Saturday, October 4, 2014

Comerica Park vs Camden Yards

It's comical to read what some Detroit area scribes have to say about Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. They refer to it as a "band box" ballpark, like it's some kind of second class Little League facility. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Though now roughly 20 years old, Camden Yards remains one of the most beautiful -- and fan friendly venues in all of baseball. It's got something for everybody, and there's not a bad seat in the house. Though it's capacity is a modest 47000+, unlike Comerica Park in Detroit, there are no nose-bleed seats. The architects of Camden Yards took fan input into account before designing the stadium. Imagine that. The folks ponying up the big bucks for tickets wanted to be relatively close to the action -- and they got their wish. For the high rollers, there's over 4600 "club" seats and 72 luxury boxes available. To date, Camden Yards is still ranked #3 in all of baseball, as far as design, beauty, fan friendliness, and practicality. Comerica Park in Detroit, much newer, isn't even in the top 10.

But maybe by "band box", the scribes refer to the actual dimensions of the playing field. Well OK, overall, from left field foul pole, to left-center, to dead center, to right-center, to right field foul pole, Camden Yards is roughly 10 feet shorter. But it has higher outfield walls than Comerica Park. So it's pretty much a push when it comes to long balls.

What Detroit homers tend to forget is the original design of Comerica Park. Shortly after being built, it had to be reconfigured. That was because everybody, including the Tiger hitters themselves, were complaining about the ridiculous distance required to hit a home run to left field. Long shots that would be a home run in any other stadium would die and be caught in the original ill-configured dimensions of Comerica. So quietly, they moved the bullpens from the hinterlands of right-center field into left field, and brought the fence in accordingly to accomodate them. The powers that be in Detroit can be a little slow on the up-take at times, but credit to them for finally catching on to the obvious.

At that, Camden Yards got its name from an old railroad depot. Tradition runs deep in Baltimore. They can boast of Edgar Allen Poe, Francis Scott Key composing our national anthem, and some mighty fine crabcakes to this day. Good stuff.

Conversely, billionaire pizza man Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers, leaned on the tax payers to finance a new stadium for his club, then promptly sold the naming rights to a huge bank. Cha-ching. Tradition seems to run deep in Detroit as well. They can boast of Kwame Kilpatrick and the largest city bankrupty in US history.

So because the Orioles are one game away from brooming the Tigers out of the playoffs, perhaps the home town Detroit scribes are getting in their last licks. I smell sour grapes.

Band box indeed. Detroit can't even afford a band. They're broke -- remember?

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