Photopost: A Mismatched Pair of Sox


Our family visited our second Chicago ballpark in as many days with a visit to see our Boston Red Sox play their Chicago White Sox.  The game took place at Guaranteed Rate Field, possibly the saddest corporate naming rights ever awarded to a sports venue.  This was my second visit having previously seen the White Sox play the Rays in 2004 at what was then called U.S. Cellular Field. For that game I sat in the bleachers and remember having a generally favorable impression of the ballpark.

For this game, I made the mistake of buying cheap seats in the 500 level thinking we would enjoy having seats near the front of the upper rather than the back of a lower section.  Turns out the 500 level was eerily empty for a close-to-elimination White Sox game on a Thursday night. The section also has a vertiginously steep rake.  I grew up going to games at Shea Stadium so I had no problem with this, but my son has gone to most of his games at Fenway Park, so being close to the edge made him uneasy.

The game started well for the White Sox as Rick Porcello once again struggled while pitching in the early innings and Lucas Giolito shutdown the Red Sox potent offense. Avisail Garcia lit up the exploding scoreboard with a homer in the first inning and the Pale Hose were up 4-0 after two innings.  Pitching dominated for the next 4 innings until the Red Sox were able to tie up the game with a 4-run rally in the 7th capped by Mookie Betts 2-run home run.

The Red Sox scored another five runs in a 9th inning rally, including a J.D. Martinez blast,  but that time I was heading home with my punchy little girl.  We cheered from the Red Line platform as we saw the Red Sox take the lead on the scoreboard alongside the highway.  Meanwhile, Susan and Peter had snuck down to the field level seats for the final inning where Peter secured another baseball from Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel by way of a security guard.  All because Peter said “please.”

Guaranteed Rate Field is a tough ballpark to judge, especially compared with Wrigley Field across town which has all the advantages.  The White Sox ballpark was built right at the end of the “Modern” era when jewel boxes like Comiskey Park were still considered “old and outdated” rather than a classic ballpark that should be preserved, but just too early for the Retro ballpark boom of the 1990s which may have recreated Comiskey’s charms with modern ammenities.  The baseball-only facility fortunately avoided the problems of the multi-purpose stadiums and domes of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but didn’t quite achieve the elegance of Dodger Stadium or Kauffman Stadium. While Wrigley Field feels part and parcel of its Chicago neighborhood, Guaranteed Rate Field is set apart by a massive 16-lane freeway and acres of parking (where Comiskey Park used to stand), with the South Side neighborhood basically invisible and the Chicago skyline an attractive – but distant – vista on the horizon.  Ultimately it’s a tale of levels with the field level and bleachers being and enjoyable place to watch a ballgame while the distant upper levels are much less so.

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Current ballpark rankings.

  1. Wrigley Field
  2. Fenway Park
  3. AT&T Park
  4. Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  5. Petco Park
  6. Citi Field
  7. Nationals Park
  8. Miller Field
  9. Dodger Stadium
  10. Citizens Bank Park
  11. Guaranteed Rate Field
  12. Yankee Stadium III

Former ballpark rankings

  1. Tigers Stadium
  2. Shea Stadium
  3. Yankees Stadium II
  4. RFK Stadium
  5. Stade Olympique
  6. Veterans Stadium

Photopost: Wrigley Field


Last week I returned to the best ballpark in Major League Baseball (sorry Fenway Park, you’re a close second) for a game between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets. I previously attended a full Cubs-Mets series at Wrigley Field in 2004. This was the first time my wife, Susan, and kids, Peter and Kay, would visit this baseball cathedral. We only intended to attend one game, but the previous night’s game was suspended due to thunderstorms in the 10th inning, so we ended up seeing the last two innings of that game as well.

We got tickets for the bleachers with hopes of catching some home runs.  Renovations have significantly changed Wrigley Field since my previous visit when the area under the bleachers was a no-frills area with chain link fences, bare bone concessions, and an ambiance unchanged from 1914.  Now everything is beautiful red brick with Cubs memorabilia exhibits and fancy concession stands.  Even the restrooms have been modernized, albeit they’ve kept the notorious urinal trenches. The bullpens – once in foul territory right along the baselines – are now hidden under the bleachers (something that will become significant to us later).

Our early arrival meant that we could snag seats in the front row right behind the ivy-covered wall.  A light rain fell before the resumption of Tuesday night’s game, but stopped as Michael Conforto came to bat with a count of 2 balls and no strike. Two innings later, the Cubs walked-off the first game on an error by Mets reliever Paul Sewald.  Another light rain fell between games.

The official Wednesday afternoon game was an exciting game featuring:

The kids didn’t catch any homeruns but Peter did get 2 balls from the outfielders and Kay also got one.  The most exciting encounter, though, happened deep under the bleachers when we were getting french fries from the concessions stand.  A security guard approached us and said “C.J. Edwards has a ball for the girl.” We approached the back door of the hidden bullpen and saw the Cubs reliever peeking out the crack of the door. His arm shot out and tossed a ball to Kay, and he quickly disappeared behind the closed door.  “He likes to do that for the kids sometimes,” said the security guard.

 

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It was a wonderful afternoon at a brilliant ballpark, and the Cubs organization made it a fun experience for the family.

Current ballpark rankings.

  1. Wrigley Field
  2. Fenway Park
  3. AT&T Park
  4. Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  5. Petco Park
  6. Citi Field
  7. Nationals Park
  8. Miller Field
  9. Dodger Stadium
  10. Citizens Bank Park
  11. Guaranteed Rate Field
  12. Yankee Stadium III

Former ballpark rankings

  1. Tigers Stadium
  2. Shea Stadium
  3. Yankees Stadium II
  4. RFK Stadium
  5. Stade Olympique
  6. Veterans Stadium

Photopost: Nationals Park


Last week, I posted photos from my business trip to Washington, D.C. with the intention of posting more.  But as the remainder of my trip was largely in conference rooms, the bulk of my remaining photographs are from Nationals Park, so I’m going to focus this post there.

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I took in the Washington Nationals’ game against the Miami Marlins on Friday, August 16th.  This was my first visit to Nationals Park, having seen the Nats play in their previous home at RFK Stadium in 2005, and the Montreal Expos at Stade Olympique in 1999.  This is the 12th current Major League ballpark I’ve been to, in addition to 6 former ballparks (see my updated rankings at the end of this post).

The ballpark is well-located within the city.  I was able to ride to the game on a bikeshare bike and dock near the entrance, and the Navy Yard Metro station was a short walk away after the game.  There’s not much to do in the immediate area of Nationals Park but with at least a dozen cranes in the sky, I expect that will be different in the near future.  The design of the ballpark is pleasant if generic Retro-Classic with good sightlines of the field from every part of the ballpark I visited.  There are also nice views of the Anacostia River from the ramps, and glimpses of the U.S. Capitol dome from the upper deck.  Oddly, the stone wall design behind home plate that is so prominent when watching a game on tv is not repeated anywhere else in the stadium.

The atmosphere was good with the Nationals’ fans engaged in the game, and almost all of them wearing the Hawaiian shirts given out at the gate.  I particularly enjoyed the “N-A-T-S, Nats! Nats! Nats!” cheer after each Nationals’ run scored.  Talented organist Matthew Van Hoose played a number of Aretha Franklin tunes since the legendary soul singer had died a day earlier.  The famous Presidents Race was fun, but brief.  Most puzzling is that the Nationals have a bullpen cart (a gimmick from the 70s that should’ve stayed dead), but none of the Nationals’ relievers actually used it.  So the cart would just circle the field as the relievers walked to the mound.  Oh, and the Nats’ fans really, really hate their relief pitchers, like Boston-level nastiness.

It was a fun night, and I’ll be happy to go back to Nationals Park.

Current ballpark rankings.

  1. Wrigley Field
  2. Fenway Park
  3. AT&T Park
  4. Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  5. Petco Park
  6. Citi Field
  7. Nationals Park
  8. Miller Field
  9. Dodger Stadium
  10. Citizens Bank Park
  11. Guaranteed Rate Field
  12. Yankee Stadium III

Former ballpark rankings

  1. Tigers Stadium
  2. Shea Stadium
  3. Yankees Stadium II
  4. RFK Stadium
  5. Stade Olympique
  6. Veterans Stadium

 

Photopost: Washington, D.C., so far…


I’m in Washington, D.C. for the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting. I didn’t have room to pack my good camera but I thought I’d share some smartphone photos.

What I’ve done so far:

  • Arrived for the Archive-It Partner Meeting held in the Conservation Pavilion at the National Zoo! I presented, thus fulfilling my childhood dream of working in a zoo, at least for 15 minutes.
  • While at the zoo, I visited with the Great Pandas, Cheetahs, Gorillas, Orangutans, Tigers, Lions, and my favorite, North American River Otters.
  • Ate grits with waffles at Lincoln’s Waffle Shop.
  • Visited the National Museum of American History. Highlights include an exhibit on the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and The Nation We Build Together where two character interpreters from the era of the Greensboro Lunch Counter protest recreate nonviolent direct action training with the guests.
  • Took in a D.C. United soccer match at their new stadium with a large and vociferous crowd. Wayne Rooney scored twice in United’s 4-1 win.

Related post: Washington, D.C. (October 2012)

Photopost: Camping at Wolfe’s Neck Farm


Last week we celebrated the end of the school year with our somewhat annual stay at Wolfe’s Neck Oceanfront Camping in Freeport, Maine. We tented in the woods by Casco Bay, roasted marshmallows, biked nearly everywhere, shopped in Freeport, visited the Wolfe’s Neck Center farm, and most significantly, we went hiking with goats!

Related posts:

Photopost: Father’s Day on Stellwagen Bank


On Father’s Day, my kids celebrated a whale of a dad by taking me on a New England Aquarium Whale Watch. We were lucky enough to see majestic humpback whales, a mama and a baby, trying to catch a snooze on a clear and calm day. When we returned to Boston, the kids hadn’t reached their fill of nautical adventures, so we took the MBTA Ferry from Long Wharf to the Charlestown Navy Yard. There we saw lots of Big Dogs, steel sculptures by Dale Rogers, and played on the playground.

Related Posts:

Photopost: Metropolitan Museum of Art, part 2


Some of my favorite works of art from a Saturday afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, largely in the Asian and American art galleries.

See part 1 from last year for more arty goodness.

 

 

Photopost: Frosty Photos


Some recent photographs from Boston and Vermont of a land encased in snow and ice.  This time of year creates some interesting photo opportunities but with them the challenges of light and white balance.

Photopost: Battleship Cove


On a chilly day with light snow and battleship gray skies, my children and I kicked off the holiday break with a visit to Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA.  The museum his home to the World War II era US ships USS Massachusetts, USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., and the submarine USS Lionfish, as well as the Soviet/East German corvette Hiddensee, all afloat on the Taunton River.  Turns out that one child really enjoyed Battleship Cove and one adamantly did not so we did not get to explore it as thoroughly as we might have hoped.