the park) or drive yourself (there is plenty of easy parking at the stadium).

    Again, this is one of my favorite stadiums and usually a must stop while visiting the Cactus League if scheduling permits.

The Commish Awards – Cactus League Spring Training

Do you hear that?! The slap of the ball hitting the catchers mitt. The crack of the ball coming off the bat. The sizzling of pale white skin being burned by the sun of people who haven’t seen sunlight in 4 months. Isn’t it great?! If you haven’t got the chance to experience spring baseball live, you need to put it near the top of your bucket list right now.

I prefer the Cactus League. A) Because the Brewers play there. B) Because all the teams are within 30-40 minutes of each other which makes it possible to see multiple games in a day, visit a lot of different teams, and find your favorite hang out spot. And because of the second reason and after my annual trip to the Arizona Valley, I have enough intell on most of the stadiums in the Cactus League that I can offer up my favorite hang outs for enjoying baseball in the hot, scalding Cactus League sun. I’ll be posting longer and more in-depth reviews of each stadium I have visited in the Phoenix area throughout the next week, but time to hand out some of my Cactus League Stadium rankings.

So here we go, time for The Commish Awards for the Cactus League (Disclaimer: I can’t give awards out to Scottsdale or Peoria stadiums as I haven’t visited those two yet):

Award For Best Things To Do Before or After Baseball

  • Winner – Glendale 9 Drive-In:
    Who doesn’t like going to the movies?! Now what if the movies were OUTSIDE in a comfortable 60 degree starry night? My childhood included several excursions to the outdoor theater with all the siblings packed into a backed up mini-van with seats removed for sprawling sleeping bags out in the back. So why not bring back those memories and create new ones at the Glendale 9 Drive-in movie theater which seems to be a dying fad across America. It’s reasonably priced, most movies are double features, and if you scan channels long enough you can even get some bonus movies on the screens around yours.
  • Runner-Up – Hiking any one of the surrounding mountains:
    The Phoenix metro area is called ‘The Valley’ for a reason… its surrounded by mountain ranges. If you do enough research, you can find hundreds of trails in parks that are free or have a minimal vehicle fee under $10. And if you are brave enough to park a distance away from most gated trail heads, you can catch a sunset or sun rise from the top of one of the peaks. My recommendations for trails are: trail 44 at North Mountain, trail 300 at Piestewa Peak, any trail at White Tank Mountain Regional Park, and the Hidden Valley trail at South Mountain.
Dr1v31n1

Glendale Drive-In 9

Award For Largest Stadium

  • Winner – Camelback Ranch Stadium (home of the WhiteSox and Dodgers):
    This stadium feels GIA-NORMOUS. It has two-levels of seating but seems to boast a plethora of rows on the first level. The extremely large concourses and extravagant landscaping also contribute to the vastness of the stadium. If you are looking for an MLB style stadium and experience, don’t miss this stadium on the far West side of the metro area.
  • Runner-Up – Cubs Park:
    The new Cubs stadium is a large step up from their past spring training facility. The new stadium has a very deep grass-seating section and also boasts what is probably the most 2nd level seating in the Cactus League. Combine that with the Wrigleyville rooftop experience in left-field and you have a park for one of the largest baseball fan bases in the country. Now if the stadium could just help the team win in the regular season.
  • Worst – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (home of the A’s):
    The stadium in the heart of Phoenix has a lot of unique quarks about it, and one of them isn’t large number of seating options. With only a single level of seating that doesn’t even allow seats in the outfield. So if you are looking for a chance at snagging a Cespedes HR ball, better look somewhere else.
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Camelback Stadium

Award For Best Views

  • Winner – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s):
    One benefit of no outfield seats is not having to stare at people. It’s a shame that the stadium chose to cover up some of the local nature with large billboards. But, the stadium still offers up an experience like no other, the experience of a diamond erected in the middle of the Rockie Mountain desert (and its actually in the middle of metro Phoenix less than 5 miles from the airport). Left field has some great rock formations, right field has a ton of trees that are part of a local park containing the zoo, and the rest of the outfield ground is layers of the great red desert dirt. It feels like the last place on earth you would be watching a game of baseball with the most elite of players.
  • Runner-Up – Diablo Stadium (home of the Angels):
    Similar to Phoenix Municipal, its the only other stadium with rock formations near the stadium. But they just aren’t as impressive and the rest of the surrounding views are just so-so. It has the same distant mountain views of most of the other Cactus League Stadiums, but what it does have over the others is a view of the Tempe city skyline in center field. The stadium also has a pretty awesome entrance that would rival any MLB stadium.
  • Worst – Goodyear Ballpark (home of the Reds and Indians):
    It was a toss up between Goodyear Ballpark and Maryvale Stadium. But because I’m a Brewers fan Goodyear could have had an amazing view of mountains on all sides of the stadium but to the East and then they chose to build it so center field faces East just killed that great opportunity. The rest of the mountain views are still there but are tough to see due to the concourse shaders and the press box suites.
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Phoenix Municipal Stadium

Award For Most Comfortable

  • Winner – Salt River Field at Talking Stick (home of Rockies and Diamondbacks):
    This stadium is one of my favorites. Its located in Scottsdale so you know its nice. It’s just outside the Talking Stick Resort so you know its even nicer. Combine that with some of the most gentle sloping and expansive grass seats, lots of room on the large covered concourses, and plenty of patio seating. It just doesn’t get much more comfortable than this stadium.
  • Runner-Up – Surprise Stadium (home of the Royals and Rangers):
    You want large sprawling concourses?! Well, this is the stadium for you. These concourses are lined with great food and beverage tents. Grass seats are extremely comfortable with plenty of room (except for the right field Home Run deck, but it creates a nice backrest for some lucky grass seat viewers). The only drawback from this stadium is that there is very little shade cover for the box seats.
  • Worst – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s Stadium):
    If you are into little league seating or are shorter than 3 feet tall, you will find Municipal Stadium extremely comfortable. If you don’t fit into those categories, then get ready for uncomfortable bleacher seats with no leg room and cozy neighbors. I will say I have had some of my best baseball conversations with strangers and have made more friends at this stadium than any. Basically because you are forced to know whose lap you are sitting on.
Talking Stick Stadium

Talking Stick Stadium

Award For Most Intimate Baseball Experience

  • Winner – Maryvale Park (home of the Brewers):
    Come on you wouldn’t think I wouldn’t toss an award to my homies?! The Brewers stadium is my favorite. Sure the view is less than desired (what a chain link and cement fence isn’t what you want). Sure the grass seats are super steep. But it has the best beer selection and even better is that the fans are almost on the field of play. The grass seats feel like they are the outfield and there is no second deck and very few rows of box seats that every seat is the best seat. This isn’t me playing favorites here, Maryvale Park is probably my favorite stadium to watch a professional baseball game because you feel like you are on the field with the team.
  • Runner-Up – Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s Stadium):
    Well what did you expect when I told you this stadium was cozy. Its probably more cozy than Maryvale, and less comfortable, and has no outfield seating. If Phoenix Municipal had the grass seating and had more comfortable infield seats, I would have to argue that this venue could be one of the best stadiums to watch a baseball game. But it will have to take a 2nd place finish in this category until it upgrades its comfort level.
  • Worst – Camelback Stadium (home of the Dodgers and WhiteSox):
    This stadium won the award for largest stadium and its also the nicest stadium in the Cactus league. But, it feels like a real MLB stadium. Meaning, if you aren’t paying the big bucks for the seats close to the field, you might need to bring a pair of binoculars in order to tell who’s playing shortstop.
Maryvale Stadium

Maryvale Stadium

Award For Best Surrounding Area

  • Winner – Scottsdale Stadium (home of the Giants):
    I’ve never been to the physical stadium but I have been to its surrounding area in Scottsdale. Old Town Scottsdale is a quaint little outdoor shopping area about 5-8 blocks west of the stadium. There’s lots of small unique local shops, including one of the best ice cream places. In the same area there is a small park that houses the historical and contemporary art museums of Scottsdale. And if you are up for a 3 block walk to the North is another shopping area called the 5th Avenue Shops. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants around that typically cater to the Giant fans. This entire area has a unique small old town feel and its a great area to enjoy the weather outside before or after a game.
  • Runner-Up – Cubs Park:
    Being the newest stadium, the Cubs were smart to move the stadium to the local shopping plaza in Mesa. It feels like you are going to buy a new car when you are headed to the Cubs park thanks to all the dealers and big box stores. But it offers up a lot to do near the stadium. Bass Pro Shops is just down the street. Toby Keith’s bar is right next to that. There are plenty of other restaurants and bars plus all the mecca big box stores you would need to people watch prior to laughing at Cub fans.
  • Worst – Maryvale Park (home of the Brewers):
    Maryvale is not a pretty area and the park seems to have been built in the local subdivision. Walmart and Walgreens are nearby, but if you want anything else, have fun driving. I will reveal one of my favorite establishments in the nearby strip mall… the Purple Turtle. I know it sounds like a Male Exotic Club. That’s what we thought at first too based on no windows on the building. But its actually a pool hall that also is an OTB site for horse racing. They do cater to Brewer fans in spring training so it doesn’t feel too creepy in the bar at 11 am.
Old Town Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale

The Commish’s Overall Rankings For Cactus League Stadiums

  1. Maryvale Stadium – Intimate + Cheap + Best Beer Selection + Sausages + Sausage Races + Roll Out The Barrel = Awesome.
  2. Camelback Stadium – A Spring Training Facility That Rivals MLB Stadiums. Landscaping Is Amazing.
  3. Talking Stick Stadium – Close To Second. Just Missing The Extra ‘WOW’ Factor.
  4. Surprise Stadium – Needs More Shade, But Concourse And Grass Seats Are Near The Best.
  5. Cubs Park – Well Shaded, Large, And New, But Lacking Uniqueness And Located In A Shopping Center.
  6. Diablo Stadium – Lacks Room In OF, Nothing To Do Nearby, Lots Of Bleacher Seating.
  7. Phoenix Municipal – Cheap And Intimate, But Old, No OF Seats, Tight Seating, Hope You Like Bleachers.
  8. Goodyear Ballpark – Located In Middle Of Nowhere, Lacks Uniqueness.
  • N/A – Scottsdale and Peoria Stadiums are unranked due to lack of visiting.

3 down, 159 To Go… What You May Have Missed

I know what you are thinking… ‘It’s only 4 days in to the season. What could I have possibly missed?’

Well, here’s a quick run down:

  1. Everyone in Oakland is doing ‘The Bernie‘ these days.

  2. The Astro’s pounded the Rangers on Opening Day to get a win. They only need 62 more to beat the line.
  3. The Astro’s looked like the projected Astro’s two nights later when Yu Darvish was 1 out away from a perfect game (it seems too early for no-hitters too). He needs to work on blocking the 5-hole.
  4. Marmol looks like typical Marmol… Strike Out, Hit Batsman, RBI Single, Walk, Pulled from game. And Axford looks like 2012 Axford, not 2011 Ax-man… 6 Hits, 4 Runs, 3 HR, 1 Blown Save, in 1.2 Innings.
  5. AJ Burnett got pranked on April Fools

  6. Michael Morse took his beast mode to the West Coast from the East Coast… 3 Homers in 9 At-Bats.
  7. Speaking of Home Runs, the Rockies won’t need pitching if they keep hitting like this… 41 Hits, 19 Runs, 8 HR, in 3 Games.
  8. When did pitchers learn to hit? Kershaw throws a complete game shutout with a solo home run. And Gio Gonzalez hit a solo home run in a 3-0 win on Wednesday.
  9. Red Sox’s front office fear losing their sellout record and persuade fans to come to the stadium by offering free food and half price beer (still $5, but cheaper than most stadiums)
  10. On Day Three (Tuesday), every home team lost.
  11. MLB may have to invoke the slow pitch Softball rule of not having to run the bases for home runs just because Pablo Sandoval may not be able to physically make it around the bases many more times.
  12. Take a tip from this guy on what not to do when taking your girlfriend or wife to a baseball game.
  13. Four walk-offs on Day 4… Votto, Escobar, and Joyce.
  14. Front Row Amy Andy made his first appearance in the Brewers stands on Tuesday.
  15. Gio Gonzalez claims to have done the unthinkable with his hand in public.
  16. Raymond, the Rays mascot, got caught on hidden camera admitting to murder.
  17. And Finally, Manny Ramirez hit his first Home Run in Taiwan.

That should get you caught up through the first four days.

Vote Matt Kemp For Prom King

Really? Really?! Are baseball ‘fans’ really back in high school? Where popularity contests decide every outcome important to a hormone raging teenage girl.

Did baseball fans, once again, get too much authority and go on a power trip? I think so.

Folks, lets meet our National League All-Star Game starting outfielders: Carlos Beltran, Melky Cabrera, and Matt Kemp. (See the rest of the players voted in by the fans here)

Ok, let’s play our favorite Sesame Street game: Which one isn’t like the others? Cue the music and the timer… Ready?! GO!

Time’s up. The answer is Matt Kemp.

Don;t get me wrong. Matt Kemp is an outstanding and phenomenal ball player. With the numbers he was putting up in the first two months of the season, he was on his way to another MVP caliber season (we will revisit that MVP word later).

BUT Matt Kemp has played in 1 game since May 13th. ONE… and he doesn’t plan on playing until after the All-Star game (but he will attempt to hit homers in the HR Derby).

Him getting voted into the starting lineup of the All-Star game is like hiring a plumber who has to borrow your tools. It’s like crapping in a toilet that doesn’t flush. It’s like wiping before you poop… it just doesn’t make sense.

Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes a player lands on the DL just prior to the All-Star Game or just prior to the conclusion of the All-Star election. But a player making the starting lineup who has only played in One Game since May 13 is just ludicrous.

My assumption is that the casual baseball fans saw the name “Matt Kemp” on a ballot. That name triggered their frontal lobe which corresponded to the memory of the numbers Matt Kemp put up in the first month of 2012. Or the numbers Matt Kemp put up in 2011when he was ‘snubbed’ his MVP trophy by a steroid using Ryan Braun.

The results of the All-Star vote further cements the idea that most of baseball believes Ryan Braun is guilty of using steroids. Despite the fact that Ryan Braun is on pace to put up even better numbers than his 2011 MVP campaign where he had protection from the bigger pair of pants bat owned by Prince Fielder.

Or maybe this is the fans’ way of disputing the 2011 MVP results where many believed Matt Kemp was more deserving of the award. Even though the Dodgers failed to make the playoffs. Even though Braun’s Brewers made it the furthest run into the playoffs than the organization has gone in 20 prior seasons. To me, that is an MVP. A player who leads a winning team. Not a player who leads a losing team. Not a player who argues with management or owners.

I enjoy the idea that fans get to vote to acknowledge and award the best players in each league. But abusing this privilege will just lead to baseball communism where the league will choose the privileged players (just see what happened with ESPN’s best MLB stadium vote).

Maybe it’s time to give the power to the baseball experts. Maybe in order to reach the All-Star game a player must be voted in by baseball analysts (hopefully I would qualify). Or maybe the power should be given directly to the players. They would have enough common sense and knowledge to vote in the most deserving players. It would remind me of little league where your team voted which players should go to the little league All-Star game.

The 2012 All-Star Game isn’t the first time this has happened. It happens every season. Maybe this Brewer fan is more frustrated this season because Ryan Braun got snubbed from the starting lineup by the fans that have turned their backs on what will someday be one of baseball’s greats. But other fans should be upset too (Anyone a Rockies fan… CarGo got snubbed by the fans and many others didn’t deserve the starting spot above other players).

So I beg of you so-called baseball ‘fans’, don’t take one of our greatest benefits of being a fan away. Don’t crap in a toilet that doesn’t flush. In the future, vote for players that aren’t on the DL.

Thanks for this consideration.

The Kings of Cork Commish

The Humber Games: Week Of April 16 In Review

How long before junior highs offer a class on “what NOT to post on social media”. Seriously, no one wants to know when you used the restroom or what you are thinking at every exact moment. And if you are going to tell me anyway, at least try not to offend people.

The Hunger Games is the #1 grossing movie for the fourth week in a row but the MLB has its own movie to battle for the #1 spot: The Humber Game.

We are on the cusp of history ourselves here at KingsofCork as we are about to cross some major milestones. Let’s take a look back on the second full week of the MLB season where history was actually made.

If you don’t follow the Big Show on a regular basis, you may have missed the 21st 21st Perfect Game in MLB history this past Saturday, April 21st. Phil Humber was deceptively dazzling against Seattle. He managed to throw only 96 total pitches which is the 7th fewest of the 21 perfect-os. In fact, he didn’t even got to a 3-ball count until the 9th inning when he almost blew the perfect game with a 3-0 count to Saunders before battling back and striking him out. The 26th batter sent a lazy fly ball out to right field where Alex Rios appeared to show boat and catch the fly ball one handed near shoulder height. Probably not Humber’s preferred method. Humber proceeded to work to another full count on the final batter who flailed at a final off-speed offering. Then rather than running to first-base, since the ball rolled to the backstop, he argued that he didn’t go around. The last strike call was questionable, but since the Galarraga incident, on the last strike of a perfect game looming, any bat movement from the batter is going to be called strike three and rightfully so. Now we just have to wait to see what Humber gets for a gift and what he gives as gifts.

Who Can Take Some Fastballs
That Are Letter High
Set A Yankee Record By Taking Three Big Fly
The “Grandy-Man” Can…

Curtis Granderson, aka The Grandy-Man, set a new Yankee record by being the first Yankee to accomplish a feat. Any time a player is the first Yankee to accomplish something, that is a feat in itself. What Granderson did on Thursday April 19 was take his first three plate appearances out of the park. That’s right he had 3 home runs in the first 4 innings. And he became the first Yankee to go 5-for-5 with 3 home runs in a game. Lou Gehrig is the only Yankee with more home runs in one game with the MLB record of 4. Granderson’s performance not only powered the Yankees past the Twins, but helped catapult thirteen teams in the Home Run Derby Standings. One team managed to move 28-places on Thursday.

Jamie Moyer became the oldest winning pitcher ever in the Major Leagues. He was 81-days older than the previous record holder, Jack Quinn who was a relief pitcher and not a starter. So bonus points to Jamie Moyer and his 78-mph fastball. He managed to strike out 1 batter by lulling the batter to sleep. Moyer isn’t finished either. His record age will just keep increasing this season as I project him to win a minimum of 8-games if he remains healthy. Moyer won’t quit the greatest game on Earth until his fastball speed is lower than his age, which gives him at least 10 more seasons.

Josh Hamilton continued to swing a hot stick this week but more impressively, he hit a towering home run at Fenway on Tuesday that traveled 469 ft in right-center field. What makes this home run so great is that it may be one of the closest home runs hit to the Ted Williams seat at Fenway. The seat commemorates Ted Williams 502ft home run hit on June 9, 1946.

Lastly, Matt Kemp is a beast. He has 9 home runs in 15 games which is a new Dodger record. In fact, his 9 home runs are single handedly keeping some HR Derby Teams in the hunt (Chicks Dig The Long Ball only has a 9-HR total.. all from Kemp). His record pace has him projected to hit 90+ home runs. Not to be outdone, his teammate, Dee Gordon, is on pace for 90+ stolen bases this season. For those that know me personally, I have been proclaiming (even before the season) that Dee Gordon has the best chance to steal 100+ bases this year. The record for a single team duo is a 48HR/75SB season by the 1996 Cleveland Indians Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton. Kemp and Dee got this!

What’s The Logic Behind Rooting For Your Favorite Baseball Team?

Something to read while waiting for the spring to actually arrive during Spring Training.

Just a quick post about an item sent to me on what I thought was good enough to share with the rest of the team.

Click on the photo for a larger image.
Baseball Flow Chart

I take no credit for this. All of it goes to the InterpretationByDesign.com guys… and The Master Batters for emailing it to me.