Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Return to Davenport

All photos of Modern Woodmen Park available on Flickr.

My final game of the weekend brought me back to a familiar place - Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, Iowa.  I awoke to strong thunderstorms passing through the area, but by the time I got on the road it had cleared up.  I resisted every temptation to dominate the Waffle House next to my hotel (given what I ate last night) and hit the road around 8AM for the 4-hour drive.  It was a nice drive up Highway 67 through winding fields and towns with names like Industry and Preemption, culminating with my first time crossing the famed Centennial Bridge into Iowa.

There are many things I love about this park and many reasons I keep coming back.  I love the charm of the arched brick exterior and the way you ascend into the park as you would in many parks its age.  The view to the Mississippi River and aforementioned Centennial Bridge directly on the other side of the right field wall is unparalleled and one of the best views in all of baseball.  There are more concessions options than you can imagine, and they are all concentrated into one of the smaller more intimate concourses you'll find.  At most ballparks I am just looking for the first tasty food that catches my eye, but here at Mo Wood it literally took me three passes to even narrow it down to a stand.  Because of the park's low capacity (just over 4,000), noise and crowding are never an issue.  There are a lot of things for kids to do but the areas are well separated from the rest of the stadium.  Lastly, as an affiliate of the Twins, Cardinals, and Astros over the last 15 years, Quad Cities can always be expected to field a competitive team, including 2 league titles during that span.

My motivations for coming back to Davenport this particular time, much like my trip to Sauget, were primarily for reasons other than baseball.  Last year, the ownership group made a bold move by installing a one-of-a-kind attraction that cannot be found at any other ballpark in the world, at least that I know of - a Ferris wheel in left field.  At 110' feet tall, it's tall enough that you get great views of the city and the river, but not so tall that smaller children would be scared to ride (although, being my first time on a Ferris wheel, I will admit I was a little tense at first).  This ride is clearly meant for families and couples, but I paid my $5 and went anyways.  It was so cool and it gives you a very interesting perspective on the stadium you wouldn't be able to get otherwise unless you had a drone.  I got as many pictures as I could, but the wheel moved a lot faster than I expected, and I was paranoid about dropping my camera over the side.  I went before the game started and the line moved pretty fast, but I could see even well into the later innings the line to get on was packed.  This Ferris wheel, along with the tiki bar installed in right field a few years ago, gives Modern Woodmen Park something that a lot of ballparks strive for these days - use outside of a baseball game.  It also makes the view from the grandstand even more breathtaking, something I didn't think was possible.  If there is one stadium in America that is worthy of me trying to figure out the panorama feature on my iPhone camera, it would be this one.

Sunday's game was the last game of the first half before the All-Star Game in Peoria on Tuesday.  I did not stay the entire game, because it was really hot and I was exhausted and it was Father's Day, but it was a pitchers duel for the portion I did see.  Akeem Bostick's pitching line does not jump out at you - 5IP, 1ER, 3Ks - but he did it on only 59 pitches and did a good job of missing the barrel of the hitters' bats.  Jeremy Rhoades, on the other hand, labored for the visiting Bees, needing 51 pitches to get through 2 innings before being removed.  The first run of the game was a run-scoring GIDP in the top of the 5th, and Jason Martin returned the favor in the bottom half with a homerun.  It was 2-1 when I left in the 7th and looks like I did not miss much as the final was 3-1.  One interesting game note: Wayne Gretzky's son Trevor played left field for Burlington and had 2 of the team's 4 hits on the day.  He was drafted in 2011 by the Cubs, and Mike Scioscia traded his own son away for him last year.

This was my 5th overall visit to Mo Wood, formerly John O'Donnell Stadium, and I always look forward to coming back here.  It's probably the park I've visited the most excluding home cities and it remains one of my favorite stadiums, as well as consistently one of the top voted parks in the minor leagues.

park rankings and statistics
(see also previous posts from 8/28/07 and 5/20/09): 

aesthetics - 7
views from park – 10
view to field - 9
surrounding area – 5
food variety - improves to 10
nachos - 6
beer - improves to 8 (very affordable, souvenir cups, craft beer stand)

vendor price - 7
ticket price - improves to 8 ($6 GA)
atmosphere - improves to 7 (Ferris wheel is a big draw)
walk to park – 7
parking price/proximity - 10
concourses - 7
team shop - improves to 6 (new bobblehead museum inside)

best food – Bandit dog
most unique stadium feature – Ferris wheel
best jumbotron feature – commercials
best between-inning feature – kids are bungeed together and try to throw balls in buckets

field dimensions – 343/400/318
starters – Jeremy Rhoades (BUR) v. Akeem Bostick (QC)
opponent – Burlington Bees
time of game – 2:22
attendance – 4135
score – 3-1 W

Brewers score that day – 10-3 L

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