Monday, April 05, 2004

Then and Now

A couple of weeks ago I posted my goodbye to Veteran's Stadium(crater, above left.) This past Saturday I had an opportunity to attend the first game at Citizen's Bank Park(oasis, above right) just across the street from where the Vet used to stand.

I prattled on about the Vet previously, but I wanted to share one other thing. They imploded it on a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago. The following morning on WXPN-FM they went on and on about the demise of the Vet (as was everyone in Philly) and then, with no introduction, they played Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell. If you know the song, then yes, you could consider it sappy and cliched. If you don't, check out the lyrics and you'll understand what they're doing with the crater. And what the Vet meant to a generation of Philadelphia sports fans.

Onto the new park, this past Saturday... My seats were in the second deck toward the left field corner (under the overhang), so I was unable to see (along with probably 15% of the total fans) the big video scoreboard beyond the left fiels wall. Another frustrating thing was that none of the other auxiliary scoreboards were working, so you couldn't see the batter, ball count or the score. It was an exhibition game, but still, I like to know the game situation and its difficult to keep track all the time when you have to keep buying beer. In defense of the Phils, they announced that things weren't quite finished as workers were up the entire previous night trying to get the Park ready.

Those are the only bad things I can say. The sightlines are amazing, even from the concession stands on the lower level, where you can get a pint of Yards while watching Placido Polanco work another 12 pitch at-bat. The field is what you'd expect from a regenerated old-school ballpark, the "angle" in the outfield will be good for at least three inside the park HRs this year and the out-of-town scoreboards over the RF wall also give a classic feel.

And, oh yes, the grass field. I can't tell you what the 2004 Phillies will accomplish, but I can tell you they probably won't do it with the stolen base. It's still nice to know we can tailor the field to our strengths. If we play all year with this line-up, we'll keep the grass short. But if Marlon Byrd and Polanco start to run a little we can grow the grass to slow the ball down and let our guys run wild. (The same will work in a post-season series.) It's nice to have options.

I don't know if this park will give us any special home-field advantage in a playoff series because of the open areas in CF and down the LF line, but I really hope we can find out soon. We have a new park to show off.

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