Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tour 2009: KeySpan Park

All photos of Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island day 2, and Keyspan Park available on Flickr.

Thursday brought Erik and I into the minor league leg of our trip, as we will be taking in a couple of New York-Penn League games before we head home. The big, fancy new ballparks were great, but Erik and I jumped at the opportunity to see the Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees while we were out here, because nothing beats minor league baseball.

Before the game, we did some sightseeing around Brooklyn. We decided to ride the #2 express train to City Hall around noon and walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's certainly not the biggest, or longest, or first suspension bridge ever built, which doesn't really fit with our M.O., but it's definitely the most beautiful in my mind. Walking the mile to Brooklyn, we had a great view of the financial district in lower Manhattan, the Manhattan Bridge, Governor's Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Arriving on the Brooklyn side, we walked past the Watchtower building, which is the Jehovas' Witness publication headquarters, and Walt Whitman Park before stopping to eat at a local diner. After lunch, we then took a couple more trains back to Coney Island to cross another tour staple off the list - swim in nearby river/lake/ocean. In this case, it was the Atlantic ocean, off the southern tip of Brooklyn, and naturally we picked the coldest and cloudiest day so far of the trip to go swimming. We waded around chest-deep for about ten minutes before succombing to the cold water and putting warm clothes back on. After "swimming," we concluded our pre-ball activities with another stop at Nathan's for a dog and some 42-oz souvenir brews. It was the first chance we've really had to just to sit for a couple hours and relax on the trip, and it was great.

After working up a good buzz, we walked the couple blocks down the boardwalk to KeySpan Park, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, the short-season A affiliate of the Mets since 2001. From the outside it looked to be nothing special apart from a couple plaques and statues, but the inside provided one of the better ballpark views we've seen. The ballpark is a stone's throw from the beach we were at earlier, and you can see the Atlantic unobstructed from the concourse, as well as the Cyclone coaster and the rest of Coney Island. The decor around the park is meant to play off the Coney Island motif, with overhangs mimicing the style and color of the boardwalk's, carnival-style multi-colored flourescent lighting above the concourse and on the light towers, and a cardboard construction of a rollercoaster attached to the scoreboard to add some unique flare. The seating setup there is your standard minor-league design, with a seating bowl, a small section of outfield bleachers, and some suites and press boxes in a 2nd deck behind home plate.

The bad part about being so close to the ocean was that there was a cold, howling wind blowing in all night, which was part of the reason the game ended in a 1-0, 16-inning loss for the Cyclones. It was a pitcher's duel in every sense of the word, as very few balls were hit out of the infield, and only about a half-dozen combined runners advanced into scoring position. Before Mike Lynn lost the game in the 16th on a basehit to right-center by Arthur Bonevacia, a total of 8 pitchers from both teams combined for 24 strikeouts over 15 1/2 scoreless innings. We continuously moved around to keep warm and try to maximize our opportunities for catching foul balls. After our 4th marathon game in 5 days, we had another dog at Nathan's next door since the concession stands all closed in the 9th, and we took another long subway ride home for the night. Tomorrow we our spending our last full day in New York in its fifth and final borough, Staten Island.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 6 (pretty nice on the inside)
views from park - 8 (Atlantic Ocean, Coney Island)
view to field - 10
surrounding area - 7 (beach, Coney Island)
food variety - 3 (mostly dogs)
nachos - 4 (standard)
beer - 4 (pretty pricy for A-ball, only 3 kinds)
vendor price - 5
ticket price - 4 ($12 for seats half-way up 3B line)
atmosphere - 3 (scoreless tie through 15 doesn't help this category)
walk to park - 9
parking proximity - n/a (subway $2.25)
concourses - 6 (good view out)
team shop - 9 (two stories)

best food - corn dog
most unique stadium feature - scoreboard
best jumbotron feature - Tom Hanks/League of their Own, Leslie Nielsen/Naked Gun strikeout videos
best between-inning feature - Nathan's hot dog race

field dimensions - 315/412/325
starters - Kenny Moreland (ABD) v. Darin Gorski (BRK)
opponent - Aberdeen Ironbirds
time of game - 3:58
attendance - 5041
score - 1-0 L
Brewers score that day - 5-1 L

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