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Wednesday April 3, 2013
By Kyle Holland (MLB Reports Writer): Follow @TheKHolland13
When the Minnesota Twins left the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 2010 they had great intentions. The ball getting lost in the ceiling would be gone and the Baggie in Left Field would no longer play a factor.
They moved to a beautiful new home, still in Minnesota, going by the name of Target Field. Like all stadiums when they were first built, it is one of the nicest looking stadiums in the MLB.
There is only one problem with the new field. It is outside. In Minnesota. You are not going to get the nice weather like you would in Florida or Los Angeles. And having games there this early in the season can sometimes make it incredibly cold during the first couple weeks of the new campaign.
Time Lapse of Target Field Being Built:
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Chuck Booth “I broke my old record of 24 days by being- The Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days- from April 6th to 28th in 2012! If after you read all of these updates and you want to see the rest of the 63 Articles that were part of the trip (Including 30 Park Previews and 3o Park Experts) Please click here to take you to the table of contents at my own personal website.” Or if you just want to read about the game day journeys click here .
By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
From time to time, I will post a book excerpt from my book “The Fastest 30 Ballgames.” The book chronicles my journey to all of the MLB Parks – in order to set a Guinness Book Of World Record in the summers of 2008 and 2009. I used the 2008 streak to talk about the parks themselves. MLB Parks are the best way to advertise the game of baseball. All of them are unique and have traditions. This excerpt happens for my first trip to Citizens Bank Ball Park (2nd time there overall). It was a game that should have lasted 3 hours, instead it lasted over 8. How you ask? I guess you will have to read it.
Game# 6 Day# 5
Citizens Bank Ball Park
On the drive back on the Hwy-76 W from the Philadelphia Airport (PHL) I started to become too confident about this whole trip to break the Record. My dream of all 30 MLB Ball Parks in 26 days was on track. This day upcoming I had scouted more than any other doubleheader scenario. It was 8 AM-and I was driving back to my brother Trent’s in N.J for a visit and breakfast, before returning to the Sports Complex Area. I planned to park at the 30th Street Amtrak Station station with my rental car – and then take a cab to Citizens Bank Ballpark afterwards.
From there I was going to see a game between the Mets and Phillies. Around 4:30 PM, after the first game ended, I was going to take a cab back to the ‘Amtrak Station’ on 30TH ST, before going to New York City.
I was slated to take a 5:10 PM train that would get me to ‘New York Penn Station’ at nearly 7 PM. From there I could take the subway to Yankee Stadium. It was a Sunday night game so the starting time on the New York game was 8:05pm. Using Amtrak was the way to go—the previous year my brother Trent and I did a doubleheader with ‘Shea Stadium’–and ‘CBP.’ You are able to skip the traffic and Tolls for a little more money- however it is way more convenient. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday November 22nd, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: What the Marlins had to do this offseason is horrible. Last year, the Marlins raised the hopes of the fans with a rejuvenated logo and uniforms, a new stadium, and most of all a new-look team. Last winter, Marlins management made a commitment to the fans to provide a contending team for the years to come. They went out and signed Jose Reyes for seven years. He and Hanley Ramirez were supposed to serve alongside Giancarlo Stanton as the core of the team for almost the next decade. To build on the Reyes signing, the Marlins also inked pitchers Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. Ozzie Guillen also jumped aboard and was set up to be a lovable manager. With this spending spree, the Marlins brought a lot of excitement to South Florida and were supposed to be a major contender in the NL East.
Unfortunately this was not the case. The Marlins quickly faltered and Ozzie Guillen was immediately under the spotlight for his comments about Fidel Castro. Fans were already calling for Guillen to be fired. The team’s performance was not helping. I personally attended the second home game at Marlins Park against the Astros. Although it was against the Astros, any team that spends as much money as the Marlins did in the offseason should have a packed house at their second game of the season (in their new stadium!). The stadium was full, but not sold out. I was hoping that this was not a sign of things to come, but it was. The Marlins continued their spiral downward and talks of trades began. Heath Bell was the opposite of what the Marlins signed him to be and lost his job as closer. Both Reyes and Ramirez slumped. The Marlins needed to make some moves.
Thursday November 15th, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst)
Last week Jonathan Hacohen, the founder of MLBReports.com called to my attention that the Tampa Bay Rays are an anomaly. Ultimately, if you look at the way their team is structured and where their talent lays, and the kind of game that Joe Maddon manages the Rays are ultimately a National League team; displaced in the AL East. The Rays greatest strength is their depth of pitching that they can reach into the bowels of an amazing farm system ripe with young talent. But from there on out, they rely on an offense that generates runs due to other inefficiencies.
With B.J. Upton leaving town, and Carlos Pena only a carcass of what he once was, there is ultimately zero power left in their lineup. Their DH for the past two years have been the likes of an aging Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Luke Scott. Ownership is constantly complaining about attendance and looking for bargain free agents like Johnny Damon to bring in at the end of their careers and hopefully attract some Yankees and Red Sox fans to the stadium.
At this point, the Rays power hitters are Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist. They have an amazing nucleus of pitching talent, including David Price who just won the AL Cy Young, and they are mentioning trading almost all of their starting pitchers. This is understandable, as you have to dish out talent to bring back offensive talent that they are in great need of. But I still have major gripes with the way owner Stuart Sternberg has approached the past 4 seasons in St. Petersburg, and I will get into more detail about this in a little while. Read the rest of this entry
Its Travel Blog Friday:
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-Renting cars in all 27 MLB cities is an expensive proposition. Some of the bigger cities can charge from $50-$90 per weekday for just your run of the mill economy car. Throughout my travels in the last 5 years I have discovered many new ways to combat such prices. Earlier this year, I stumbled upon the latest nugget that I will share for you here. Air Miles is a Canadian reward that people have been collecting up here since 1991. It is designated with many of sponsors in order to collect Miles to redeem them for various redemptions. Most of the time these rewards are personalized to the cardholder themselves. I found a rare exception.
I learned that Canadians can transfer Air Miles, (in exchange for car rental redemptions towards USA Residents in any of the USA Airports.) Not only that, but the Canadian cardholder doesn’t even need be present as part of the rental. The rates are start at 230 Air Miles for an economy car, 250 Air Miles for a compact and 310 for a Full-Size Car. The only state that the rental rates are cheaper belong in Florida where the economy car rental goes for only 175 Air Miles for an economy car, 200 for a compact rental and 250 for Full-Size Car. The daily rate of the car rental in each airport is covered, the only thing that you would be responsible for are the taxes. I will give you an example. I rented a car in San Francisco Airport that carried a daily rate of $49.99, but was about $77 after taxes. I used 230 Air Miles to redeem for the free day, all that was left was about $27 in taxes once the redemption was made. Read the rest of this entry
The Streak ended at 30 MLB Parks in 23 calendar days!!
I broke my old record of 24 days by being-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days from April 6th to 28th!
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http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/ or at my official website for all updates!
MLB Park # 22 Day # 17
TEX @ DET
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024)-The passenger exchange was made at 4:30 AM near the Forrest Lawn Oasis. I jumped from the car that Ken Lee was in to Bob Devries’s rental car. We were on our way to Comerica Park via Highway 94. Through the course of the drive, Bob and I realized we know everything there is to know about rental cars. I rent cars for 365 days a year and Bob rents cars every weekend. It is not often people can relate to all of my car rental stories. I haven’t even owned a car since 2009. If the market was ever to drastically change I would be out of a job and a car. The day was going to be sunny from our drive in. After arriving into town early we headed towards HockeyTown and Cheli’s. We then moved onwards to a Bar Called ‘Bookies’ off of Elizabeth Street. This bar was ideal because it was where we parked for $5.
I had a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with curly fries inside the Sandwich. It was tasty and hit the spot. Bob had the local IPA Beer. About an hour later we met up with the Salter Family (Joe, Dianne, Anthony, Jake and Robert). These guys have been part of every one of my streaks. I met them 1st in 2008 at PNC Park when I almost broke the World Record the first time around. In 2009, the Salter’s were there with me front and center when MLB Park #30 was completed at Comerica. I call these guys my good luck ‘surrogate’ baseball family. I was happy that Bob was there to meet them as well. We all took pictures and headed up to our seats.
Tuesday April 24, 2012
Chuck Booth- (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Today’s expert is Kurt Smith. Kurt will be the interview subject of the following parks: Citizens Bank Ball Park, Turner Field and today’s featured expert Article of Tropicana Field Kurt is highly respected in the ball park chaser community for his BallparkEGuides. After you are done reading this article I implore you trust in Kurt to deliver up tips and suggestive idea’s on how to make your stadium visits affordable and pleasurable. I had a chance to ask some questions of the man recently.
CB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Experts Interview Kurt. Please tell us about yourself and then give us a bit of background information on your life as a Rays Fan?”
KS: “Well I’m not a Rays fan per se, but wouldn’t they be a fun team to root for? They consistently come out on top or near the top in a division that includes behemoth spenders like the Yankees and Red Sox; and last year’s finale was one of the most exciting regular season games in history. It’s too bad this team has so much trouble getting people to come out and see them, because they really are an exciting team to watch. And I love the cowbells. It’s great to hear the ringing in a dome when an opposing batter has two strikes on him.”
CB: “As one of the ballpark experts who takes it to the extreme, how do you rank Tropicana Field versus the rest of the Ballparks?”
KS: “Tropicana Field isn’t a great venue; of all the ballparks I’ve visited I’d put it at or near the bottom. I don’t like indoor baseball, and I really dislike artificial turf, probably like most fans. The Trop is the only non-retractable dome left in baseball now that the Metrodome is gone, so you’re inside regardless. It may be okay to have the air conditioning and protection from thunderstorms in July or August, but who wants to go indoors to see baseball on a beautiful April Florida day? The timing of Tropicana Field’s construction couldn’t have been worse. A dome seemed like a great idea at the time, but just a couple of years after it opened Camden Yards debuted and completely turned ballpark construction upside down. Suddenly indoor baseball on artificial turf couldn’t be less cool.
If the Tampa Bay area’s government had listened when baseball told them not to build a stadium, they would probably have a retractable dome today.But the Rays signed a lease, so for the moment they’re stuck with it. And it’s not all bad. The humidity of Florida summers is nothing to sneeze at, so the air conditioning can be pretty nice. And at least you know you’re going to see a game whatever Mother Nature says, which is of great benefit to a road tripper.”
CB: “Despite the Rays being one of the best franchises over the last 5 years, the team still does not draw well. Why do you think that is Kurt?”
KS : “Here are the reasons that I’ve heard, all of which I think have some merit:
1 – Location. The ballpark is in St. Petersburg, and it’s not all that close or easily accessible from Tampa, where much of the fan base is or should be. It’s also in Florida, where there are a lot of New York transplants, so Yankees games draw well but the team has had a hard time establishing its own fan base.
2 – Entertainment Competition. Tampa Bay is not far from beaches or from Orlando, so there isn’t much elbow room for promotional people to convince residents to come to a ballgame rather than go to Universal Studios. The venue doesn’t help; on a beautiful day most people might rather go to a theme park in Orlando or a beach than go indoors for a game.
3 – Venue. I don’t know if I necessarily buy this one; a good team usually draws no matter where they play. But the Trop isn’t on the bucket list of most ballpark trippers, so that doesn’t help matters any. People get enthused about a game at Wrigley Field or Camden Yards, they don’t get enthused about a game at Tropicana Field.
4 – Weather. The indoor venue notwithstanding, perhaps people just don’t want to go somewhere and be outside for at least a short time in a climate where they may be dealing with hurricane-level thunderstorms or oppressive heat.”
CB: “The Rays seem to have a lot of gimmicks to promote a family atmosphere what have you seen Tropicana Field do in order to boost attendance?”
KS: “It is to the Rays’ great credit that they’ve made the Trop more entertaining for families and adults. The Rays tank is an especially popular attraction. You can reach into this tank in right center field and pet the slimy rays that are swimming around in it—all while watching the game go on. The concourse areas of Tropicana Field are like nothing you’ve seen in baseball—comic book style murals of baseball history, picnic areas and tons of interactive games for kids. On my last trip there, the Jumbotron showed a hilarious video of a cat “mixing” on a turntable.There’s also several party areas, like the Everglades BBQ in the batter’s eye in center field, the Center Field Street Brewhouse (with drink specials before games!), and several lounge areas where people can enjoy a “Blue Storm” drink. Baseball buffs should get a kick out of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, too. Unfortunately the Rays can’t do fireworks, but they do get some big name acts to play after games.
CB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to and from Tropicana Field?”
KS: “Well if I lived close enough, I’d ride a bicycle, because there’s a lot of nice bicycle paths in the area and a place to lock up your cycle at the ballpark. But as it is, the only way most people get to Tropicana Field is by car, and it’s right off the interstate and easy to find. So I’ll just add that I’d find some people to carpool with, because the Rays offer free parking to the first 100 cars with four or more people in them. Free parking is always a great deal.
There is a new service for Tampa area fans called the “No Excuses Tour”. It takes riders to the game from a couple of local taverns, and I think the price is very reasonable. I believe they serve beer on the bus but the bus doesn’t have a bathroom, so there’s some kinks to be worked out there, but it’s a great idea.”
CB: “Tell me something about the surrounding area of the Ballpark?”
KS: “Well, I haven’t heard any horror stories, but some people say it’s not a great neighborhood. You’re not far from the downtown pier and its attractions, so that’s a possible post-game hangout area. I would say that you’re better off staying east of the ballpark towards the pier, and perhaps it’s not so nice west and south of the ballpark.
The popular pre-and post-game venue is Ferg’s, an indoor-outdoor tavern that is converted from a warehouse. They have game day specials on beer, and I haven’t tried the wings but I’m told they’re very good. If you’re the type that likes a drink or a snack before or after the game, Ferg’s is as good as anything here. They are walking distance from the ballpark and have cheaper parking, too.”
CB: “What advice would you give for somebody experiencing Tropicana Field for the very first time?”
KS: “Don’t pay more than you have to for a seat. If you can live with anything in the upper level you can get tickets there dirt cheap directly from the Rays, and it’s usually not a problem to improve your lie during the game. Wander around and see all of the party areas and make sure you check out that big ballplayer sticking out of the wall. Get yourself a cowbell so you can distract the opposing hitters when they get two strikes on them. If you’re a history buff you’ll want to see the Ted Williams Museum.
And don’t complain about seeing baseball indoors, because it’s a mighty good thing during July and August in St. Petersburg.”
CB: “How is the food at Tropicana Field? What is your favorite ballpark food there?”
KS: “Tropicana Field has everything from soup to nuts in the food department, like most ballparks these days. The nice thing is that there’s a lot of brand names, for better or worse, at least with Papa John’s, Outback Steakhouse and Checkers you know what you’re getting. They have a deli with great Boar’s Head sandwiches, and they even have a gluten-free stand, great for celiacs like my wife. The hot dogs are from Kayem, the same purveyor of the Fenway Frank in Boston, although the dogs here are different.
When I’m in the Trop I go for a Cuban sandwich at the East-West Delicatessen near the main entrance; the Cuban is not something you find at a lot of ballparks. It’s a hot pressed sandwich of ham, pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard. I don’t know that it’s the go-to item at the Trop, but it would be my first choice. Gooey cheese is always a winner.”
CB: “What is your favorite all time game that you have been in attendance for at Tropicana Field?”
KS: “Well unfortunately I wasn’t there for September 28, 2011, when the Rays came back from a 7-0 deficit to defeat the Yankees in 12 innings and take the wild card spot right out from under the Red Sox.
So I’ll just go with my first game there in 2002…the then-Devil Rays pulled off a 5-4 victory over the Orioles, and I was with a group of friends sitting down the right field line making jokes about seeing the relief pitchers from behind.
Despite being indoors on a gorgeous April day, a good time was had by all.”
CB: “Thank you very much Kurt.”
***Thank you to our Tropicana Field Expert- Kurt Smith for participating in today’s article. to learn more about Kurt Smith and his website click here***
***Thank you to our Lead Baseball Writer- Chuck Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports. To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***
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