Friday, July 10, 2009

Game 24: Toronto Blue Jays 2 @ Baltimore Orioles 0

Today we did three museums before the game (2 baseball and one Mik's choice pop art/comics mostly one), but I will get to that in later posts. By the time we were done with those and took our souvenirs back to the car Orioles Park at Camden Yards was just opening. The first half hour we could only go on Eutaw Street and part of outfield. That was kind of boring since we already walked Eutaw Street going to the museums. At least they do have some of the better concessions out here and all the stands here were open including souvenirs stands and the Team Shop.

About an hour and a half before the game they opened access to the rest of the park. We walked around in search of the Noah's pretzels so I could have an 'O' one and then went back to our seats. The seats were decent as we could see the scoreboard and most of the field. Oddly it was part of centerfield that we could not see.

The game itself was not that action packed, but it was not entirely dull either. There was some good pitching mixed in with the bad (i.e. quite a few walks). There really was not much in the way of great hitting, as in the whole game there were only 2 extra base hits. Both the extra base hits were doubles by Blue Jays. For the most part it was scoreless innings of baseball, as both Blue Jays runs came in the 5th. I do not think there were even any hits after the 6th or 7th inning.

Overall a good park. The whole game experience other than the ballpark itself is a lot like going to the Nats. I still hate the stupid O chant they say during the National anthem, but it is not as dorky as when the Nats fans do it because they think it is a normal baseball thing since the Orioles used to be the closest team to D.C. They do not have racing Presidents or anything like that on the field, but some of the scoreboard things are similar such as the MASN guess the year thing. Also, some if the best local type food is the same (Noah's Pretzels in the shape of the team letter and Boardwalk fries).

Sent from my iPhone

Update July 16, 2009: Finally got the photos uploaded from the game here and have added some to the post.

Accessibility Review: Fenway Park

Fenway might not be expected to be that great of an accessible park and it would have a reasonable excuse since it is nearing 100 years old. However, like Wrigley it does not work with the excuse and instead does a great job of being as accessible as it can be for such an old park. It is kind of sad that old parks have adapted, while newer parks are the ones with the biggest issues in terms of accessibility. The only main complaint related to Fenway and accessibility is the parking.

We arrived several hours before the park even opened and easily found parking in a lot across the street, however they technically have no van accessible type handicap spots and it only worked because we took the only spot that is at the end of a row that is not against the wall. Normally when there is not a handicap spot we take two spaces to give room to get Mik out, but here they were going to charge us for two spaces, which would have been $70. If they did not have that one spot we would have just left and parked across the bridge at the place that cost $40 and had a few true handicap spots. There are also supposedly a few street parking spots by the park according to the Red Sox’s website, but very few and when we got there several hours early I only noticed one open.

The Team Shop is easily accessed before or during the game on Yawkey Way via a ramp up to the exit of the store. The novelty and hat part of the shop is the best accessible gift shop we have seen on the trip. The clothing part, which we did not go into looked like it might have been a little tighter, but it was nice that the novelty stuff and cap displays were just along the walls behind counters with wide open space in the middle of the shop. The display cases also made it easy for Mik to see the bats and such to choose rather than some places that have them in buckets that we have to help him get them out to see or up on shelves too high for him to see them at.

Getting into the park was not too hard, as you just go to the left side of the turnstiles, but it is kind of confusing because this is one of the few parks no one has directed us to the spot and it is not exactly obvious. Once in the park the elevators were straight ahead. There was not an attendant outside, but this is one of the few parks that the general public that did not need an elevator did not even try to use it. There were a few people that hopped into that did not really need it at the end of the game, but they did squish in and they yielded to those that needed it before getting on.

Our seats were in section 14. The view of the field was pretty good. There was a part of the outfield blocked by a pillar, but you have that problem anywhere in the upper half of the bottom sections. At least you cannot have the pillar right in front of you in any of the handicap seating. The wheelchair seating is set apart from the standing room very well and even with no ushers in the area the standing room people respected that they had to stay back in their area. There were no cup holders, but none of the rest of the park appeared to have any either, so Mik did not feel left out. The only thing that irritated Mik was that the seats are not raised up above the regular seats more than a normal row, so when people stand up it made it impossible for Mik to see the game since he could not stand up to see over them. This was particularly a problem with the game going into extra innings and the fans cheering way more than normal then.

Overall Fenway is a great accessible experience. It does have a few faults, but surprisingly few for being an old park and it is understandable that it has the one fault. The handicap parking fault is an annoyance that I feel should not have been an issue, as parking lots can easily be relined to have at least a few van accessible spots. The issue of the seats not being high enough above for the wheelchair person to still see when those in front stand up is just one of the quirks about it being an old park.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Game 23: Cincinnati Reds 2 @ Philadelphia Phillies 3

After pathetic Mets game and the dismal experience at Citi Field last night it did not take much to make tonight more enjoyable, so of course the experience at Citizens Bank Park was a million times better than last night. It is not quite the best ballpark, as Wrigley and Fenway are definitely above it, but it is among the best of the modern ballparks about on level of Jacob’s Field and Yankee Stadium. It might seem better just because of yesterday’s experience and otherwise I might see it as a middle of the road ballpark with little bad and a good amount of positives. However, I really think it is a great ballpark even if the Phillies are currently leading the division the Nats are in. It is not like the Nats are in contention for anything as they pretty much have last place in the bag for the whole Majors, so I have no bad feelings toward the Phillies in that respect and even rooted for them to beat the Reds tonight.

We got to the ballpark around 4:15pm and barely got into the Team Shop before they closed until one and a half hours before the game. It was so much better to get that out of the way first thing again compared to the crowded late opening store at Citi Field last night. After the shop we headed back to the parking lot. No I am not mentioning that to simply inform you that we put the souvenirs in the car. The real reason to go back to the parking lot was to go to the far end and find the statues marking the old Phillies park, Veterans Stadium (I think the NFL Philadelphia Eagles also played here), and the markers for the bases, pitching mound, and home plate. More to come on that in a separate post eventually, though.

After exploring the parking lot and Dad totally annoying Mik by trying to run the bases with him, we headed to the Ashburn Alley entrance to the park, which opened two and a half hours before the game. Only the outfield Ashburn Alley area is open until about an hour and a half before the game, but at least here you enter an area with plenty to do and everything open. Here we saw the timeline history of the Phillies the Phillies Wall of Fame. There is plenty of food options here and really the best place in the park for food, but we were not that hungry and just got some fries to share, drinks and found a place to sit until the rest of the park opened.

Once the park opened we just headed to our seats. Not sure if there is anything worth seeing beyond the stuff in Ashburn Alley, but I am pretty sure it is just shops and food places beyond Ashburn Alley. Our seats turned out to be good and the accessibility was great as expected from a modern ballpark other than Toronto, which proved to be a poor accessible modern ballpark.

The game was a great one, especially in comparison to last night. It started with some great pitching with only 3 total hits allowed by the two starting pitchers in the first three innings. Then the 4th was a hitting inning with the Reds scoring 2 runs and the Phillies scoring 1. The Phillies tied it up with a homer in the bottom of the 6th. Both teams then remained scoreless until the bottom of the 9th when the Phillies scored a walk off run. The run was scored with a single to the outfield with two outs and a man on second (the winning run that ended up scoring) and a man on first. By the way the winning run was an RBI by Victorino, who is one of the five finalists for the last position on the National League All Star team. I would not be surprised if fans vote him in, as the Phillies were really promoting voting for him and they have a large fan base having sold out a lot this season and coming off being World Series Champions last year. Of course, I want the last player to by the Nats player, Christian Guzman.

Overall tonight was a great baseball game experience and something we really needed after last night. I am so glad we did not have to go more than one day between seeing the Mets and another ballpark, as it is nice to get a good ballpark back to being fresh in my mind. Of course, it helped that Mik was well behaved once he got done with his fit in the parking lot and the game began. With it tied in the 9th, though, he was getting ready to throw a fit if the game went into extra innings, so thank goodness it did not and the Phillies still won in an exciting way (some may say nail bitter way).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Game 22: Los Angeles Dodgers 8 @ New York Mets 0

We got to Citi Field around 3:40, which was about an hour before the gates opened. It turned out to be one of the most boring parks to arrive early to. The outside is rather boring for the most part or at least looks pretty much the same on each side, so it is not worth walking around. The only interesting thing is the markers in the parking lot where the bases, pitching mound, and home plate for Shea Stadium were located less than a year ago during the park's final season last year.

The park opened around 4:40pm and it took about 10 minutes to get in. We entered through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and the large 42 there is cool, but the rest is hard to look up and see from the bottom with the maze of stairs and escalators. Our first stop in the park was the team shop and that is when this park began to come across as worthless. The team shop was not even open and did not open until almost 5pm. I do not think it is too much to expect it to open with the park, especially since their website specifically says it opens with the park.

The whole feeling like in a park opened before the staff arrived continued when we got up to the concourse level and found almost all the food places closed. Not everything is, but the worst was getting up to our seats less than two hours before the game and Dad still having to go down to the main concourse to get drinks. It seems other than the main concourse outfield concessions pretty much nothing else opens until 1.5 before the game.

Our seats were not bad and I will give then credit for feeling like a modern ballpark in this respect, however just because the accessibility is good does not mean it is a good ballpark. Up until today it has always been the accessibility experience that has caused me to dislike a ballpark (Dodger Stadium and Rogers Centre). Citi Field, though, is just plain a waste. Not just a waste to go to, but a waste to have been built.

I do not know exactly what it is, but the best way I can describe it is that there is not anything special about it. The only uniqueness is a giant apple in centerfield, but even that is only raised up a few times a game (once before the game and 7th inning stretch, I also think for Mets home runs) and very briefly. There is no history to the park and at the same time no new modern ballpark feel. Honestly it feels like a disorganized run down park, which fits with the rather dismal playing by the Mets tonight.

If the game had any excitement, such as great pitching, lots of hits, or just a home team win, then it might not have been so bad, but nothing worthwhile happened. Sadly the highlight was the Dodgers' Manny Ramirez getting ejected in the 5th inning. Sure the Dodgers got a lot of runs, but two were walked in and several others got on base with walks. Plus most of the hitting was just singles. Oh, the game went on forever just because of everyone hitting tons of foul balls. Mik seriously thought they would run out of balls.

It did not help Mik wanted to leave since the bottom of the 2nd. He is back to being a total butthead now that we have done Fenway and there is nothing left on the itinerary he wants to do except see the new Harry Potter movie on the 15th. The lack of any sort of atmosphere (i.e. interesting things on the scoreboard or even just fans cheering for the right teams, as several seemed confused when to cheer or jeer) here almost made me want to leave early, but at the same time I wanted to stay because we had already made it through 21 complete games on the trip and I really think we should see a full game at every ballpark. Thus we toughed it out as the game dragged on and did see it until the final out.

I hesitate to call it the worst because there were some decent food options and the accessibility was not too bad. However, at the same time I would never go back except maybe if the Nats were playing. Toronto and the Dodger Stadium are still worse, as they are not worth going into for a game. This one is only barely worth it if your team is playing. Sadly it stands out as such a waste to have been built. Sorry, but I also do not accept it is just the kinks of the new ballpatk being worked out. The Nats and the Yankees have already proved to me personally you do not need until July of your Inaugural Season to have such kinks as disorganization and lack of ballpark created atmosphere (i.e. not the fans, but the scoreboard and sound stuff).

Sent from my iPhone

Update July 11, 2009: I finally got the Mets photos uploaded to the gallery here and added some to this post.