HOUSTON -: Overhead general view of Minute Maid Park during a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Used to be that stadiums were named for teams. Or for rich industrialists. Over time, something changed. Instead of naming the ballparks after rich industrialists, teams started naming them after companies owned by rich industrialists, so long as the companies were willing to pay.
These power rankings are based on the name of the ballpark or stadium that each team plays in. Rather than rank them all individually, they were all grouped into categories, and then those categories were ranked. Why? Because every other freaking stadium is named after a bank or insurance company. I'm not about to get in some debate over the merits of Comerica versus Chase Bank. Those internet bank-fanboy fights get nasty.
1. Chicago Cubs - Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field is the original corporate sponsorship. It was Cubs Park before William Wrigley, a chewing-gum magnate, bought the Cubs and named the park after himself and his company. The best part of that factoid is that I got to use "chewing gum magnate" in a sentence. I thought that was the pinnacle until I saw that Wrigley's Wikipedia page describes him as a "chewing gum industrialist," which is probably the coolest thing you could ever put on a business card. The "industrialist" part lets you know that he has more money than everyone else, but the "chewing gum" part makes him seem like a good-natured guy you'd like to hang out with. He probably has pockets full of the stuff.
2. Kansas City Royals - Kauffman Stadium
Kudos to the Royals for resisting the tacky temptation of going for the cash, and sticking with the name of a former owner throughout the years. When you have the luxury of a thriving shirsey pipeline, you can take those sorts of financial gambles.
3. Atlanta Braves - Turner Field
Again, it's great to have a stadium named after someone important to the franchise -- like, say, a former manager! -- but a poll in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution overwhelmingly favored Hank Aaron Stadium, which would have easily been the classiest, greatest name for any stadium in baseball. Mays Field. Ted Williams Park.
One of these days, a stadium will be named after a legendary player, and that will be a good day. Neifi Field at Coors Light Park. Make it happen, Baseball.
4. New York Yankees - Yankee Stadium
There's something so arrogant, so Yankees about this one. The team is all about using a laissez-faire economic system to its advantage, yet when it comes to the easiest cash call a team can make, they turn their noses. They just want the team name on the stadium. They don't need the meager offerings of an American Express.
You can hear an 80-year-old patriarch saying "We're the Yankees. Tradition ... doesn't have a price" with that same weird blue-blood, faux-British cadence that he might use to explain why you can't marry that waitress from the country club.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers - Dodger Stadium
Same as the Yankees, except I give them five weeks before they whore that name out for sweet, sweet cash. TMZ Stadium at Dodger Field is pretty much destiny at this point.
6. Washington Nationals - Nationals Park
I like the idea of a non-corporate name, but the Nationals don't have a tradition. Who do they think they are? Take the money and run. Get a sweet naming deal, and help pay for Jayson Werth from August 21 through September 12 of 2017. Other teams are kicking historical figures to the curb to sell out -- "Smell you later, Comiskey, you cheap *******!" -- yet the Nationals are pretending to remain pure? I don't buy it. In less than two years, this park will be C-SPAN3 Field. They're just biding their time.
Regions around the ballpark
Used to be that when you named a park, you'd take five seconds to think of a name:
"Got a fizzing idea for a stadium, Hoss. Gonna put it up in the Oak District."
"Sounds swell, Frankie. What'll you call it?"
"Was thinkin' Oak District Stadium."
"That's crazy enough to work, Frankie."
"They call it Oak District because of the trees you know."
Fenway gets a pass because that's how they did things back then. But Oriole Park at Camden Yards isn't even 20 years old. And it has that compound name because of a compromise -- there was a #teamoriolepark and a #teamcamdenyards, and they debated back and forth about which name was better. At no point did anyone step forward and stun the council meeting with "Boog Field," which obviously would have been chosen. What a shame.
Team name + location
9. Los Angeles Angels - Angel Stadium of Anaheim
10. Texas Rangers - Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
A little worse than the team-named stadium because of how clunky they are. Imagine planning a trip to Mets Field in Flushing. The city name seems like overkill. And I know it's a bit of a cliché to make fun of the Angels' team name, but ask yourself which one of these sentences makes you want to stab someone:
The Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley Field.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play at Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Yuck. Then add in that "The Los Angeles Angels" translates to "The The Angels Angels," and that second sentence is one that can cause riots in ESL classes across the country.
11. St. Louis Cardinals - Busch Stadium III
12. Colorado Rockies - Coors Field
13. Milwaukee Brewers - Miller Park
Suck it, Anti-Saloon League! These stadiums are named after beer, which should put them in the running for best stadium names ever. If there were an Anchor Steam Park, it would obviously take the top spot.
There's one problem, though. Remember The Matrix, when the camera pulls back to show how the machines harvest their energy from humans? I picture Anheiser-Busch, Coors, and Miller all having setups like that, except instead of vast fields of immobile humans, each one of them has a different Canseco on an exercise bike, with some sort of apparatus that collects the sweat that drips off, and that's how their beer is made. The internal development name of Michelob Ultra, for example, was "Mad Dog 40/40"
14. Tampa Bay Rays - Tropicana Field
15. Houston Astros - Minute Maid Park
The former is named after a Pepsi-owned company. The latter is named after a Coke-owned company. Forget the geographical interleague rivalries, Bud. These are two teams who really hate each other. Though considering where both teams are in the standings, it'd make more sense if Tampa Bay were repping Pepsi, and Houston were repping Diet Black Cherry Shasta.
In 2001, every player from both of these teams was on the juice. No, seriously. That wasn't supposed to be a pun. Every player. Especially Jose Vizcaino. That one home run wasn't going to hit itself. And to avoid lawsuits, I'll deftly note that I really am talking about juice -- like the kind made out of fruits and water -- and if you inferred anything else, that was your own fault.
16. Pittsburgh Pirates - PNC Park
17. Arizona Diamondbacks - Chase Field
18. Philadelphia Phillies - Citizens Bank Park
19. New York Mets - Citi Field
20. Detroit Tigers - Comerica Park
21. Florida Marlins - Sun Life Stadium
There's nothing better than watching a field filled with millionaires in a stadium named after the company that owns your mortgage or credit-card debt, which makes you think of your mortgage or credit-card debt, which makes you forget about the game and get lost in your own thoughts, which makes you depressed, lonely, and isolated, which is a problem until one of those millionaires bounces into a double play to upset you enough to forget your mortgage or credit-card debt. This is why baseball is beautiful and America's pastime.
22. Seattle Mariners - Safeco Field
23. Cleveland Indians - Progressive Field
24. Cincinnati Reds - Great American Ball Park
I can't make fun of these too much because a) insurance companies aren't funny, and b) insurance companies aren't funny. And it should be noted that there were a ton of people who had never heard of Safeco before that company bought the naming rights to the Mariners' ballpark, which is the point behind corporate sponsorships in the first place.
25. Toronto Blue Jays - Rogers Centre
They just couldn't call it "park," "stadium," or "field." They had to make it a name that rubbed its obnoxious Canadianess in our face. Centre? Oooh la la, you exotic, interesting people, you. I'm sure that when Jose Baustita is practising in a skilful display for you, you all say he's earning his cheques. This sort of thing makes me wonder just how similar Canada really is to the United States. The next thing you'll tell me is that they put women on their paper money.
26. Chicago White Sox - U.S. Cellular Field
It's usually in bad taste to replace the name of a stadium if it's named after a person, but if Charles Comiskey would have thought to sell a park's name, he would have. He would have let a place named Abraham Lincoln Field become Kellogg's Anti-Masturbatory Graham Cracker Field if it meant a few bucks, so there shouldn't be a problem with his name giving way to a phone company.
27. San Francisco Giants - AT&T Park
AT&T Park? Boy, I bet that's the kind of park where the visiting teams get a crappy reception.
28. Minnesota Twins - Target Field
This is one of those corporate names that sounds innocuous, like Great American Ball Park. You can almost trick yourself into thinking there's a different reason for the name, like the land on which the stadium was built was where Saxton Pope learned the ways of Yahi archery, preserving the ways and history of a fading tribe. Thus, Target Field.
But then you remember that you need to pick up toilet paper, sweatshirts, and car batteries on your way home, and you don't want to stop at three different stores. Thus, Target Field.
The stadium is named after the animal and pet supplies retailer PETCO, which is based in San Diego and paid for the naming rights. Since the retailer spells its name in all capital letters, the ballpark name is in all caps as well. It is affectionately nicknamed "The Litter Box."
PETCO paid $60M for the naming rights to a stadium that's affectionately nicknamed "The Litter Box," which is more than Tony Gwynn made over his entire career. Of course,has made more money over the past four years than Gwynn made over his career, so I'm not sure how profound that factoid is. But it's certainly annoying. If this were a just universe, Rowand would pay for the naming rights to Tony Gwynn Park even though he has nothing to do with the Padres, and PETCO would pay Rowand in kibble and squeaky toys.
Technology companies with stock that is probably worthless (though I'm not going to make the effort to look it up)
30. Oakland Athletics - Overstock.com Park
Everything wrong with naming rights, encapsulated with one stadium. Is it clunky to say? Check. Is it a name that seems out of place in every era other than the late-'90s, when the naming-rights craze was at its tech-fueled peak? Check.
There is good news, though. Here are some of the things you can buy at O.co:
- Tarps, if you need to cover the occasional 20,000 seats at your house
- All sorts of fans that can be delivered right to your doorstep if you're having trouble finding some on your own
- A bunch of different glass pitchers in case the ones you have suddenly break.
A useful place, this O.co. I never would have known, if they didn't pay offfor the rights to name the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Power Rankings of Yesteryear:
7/5 - Mascots
6/27 - Promotional giveaways
6/21 - Health inspection reports
6/13 - Random ex-major leaguers in minor-league system
6/6 - Awesome names in draft history
5/31 - Team logos
5/24 - Annoying people
5/17 - Song titles
5/10 - Hair metal bands
5/3 - Sitcom locations
4/24 - Team names