What’s the Best Ballpark in Baseball?

Of course, Fenway Park is the best ballpark in baseball. Many fans though don’t get to venture outside of New England to see other ballparks though. There’s two in New York City. Then there are ballparks in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., which are all within a days’ drive. But how many baseball fans have been to multiple baseball parks?

The Best Ballparks in Baseball

I’ve been to eleven ballparks in my lifetime. I’ve been to Fenway Park 200+ times (seasonbest ballpark ticket holder). Runner-up is Camden Yards in Baltimore, which is one of the most gorgeous parks in the country. It’s a throwback to the old ballparks that were built before the cookie-cutter stadiums of the 1970s. The Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park is baseball’s best-kept secret in my opinion. Parking is easy and close by. It has the cheapest food of any other stadium I’ve been to as well. And contrary to popular opinion, their fanbase is actually pretty cool and friendly. I also enjoy going to Nationals Park in Washington D.C. They have the best hot dogs. It reminds me of Fenway Park too because of the close proximity the fans are to the field.

Citi Field in New York is also cool, especially since it’s modeled after Ebbets Field. Historically speaking, Progressive Field in Cleveland has one of the nicest stadiums. Take the time to go to their monuments park. The Indians have a long and under-appreciated history that shines inside their stadium (they also have Genny Cream cans!).

The Not So Best Ballparks in Baseball

So what’s the not so best ballpark in baseball? Well, there’s a few. While it’s no longer in use, Turner Field looked like a dump the last time I went there. Rusty interiors, nasty bathrooms, meager food options, and outrageous prices didn’t make it a fun place to go. I’ve heard better things about Sun Trust Park though. I got the worst sunburn on my legs at Comerica Park in Detroit in 2005. There’s almost no shade anywhere in that stadium. Plus it’s in Detroit.

I might get flack for this, but Wrigley Field isn’t all it’s made up to be. For starters, it doesn’t have a lot of character. The inside is dark. On a larger level though it reminds me of the U.S.S. Constitution. Both have a great and significant history, but they’re no longer what they originally were. The U.S.S. Constitution was built in 1797 but so much work has been done on the ship since then that only about 10-15% of the original ship remains. The same principle applies to Wrigley Field. It’s undergone so many renovations throughout its 104-year history that it hardly resembles what it once was, while Fenway Park’s retained much of its look. That doesn’t mean Wrigley Field isn’t a great place to see a ballgame. But there’s so much commercialism surrounding the ballpark that it takes something away from the aura. Their fanbase isn’t the nicest either.

So while Fenway Park is the best ballpark in baseball, I’d argue that the ballparks in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cleveland rank up there pretty highly too.

Hanley Ramirez Grand in Opening Day Win

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia each swatted two home runs, and Mookie Betts had one of his own to pace the Red Sox to an 8-0 rout of the Phillies on Opening Day in Philadelphia.

Clay Bucholz was dominant in seven innings, allowing only three hits and striking out nine,Hanley Ramirez while allowing only one base on balls. The pitcher that so many thought would be starting for the Red Sox today, Cole Hamels, was roughed up in five innings, giving up five hits, four earned runs, and four home runs—the most he has ever allowed in a game at Citizens Bank Park.

All of the Sox offense was via home runs. Pedroia got things started in the first, and two innings later Mookie Betts delivered with a solo bomb, making it 2-0 Red Sox. In the fifth, Pedroia did it again, with another solo shot. Considering he had seven home runs last year, it’s safe to say he’s off to a good start. He was also magnificent in the field.

Another player who is off to a roaring start is Hanley Ramirez. He had a solo shot in the fifth, and then hit a grand slam in the 9th inning to make it 8-0 Sox, joining Jack Clark (1991) and Carlton Fisk (1973) as just the third player in team history to hit a grand slam on Opening Day.

Some of the big bats were quiet today, with David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval each hitless, and each striking out three times. Shane Victorino went hitless, but reached twice via walks, and even stole third base. He also went charging into the right field wall to make a gutsy catch in the fifth inning. New catcher Ryan Hanigan reached base twice in four appearances, with a single and a walk.

So what did we learn? Buchholz is pacing for Cy Young Award, Pedroia for MVP, and Hanley Ramirez for the Triple Crown? Well, it’s nice to dream like that early on, but what we did learn is that this team should be a lot more fun to watch than the 2014 version was.

Rick Porcello Signs 4-yr, $82.5 Million Extension with Red Sox

RICK PORCELLO

The Red Sox announced last night that pitcher Rick Porcello has agreed to a four year extension worth in the neighborhood of $82,500,000. The righty also received a $500,000 signing bonus. He will be paid $20 million next year as well as in 2017, and $21 million in 2018 and 2019. His 2015 contract remains a mere $12.5 million.

Porcello was headed for free agency after this season. Following his trade from the Detroit Tigers in December for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, he came to terms on a one-year, Rick Porcello$12.5 million deal. The Red Sox now will have Porcello under contract until he’s 30 years old.

The 26-year-old is scheduled to start the team’s second game of the new season, Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Last year he went 15-13 with a career-best 3.43 ERA, and the first in which he pitched at least 200 innings (204). Lifetime, he is 76-63 with a 4.30 ERA, and a .547 winning percentage.

Since coming into the major leagues six years ago, he has consistently hit double figures in wins, but has never had an ERA lower than 3.43, which he attained last year, and which was his career best. Last year he led the American League in shutouts with three.

So, while this might seem like quite a bit of money for somebody who is just a bit above a lifetime .500 pitcher, the thought process must be that he is young and will only get better. Had he played out what could have been a contract year and done well, he surely would have fielded some bigger and longer offers.

Porcello grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, less than an hour from Yankee Stadium; he attended Seton Hall University, so it’s a good bet that Hank Steinbrenner would have been angling to bring him closer to home. That won’t happen for some time now.