Cleveland just can't stop winning.
I meant to bring this up a while back, but SI released their ballpark rankings (just a few short years after ESPN had already done it).
My issue with how they handled it was that they had the fans rate the parks. Well, isn't this a little inaccurate? Maybe it's because part of my day job involves survey research, but I can't help but feel surveying people about things as personal as their team's ballpark isn't likely to produce a non-skewed result.
Tim and I have been to over 20 MLB ballparks each so we know a bit about this sort of thing. And if I recall correctly, Tim thought his favorite of all the ones we've visited was Citizens Bank Park in Philly. As for me, the ones I've enjoyed the most have been Miller Park in Milwaukee, Pac Bell in SF (or whatever it's called now -- the place where Barry hit pellets into the bay) and Minute Maid in Houston.
According to SI's research, Progressive Field (formerly the Jake) in Cleveland is number one, followed by Miller Park, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Comerica Park in Detroit, the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Safeco Field in Seattle, Coors Field in Denver, US Cellular in Chicago (this one really surprises me), the Big A in Anahem and Citizens Bank in Philly rounding out the top ten.
Where did my beloved Yankee Stadium finish? Well, in 20th place out of the thirty parks in play. As much as I love it there, I guess I can't argue with this. It's not new, it's not state-of-the-art and there's nothing particularly fancy about it. But if you're a Yankee fan, there's a very special feel when you walk into it. Just trust me. When my lovely wife and I went there two weeks ago and walked up the tunnel to our seats, she said, "I just don't get this feeling at an Astros game!" Well, sure, you're not from Houston, honey. But I knew what she meant.
Fenway was right behind Yankee Stadium in 21st place. Fenway and Yankee went 1-2 in "Tradition" and 2-3 in "Fan IQ" (trailing only St. Louis, which I can't argue -- they know their baseball). Yankee Stadium was second to last in both "Affordability" and "Food." While I have no argument about the affordability thing, the food isn't that bad. They have a real food court, plus a cheesesteak grill, gyros, a deli area, etc. It's not horrible. So I would argue that. But I realize it's not as plentiful as the new parks.
It's interesting to me that a couple of pretty new parks finished in the bottom ten, including the Diamondbacks' park, Chase Field, and the Rangers' park, the Ballpark in Arlington. And, like I said, US Cellular, home of the White Sox, made the top ten. This interests me because it's widely regarded as the last park built before the boom of "retro" parks happened. I've been to one or two games there and I liked it but I can see why people might not. Not as much forced "charm" or hills in center field. Those sorts of goofy-ass things.
Other interesting rankings:
The Tigers were rated number 1 in "Team Quality." While I realize they've been competitive again in recent years, they really only had one really good year -- when they made the World Series (and lost) in 2006. Otherwise, this is still the team that lost 109 games five or six years ago. So that's interesting.
US Cellular was rated number 1 in "Traffic," with 1 being the best. I'd ask South-siders to weigh in on this. I don't remember it being disasterous when I went but come on -- it's Chicago! How good could it be?
The bottom five in "Hospitality," in order starting with the worst: Philly, Shea (Mets), Yankee, Fenway, Dodger. Only one Western team in that and they're originally from New York.
A great night out for the whole family? Go to KC. The Royals' Kauffman Stadium provides the cheapest tickets (1), good food (8), really nice fans (2), and cool promotions (7). Eh, but they have a low team quality (25) and, according to SI, the fourth-worst neighborhood of any team (27). Which is, like, ridiculous, since Kauffman is in the middle of a field in Missouri. I guess they just mean it's not a hip, happening neighborhood. When I think bad neighborhood, I think of bullets.
Cleveland just can't stop winning.