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Cactus League Stadiums – Goodyear Ballpark

It’s time to move West. No, not literally. The move West is for the Cactus League Stadium reviews I’ve been posting the last several days. So, without further adieu, lets move to Goodyear, Arizona.

Goodyear Ballpark – Indians and Reds

Goodyear Ballpark

    This stadium is the furthest West in the Cactus League, but remember, the beauty of Cactus League is that its not as dispersed as the Grapefruit league. So even though this stadium is West of every other one, it is still only 45 minutes from the farthest stadium to the East. This allows any fan staying anywhere in the Phoenix metro area the ability to go to any stadium and see any of the 15 teams without having to spend a full day traveling or changing hotel reservations. Trust me, this is one of the biggest perk to the Cactus League.

    Goodyear Ballpark has what could be the most potential of all the stadiums in the Arizona desert. It’s in an area that can be developed for baseball and business. It’s not hidden inside a living community. It’s fairly new (built in 2009). But all of this, leaves a lot to be desired for today. There is absolutely no place close to hang out before and after the game. No food, no restaurants, no bars, no shopping, no nothing. Only baseball stadiums and a small airport. This is a huge bummer, but the idea when it was built was to be able to build all of these things around and into the park. But 5 years later and we are left wanting the same things.

    Once you get into the stadium, things aren’t so bad. It’s a newer complex that has some great amenities. The seating is comfortable around the infield. There is only one-tier with a press-box above it. Leftfield and right-center is open for grass seating and the left field scoreboard offers a nice backrest, but get their early if you plan on using it as one because those seats go fast. The stadium is large but again in the middle of nowhere. So there is very little shade other than what the press-box provides and one shader about 3/4 of the way down the leftfield foul line.

    With the stadium being so open, you would expect great views. However, they built the stadium facing away from all the mountains. Yes, this is so the sun doesn’t effect the players, but what about the fans?! We want to be amazed by the experience, not left wondering ‘what if’. There are HUGE grass areas on the concourse on both sides of the foul poles. One even has a small ball diamond for kids to play on during the game but there is little else there, which is a big waste of space. Rightfield is consumed by the beer pavilion which looks like a lot of fun and includes all you can eat food and non-alcoholic drinks.

    Ok enough about the stadium layout, you are there to watch some baseball. The stadium, overall, isn’t a bad place to watch a game. The bullpens are built into leftfield only so you can look down into them from the grass seats. Similar to Maryvale, there are only 26 rows around the entire infield. This allows every seat to be as close to the action as possible. The foul territories are somewhat large so you aren’t as close to the action as some parks but otherwise there isn’t really a bad seat in the place.

    For a place to watch baseball, it’s pretty nice. For everything else you want with baseball, there is a lot to be desired.

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.
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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.

Generation HR – Year of the Pitcher is Over


(If you haven’t seen the awful original version of this song, follow the link to Rebecca Black’s Official video)

Generation Z may come after Generation Y, but in baseball, last season was Generation P and this year it seems we may have transitioned into the start of Generation HR.

Twelve teams played on Thursday and the rest of them kicked off there season on Friday, part II of the 2011 MLB Opening Day(s). After only seeing two days of baseball, the Kings of Cork Home Run Derby may be entertaining overload this year as the Majors are on pace to launch 5860 total home runs (only 4612 were hit last season) during the regular season (already 17 home runs in 41 games). I’m a bit late in posting an Opening Day recap but its a celebration weekend (birthday) and we spent a few hours out last night laughing hysterically to a hilarious Josh Blue.

In part I of the 2011 MLB opener, there were SIX games played and there were SIXTEEN long balls. Six of them alone were in the Brewer/Reds season opener which included a Reds 3-run walk-off home run by Ramon Hernandez (#@&^$%!!) and the Brewers led off the day with Back-to-Back dingers by Weeks and Gomez. This was the first time teammates led off a season with Back-to-Backs in 42 years. Other notable home runs on Thursday belonged to Matt Holliday, who hit a solo home run in the 8th to put the Red Birds ahead (only to have Franklin blow the save) then found out he had to have an appendectomy which will sideline him indefinitely, and Jason Heyward, who is now two-for-two on hitting a home run in his first bat of the season and also jacked the first homer of 2011 (which all voters were incorrect on).

It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta get down on Friday. Everybody lookin’ forward to the Weekend…
Part II of Opening Day started with Doc Halladay leaving the game without the lead (only giving up one run), but Philly rallied in the Bottom of the 9th to a Rookie’s walk-off single. Then came the White Sox game. The ChiSox came out doing what they do best… swinging the bat. They opened a 14-0 lead on the Indians only to squandering it and pulling off a 15-10 victory, but not before Adam Dunn became the first player in Group A to hit a home run in 2011. Texas also did what they did best (hitting home runs) and upset Boston’s first game of what is supposed to be ‘The Season’ after their big acquisitions in the off-season. Another power team, the Blue Jays, took to the air with Jose Bautista picking up where he left off. Maybe those 54 homers last year wasn’t a fluke. However, Jose Bats was outdone by one of his own, Rookie JP Arencibia. He jacked 2 long ones to take the official HR lead for 2011 and is on pace for 322 more (no one took him in the HR Derby unfortunately). Two other rookies made a grand entrance on Friday (although for both it was their second game of the year). Brandon Belt of the Giants hit a 3-run home run in their 4-3 loss to the Dodgers and Kila Ka’aihue (phonetically “KEY-lah Kuh-eye-HOO-ah”) added a walk-off solo home run to his short resume. It also gave me excitement that I may have finally picked the right player for the write-in group (but probably not).

After the two-part opening day was finished, the team atop the Home Run Derby standings was the Kettle Poppers who reaped the rewards of Adam Dunn’s only home run in Group A. Don’t fret my home run friends, there are plenty of days left in this marathon (unless you own Holliday, Hart or Sizemore, all of whom are currently on the DL or in the ER.)

Time to go enjoy the Brewers first win of the year with a nice PBR.

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.

Rookies Say “Go Big or Go Home”

In the past week, MLB rooks have taken a stand against the simple stats and are rewriting the record books. In fact, three of them are starting a new trend for Generation Y and have made the official move to making your first MLB home run not a solo shot but a grand slam. That’s right, three have hit grand slams this week as their first MLB homers. Two did it in their first game. One did it on the first pitch they saw.

So who are these mystery three. Let’s start with the most recent.

  • Mike StantonIf you haven’t heard of this top prospect yet, he is the next coming of Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn. A very powerful, even more free swinging batter with little concern of setting the single season strike out record. He is one of the Marlins top prospects who got his Major League call-up on June 8. He hasn’t wow’ed anyone by any means yet… that was until tonight. On his 32nd MLB at-bat, he had the bases loaded against the Rays Matt Garza. He battled his way to a 3-2 count when he lifted a high fast ball to left field. The crowd reacted similar to Jason Heyward’s first home run. But Stanton’s was a grand slam. He helped knock Garza out of the game after 1 1/3 innings and 71 pitches. Now that he’s broken the ice, you should expect many more long balls from him in years to come.
  • Aaron Cunningham – I don’t know a lot about this guy, but I do know he made his first home run even more impressive than Stanton’s. In his first Major League game on Tuesday June 15 on his 3rd ever Major League at-bat, Cunningham came up with the bases loaded against Brett Cecil (who has been white hot this season for the Blue Jays). He knew what he had to do for Generation Y… and he did. His first MLB home run was also a grand slam.
  • Daniel Nava – Of course, the Boston Red Sox player has to show everyone up. Nava came to the plate for his very first at bat on Saturday June 12 with the pond full. On the very first pitch Nava saw, he took it yard. That’s right, after one pitch, Nava was 1-1 with 4 rbi’s and an OPS of 5.00. I hate to say it, but there’s no where to go now but down, Nava.

Is it just me or is 2010 the year of the rookie because these three aren’t the only rookies making a splash this year. Here’s a list of players making major contributions in their first year:

For the Rest of the Story: Follow the Jump…

AA: MLB Turns Back The Clock, Bring Out Your Dimes

Welcome to an early addition of Audience Augmenters. We are going to rewind the clock this week; because after doing a little research, I found out why the Majors can’t get away with the cheap gimmicks like Minor League ball can. I promise, after this week, we will return to our regularly scheduled program of showing the funny, strange, and/or just plain outrageous attendance promotions currently being offered in baseball.

So why has major league baseball tamed down their promotional nights. I believe it is due to these three/four promotional nights of the 70’s (oh how I wish I could have partaken in the 70’s fun).

#1 – 10 Cent Beer Night – Cleveland Indians (It even has its own ballad)

Dime Time Beer!!! Sign me and my 40 other buddies up for this game. Not only are you spending less than a night at the bar, but you also get to watch baseball as well (including a woman who decided to flash the crowd from the on-deck circle). I really wish I could have been part of the Cleveland Indians marketing department meeting when this promotion was brought up. Who in their right mind thought this would end well? Even if the June 4, 1974 game versus the Rangers didn’t end with a 25,000 person brawl, where players and coaches were wielding bats for self defense, those 25,000 definitely didn’t walk to the game. Although that era was a different time than it is now, where the local cops would give you a slap on the wrist for driving while intoxicated and not bringing them a spare beer.

The night started with the woman flashing, it turned into a naked guy sliding into second base after the second HR by the Rangers. After that it turned into a streaking chaos, guys on the field mooning the Ranger outfielders (I’m pretty sure one of these guys was my father). By the 9th inning when Cleveland tied it at 5, there was just a pile of clothes in left field. When one fan flipped the bill of the Ranger outfielder and he fell face first, the Rangers manager turned to his bench and cried “Our Freedome!!!”… Then they all came out of the dugout swinging Louisville sluggers, but they were met by many more drunk and clothed fans with chains and knives.

This led the Indians manager to turn to his bench who grabbed bats and made a Blackhawk down rescue mission for the Ranger players (some where knocked out with chairs while others were beating the crap out of kids). I mean this brawl made the Ron Artest brawl look like a grade school fight. I highly recommend reading this article at least to the point where they have the actual game time comments from the commentators. My favorite part is after the game ended in a forfeit by the Indians, the Indians owner announced they would be limiting the next event from 6 to only 4 cups per person (they had 3 more of these nights planned since it did over double the attendance to the game).

#2 – Disco Demolition Night – Chicago White Sox

For the Rest of the Story: Follow the Jump…