Part 10: Two Away

Oakland Athletics: O.Co Coliseum

May 11th, 2015. A’s lose to the Red Sox in extras.


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After seeing one of most highly regarded ballparks in all of baseball the day before we set out from San Francisco to Oakland. Oakland’s O.Co Coliseum is quite the contrast from the geographical rival San Francisco’s AT&T Park. There is nothing pretty about this ballpark, from the outside it is just a giant concrete wall and on the inside the stadium ballpark serving as a football stadium is someone how both obvious and jarring. We didn’t check out the area around the park and we didn’t really want to. Getting to the stadium from San Fran is quite easy, just get on the BART train, the stadium has it’s own station stop. We when arrived at the stadium stop, there is a pedestrian bridge that takes you over some train tacks. Along the entire bridge is a high fence with barbed wire. It certainly doesn’t help paint a good picture of the surrounding area as a fun place.

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Arriving at O.Co coliseum

In a twist of fate the athletics were playing the Red Sox, the same matchup when we saw a game in Boston the previous season. One thing that was obvious while waiting for the gates to open is that Boston fans are everywhere, roughly half the crowd were Red Sox fans. When we entered the stadium we took a walk around looking for a shot glass. Not sure if I mentioned this previously but we get a shot glass at every ballpark. To our complete shock Oakland did not have any shot glasses in there store. Apparently the shipment for the season hadn’t come in yet(Season started a month ago), the other thing we heard is that the truck delivering had been robbed. So we had to settle for a bottle opener key chain.DSC_0482.JPG

It was a little strange seeing a football stadium being used for baseball or a baseball stadium being used for football. There is a huge foul area because of this, which for me I don’t mind if ballparks have little quirks that affect gameplay as long as they don’t ruin a game, such as the low catwalk in Tampa. The ballpark also doesn’t have one big main scoreboard but two smaller identical scoreboards on opposite sides of the park. From where we were sitting the stadium is actually pretty symmetrical which usually the asymmetrical aspect is what makes baseball stadiums more unique from the other top 4 sports. There is a huge upper deck section of seats that were tarped off, I guess those are probably used for the football games. It did remind me of the Rogers Centre in Toronto which with the exception of the dome looks very similar to O.CO Coliseum. The other thing that reminded me of Toronto was seeing good ole Brett “The Rally Killer” Lawrie play. This was of course the season that we(Blue Jays) got Donaldson for Lawrie and Donaldson ended up getting the MVP award. Great trade.

We had some decent seats sitting well behind home plate. Now last season we almost got a foul ball in Detroit, during this game in Oakland we managed to get even closer but somehow still came up with nothing. The guy sitting directly in front of us took a ball directly to his face. While he and the girl was trying stop his face from bleeding some guy a few rows over found the ball rolling around the floor. Still feel bad for the guy. Now I’m writing this blog in the year 2018 so everything has been based on memory. I cannot remember anything of note in the game or anything of note for what the park has to offer for food. Which leads me to believe the beer is probably decently priced. Also I have a Oakland Athletics Pint cup in my kitchen right now so the beers were probably the highlight that day. The Athletics lost in extra innings so at the very least it was a close game.

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That completes our second game in two days. The next day we are renting a car and driving to LA to see a game at Dodgers Stadium.

Completed Stadiums: 8 of 30

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

Go to Part 11: Los Angeles Dodgers – Dodger Stadium

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Part 9: Secondary Lead Off

San Francisco Giants: AT&T Park

May 10th, 2015. Giants defeat the Marlins 3-2.


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Leading off our second full season of the stadium tour we head over to San Francisco, the first of five California ballparks that we will be seeing in one long trip. Now unlike the previous year where we did several small weekend trips to different cities, this year we tried to spend more time in each location to get a better experience of the town itself. We flew from Toronto to Washington after work, then from Washington to San Francisco first thing the next morning. It was our first time on the west coast so me made sure we spent a couple days doing super touristy things. If you like tourist attractions you’ll have to check out Alcatraz, just be sure to go early in the morning. We took a boat cruise of the bay, saw the golden-gate bridge and walked down Lombard street the crookedest street in the world. After a few days we were ready for some baseball!

In what turned out to be quite the co-incidence the first game leading off the stadium tour for the 2014 and 2015 seasons took place on Mother’s day. We were staying downtown and were able to walk to AT&T park which is super convenient when you aren’t familiar with the transit system. We got there very early and had to wait for doors to open. One thing we didn’t realize about San Francisco is that it can actually be quite cold. The first few days of the trip was cold and overcast and it looked like it was going to be pretty much the same for game day.  It was also a promotion day so when we finally get in the stadium we got San Francisco Giants infinity scarves which we still have and never use to this day. We purchased our shot glass and began to explore the stadium of the defending World Series Champions.

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View from our seats

AT&T park has been consistently named the #1 best ballpark in the majors and I can see why. It’s an incredibly good looking stadium right next to the water. The stadium has a ridiculous sell out streak so there’s always a good crowd. And the weather is consistently mild. However, maybe it was the fact that the stadium was hyped up too much but as much as we liked it we still preferred Baltimore’s Camden Yard. The stadium doesn’t have a proper bullpen, instead pitcher’s warm up in foul territory like many older stadiums. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal but I found out afterwards it is because when they designed the ballpark they forgot to put in a bullpen area. Crazy!

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The stadium does check off some items for being a great modern day stadium. Firstly some sort of unique attraction for kids. The stadium has a Coca-cola slide, it’s nothing spectacular but it’s something. The other important feature which is specially good for visitors like myself is some sort connection with the city. AT&T Park has an old Trolley which San Fran is famous for and of course being the ridiculous tourists that we are we had to get a picture with it. Also the mascot for the San Francisco Giants is a Seal named Lou Seal(We also saw the mascot’s mother just like the previous year in Boston). After exploring pier 39 the previous day you can see that seal’s are very much a staple to the San Francisco Bay area.

 

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Happy Mother’s Day

We get to our seats in right field foul territory where we tend to sit for most games, not sure why that always happens. At the start of the game the sun had still not come out which after being in San Francisco I can assure you that the fog the San Fran is famous for is well deserved. We were in the city for 4 days and literally we never saw the sun until mid afternoon, it was cold and fog ever single morning. Once the fog began to clear we saw an absolutely packed ballpark. They did announce the ballpark was sold out for a crazy amount of consecutive days, I can’t remember but it was something in the hundreds.

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Coca-cola Slide

The Giants defeated the Marlins starting the 2015 season off with a win for the home team. We had a great time at AT&T Park and after the game there is plenty to do nearby. If you enjoy micro-breweries you can walk to 21st Amendment brewery after or before the game. We had a great time there and I just realized I could probably start a another blog just on the breweries we have visited. All in all San Francisco is a great town with plenty to see and do regardless of what you are into outside of baseball. Try to give yourself a few days to see as much as you can and be prepared to travel up and down the hilliest(not sure if that’s a word, point is there’s lot’s of hills) streets you’ve seen in your life. Next on tour is an Oakland Athletics game at the O.co Coliseum, just a short transit ride on the BART train away from San Francisco.

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Completed Stadiums: 7 of 30

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

Go to Part 10: Oakland Athletics – O.co Coliseum

2014 Season Re-cap

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Our first full season of our baseball stadium tour is complete. We saw 5 MLB stadiums plus a former MLB stadium. Our tour began at the end of March when we flew to Montreal to see the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Mets. Overall we had a great time in Montreal but the stadium was one of our least favorite.

In May we flew to Boston to see a game at the Legendary ballpark known as Fenway. My wife had been there before but I was completely new to Boston and can’t wait to back. Being early on in the season the weather was very cold which made us consider leaving early. Ultimately we stayed through the extra innings to see Oakland beat the defending champions.

In July we rented a car and drove to Detroit to see a game at Comerica Park. We both though Comerica was great and consider it to be an underrated ballpark. We were hoping to see David Price pitch for Tampa but missed him by a day. The home team lost again and we got soaking wet trying to find our car. Which made for an interesting car ride as we drove from Detroit to Sandusky, Ohio(Cedar Point) in the middle of the night.

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Nationals Park

The first weekend in August we flew to Washington where we were able to see two parks in one trip. We saw and loved Orioles Park in Camden Yard. Again the home team lost and we were beginning to think we were cursed. The next day we went and saw a day game at Nationals Park. It was a pitcher’s duel between Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Cole Hamels of the Philies. Ultimately the Nationals won which broke the losing streak for us. We saw the end of the game and hustled to the airport at fast as we could and just barely made our flight.

Near the end of August we flew to Florida to visit Orlando. While we were there we drove down to Tampa to see a game at Tropicana Field. We were glad to check it off but did not have a high regard for the stadium. I would say Tropicana Field is considered our least favorite stadium, as the very least it was the worst stadium we had visited up to this point.

The 2014 season gave us a great start to our tour. Instead of one trip we did small getaways about once a month. We saw the defending champs, a grand slam and almost got a foul ball in Detroit. Our favorite park visit so far is Baltimore with Washington in second. The 2015 season we took a different approach and visited another 5 parks but all in one trip. Next up we are going to the west coast and visiting all the California parks.

Go to Part 9: San Francisco Giants – AT&T Park

Click to see the Current status of the Stadium Tour

Part 8: Bonus Baseball

Tampa Bay Rays: Tropicana Field

August 20th, 2014. Rays get shut out versus the Tigers.


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We had thought we were going to finish the 2014 season having visited 5 stadiums but after planning a trip to Orlando we decided to fit in one more by driving down to Tampa. Now back in July we saw the Tigers and Rays play in Detroit so this was in a way a bit of a rematch. Also one of our favorite pitchers is David Price and when we planned the Detroit Trip we were hoping to see him pitch but we were off by a day. For this trip Price had since been traded from the Rays to the Tigers and we figured we had another shot to see him but unfortunately we missed him again. Protip: If you want to see a certain pitcher and you have a couple of days to see a game wait to buy tickets until you know when they are the probable pitcher.

We were staying in Kissimmee Florida so we rented a car for the 1.5 hour drive to St. Petersburg where the Tampa Bay Rays play. We arrived very early as we planned on spending the day in the Tampa area. Upon arrive we quickly realized there isn’t much to do in the area. We found a place to park the car which was literally an empty lot with a guy sitting in a lawn chair with a cardboard sign saying parking. We walked for what seemed like forever to find something to do. We didn’t have any data on our phones so we may have been very close to something without realizing. If I remember correctly we were trying to find the water but gave up and found a bar.

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So Tropicana Field is aesthetically pretty terrible. As we walked up to the stadium it didn’t feel at all like we were approaching a major league stadium, more like some sort of year round circus building. There was some tail gating going on in the parking lot but without much crowd attendance you never really get any sort of party atmosphere. We got to the game plenty early and were able to thoroughly explore the stadium. The most unique feature of The Trop is the ray tank where you can touch real live stingrays. There aren’t too many teams that could do something like that at their stadiums, Diamondbacks are too dangerous, Astros doesn’t make any sense and the Indians seems like they would be begging to get sued.

As we walked around my wife pointed out how the corridors of the stadium remind her of high school which once I heard that I realized I could not see it as anything but a high school hall. The stadium had a lot of great food options, especially barbecue items. I found out afterwards Tropicana Field is the worst culprit for food health violations but maybe we got lucky because we thought everything was great. Going into this game we had only heard bad things about this stadium and to be honest it actually is an awful park. The scoreboard, the low catwalk, the ragged look of the building are all terrible.

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Overall they did have some great crowd work despite having a very little crowd, half of which were Tiger fans. One thing that we loved was DJ kitty time. Picture this, a cat that looks like he hates his life is DJing, that’s pretty much all it is but it’s hilarious. The highlight of the game for me was Victor Martinez (who I had in my pool) hitting a grand slam. We were sitting in the Rays fan section so I had to keep my cheering to a minimum. I should probably mention somehow the crowd was evenly divided between home and away fans. As in, Tiger fans were all sitting in certain sections with very little mixing, not sure how that happens maybe Ray fans agree to only sit in certain sections, I don’t know. Well the home team lost again and we drove back to Kissimmee glad to have gotten the Trop out of the way. If you are planning a road trip the closest team would be Miami or Atlanta.

Completed Stadiums: 6 of 30

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

Go to Part 9: San Francisco Giants – AT&T Park

Part 7: National(s) Pastime

Washington Nationals: Nationals Park

August 3rd, 2014. Washington beats Philadelphia at home.


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For the second day of our trip we drove to Nationals Park for a day game before flying back home. We had brunch at a nearby restaurant where we were first introduced to the glory that is garlic fries. We didn’t have time to check out the city which was really unfortunate as I enjoy seeing American history type attractions which Washington has plenty of. We walked to the stadium and right away there is a great atmosphere as you approach the park. Lot’s of tailgate festivities.

Now one thing we screwed up on this trip was the game time. We had a flight to catch right after the game which for some reason we thought was a 1pm start. We figured we may have to leave early as we would be cutting it close to missing our flight home. Once we got to the stadium we realized that the game didn’t start until 1:40ish(I don’t remember exactly) so we were going to cut it extremely close. Did we make our flight? Did we see the end of the game? Does it matter considering I’m writing this 3 and half years after it happened? Keep reading to find out.

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Before the game started we did our usual lap around the park to explore. We both really liked the look and layout of the stadium, it felt very modern and clean. Having just been to Camden Yard the previous night we had a tough time trying to decide which we would like better, ultimately it went to Baltimore but we both thought Nationals Park was one of our favorites so far. While it didn’t seem like there was a lot to do directly around the stadium there was some cool sights to see from the park such as the Washington Monument or the Capital Building.

Now if you love pun jokes you’ll love Nationals Park. The food vendors have baseball or Washington pun names such as Field of greens, Intentional Wok, Frozen Rope, Steak of the union and our favorite Senators Sausage. Is the food good? Doesn’t matter, it’s called Senators Sausage. One thing I should have mentioned before is the name of the stadium. I haven’t talked about this previously in the blog but some stadium names do have an affect on how you think about that stadium. Some are super corporate sounding and some are named after a person or the team itself which always feels better some how. For example Yankee stadium has a much better ring to it than if it was named Dairy Queen Field. With this reasoning I give Nationals Park bonus points for being one of the few parks left named after the team.

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Now the actual game we saw was a pitchers duel between Max Scherzer and Cole Hamels. They went several innings completely shutting down the offense. I was in a tough spot as Cole Hamels was in my Fantasy Pool so I didn’t really mind if the home team lost here. The Nationals did eventually score some runs and won 4-0 however. One gimmick that the stadium does which became kind of annoying after awhile was playing dramatic music and showing on all the scoreboards whenever a Nats pitcher would get 2 strikes on a guy. Scherzer was pitching, pretty much every batter is going to have 2 strikes, calm down.  A funny moment happened when Bryce Harper pinch hit later in the game, at the time he had been injured and this was his first AB in awhile. Everyone goes nuts when he comes to the plate. Bryce proceeds to strike out and everyone then hates him, I remember a guy shouting how this guy was suppossed to be an MVP player, next Mike Trout, etc. It’s funny looking back now that he has since broke out and won the National league MVP.

It was actually really lucky that the game flew by so quickly, as we had time to see the end of the game then drive like crazy to return the rental car, arrive at the airport about 20 minutes before the flight and somehow we made it on the plane. Protip: When buying tickets to a game check to make sure the time is compatible with flight schedules. Overall Nationals Park is a good stadium; modern amenities, foot race with past presidents, good name. We will definitely need to return some day and give ourselves some more time to visit museums and see the sights of Washington. If you are planning a road trip the closest team to Nationals Park besides Camden Yard is Philadephia then Pittsburgh.

Completed Stadiums: 5 of 30

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

Go to Part 8: Tampa Bay Rays – Tropicana Field

Part 6: Turning Two

Baltimore Orioles: Camden Yard

August 2nd, 2014. Baltimore Orioles defeated by Seattle Mariners 6-3


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For this trip we visited two parks, Camden Yard and Nationals Park. We flew into Washington Dulles airport, stayed in Baltimore and rented a car. The two stadiums are only a 45 minute drive from each other so it’s an easy trip to check off two parks at once. The first day we hung out in Baltimore around the stadium. You’ll want to head over to the harbor where there are lots of restaurants and tourist attractions. Having stadiums built right in downtown is the current trend which all began with Orioles Park. Considered the first in our current generation of modern stadiums, the park is also considered our personal favorite at this point in our stadium tour.

We entered the stadium at the Eutaw street gate which leads right to the famous B&O warehouse. It was cool that the street is part of the stadium, seeing it on tv I never really thought about how interesting it is that the warehouse building is basically a part of the stadium. We picked up a shot glass and grabbed some beers. Now being Toronto Blue Jays’s fans it was a little strange going to see a game at rival team’s stadium and cheering them on. We always see games against teams other than the Blue Jays just for the sake of variety and generally we root for the home team (unless I have a pitcher in my baseball pool on the visiting team). In Detroit we had some Jays gear on and we got some confused looks so we avoided that this time.

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One thing I noticed during our lap exploring the park is that the bullpens are right on top of each other(Home and Away team) and right next to fans allowing for great heckling opportunities. Not that I would partake in such activities myself. We found our way to our seats in short left field and the game got under way. Despite us loving this stadium one of the drawbacks to the game that we both noticed is the constant use of that “Charge” sound byte thing, I’m not sure what to call it or how to type it but it’s something like this… da da da daaa da daaa… Charge! They played it easily 50 times from when we started noticing it. After the 7th inning it was probably played every at bat. Unfortunately we also didn’t get to see what they do when there is a home run, I believe the only homer was from Seattle(We were the only people happy to see a Cano dinger).

 

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Baltimore lost the game making it the third home team in a row to lose on our tour. Games are always much more fun when the home team wins but we still had a great time at Camden Yard. I don’t want to spoil anything but this park remained our absolute favorite park for awhile. Actually Baltimore itself was a pleasant surprise as we never really heard much about it before going. And up into the trip my only perception of the city was completely based off the show “The Wire”.  If we had more time to check out all of Baltimore maybe our opinion might change but that would have to be for another trip because we had to get up bright and early the next day to see the Washington Nationals take on the Philadelphia Phillies.

Completed Stadiums: 4 of 30

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

Go to Part 7: Washington Nationals – Nationals Park

 

Part 5: Hit and Run

Detroit Tigers: Comerica Park

July 6th, 2014. Tigers lose to the Rays at home


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I’m originally from Windsor, Canada which is right across the Detroit river so I had already been to many Detroit sports games. Pistons, Red Wings and of course the Tigers. I had been to many games at Tigers Stadium, and I’ll always think of Comerica Park as a new stadium despite the fact it’s actually been around for awhile now. The wife had never been and I was glad that she liked the stadium as I wasn’t sure if I just thought it was good because I went here as a kid. Kind of like when you watch a movie that you loved as a kid but then you realize later in life no else considers “Small Soldiers” to be a masterpiece. Anyway…

This trip was actually part of a road trip to visit Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio. The plan was to hit up the stadium and then run over to Sandusky overnight, (The Hit and Run). If you want to plan a trip to Cedar Point, during the week after July 4th weekend is a great time to go to avoid long lines. For this trip we rented a car so I didn’t get a chance to sample the Detroit transit. The city does have a bit of a reputation of being “scary”. I don’t think it is as bad as some people say but Detroit has definitely seen some better days. If you are nervous about crime stricken, impoverished cities you’ll probably not want to do much exploring around the city. Comerica Park is directly across the street from Ford Field(Detroit Lions, NFL) and there are restaurants and bars to hangout in so you can stick to the one area for the day.

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Here I am showing off my 60 mph Eephus/Fastball

Before the game started we explored the stadium and I was happy to see all my favorite things about Comerica Park were still there. They have a carousel and a small ferris wheel for kids, where the ferris wheel cars are baseballs. They also have games such as a pitch radar booth where you can see how wrong you are about thinking you can make into the majors. Lots of great food options but I had to go with an Elephant ear which is basically just a large flat piece of dough covered in sugar. For Canadians yes it’s a beaver tail but at Comerica Park they are called Elephant ears. Delicious!

One of the great unique features of the Park that I had forgot about is the outfield water cannons that go off for home runs. While not as impressive as fireworks at least it’s original. Also the batter’s eye area is called the Chevrolet Fountain. While every stadium now a days has some sort of corporate sponsored area that usually comes off tacky, the Chevrolet Fountain kinda works for Comerica Park. Detroit being the pinnacle of the auto industry it makes sense to have some sort of showcase for what is so much a part of the identity of Detroit.

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View from our seats.

We had great seats in foul territory down the right field line and just missed catching a ball by only a few feet. The game was pretty decent but unfortunately the home team lost. We actually left before the game had ended as it was starting to rain and we had a hike to find where we parked the car. As soon as we left the stadium the light rain became a downpour and we had trouble finding our parking garage because I thought I might be able to save a couple bucks parking further away. Once we got in the car the rain completely stopped. Lesson is never leave early, which almost got us in trouble in Washington later in the summer. More on that later.

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The rain at the end was a bit of a damper but still a great day at an underrated stadium. We made it to Cedar Point around 1am and had a great day at the park. If you are looking for other nearby stadiums you have the Rogers Centre in Toronto or you can make your way over to Cleveland, Ohio and take in an Indians game.

Completed Stadiums: 3 of 30

To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

Go to Part 6: Baltimore Orioles – Camden Yard