Friday, September 5, 2008
All photos from Portland are available of Flickr.
Last Friday brought me the opportunity to watch some more New England minor league ball. After clocking out for the day, I hit the road for the two hour drive to Portland, ME. New England is a popular tourist destination in the fall for big city residents looking to get out and see the leaves changing colors, and on my drive I could see why. The scenery is beautiful and even in late August there were quite a few trees that were already yellow, brown, and red.
I arrived in Portland shortly after the start of the game and parked in a nearby lot. The Portland Sea Dogs are the AA affiliate of the nearby Boston Red Sox and they do everything they can to play up this connection. The teams colors are the same, a switch from the early days of the Sea Dogs when they were are Marlins franchise and wore teal. The lettering and numbers on the jerseys are the same. In addition, at the team store, you can by t-shirt jerseys of many current Red Sox like Kevin Youkilus and Dustin Pedroia but instead of saying Red Sox on the front it says Sea Dogs. The Sea Dogs even have their own Green Monster, except they call it the Maine Monster. The one in Portland is five feet further away from the plate than the one at Fenway and is 80 feet shorter in lengther but is the same height and topped by the same Citgo sign and Coke bottles that sit on top of the wall in Boston.
The main structure of Hadlock Field features a concrete shell upon which aluminum bleachers have been place. This design makes the stadium very loud. For example, when an opposing hitter has two strikes on him, instead of doing the strike out clap, everyone stops their feet, building from a low rumble to a much louer one, distracting the batter. Also, in the middle of the 8th inning, the Sea Dogs play the ChaCha Slide over the PA system and everyone stomps on the bleachers in unison. Its quite the experience when you're in the mens room, barely able to hear the music, and all of a sudden the whole stadium erupts, BANG! BANG! In the outfield, near the foul pole, is a narrow section of steeply terraced boxes, toped by a giant LL Bean boot.
The game featured the lowly New Hampshire FisherCats, at the bottom of the Eastern League standings, and the Sea Dogs who were fighting for a playoff spot. Portland's starter Kris Johnson was looking pretty good for the first 4 innings but was surprisingly yanked with two outs in the 5th, having given up only two runs on five hits while also striking out 5. The FisherCats starter, Jo Matumoto did not fare as well. The Sea Dogs got on the board first with back to back doubles in the 2nd and DH Aaron Bates hit a three-run homer in the third to chase Matumoto. RF Jared Stanley also added a three-run shot in the fifth and the Sea Dogs bullpen shut down the FisherCats to earn the 9-2 victory.
park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 7
views from park - 4 (Portland municipal auditorium down the right field line, other than that cant see out)
view to field - 7
surrounding area - 6 (downtown Portland is quaint, but a little run down)
food variety - 6
nachos - n/a (i had to get a Sea Dogs helmet sundae)
beer - n/a
vendor price - 4 (pretty steep for a minor league park
ticket price - 6 ($7 GA)
atmosphere - 8 (Red Sox fans who cant make it down to Fenway)
walk to park - 5
parking price/proximity - 7 (surrounding streets for free if you get there early enough, otherwise $5 lots)
concourses - 5 (cant decide if i love the noise from stomping feet or hate it)
team shop - 9
most unique stadium feature - Maine Monster
starters - Jo Matumoto (NH) v. Kris Johnson (POR)
opponent - New Hampshire FisherCats
time of game - 3:12
attendance - 6923
score - 9-2 W
Brewers score that day - 3-1 W