Saturday, September 08, 2007

Before I get into the review of Citizens Bank Park, I want to thank Bismo for inviting me to the Samuel Adams brewery. Bismo won a NESN contest and the prize was a tour of the Brewery for four, plus dinner in one of the tasting rooms. They set up a big screen TV so we could watch the Sox game and they kept us well fed. Oh, there was beer, too! So, thanks again, Bis.

I had been to Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia a couple of times, and it was one of the three worst major league ballparks I had ever visited, with Shea Stadium and Olympic Stadium in Montreal being the other two. Lousy sightlines, no character, artificial turf; the Vet exemplified everything that was bad about '70s ballpark architecture. I was looking forward to a major upgrade at the new Citizens Bank Park.

The first thing you notice about Citizens Bank Park is the location. It's in the same area as the Eagles Lincoln Financial Field and the Wachovia Center, home of the Flyers and 76ers. The three facilities share parking, public transit and other infrastructure. They are also virtually at the intersection of two major highways, I-95 and I-76. While it lacks the downtown feel of Camden Yards or PNC Park in Pittsburgh, the setup does make it pretty easy to park and to get in and out.

The ballpark itself has most of the standard amenities of the post-Camden Yards era parks. Wide concourses, ample concessions and restroom facilities, a kids play area and wide, comfortable seats with plenty of legroom. A. commented that it was very similar to Safeco Field in Seattle, which we visited two years ago (except for the retratable roof, of course). Our box seats on the third base side even included cupholders!

Food choices were plentiful, although I went with a hot dog as I always do when visiting a new ballpark for the first time. The franks were excellent, as good as any ballpark dog I have had. I was very impressed with the beer selection, as they had a nice selection of craft brews to go with the usual Bud/Miller/Coors junk. They even had one of my favorites, the Copper Ale from Vermont's Otter Creek Brewing.

Game information was provided by the standard giant scoreboard you find in most of these new stadiums. The jumbotron had an outstanding picture. One thing I really liked was that the outfield walls were lined with out-of-town score information that even included a diamond that told you how many outs and how many men were on base in the other games, so I was kind of able to follow the Sox game that night.

The game itself, well, wasn't as good as we might have hoped. The pitching matchup was interesting enough, with future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux going for the San Diego Padres against another old guy, Jamie Moyer for the Phils. Unfortunately, Moyer didn't really have it, as he gave up six runs in the fifth inning and the Padres ended up winning 14-3. The Padres offsense was paced by a pair of home runs by Milton Bradley who had six RBI.

There were two interesting bits to the game, however. We saw a bit of history as Maddux became the first pitcher in major league history to win at least 10 games in 20 straight seasons, breaking Cy Young's record of 19 consecutive seasons. I had never seen Maddux pitch in person before, so it was a big thrill to see one of the great pitchers of all time throw. He pitched quite well, giving up three runs on seven hits in seven innings. Maddux always seems to be three steps ahead of the batter, and it was great to see him live.

The other exciting moment was a bench clearing confrontation, sparked by a questionable slide by Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, as he barreled into San Diego second baseman Marcus Giles while trying to break up a double play. Giles didn't appreciate Ruiz's aggressiveness, and the benches emptied while the two exchanged words.

Citizens Bank Park gets a thumbs up, although it's not quite in my top rank of the new wave ballparks with Camden Yards and PNC Park. It's a nice place to watch a ballgame, though.


At 12:17 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I wasn't too sad to see the Vet go either, having been there quite a few times in my college days. I hear that the Food Network says that it has the best ballpark food in the Majors.

As for Maddux. I guess I'm spoiled living in the ATL all these years. I even got to see Smoltz win #200 (unfortunately is was against my Mets, but against Glavine).

Turner Field has a HUGE HD jumbotron that was installed last year. You can even see where the pitcher scuffs the ball (does anyone do that anymore?).

I'm saving my money to go to see CitiField when it opens in 2009. Should be nice, too.


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