Sunday, February 14, 2016

The First Ten



After three seasons we managed to go to ten stadiums which is exactly 1/3.  We won't go that fast for the next two thirds because two of those were easy because they were in driving distance.  On our third or fourth stadium a woman saw our passports and was so excited for us and asked what number we were on.  We answered and she seemed dejected and overwhelmed all at once that we had so many more.  I kept telling Cam that I couldn't wait until we hit double digits because then when people would ask us it would seem more substantial like were really doing it.  So here we are!  To keep ourselves busy during the off season I decided it would be fun for us to rank the first ten in a few different categories.  After the jump you will find some of our favorite memories and our official rankings.

Of course we've talked about our trips with each other a lot.  No one is making us do this--we love it--so of course we love to reminisce.  That being said we have strictly made our rankings separately.  Cameron emailed me his rankings and I typed in mine here before copying his.  Just in case you guys are concerned about the integrity of this blog that 6 people ever read.

We've managed to cross off at least one stadium in each division and have visited an even split of AL and NL parks.

American League East:

Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays 

AL Central

Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals 
Minnesota Twins 

AL West

Houston Astros
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics 
Seattle Mariners 
Texas Rangers 

National League East

Atlanta Braves
Miami Marlins 
New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies 
Washington Nationals 

NL Central

Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee Brewers
Pittsburgh Pirates 
St. Louis Cardinals 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks 
Colorado Rockies 
Los Angeles Dodgers 
San Diego Padres 
San Francisco Giants

Without further ado here are our super official rankings!

Stadium Overall
Cameron
Sarah
1.     PNC Park
One of the best skyline views in sports.  Not a bad seat in the house, inviting and intimate. Timeless.
1.  Wrigley Field
I’m a Cubs fan with a dog named Wrigley so obviously this is my #1. Can’t beat that ivy, the location, the atmosphere, everything!
2.     Coors Field
Purple Mountains Majesty.  One of the original retro ballparks, the purple mile high seats and mountains at sunset (best natural skyline view), along with the Blue Moon brewery really set this stadium apart.
2.  PNC Park
Beautiful views of the skyline and the river, great food, large yet intimate and easily accessible.  Love it.
3.     Oriole Park at Camden Yards
The first of the retro stadiums.  It lives up to the expectations.
3.  Coors Field
Incredible mountain view and one of the best of the retro ballparks.
4.     Wrigley Field
Wrigley. The Friendly Confines.
4.  Comerica Park
I just still can’t get over how awesomely done all of the Tiger insignia were.  All over the stadium giant and tiny Tigers everywhere with the giant bats at the entrance?  Love the downtown location too.
5.     Comerica Park
Detroit would be higher on the list if it wasn’t for the four above it.  The best “main” entrance, the fa├žade lets you know the Tigers mean business (you don’t mess with giant tigers). I loved the Tigers script on the scoreboard.
5.  Camden Yards
Decent skyline view and a great location in the inner harbor makes it so easily accessible.  The best food I’ve had in a ballpark, friendly as hell employees, and an overall great stadium.
6.     Great American Ballpark
Exceeded expectations.  Not quite as good as Pittsburgh but pretty good.  Will probably remain high on the list after we visit at 30.
6.  Nationals Park
It’s not in the best location and kind of boring/basic but I still loved it.  Like PNC I found it very big but also very intimate. Outfield seats yet we were still so close to the action.
7.     Globe Life Park in Arlington
I grew up going here so it will always be the best in my heart but overall it just isn’t a top 5 ballpark.
7.  Globe Life Park in Arlington
This is Cam’s team and where he spent his childhood so I’m hesitant to say anything negative it just doesn’t do a ton for me.  It’s a good retro park but the location takes a lot of points off.  It’s still a great place for a ballgame just not my favorite.
8.     Nationals Park
A very nice stadium but somewhat nondescript.
8.  Great American Ballpark
I think Cam is going to rank this one higher than me. I liked it!  I just didn’t love it as much as some of the others.  Hard liquor everywhere and a pretty nice concourse all served it well.  Even though it’s low on this list I think it’ll stay in the top ten even after we visit more and more.
9.     Minute Maid Park
When the roof is open it’s a good ballpark.  When it’s closed it’s not.
9.  Minute Maid Park
Boo.  I hate living in a city with a baseball team but with such a terrible stadium.  I grew up going to the Vet so seeing baseball with a roof (and RAFTERS) and air conditioning just isn’t baseball.  They criminally almost never open the roof.  If the roof is open it’s a decent stadium, if it’s closed you feel like you’re in a damn warehouse.
    10.  Progressive Field
     I had such high hopes.
10. Progressive Field
Sorry Cleveland but this stadium is the worst we’ve been to so far.  Closed off concourse (i.e. if you’re getting a hot dog you can’t simultaneously see the game!), weirdly positioned outfield sections, Bro-hio, weird luxury boxes, etc.  Just not much to like here, sorry Cleve.
City
Cameron
Sarah
1.  Denver
Beautiful weekend in a beautiful city.  Lots to see and do, plenty of great beer to drink.  Couldn’t start this adventure on a better note.
1.  Denver
We had insanely beautiful weather, bikes to ride around the city, and rivers of craft beer to drink.  Could not have asked for a better start to this whole adventure and Denver will always hold a special place to both of us.
2.  Chicago
It’s Chicago.  Probably my favorite city but the weekend in Denver was simply more fun.
2.  Chicago
Our official visit was also to visit my best friend so we didn’t do a ton of the touristy things we wanted to do but Chicago still managed to impress us immensely!
3.  Pittsburgh

A great working class city.  Downtown was clean and inviting.  The three rivers and the stripmined hills made for some incredible views.  The Carson street area had some of the best dive bars I’ve been to.
3.  Detroit
People still look at me like I’m crazy when I say that I loved Detroit.  Every Detroiter we met was so proud to live there and was quick to give us recommendations and tips.  The parts of the city that were still going strong were vibrant and fun.  They’ve got a lot of rebuilding to do but what I saw I loved.
4.  Detroit
So much more to offer than expected.  It’s not hard to imagine what Detroit was like in its heyday.  The architecture is some of the best you’ll ever see.  The Piquette and MoTown museums were two great hidden gems.  Detroit will be a great city again but before it gets there it’s still a great place to visit.
4.  Pittsburgh
I suspect Cam will have Detroit and Pitt flipped on his list.  I really enjoyed Pittsburgh but he liked it just a skosh more than me.  The craggy hills made for amazing views and they had some really badass dive bars that we had a blast in.
5.  Baltimore
Fells Point and the Inner Harbor both make for a great experience.  The water taxis are a great way to get around.
5. Washington, D.C.
This was another one where we were visiting and staying with friends so we didn’t do as many museums/D.C. destinations as we would’ve had we not had close friends living there.  But even with missing out on some of the museums and monuments we still visited a ton of amazing places in our nation’s capitol—enough to put it in my top five!
6.  Washington, D.C.
Our nation’s capitol.  It has a lot to offer.  If we had more time here it could be higher on the list. 
6.  Baltimore
We only visited Baldimore for 12 hours but it was perfection from top to bottom.
7.  Cincinnati
The poor man’s Pittsburgh.
7. Cincinnati
I wanted to like it more than I did.  Cam kept cracking me up by calling it “the poor man’s Pittsburgh” and he was so right.  Everything just seemed dirty, inaccessible, and not really living up to its full potential?
8.  Houston
The downtown location opens up a lot of possibilities.  We live here so it’s not that impressive.
8. Houston
We live here so this is a hard one to rank.  Houston is a hard city in general.  It doesn’t have an obvious “cool” area like other cities—I live here and I’m still finding hidden gems.  You have to work for it even if you live here so I imagine visiting here for a baseball game would be tough to find the good stuff. 
9.  Arlington
If I was ranking Fort Worth this would be a different story.  Six Flags, Wet n’ Wild and two sports stadiums don’t make a destination city in my opinion. 
9. Cleveland
The ONLY reason Cleveland is not #10 (and probably #29 once we’re all done) is that Great Lakes Brewery was amazing.  The city itself was the suck, though.  Just re-read my bagel story from the Cleveland entry and you'll get it. I totally understand why Liz Lemon didn’t want to move there. 
10.  Cleveland
Does anyone really like Cleveland besides the natives and LeBron (I’m not 100% convinced he does either)?  Great Lakes Brewing was great but doesn’t make up for the rest of the city.
10. Arlington
Look, Fort Worth is great!  Even Dallas has some charms.  But this stadium is in Arlington.  You know what the only other thing in Arlington is?  Cowboy Stadium right next door.  As far as things to do around the stadium and in the city this one is dead last.  I love the Rangers because of dating Cam but I aint down with Arlington. 
Food/Drink
Cameron
Sarah
1.  PNC Park
Pulled pork pierogi sandwich.  Craft beer.  Yuengling.
1.  Oriole Park at Camden Yards
CRAB FRIES. And the crab fries are at a craft beer bar and their version of Lonestar (Natty Boh) is available throughout the stadium.  CRAB FRIES.
2.  Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Crab waffle fries and craft beer, what more could you ask for?  Bohs and O’s.  An extremely close second to Pittsburgh.
2.  PNC Park
Why doesn’t every park have a retired MLBer making delicious pulled pork pierogi pretzel bun sandwiches?
3.  Coors Field
Rocky Mountain Oysters.  The best craft beer selection we’ve seen so far.
3.  Coors Field
Amazing beer selection.
4.  Great American Ballpark
A bourbon and craft beer bar on the main concourse.
4.  Nationals Park
This one is top five for me for the beer specials alone.  Before first pitch beers were so cheap! And Ben’s chili bowl didn’t hurt either.
5.  Nationals Park
Ben’s chili.  Good pregame beer specials. 
5.  Great American Ballpark
Any bourbon you wanted and tons of craft beer right on the main concourse.
6.  Minute Maid Park
Little Bigs and BBQ, neither are great, but definitely unique to Houston.  Bryan Caswell basically runs the place but I’m okay with that.  Good craft beer.
6.  Minute Maid Park
Craft beer options have grown substantially in the last few years and tons of great food too.
7.  Globe Life Park in Arlington
Standard ballpark fare.  There are other things that make the Ballpark unique like the “Boom stick,” but they’re just not that great.  The beer selection is marketed well but just isn’t that great in reality.
7.  Comerica Park
My bottom four didn’t have anything wrong with them they all just offered standard ballpark fare, nothing special.
8.  Comerica Park
Standard ballpark fare.
8.  Globe Life
Standard.
9.  Progressive Field
Standard ballpark fare, but they did have Old Style (I’m looking at you Wrigley)
9. Wrigley Field
Standard  ballpark fare.  It’s just as bad as Progressive to be honest but hey I named my dog Wrigley I’m not ranking this one last.
10.  Wrigley Field

Standard ballpark fare.
10. Progressive
Basic. 
The first ten were mostly a blast. Of course some were more fun than others (HI, CLEVELAND!) but overall these trips have been some of the very best experiences we've had as a couple. Our quest continues this May as we head to California! We'll be crossing off Oakland and San Francisco and camping in Yosemite for a couple of days. It's shaping up to be a phenomenal trip and afterwards we'll have 12 parks in the book. Also as this is the last year for Turner Field we're going to have to find a time to head over to Atlanta and cross that one off as well. No other plans for 2016 but you never know!