Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

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Baseball’s Cathedrals

January 29, 2009

Being a big baseball fan, I’ve been to several ball fields throughout my life. The first one was, naturally, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minnesota. It is, honestly, an ugly ballpark but it’s like that tattered old t-shirt you keep in your closet for those special days. You can’t seem to let it go or hate it, it’s just a part of your life that you don’t want to lose. Like I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, it grew on me and I will never forget the memories that were created there growing up.

Once I grew up and went on vacations with my family and took some journeys myself, I’ve been able to visit several other ballparks and experienced what they have to offer. So I thought I would share some of my thoughts, since Spring Training is only 3 weeks away (Whoooo!).

Personally, I like the old-time stadiums myself. Even though they can be cramped, outdated, have only 4 bathroom stalls in the whole park, funky smells. But what they DO have is the authentic smell of a ballpark, the grass, the dirt, the leather, the beer, the peanuts, and the hot dogs. That, to me, is the essence of a ballpark. When I go to games, I want to feel like I went back in time, to a much simpler life where it’s all about enjoying the game. Old stadiums have all those smells, and they also have the history of the parks. If only the walls/seats could talk, imagine the stories they would tell.

Nowadays, there’s been a huge boom of new ballparks being built all around the country. I cannot argue with the economics of doing that, as new parks do attract new fans for the added spectacle, with those 100 foot HD scoreboards and the flashing lights circling the stadiums. Granted, it’s more accessible, bigger concourses, more pro shops, more bathrooms, more entertainment for the unpure baseball fan. But to me, it feels FAKE, like they’re trying to sell the game to me, saying, “lookee here, it’s fun, we got games for you, bigger food, bigger candy, bigger toys..”. It all feels forced onto me and I end up staring around the park, feeling distracted and unable to focus on the game itself. It takes away from the experience of the game itself. Baseball is not a game meant to be played in a rushed fashion, it’s a slow game and I think the new stadium owners feel compelled to keep the unpure fan captivated and I don’t blame them, after all they need their cash.

Which is why, 4 of my 5 favorite ballparks are of another Era, although one is sadly, disappearing into a parking lot. In order, they are…

Fenway Park

Fenway Park - Boston, MA - Boston Red Sox

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field - Chicago, IL - Chicago Cubs

Kauffman Stadium

Kauffman Stadium- Kansas City, MO - Kansas City Royals

Camden Yards

Camden Yards - Baltimore, MD - Baltimore Orioles

Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium - Bronx, NY - New York Yankees

I’m not being biased by picking Fenway Park first, I’ve been there and it was pure joy when I first walked into the park on a sunny Saturday afternoon with my family. The first thing I noticed was the smell, it contained everything I mentioned above. It felt like baseball heaven. I hope to spend my netherworld life there, with my woman beside me, a hotdog in one hand and a cold Budweiser in the other, watching all the legends play for bragging rights day after day.

Wrigley Field is nearly as good as Fenway Park, but it’s just too darn windy for me.

Kauffman Stadium reminds me of the cornfield in “Field of Dreams”, where it’s all about the game and none of the flashy BS.

Camden Yards is not old by any standards, it’s new (opened in 1993). But when I first went a couple of years later, I was expecting a bling bling stadium, but it felt like an old park, with the warehouse in right field and the brick facade. It is one of the most enjoyable parks to watch a game, I’ve been to quite a few and still go there in the summers.

Now, Yankee Stadium, as much as it hurts me to say it, it really is one of the special stadiums in baseball. Can you imagine how many games it has seen within its confines. Babe Ruth’s mammoth homers, DiMaggio’s hit-streak, Gehrigh’s games-played streak, Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game and more… I have a passionate hate for the Yankees, but what they have is unparalleled in the history of sports arenas/ballparks/stadiums and it’s just a shame that they decided to tear it down, all in the name of Benjamin Franklins. Pathetic, throwing away their temple.  (But heehee, the so called mystical Aura of Yankee Stadium will forever be gone!)

So there it is, I do wonder about the new fields and the history that will eventually accumulate in them. Target Field, CitiField, the new Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Ballpark, Comerica Field, SBC Park, Coors Field and on forth. Will I look back one day when I’m 75 and will Fenway still rank #1 on my list?

Only time will tell…

~Runteldat~

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Yankees and their wallet…

November 17, 2008

In the world of professional sports, no team has the financial resources of the New York Yankees nor the financial freedom to sign as many players for as much as they would like to pay them. Other sports teams are bound by salary caps or in small-market cities that generate little revenue.

After seeing the unofficial reports that the Yankees have offered C.C. Sabathia a six year contract for $140 million, which averages out to $23.3 million dollars a year, it just blew my mind how much the Yankees are willing to spend. Not that I didn’t think they would offer C.C. a king’s ransom, but the fact that they continue to spend so much money in an effort to sign the best players out there (Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Carl Pavano, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Randy Johnson) to name a few. Their thinking is that if they can buy the best players out there, they should be winning World Championships every year. No one has proved that thinking to be so wrong better than the Yankees since 2000. They have spent over 1.2 BILLION DOLLARS since 2000 in an effort to become World Champs once again, only to be ousted in the playoffs every year until 2008, when they didn’t EVEN MAKE the playoffs.

It amazes me how they can continue to think that this strategy works in the ultra-parity world of Major League Baseball. Since the Yankees lost in the 2001 World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks, there have been 7 different Champions; Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, Red Sox, White Sox, Cardinals, and Phillies. Baseball today is full of stat-head General Managers such as Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics who understand that winning baseball is about key statistics, generating runs, rock-solid pitching, and most of all… Team Chemistry.

The Yankees are a team of high-salaried stars who only care about the statisics or personal fame they generate. None of them have a sense of urgency except for their Captain, Derek Jeter. But even the legendary captain has not been able to escape criticism for not being able to light a fire under the other players. Baseball insiders say that the Yankees clubhouse is very detached, none of that buddy-buddy, brotherhood of hard-nosed players who just want to win. The players don’t hang out together after games, go out for a steak and beer, take in a music show. They all go their own separate ways. So how is a team who is that distanced expected to win year in, year out?

As shown by previous World Series winners, they key to winning is to create a team that has a bond, common struggles, common goals, and a burning desire to prove to everyone that they want to be the best. The Yankees have too many over-paid players who take their days and paychecks for granted.

If the Yankees brass wants to win, they should take a real long hard look at the original dynasty of the 1996-2000 Yankees and see that this was a team of chemistry, a team who wanted to win so badly they would play for free, who won relying on each other and creating that bond. It’s safe to say that they got their hands in the cookie bowl and wanted more, thinking that they could recreate those glory days by buying the best players available.

So, my advice to Brian Cashman (Yankees General Manager) and Hank Steinbrenner (the owner), they should not sign C.C. Sabathia and instead spend that $140 million in search for a few hard-nosed players who would teach the Yankees the value of playing hard nonetheless of their paychecks. If they do that, then they just might win a World Series before their core of stars gets too old.

And it’s not the end of the world if you don’t win a World Series every year… just ask the Chicago Cubs who have an immensely loyal fan base, and they haven’t won a World Series since… 1908. Over a hundred years ago…

And you think life is unfair for Yankee fans who are upset they haven’t seen a parade down Broadway Street since 2000…

Poor them.

~Runteldat~

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The Future of Twins Baseball

November 14, 2008

Hi again,

I grew up in Minneapolis, MN and attended my first Minnesota Twins game when I was only 2, I believe. Since then, I’ve been to the 1991 World Series- saw Jack Morris and Kirby Puckett in Game 6 and Game 7 help clinch the title for the Twins. It’s been 25 years of Twins baseball in the concrete bowl that is the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. In 2010 the Twins will be opening a new ballpark named Target Field. It will be beautiful and finally outdoors! Real baseball, albeit cold baseball in April and October, but real nonetheless. Here are some pictures of the old and the new… Cannot wait!

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome Exterior

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome Exterior

Metrodome Interior

Metrodome Interior

New Target Field

New Target Field

The image of the new Target Field is an artist’s rendering of what it will look like. I cannot upload the flash pictures on the Twins website. But this is a general idea…

My parents are already on the waiting list for season tickets, I hope I can fly home for Opening Day 2010!

~Runteldat~

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Welcome!

November 14, 2008

Hello Everyone,

This will be my first blog here on wordpress, I saw Tate Tullier’s new blog and I guess I got inspired. This won’t be a tell-all, soul-baring blog. It’ll be more of a place for me to rant my thoughts on sports/life/etc. with pictures as well. So here we go!

I picked my header as you can see above, of a picture of my favorite baseball player, Manny Ramirez. He’s probably one of the Top 3 best right-handed hitters in the history of Major League Baseball. Also known as “Manny being Manny”, “Man-Ram” or simply… “Manny”.

Manuel Aristedes Ramirez was born in the Dominican Republic, raised in New York City. He broke into “The Show” in 1993 with the Cleveland Indians, later traded to the Boston Red Sox in 2001, where he won two World Series in 2004 and 2007 with the Sox. In 2008, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he went on an unbelievable tear, just raking the ball insanely. Because of that, his uber-greedy agent, Scott Boras, will be commanding a ridiculous amount of money for Manny’s services for next year. We should find out where he ends up within the next week or so, this morning was the start of the free-agent signing period.

Here are some pictures of Manny in action…

Ball Gone!

Another Homer!

Perfect Contact!

Perfect Contact!

One of his biggest knocks is that he is a goofball, airhead, half-asleep when he’s out on the field, either baserunning or playing defense. I have to concede that to the critics, but no one can argue his near prodigy hitting skills. It has been said over and over by baseball people that he will look foolish and miss in an early at-bat in the game to SET UP a pitcher, so that later in the game… the pitcher will be thinking, “I’ll throw that same curveball, no way Manny will hit it.” and next thing you know, Manny has sent the ball into the upper stratosphere.

Before this blog goes on too long… I’ll leave you with words never spoken truer from the man himself…

“It doesn’t matter where I hit (commenting on hitting clean-up). I’m Manny Ramirez, so it doesn’t matter.” ~Manny Ramirez

~Runteldat~