Sunday, August 12, 2012

Active MLB Park #26: Marlins Park

In my unending quest to do everything... everywhere... I am working my way through all 32 active MLB parks, enjoying a ballgame and stadium concession offerings. Baseball has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember, having played when I was younger and continuing with amateur ball in Gainesville, Austin, and Orlando. Most of my trips involve baseball to some extent (see my two-week road trip from a couple weeks ago as an example), and I slip references of it into most of my fiction. It plays a not insignificant role in my novel, Number 181.

I soon found that my random treks to the stadiums that work and personal travel placed me near was adding up to quite the tally, so I took it upon myself to hit all the active parks in Major League Baseball. It's been a great ride given that it's led to me visiting a couple cities I wouldn't normally have taken the time to stop in (I would have avoided the Ballpark at Arlington, for instance, due to my general disgust with Dallas-Fort Worth). The plan was to hit 5-7 parks a year, but this has made for some re-visits given the trend toward building new parks that has flourished in recent years (AT&T Park, Citi Field, Turner Field, Target Field... Marlins Park).

I'm over 32 parks now. Unfortunately, it's not the ACTIVE 32. Well, I crossed off Marlins Park this weekend thanks to the Dodgers yearly visit. It's a shame that Dem Bums only visited for one, 3-game set this year. Being so far from Dodger games is frustrating. The off-year trips to Tampa Bay are few and far between, but I'm hoping the league reorganization that leads to more inter-league play will result in more LA-TB games on the bay.

But, as to Marlins Park, major props to the city for the retractable roof. Evening monsoons are quite common in Florida this time of year, and last night was no different. Thankfully, it was a cool, dry 80 degrees inside the dome. Very nice. The stadium is laid out nicely, and I love that they use real grass. Turf, even the new stuff, is horrible to play on. It just feels wrong.

Batting Practice at Marlins park

Speaking of wrong, I'm going to go off page here a bit and repeat an oft-discussed irritation I have. Full length baseball pants. It used to be that nearly everyone wore the 3/4 pants and flashed stirrups or stirrup-socks. That's extremely rare now, and it sucks. The long pants look horrible, and I'm convinced their parachute-like qualities slow down runners. I blame Manny Ramirez... a detestable man (who played for my Dodgers for a time... and played reasonably well) whose attire put fans more in the mind of MC Hammer than a baseball player. The guy looked like a flying squirrel in those pants. I believe they were 5 sizes too big... maybe to allow room for rapid growth due to performance-enhancing drugs...

Anyway... Marlins Park. Well laid out... nice fans... everything is in Spanish. Not as a second language... it's literally in Spanish. Fortunately, 80% of my teammates are Hispanic, and I've picked up the baseball slang. Still... it was off-putting.

But, the food... my God the food. Hands down, Marlins Park has the best food in Maor League Baseball. The Taste of Miami area behind the left field bleachers may be the best food in all of Miami. Get a pork sandwich and thank me later. The selection (though expensive) is great. I ended up grabbing a hamburger after that.. just to gauge how they do with the more common ballpark fare... and it was amazing. Topped it off with a soft pretzel that was excellent (and second only to the Wetzel's Pretzel at Dodger Stadium), and you've got a nice showing of all the major ballpark food groups.

Go for the food. Stay for the baseball.

All in all, a great experience. Marlins Park wins the #1 spot for food, but it doesn't do quite enough to crack the top 3 of the parks I've visited. The weather (even in the dome) may have contributed to that given that the city skyline in the distance was clouded over. Regardless, the top three still sit as this:

1. Fenway Park - Boston Red Sox
2. PNC Park - Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Progressive Field - Cleveland Indians

I've still got one more park lined up to visit this year, but the list of those left is getting shorter and shorter.

Petco Park - San Diego Padres
Chase Field - Arizona Diamondbacks
Miller Park - Milwaukee Brewers
Comerica Field - Detroit Tigers
Citi Field - New York Mets (soon.....)
Yankee Stadium - New York Yankees

Best Blogger Tips

No comments:

Post a Comment