Friday, July 27, 2007

Day 34: Bricktown Ballpark

All photos of Oklahoma City and Bricktown Ballpark available on Flickr.

Today was another early start with a long drive. The day started with an oil change and tire rotation in Hunstville, Texas at 8 AM, which went smoothly. From Huntsville, we had about a 6 hour drive to Oklahoma City. We got there early enough that we had time to walk around the ballpark and check out some of the city. We first explored the area the ballpark was in, a neighborhood called Bricktown. It was a very cool little part of the city that featured tons of coffee shops, sports bars, restaurants, and night clubs. I also really wanted to see the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, and we drove there next. For many, this event is antiquated since the 9/11 tragedy, but the memorial is still very humbling and heavy. I'll leave any political or personal commentary on this memorial out of this blog, but it is definitely worth seeing for anyone in this area. Overall, Oklahoma City was way cooler than I expected, and I guarantee it is a much better city than most non-Southern people would have a mental image of, myself included. I don't know how I would feel about living in the Sun Belt, but OKC is definitely a very rapidly growing city that is moving in a positive direction, and has made many strides in the past 10 years. I was very impressed with what little we did get to see.

The ballpark is home to the Oklahoma Redhawks, the AAA affiliate of the Rangers, and it is pretty nice park aesthetically speaking. There are a few nuances I didn't care for, such as seating angles, no programs, and vending issues, but it certainly wasn't a bad experience. The outside and the concourses feature tributes to great Oklahoman athletes such as Johnny Bench, Paul Waner, Joe Carter, Jim Thorpe, and perhaps the most famous, Mickey Mantle. The Mick has a steakhouse across the street and a statue outside of the front gate, not to mention the street that the ballpark is on is named after him. Prices were very reasonable and the outfield lawn berms were a really nice touch and provided a nice area for kids to frolic around in. Of course, the ballpark is laden with ads (as most minor league parks are) and is now technically referred to as "AT&T Bricktown Ballpark," but it still has a very comfortable, community feel on the inside.

We found a good spot for fundraising across the street from this urban ballpark, right outside of what we determined was probably the Sonic Headquarters, but we only made $10. What ever happened to Southern Hospitality!? As for the game, it was rather close until reliever Ezequiel Astacio came in and surrendered seven runs on three tape-measure shots that pretty much put the game out of reach. The Redhawks mounted a small comeback in the 9th inning with a couple of RBI doubles and an RBI single by Ian Kinsler, who is on rehab assignment for the big club, but it was too little too late, as they ended up losing to Portland 12-4. The game was also a "Faith & Fireworks Friday." Alliteration is great and all, and I fully support spreading the word of God, but the 5-minute "rappin 'bout Christ" session we heard from an inspirational teen speaker after the game seemed to be out of place at the ballpark. The fireworks were also lackluster, but I suppose were the best we could expect for a homemade "Radio Flyer o' explosives" show.

After the game, we drove about 90 minutes east to Erik's friend's John's house in Tulsa, who actually met us at the game in OKC. After this blog and some laundry, it's up at the crack of dawn to head out to St. Louis for a doubleheader against the Crew!

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 5
views from park - 4
view to field - 5 (seats not angled properly)
surrounding area - 9 (Bricktown)
food variety - 7 (they have an awesome stand that features sausages from around the country)
nachos - 6 (decent taste, but cheese poured over chips instead of a dip cup)
beer - 6 (good price, no variety)
vendor price - 10
ticket price - 9 ($6 GA)
atmosphere - 4
walk to park - 7
parking price/proximity - 9 (2 blocks away on street for free)
concourses - 6
team shop - 6

best food - pizza
most unique stadium feature - statues outside park
best jumbotron feature - Jason Botts' profile picture as Chewbacca when batting
best between-inning feature - playing of Oklahoma! in 5th inning

field dimensions - 335/400/325
starters - Mark Thompson (POR) v. Mike Wood (OKC)
opponent - Portland Beavers
time of game - 3:07
attendance - 9635
score - 12-4 L
Brewers score that day - 12-2 W

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