Monday, July 3, 2017

Ballpark Roadtrip 2017

Larry and I recently completed our sixth annual roadtrip, visiting Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Miami.  Only three parks left - Colorado, Seattle and San Francisco, which we'll do in 2018.  You can read about our prior adventures here.

Ballparks Visited
SunTrust Park
St Petersburg
Tropicana Field
Marlins Park

Game Results
June 22
Atlanta Brave 12
San Francisco Giants 11
June 24
Baltimore Orioles 8
Tampa Bay Rays 3
June 25
Miami Marlins 4
Chicago Cub 2

The Parks

SunTrust Park in Atlanta opened in April.  It's a nice, new ballpark in the typical Camden Yards style but there is nothing distinctive about it.  We stayed at a hotel that was a 15 minute walk but unless you do that access is pretty bad, even for locals.  They did build a nice entertainment district right outside the park where you can catch a bite or a drink before or after the game.
We few, we happy few

Tropicana Field is quite odd.  It looks terrible from the outside and inside your first impression is that it is more than a minor league park but not quite a major league park.  It's like being in a circus tent with the offwhite roof and metal catwalks.  However, there are some positive aspects.  If it wasn't so hot and humid it would be an easy walk from downtown. Tropicana is so small it creates a certain intimacy.  We had seats on the 200 level where the luxury boxes (such as they are) are located.  It's a small and quiet area and the views from the seats are excellent.  Would recommend purchasing seats in that area if you go.

Domed like Tropicana, Marlins Park was my favorite of the three, except for the atrocious Marlins insignia dominating left center field.  Please remove it. 
Wide concourses.  Good sight lines.  Excellent field.  The view of downtown Miami through the window in left and center is terrific.  If you get seats behind home or on right field side of park you'll have the view.  The outside of the park reminds me of Tomorrowland at Disneyworld.

Annual Ballpark Roadtrip Awards

Biggest Rain Delay
Atlanta.  Longest rain delay in our 27 games - 86 minutes.  Humidity was also 173% so it felt like we were underwater even when not raining.  Since the game took more than 3 1/2 hours to play it was also the latest finish of any game we've seen - 1245am. 

Most Runs Scored
Atlanta - San Francisco.  23 runs (and 31 hits!) in a 12-11 game.  The previous high was a 2014 game in which the Tigers pummeled a hapless Royals squad 16-4.  The Braves-Giants contest was much more entertaining.  Atlanta jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first.  The Giants came back and were leading 6-4 going into the bottom of the 5th.  The Braves started off their half of the inning like this: Home run, single, single, single, single, single.  They added another three hits and a walk, resulting in eight runs, before the inning ended.   It looked like they had a comfortable lead but the Giants came storming back scoring three in the 8th and adding two more in the 9th before they made the last out with a runner on second.

Best Throwing Arm
Austin Slater.  Didn't even know who he was before the game.  He's a 24 year old rookie, playing his 17th game for the Giants.  Started in left field and was moved to center later in the game.  Made three outstanding throws to the plate during the game.  Has a rifle for an arm.  The first throw actually went over the catcher's head on which he was charged with an error; the amazing thing was I didn't think he had any chance on the runner until he unleashed what looked like an Aroldis Chapman fastball.  He also went 2 for 4 in the game with a double. As of today, he is hitting .318 with an OPS of .846.

Most Home Runs Hit On Consecutive Pitches
Two.  Corey Dickerson and Evan Longoria hit back to back first pitch homers off of the Orioles' Dylan Bundy.  Both were monster shots.  Bundy kept his composure and held the Rays off the scoreboard for his remaining 4 2/3 innings.

Biggest Difference Between Announced and Actual Attendance
Atlanta.  We thought the announced attendance at all the parks was substantially larger than actual,  but it was ridiculous at SunTrust.  Reported attendance was 25,521 but we'd be surprised if there were 12,000 at most.  By the seventh there were no more than 250 in the entire bleachers and by the ninth less than 1,500 in the entire park.

Jumbo Diaz Fielding Award
Jumbo Diaz of course! you can see, Jumbo is quite large and, as we found out, does not move well.  He's 33 and listed at 6'4" and 278 pounds (that may be just a bit on the low side).   With the game between the Rays and Orioles tied 3-3 in the 7th, Jumbo came in on in relief for Tampa with a runner on first.  Over the next two innings, Jumbo gave up five hits and five runs of which three were bunt singles which he could not handle (to be fair the last one was more the fault of the Rays muffing coverage at first base).  After the third bunt (and second in a row) we wondered if Buck Showalter was going to continue to do so until the Rays reacted.  I guess he decided to have mercy on Jumbo.

Best Food
The Mojo pork sandwich at the Latin Cafe in Marlins Park.  Deliciously seasoned and textured thin-sliced pork with cilantro and onions.

Nicest Downtown
St Petersburg.  Hadn't been there before and thought it'd just be a bunch of old people (like us) and old buildings, but the small downtown has a lot of new businesses and restaurants with a lively mix of folks.  Would definitely visit again.

Quickest Home Run
Giancarlo Stanton hit a home run against the Cubs that reached the left field seats before we realized what had happened.

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