Saturday, July 14, 2007

Day 21: Citizens Bank Park

All photos of Citizens Bank Park available on Flickr.

We left New York City a little after 11 and unfortunately hit our 2nd consecutive day of crazy traffic. What was supposed to be a 2-hour drive ended up taking over three thanks to the New Jersey Turnpike. Every single time I have been on I-95, I have experienced delays, so I guess I should have expected it. This gave us only about 25 minutes to fundraise, and we made around $20. The game ended up surprisingly being a sellout, so we had no choice but to purchase $50 seats behind homeplate, since that was all that was left. It was nice to have such nice seats for a nationally televised game, so it wasn't all bad.

Erik and I had both been to Philadelphia in 2005 to watch the Brewers take on the Phillies, and the park was exactly how we remembered it - great food, reasonable prices, horrible fans. Philadelphians are known nationwide for being the worst fans in sports. The worst part is perhaps that they full well know their reputation and choose not to care; in fact, there was a widely publicized event 40 years ago in which a crowd of raging Eagles fans booed Santa Claus while pelting him with snow and ice at halftime. This aside, the game was actually quite enjoyable; I even enjoyed booing Pat Burrell along with the crowd since I have no idea how he's remained in baseball all these years. Burrell obviously was on a mission this day to prove us wrong however, as he was 3-3 with 4 RBI. Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Aaron Rowand also all homered in the 10-4 win, and my favorite player Chase Utley went 2-5. Cy Young candidate Cole Hamels gave up 4 over 7. We were actually secretly rooting against the Phillies, as I am sure a lot of fans were, because with their next loss, the Phils will become the first sports franchise in history to lose 10,000 games.

Once you've seen one retro stadium, you've seen them all. Aside from PNC Park, most are all incredibly similar - Camden, Comerica, Citizens Bank, Coors, etc. It does have its unique points though. There's Ashburn Alley in center field that has food stands, statues, a Phillies history wall, retired numbers, and a standing only/bleachers area further back. The bullpens are cool too; they are stacked one above each other, so visiting relievers actually have to walk down a flight of stairs to get onto the field. There is a large Liberty Bell that lights up and "rings" during homeruns, which is remnant from the Vet. The food in this park is outstanding too, with the cream of the crop of course being the Philly Cheese Steak. If you go to Philadelphia and/or this park, make sure you go to Tony's and not the other "imposter" stands, and a real cheese steak is just steak, Cheez Whiz, and fried onions - nothing more, nothing less. With a cheese steak in hand, a Miller Lite, outstanding seats on another gorgeous day, and rocking my newly acquired Chase Utley jersey, there really wasn't much more I could ask for on another great day.

As always, we wish there was more time available to spend in the city, but at least we had been here before and knew what Philly had to offer. Tomorrow it is off to Baltimore to watch the O's at Camden Yards! Up until I visited Fenway, this had long been my favorite ballpark, and I am looking forward to revisiting it and downing some Maryland crab cakes.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 7
views from park - 7 (can see Philadelphia skyline, but only from upper deck)
view to field - 8 (not many bad seats)
surrounding area - 2
food variety - 9
nachos - 6
beer - 7 (decent variety and price, souvenir bottles)
vendor price - 6 (cheese steak was expensive, everything else is okay)
ticket price - 6 (ours were expensive, most are good)
atmosphere - 8 (sellout for FOX game)
walk to park - 2 (park is way out of the city)
parking price/proximity - 9 (across the street, only $10)
concourses - 9
team shop - 8 (several mid-sized ones spread out instead of one large one)

best food - Philly cheese steak from Tony's
most unique stadium feature - Liberty Bell
best jumbotron feature - Turkey Hill ice cream shuffle
best between-inning feature - Philly Fanatic pulls a security guard's pants down while rocking out to "Johnny B. Goode" on a play guitar

field dimensions - 328/401/336
starters - Mike Maroth (STL) v. Cole Hamels (PHI)
opponent - St. Louis Cardinals
time of game - 2:50
attendance - 45050
score - 10-4 W
Brewers score that day - 2-1 W

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