Baseball

Wrigley Field vs. US Cellular: The Chicago Baseball Experience

Posted by Paul Caputo on April 14, 2014
Ballpark Visits, Baseball, Cubs, White Sox / 2 Comments

Wrigley

I recently had the opportunity to attend two baseball games in Chicago—one White Sox game and one Cubs game. When I tell most baseball fans about this experience, they ask, “How did you like Wrigley?” and I say, “I went to a White Sox game, too,” and they say, “Oh? Wrigley’s amazing, huh?” and then I say, “Do you want to hear about the White Sox?” And then their eyes turn to little spinning computer beach balls, as though they are trying to process something and it’s not working and I’m going to have to force quit and start the conversation over. And then they say, “Did you know you can see the game from the rooftops of the apartment buildings across the street from Wrigley?”

So I thought I’d offer this point-by-point comparison of the two stadiums and see which one is really better. The result may surprise you!

The Stadium
Wrigley Field, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is iconic. (Because I am a sentimental baseball fan and a blogger, I am required by law to use the word cathedral when writing about Wrigley: cathedral cathedral cathedral.) While Wrigley is a relatively comfortable place to watch a game, old ballparks offer certain challenges. When I asked an usher in the upper deck where the nearest men’s room was, he started with “Go down this ramp…” and ended with “It’s not as far as it sounds”—which means it was far. Still, it is one of the historic cathedrals (I told you) of baseball that all fans must see at least once, along with Fenway, Dodger Stadium (to a lesser extent), and before they tore it down and replaced it with an exact replica, Yankee Stadium.

US-CellularOn the other hand, US Cellular Field, which opened in 1991, was built in an architectural style called Soviet Prison Bauhaus. It’s blocky and gray, but functional. Even with wide concourses and bathrooms right there on the same level that you’re already on, it’s basically the last of the crappy old stadiums built immediately before the nice new ones starting with Camden Yards (1993) and Coors Field (1995).

Advantage: Wrigley.

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Boog Powell of the Beloit Snappers on his name, staying warm, life in the minors

Posted by Paul Caputo on April 09, 2014
Athletics, Baseball, Baseball (Minors), Video Interviews / No Comments

On a frigid opening day in southern Wisconsin, the Beloit Snappers (low-A, Oakland A’s) lost 5-1 to the Burlington Bees in front of a sparse crowd. In his first game with the Snappers after spending last season with the Vermont Lake Monsters, Herschel Mack “Boog” Powell IV went two for four and made a nice catch in centerfield—all before meeting the host family he’ll be living with this season. After the game, Powell spoke with me about his familiar name, how he stays warm in freezing weather, and life in the minor leagues.

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Opening Day in Beloit: Frigid Baseball, Lonely Turtles, and I Sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Posted by Paul Caputo on April 07, 2014
Athletics, Ballpark Visits, Baseball, Baseball (Minors) / No Comments

Snappers-opening-night

It was opening night for the low single-A Snappers of Beloit, Wisconsin, and in more ways than one, we were a long way from the bright lights and glamor of the team’s Major League affiliate, the Oakland A’s. The game had all the trappings of a great minor league experience—Snappy-Turtle-selfieI parked for free, the food was cheap, there were fun activities between innings, and I got a selfie with the team’s mascot, Snappy D. Turtle.

The players themselves—barely older than teenagers, if that—live with host families and travel by bus from game to game as they try to scrape and claw their way from the bottom of the minor league barrel. Between the cold weather and low-A ballplayers shaking off the early-season rust, it was not the crispest game I’ve ever seen. (Though it was not appreciably worse than the White Sox game I saw in Chicago the day before.)

The team announced a paid attendance of 282, but one Snappers employee in the press box did a rough head count and came up with a number closer to 75. At one point, an activity in which children were supposed to race around the bases between innings was scratched because, as the call came in over the radio in the press box, “we don’t have the demographic.” (That is, there were no kids there.)

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Your final 2014 MLB standings (courtesy of Las Vegas)

Posted by Paul Caputo on March 31, 2014
Baseball, Bloggers To Be Named Later / No Comments

od_white_2014For the third time this spring, it’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball! This is the first Opening Day this year to happen in the USA and with lots of teams playing on the same day, so it’s the one we choose to recognize. In years past, we’ve made predictions about what we thought was going to happen in the upcoming season, and we thought we might do something similar this season. The problem is, we’re terrible at predicting things.

So with that in mind, we decided to look at Las Vegas’s over/under win totals for each Major League team and project the final standings in each division, and by extension, the playoff teams from each league, as well your eventual World Series champion. It’s almost like we don’t have to play the season!

The problem is, if you add up the win totals for each team, you get 21 more wins than there are games in the season, so the final combined record of every MLB team, according to Vegas, will be 2,451-2,409, which is kind of impossible. So while the numbers below (taken from the Planet Hollywood sports book on March 29) don’t exactly add up (nor are they meant to), they give us a pretty good idea of what Vegas thinks is going to happen this season.

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The Story Behind the Portland Sea Dogs: Where Baseball Meets Nancy

Posted by Paul Caputo on March 24, 2014
Baseball, Baseball (Minors), Logos, Red Sox, Story Behind the Nickname / No Comments

SeaDogs

The Portland Sea Dogs, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2014, are among the most consistently popular teams in all of minor league baseball. They have been a fixture in New England since the 1993 expansion of Major League Baseball required the minor leagues to expand as well, first as the double-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins, and more recently with the Boston Red Sox. The design of their logo is the result of a simple equation that looks like this:

nancy

In case this visualization is not entirely self explanatory, I spoke with Chris Cameron, the team’s assistant general manager and director of media relations, who explained. “The logo’s actually created by Guy Gilchrist. He’s the guy who does the Nancy comic strip,” he said. “He told us he took the eyes from the old Chicago Bulls, and got the bat-in-the-mouth idea from the San Jose Sharks.” (See? Simple.)

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