The Best And Worst Stadiums In Baseball

By Editorial Staff
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The love a fan has for their favorite sport involves more than just the game, the players, or the stats. The venue in which it’s played contributes to the the excitement and overall enjoyment of the sport as well. For instance, a Roman gladiatorial battle could have easily taken place in a field somewhere, observed by an audience standing on the surrounding hills … but there would be an epic intensity to the same battle if it occurred in the Coliseum. THAT is the importance of venue in sports.

The baseball stadium issue has always bugged me. Unlike most other sports, baseball does not have rigid and constant guidelines as to the size and structure of the playing field. One park might have power alleys measuring 375 feet, while another might be 400 feet. This taints one of baseball’s most enduring offensive yardsticks – the home run. Are home runs by Babe Ruth and Sammy Sosa really equal considering that Sosa played in a tiny ballpark like Wrigley? What might Albert Pujols’ career home run totals look like if he played 81 games a year in a launching pad like Coors Field in Colorado?

The flip side of stadium uniqueness is that each stadium has its own positive and negative aspects, making it a great place to play baseball … or Hell on Earth. Let’s consider together the best and worst stadiums currently in use in major league baseball, and be ready to cast your votes for best and worst!

BEST STADIUM
For me, a stadium isn’t called “the best” simply because it’s old, historical, or fancy. For instance, Fenway Park in Boston certainly has tremendous history behind it as the oldest park in the major leagues, but obnoxious quirks like The Green Monster, the short left field fence, the ladder in fair territory, and the lack of view diminish it as the best stadium in baseball.

Some other parks dazzle with the newest amenities, but still don’t thrill entirely. For instance, Safeco Field in Seattle is high-tech, with its monstrous retractable roof and up-to-date technology, but the roof section is an eyesore and also a distraction as it looms over the field. PNC Park in Pittsburgh is also a modern wonder with a fabulous view for the 5,000 fans in the stands. But, like Fenway, PNC Park’s weird, asymmetrical playing field drop it a few points.

All things considered, I would pick a tie between Wrigley Field in Chicago and AT&T Park in San Fransisco. Wrigley is baseball’s second-oldest stadium, and therefore retains much of the old charm of baseball’s bygone era. However, unlike the older Fenway, Wrigley has solid (if smallish) dimensions and a clear view around the stadium. It also has a perfect view of the Chicago skyline. For day baseball, there isn’t a better place on Earth than Wrigley in the summertime.

As for AT&T Park, it is a newer throwback stadium designed to take advantage of San Fransisco’s incredible view of the bay. The field is mostly symmetrical and it has solid dimensions. Combined with the gorgeous weather of the area, AT&T Park is hard to beat.

As a tip of the hat to local flavor, I really do like the new Busch Stadium. It showcases the St. Louis skyline nicely, has reasonable dimensions, and nice wide concourses. I just really miss how loud old Busch would get during gametime due to having an enclosed wall. It’s just not the same.

Now it’s your turn … which stadium do you consider baseball’s finest? Vote below or leave your opinions in the comments section!

WORST STADIUM

Now that most of the older and uglier stadiums have been swept away by baseball’s ballpark-building hysteria, very few current stadiums can rightly be called terrible. Cankerous eyesores like the Metrodome, Kingdome, Shea Stadium, and the Astrodome are all thankfully demolished and forgotten.

However, one stadium stands out as the worst stadium currently in use in baseball – Minute Maid Park in Houston. It’s so bad that it almost makes me long for the hideous, wide-open blankness of the Astrodome. The field looks like a miniature golf course, with a flagpole sticking out of a hill in the middle of center field. Comparably bad is the left field line leading to the infamous Crawford boxes, which are so close to home plate that a ten year old girl could throw a ball into them. The field has peculiar and silly crevices and nooks in it that make even the most routine fly balls into the corners a nightmare. Of course that would be preferable to fielding deep fly balls in center, where one could suffer permanent injuries while running into a flagpole sticking out of a hill in the middle of center field. DUMB!

All of the ridiculous dimensional shenanigans could be forgiven (no, not really) if the rest of the stadium was worth a damn. Unfortunately, Minute Maid Park has a retractable roof that is apparently used only when it creates a tactical advantage for the home team (for instance, during playoff games). It also has a stupid train set that toots and wheels around the stadium after a home run, which is the single dumbest gimmick in all of sports. The entire stadium feels like it was designed for a special baseball episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse. It’s an abomination.

Whew … that felt good. Now, it’s your turn. What is your candidate for worst stadium?

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