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

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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 4 : Leading Off

Boston Red Sox: Fenway Park

May 4th, 2014. Oakland defeats Boston in extra innings.

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Fenway Park is what we consider the trip that truly started our stadium tour. Roger’s Centre doesn’t count as we live in Toronto and Montreal is just exhibition games. Fenway is our “Lead off” stadium in regards to travelling across America to experience a home game for every MLB team. My wife had been before whereas I was completely new to Boston. We hadn’t yet developed our traditions when we visited Fenway. There is no picture standing in front of the stadium name sign, we didn’t buy a shot glass and we didn’t try to find it’s unique food (I think I just had a pretzel). It was such a good experience we both thought we have to see more stadiums. Fenway is a great park even for those that are not big baseball fans as it is such an iconic part of history of sport and in many respects American culture. You can’t help but feel the importance of Fenway when attending a game.

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We stayed in a hotel in downtown Boston and was able to walk to the stadium so I’m not sure how easy it is to get to using transit. The area around the stadium is a great place to chill and grab some food and drink either before or after a game. When we entered the stadium after a couple of rounds at a nearby bar we walked around a bit and found our seats. We had great seats for the game but it did seem like there were some seats with pretty obstructed views due to the supports for the second level, perhaps one of the few negatives of an old stadium. The other being I had to walk quite the distance to find a restroom during the game. I suppose in that regard newer stadiums are designed with those things in mind. Fenway is obviously famous for it’s green monster (or as I call it after a few beers by mistake the “Green Giant”) and it’s strange outfield dimensions. It was cool to see it in person and to see just how different and game changing it is.

The game took place on Mother’s day. They had a special ceremony before the game featuring Red Sox Mascot Wally with Wally’s Mother and Father. The mother and father costumes were actually pretty funny, the mother was just a Wally costume with lipstick and a purse and I think the Father costume was a Wally costume but with a mustache and dad shirt. The game got underway and we saw the Word Series Champions the Boston Red Sox take on the Oakland Athletics. The game would end up going into extra innings and it was so cold that day we actually debated leaving. Of course we did end up staying for the end of that game when Oakland defeated Boston.

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Seeing a game at Fenway was a great experience. Despite not having the most modern amenities and having super bad weather that day we had a great time. In fact we had a great weekend experiencing all that the city of Boston has to offer and look forward to returning again someday. If you are looking to do a bunch of stadiums in a road trip the next closest parks to Boston would be the two New York teams and then Philadelphia.

Completed Stadiums: 2 of 30

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

Go to Part 5: Detroit Tigers – Comerica Park

Part 2: Home Field Advantage

Toronto Blue Jays: Rogers Centre

June 19th, 2013. Toronto defeats Colorado 5-2 for the sweep. (Our first game together)


Being from TO we never really consider Toronto to be a part of the tour, as the motivation for the tour is to travel around America to see parks we wouldn’t otherwise see. We have been to Rogers Centre, formally known as the Skydome, collectively hundreds of times. While it may not seem like an all impressive stadium to us, the general consensus is… we’re right it’s not the impressive. The stadium was built in 1989 and unfortunately it shows. Compared to the newer stadiums in the league Rogers Centre is aesthetically sad to say, not in the same league. However for many reasons Rogers Centre has plenty to offer for a great visit.

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One of the big pluses for Rogers Centre is the retractable roof. Retractable roofs are invaluable when planning baseball trips, nothing worse then spending money on tickets and hotel rooms only to have the game postponed for rain. The other very attractive quality for road trippers is the location. Rogers Centre is in the heart of the greatest city in Canada and the earth. For you Americans keep in mind when you visit Rogers Centre(not Center) you’ll get more for your American buck. And there are a number of great city attractions within walking distance of the stadium. You can check out Ripley’s Aquarium directly across the stadium or even the CN tower which overlooks the field. If you are a fan of sports other than baseball you may also want to walk over to the hockey hall of fame. These are just a few things to check out, there are countless other options that cover whatever might interest you.

Now enough about the greatest city ever, what can you actually expect at a Jay’s game you ask? Well for one thing, Toronto has no problem with fan attendance. The last couple seasons we’ve had the highest attendance in the American League. Which many people may find surprising thinking Toronto is just a hockey town. Although to be fair the stadium has a hockey goal horn as it’s homerun and game victory siren. Generally I like to sit in the 500s (third deck) behind home plate. The stadium is built with the levels right on top of each other so you never feel too far from the field but the higher you go the smaller the lines for food and drinks. If you like to sit really close be aware that some sections are non-alcoholic for the kiddies.

In terms of the crowd work at Rogers Centre it seems to be pretty lacking. The best new trope they have added the last couple seasons is the Josh Donaldson roof report. Basically it’s just a clip featuring newscast music and then JD telling the crowd in attendance if the roof is open or not, it’s actually a lot funnier than it sounds. For the seventh inning stretch Toronto plays a sing along song. The lyrics are terrible. The title of the song is “OK Blue Jays”, I can’t imagine what less inspiring titles they decided not to go with. The food available at the stadium is all pretty standard baseball items, hotdogs, popcorn,  ice-cream served in tiny little batting helmets.

 

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Overall I think most people would surprised how much fun they could have visiting Toronto for a baseball game. If you are flying into Toronto, don’t feel the need to rent a car to get around the city. Public transit is super easy to figure out and is especially great at getting to the major attractions in the city including Rogers Centre which is right next to the main Subway/Bus/Train station. If you are planning on driving to multiple stadiums the closest stadium is Comerica Park in Detroit, a little more than a 4 hour drive depending on traffic. In the other direction you can head to New York city to see a Yankees and/or Mets game.

Completed stadiums: 1 of 30

This concludes our first stadium visit of the tour. While this post is more review and Toronto sales pitch the next updates will come more from the perspective of someone visiting a foreign stadium. To see the current completion status of our baseball stadium tour Click Here

Go to Part 3: Montreal – Olympique Parc

Part 1 – The Ground Rules

My wife and I have decided to see a game at every MLB stadium and I have decided to blog the journey. Now obviously the best time to start a blog documenting 30 stadium visits is after already seeing 12 of them. Which is where we currently stand in our baseball stadium tour, 12 out of 30.

Now while the game of baseball is rich with tradition so is our stadium tour. The number one rule for the tour is we are only counting stadium visits from when we decided to start the tour, no retroactive visits. And my wife and I have to go to the game together. I had long ago seen a game at Tigers stadium before they moved to Comerica park, that is not part of the tour. My wife and I have both been to Wrigley but separately before we knew each other thus not part of the tour. Why do we have this rule? Because I’m a hopeless romantic (especially for tradition).

Every stadium we visit we arrive 2 hours before game time. This ensures ample time to purchase a shot glass from the pro shop and then walk a complete lap of the stadium, upper and lower decks. We cover the entire stadium to find all of it’s unique offerings such as a stingray petting tank, or a model aircraft carrier. Before the game starts we try to get an idea of all the different food available, usually trying to find the most unique one.

Now lots of baseball fans have done stadium road trips before, I’m sure almost every big baseball fan has at least fantasized about it. Everyone has their own approach to it, maybe do all the stadiums in one season, maybe you follow your team on the road every year. The approach my wife and I have taken has evolved slightly over the last few seasons.

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The first summer we dated we saw 5 parks in 4 separate trips(not including our home town). Those trips mostly consisted of going to a city, drinking at some bars near the stadium, then going to a game. The next season we did one long trip seeing all 5 California teams where we spent more time enjoying the cities of the teams. Last season we spent our disposable income on a trip to Paris, which if you ask me was very expensive for not having any baseball. We ended up having to sneak in a trip to Atlanta at the end of the season to see Turner Field before it had it’s final game.

Now me personally, I prefer doing one trip per season and fully exploring the city rather than running from place to place. In either case this blog will document all our trips (past and present) and you can decide what kind of trip you would like to plan.

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

Go to Part 2: Toronto Blue Jay – Rogers Centre