Welcome back to Baseball Nation's series exploring which ballparks make home runs look better. At the risk of spoiling the surprise, today's ranking says something about all of us. It asks us a question.
Would you rather watch someone throw a can of soda into a waterfall, or into a bunch of rocks?
Well … shoot, when you put it like that … does the can of soda explode, or just get dented? Is this a trick question?
You don't have to answer right now. But think it over. The rankings:
15. Angel Stadium
It has a bunch of rocks.
Check that. Fake rocks.
You have to admire the fake rocks in a way. When Disney remodeled the place in 1997, someone fought for the fake rocks. How's about some sort of luxury boxes or conference rooms? No, fake rocks. A statue? Baseball's largest taco or burger stand? No, fake rocks. And that person won.
When it comes to home runs, that's probably a good thing:
The home run starts careening off crap and explosions go off. It's artificially magic in the best way. I wonder if they've thought of replacing all the seats with rocks.
I'd pay $5 extra for that, with every home run bouncing hither and thither like something out of a rogue game of Fireball lsland. The fake rocks are the best part, but the rest of the park is surprisingly solid, too. The non-rock parts of center are an aesthetic wonderland, and there's an upper deck in left that's reachable.
On the downside, here's one of my favorite home runs of the new millennium:
It would have been so much better with an upper deck. That was an ex-baseball, murdered and sent into the sky, and it came off one of the most electric young pitchers in postseason history. It landed in some seats. So it's a decidedly imperfect home-run park.
But, then again, I just watched about 26 different Mark Trumbo home runs. The park does him justice.
14. Kauffman Stadium
It has a waterfall.
That's not the only feature it has going for it. But it's certainly the waterfalliest. There's nothing about waterfalls and baseball that should go together. It's like peanut butter and sound financial advice. They don't detract from each other, but they shouldn't complement each other, really.
But danged if baseballs disappearing into bodies of water isn't just the coolest. Kauffman's been around since 1973, which means that if you're about 50 or under, your childhood included the magic of baseballs hit into a fountain. I don't know if I ever saw one as a kid, but I knew the possibility existed. It was like a combination of Arthurian legend and miniature golf.
Apart from that, though, there isn't a ton to sell Kauffman. The batter's eye is monstrous, and it can swallow up some of the better moonshots. Here's the longest homer of the year at Kauffman:
That's not offensive or anything, but it doesn't exactly add to the majesty of what should be a memorable home run.
Right field has a dreaded bullpen, though the high wall behind the bullpen is kind of nice, and it looks like there's a lot of breakable stuff back there. . It doesn't have an upper deck, really, but it does have plenty of things to clang off:
There's some sort of Budweiser patio, and the supports for the stadium lights are reachable. Those help make it a solid home-run park, for the most part. It's the waterfall that puts it in the top half, though. The water even helps Kauffman overcome the creepy scoreboard, which always looks to me like its going to conjure some sort of inter-dimensional being to control us all.
Brrr. That kept it out of the top third. But the waterfall, don't forget the waterfall.
13. Oakland Coliseum
This aggressive ranking might surprise you. You're thinking about sewage and Mt. Davis right now, with everything wrong about the ballpark bubbling up in your mind. But it does home runs exceptionally well. Here is a browser-crashing panorama of the stadium. From left to right, here's everything it does right for the home run:
1. Three decks. The upper upper deck is the cheese to the homer's chili. You can get by without it, but it usually makes things better.
2. Wide staircases. Balls tend to shoot off the concrete, leading to a scrum.
3. Tiered seating throughout the outfield. It adds to the spectacle of a dinger. Did it just get over the out-of-town scoreboard? Did it land in the seats? Did it land in the section behind the front section? Did it take out a luxury box?
4. Nooks and crannies. Look at the angles above the Xfinity sign, where baseballs can disappear entirely from view. That's not necessarily a great thing for every home run, but it makes for some good variety.
5. Wacky differences in wall height. The best homer parks have a tinge of is-it-or-isn't-it? in a spot or two around the park, but the Coliseum has it all over, especially in the power alleys. The difference between a double and a home run is little more than luck in parts around the outfield, with prominent angles built in, too.
6. Stuff above the batter's eye to look at. Not crucial, but nice.
7. Symmetry. Everything up there applies for lefties and righties alike.
Athletics Nation took a look at the longest homers at O.co since 2006, with special attention paid to Yoenis Cespedes, and for good reason. Here's the longest homer in Oakland in 2012:
That's a good one to show off what the Coliseum does well: It provides a good sense of scale for the longest homers.
With bonus Jeter face:
It's sad to revisit the park from before the Raiders moved back to Oakland, because it was a much better stadium for baseball. Adding the labyrinth of seats, boxes, and decks, though, made it a better ballpark for home runs, though.
Look at this nonsense:
If people in the outfield seats can turn around and wonder just where in the hell the ball went, it's probably a good home-run park.
Great moments in skypointing:
Yes, Pedro, that ball sure is in the air. That was hit to the least interesting part of the outfield, and it's still interesting. That's my argument for O.co, then.
Also, it's probably a good time to mention that Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout are freaks. This series probably should have been "Where Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout's home runs look the best." These might have been the top three stadiums with that criteria.
Finding where home runs look best