Like a passport decorated with multi-colored stamps from far-flung ports of call, our sports fandom can be traced by the places we’ve been.
For those fortunate enough to get to games and live in or travel to various places across this expansive land, it’s a fun parlor game to ponder just how many stadiums you’ve seen. There’s a bittersweet side to this, too.
And that’s to think of all the stadiums you’ll never get to see.
That comes to mind this week because we should be in the heart of the College World Series, one of the low-key coolest events in sports yet one that I have not attended.
It should be easy enough to pull off one of these years – traveling to Omaha isn’t quite as exorbitant as a weekend in Monte Carlo – but it will also be something of a hollow bucket-list item. And that’s because legendary Rosenblatt Stadium is no more.
Wile away enough early-summer days to the soothing tones of Mike Patrick calling a CWS afternoon elimination game and Rosenblatt can somehow take on a mythic quality. It looked beautiful whether half-empty for a battle of teams hoping to avoid the dreaded “two and a barbecue” ticket home, or bursting at the seams for a championship game.
But even an event as homey as the CWS succumbs to dollars and cents, and this form of “progress” brought us TD Ameritrade Park, which looks like a fine and convenient and sleek venue to host such a jewel event.
You also get the sense that although it opened in 2010, it will never be rid of that new car smell.
The new park is far from the bandbox Rosenblatt was. Combine that with well-intentioned bat restrictions that ensure a No. 1 draft pick can’t brain the third baseman with one swing of aluminum, and the games are far more pitcher-centric than those at the old joint.
And that’s fine. Pitchers are people, too. But you get the sense there’s a decided lack of intimacy in the new place – games sound quieter on TV, anyway – and lacks a vibe that may be gone forever.
I’ll probably get around to checking it out one of these years. At the very least, the baseball and the barbecue are still bound to be very good.
Meanwhile, here are five other parks that I’ll regrettably never see:
1. Tiger Stadium: Just looks incredible, doesn’t it? It always seemed like sitting in the second level behind home would make you feel like you were fairly hovering above the plate. Those steep outfield seats looked pretty cool, too, especially if Reggie Jackson was hitting one off a light tower.
Tiger Stadium was home to the Detroit Tigers from 1912-1999. (Photo: PAUL SANCYA, Associated Press)
2. Memorial Stadium: Baltimore’s old yard is steeped in so much history, from Johnny U. to Robinsons both Brooks and Frank all the way through the bulk of The Streak and the early years of the Ravens. Camden Yards set the tone for modern stadia, but the placement of Memorial in the heart of the Waverly neighborhood – a traffic nuisance, but also undeniably immersing arriving fans with the natives – and its sharply curved left field corner always seemed so inviting.
Late Orioles super fan "Wild Bill" Hagy at Memorial Stadium during a 1978 Orioles game. Memorial Stadium was home to the Baltimore Orioles from 1954-1991. (Photo: AP)
3. The Kingdome: This is where we enter the confessional and profess our love for domed stadiums. Hey, don’t knock ‘em til you try it. (Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays' Tropicana Field is a fantastic, if inconvenient, place to watch a game.) Everything’s amplified, from the crack of a bat to the shtick of a boisterous public-address announcement. And Seattle’s Kingdome just seemed hella loud – whether it was Ken Griffey Jr. and the ’95 Mariners’ amazing escape to the Jim Zorn-led Seahawks of the '70s and ‘80s. Bo Jackson trucked Brian Bosworth here. That qualifies it as holy ground.
The Kingdome was home to the Seattle Mariners from 1977-1999. (Photo: RICHARD DOWNEY, Associated Press)
4. County Stadium: The name seemed to say it all – this wasn’t a massive, impersonal stadium, this was a place for the people. Miller Park is all right, and Brewers fans are among the most fervent in the game, but it also feels like playing in an airplane hangar. County Stadium always seemed like, well, a trip to the county fair. Can you smell bratwurst through a television? I believe you can.
County Stadium was home of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1970-2000. (Photo: DARREN HAUCK, Associated Press)
5. Riverfront Stadium: Had to put one of the 1960s' multi-purpose concrete tombs on here, right? Three Rivers and the Vet just looked miserable, impersonal and grim. Riverfront’s circular symmetry and its placement on the banks of the Ohio somehow seemed more inviting, even if it didn’t win any architectural awards. That Dave Parker and Johnny Bench and Tony Perez and Joe Morgan and Eric Davis and Icky Woods all called it home doesn’t hurt, either.
Riverfront Stadium was home to the Cincinnati Reds from 1970-2002. (Photo: AL BEHRMAN, Associated Press)
Sports video of the day
Baseball's draft was a five-round bummer, and the College World Series doesn't exist this year, but let's enjoy a guy who will probably make both events far better next year. Kumar Rocker should be blowing away batters in Omaha next week; as it is, he's probably just 12 months from becoming 2021's first overall draft pick.
Watch: Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker throws 19-strikeout no-hitter against Duke
What we're reading
Donald Trump: The president's latest criticism of NFL protests appears to be falling on deaf ears, Nancy Armour writes.
Texas A&M: QB Kellen Mond wants controversial statue removed.
MLB: Diamondbacks pitcher discusses experience with racism in baseball.
Colin Kaepernick: Chargers coach says QB on team's radar for potential workout list.
Kevin Love: NBA star is ESPN's Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner.
Kyler Murray: Cardinals QB says he will kneel for national anthem this NFL season.
EPL return: Players wear 'Black Lives Matter' kits, kneel at start of games.
Strom Thurmond: Ex-South Carolina stars join push to remove name of infamous senator from campus rec center.
Sports on TV
Baseball! KBO League: KT Wiz vs. SK Wyverns, 5:25 a.m., ESPN
Source: Read Full Article