It’s opening day in baseball.
Next week because, you know, America’s pastime doesn’t count when it opens in the future. Australia, Bud Selig? Really?! So, while the Dodgers and Diamondbacks enjoyed their non-existent, Down Under-field advantage, fans everywhere in the states are counting down the days (and counting out the dollars) to make pilgrimages to their respective temples.
For some, that journey means visiting one of the best places in the country to watch a game. For others, a swirl in their toilet bowls means enjoying the team, but wondering if the couch would be a better place (shout-out to Rays fans). And then, there are the unique few who get to enjoy a ballpark with some novelty, shtick and overall “what in the red, white and blue hell is that?”
For those fortunate fans, we have a new edition of “The Hit List“: The top eight most unique features in MLB ballparks today.
8. Yankees Museum (Yankees Stadium, New York). I’ve been to the original, and I’ll, admittedly, probably never go to the new Yankee Stadium because I enjoy having the use of both kidneys without selling one for a ticket. However, if I were to go, I would miss the game because Yankee Stadium is arguably better than Cooperstown. I’ve seen all 27 titles that are on display, along with every Hall of Famer who won them, as well as those who are memorialized in the new (off-the-field) Monument Park. A must-see for any baseball (and ballpark) homer.
7. Right-field pool (Chase Field, Arizona). You call the ticket desk for Diamondbacks baseball and get, “Will that be, lower deck, upper deck or the pool?” The mere thought of chilling out in a pool, in Phoenix, in that smoldering heat, makes baseball all the better. Add an adult beverage and I know some folk who will be all in. Other parks have fountains, but nothing says “baseball experience” like getting plunked by a fly ball while doing the backstroke. Sure, the nachos go flying in the deep end but imagine the cannonballs to catch that hit? Good times.
6. The Mile-High Club (Coors Field, Colorado). Sure, you can call it “Mile High Row,” but come on! I don’t even live in Denver, and I can just imagine the frat boys who get tickets at Coors Field, buy some drinky drink for a certain date and leave bragging about a conquest in the “Mile-High Club.” See that purple row? It is the 20th row in the upper deck, which is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. (That’s one mile to those who thought math classes sucked.) Sure, the air is think in this ballpark but imagine the kiss cams. Just added that to your bucket list, huh?
5. The roof (Safeco Field, Seattle). It is the most dynamic architectural feature in any U.S. ballpark. It’s not even really a roof in the normal sense. Mariners fans call it “an umbrella roof,” because even when the roof is “fully closed,” the stadium isn’t. To ballpark homers, it is just as beautiful as the Puget Sound horizon seen from left center. No claustrophobia. No elements. And on a good day, even good baseball. A real “open-air, closed-roof” ballpark. Safeco really is one of a kind. Someday, the Mariners can say that.
4. Fan-friendly seating (PNC Park, Pittsburgh). I love the upper deck of this ballpark. I’ve sat in it and never had an issue. If you have been to PNC Park, you understand the joke — there are only two levels, a first for all MLB ballparks. The architect of this amazing park must have never had a season ticket because every seat is catered for the fan. In fact, every single seat is only 88 feet from the field. Max! And they are even angled instead of seated straight. From the skyline to the ghost of Roberto Clemente hovering over the 21-feet-high bridge, it’s close to perfect.
3. McCovey Cove kayaking (AT&T Park, San Francisco). Who wants to sit in right field at this majestic ballpark? Everyone. And if you can’t get a seat, rent a kayak in the lovely McCovey Cove, just right over the wall. The views of people jumping ship for a roid run from Bonds are historic by now, but I’d like to think that’s because of the amazing design of this park resting on the waterfront. And yes, thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers, that is Godzilla’s rubber ducky — no photoshop. Wouldn’t you love to kayak on that day?
2. Green Monster seating (Fenway Park, Boston). Just seeing a baseball game in “Bahstan” should be on every ballpark homer bucket list, but to sit on the fabled Green Monster is a reason to go back. The park is a national landmark, so instead of going all Steinbrenner on the city, they just add more seats, including some atop the 37-feet-two-inch behemoth and greatest home-field advantage in baseball. And then there’s beer (if that’s your thing). Talk about a wicked awesome game.
1. Rooftop viewing (Wrigley Field, Chicago). Arguably better than sitting on a green monster in Boston would be sitting twice as high in Chicago. Bleachers on top of apartment buildings. We call this “entrepreneurship” in America, folks. Still on my bucket list, this is a weekend thing — two games among the Ivy, one game on the roof. I can’t imagine anyplace in baseball to watch a game that would be more baseball-centric and fan-pleasing than in the friendly confines that is literally “Holy Ground” (built on a seminary ground). Can’t get much better than that.