Welcome back to our second installment of rankings to see which parks make home runs look better. Unfortunately, you caught us in the doldrums of the rankings. These three parks are the just there parks. I'm not sure if I've thought of these parks when I'm not watching a game in them. There's a decent chance one of them doesn't actually exist without baseball. It's just an empty lot in the back of a Narnian wardrobe right now, waiting for us to show up again in March.
Sorry about this installment. There's just no way to sex these three parks up. To make up for it, here's a video of a dog looking to poop on a minor-league field, set to "Yakity Sax."
To the top of the bottom tier!
27. Turner Field
Can't wait until they tear this relic down, let me tell you.
Not really. I don't know the ins and outs of Atlanta's demographics, traffic, or neighborhoods, so I probably shouldn't weigh in on whether the new park makes financial sense for the Braves or the surrounding area. But I always thought Turner Field was a fine enough park, and I was surprised by the news of its impending demise.
It is pretty sub-standard for dingers, though. This is the Home that Aaron Kind of Built, people. Let's make the next one something with old buildings beyond right field and a corn maze beyond left. It's going into the corn maze! It's going over the corn maze! Think of the excitement.
As is, there are seats. The home runs go into the seats. I guess there's an upper deck, but if this homer doesn't make it …
… I'm not sure if you can count it as a home-run attraction. Lucky for me, other people have done my research for me. Here's Hardball Times talking to the creator of Hit Tracker Online about various dinger-related things:
Jeff Francoeur (hit a ball) 463 feet to left center field at Turner Field on April 30. The announcers said nothing about how far it went, I doubt they realized; on the same day Giambi hit a 387 foot homer off the facing of the upper deck in Yankee stadium that had the TV crew there in an uproar.
Perfect description of what makes a dinger park dingery, and what makes Turner Field merely functional. Baseball Nation author Larry Granillo, then of Baseball Prospectus, came to a similar conclusion about Turner Field and Justin Upton:
Maybe it's just me, but I would never have chosen the Turner Field blast as the longest of the three home runs. There's something about the way Upton reacts to the hit and how it doesn't seem to land too deep into the bleachers that fools me into placing it into the "nice, but nothing to write home about" category of home runs.
Putting it #27 might have been too generous. Maybe they can put some catwalks up.
26. Dodger Stadium
When I started this project, the first step was to get a spreadsheet going of all 30 ballparks. They were in alphabetical order. Then I did a rough ranking based on my preconceptions. Dodger Stadium was in the top half.
The next step was to watch at least 30 homers or so from last season. I'd google "(stadium name) upper deck" and "(stadium name) out of the stadium" to see if I was missing some sort of life-altering homer. Then I'd adjust the rankings. Some parks surprised me, and they moved up.
Dodger Stadium kept moving down. And down. And down. There's just no there there.
It should be pointed out that there's a huge gulf between Turner Field and the rest of the list. Dodger Stadium is the start of the ballparks with some notably cool homer-related features. For example, here are some things I really like about Dodger Stadium's home-run aesthetics:
- The lack of an upper deck. I know that seems weird, considering the other rankings in this series, but I'm talking about the complete lack of anything above the left- and right-field bleachers. The night makes for a cool backdrop for homers, and Dodger Stadium allows for that more than any other stadium. The camera often follows the white ball as it sails into the black nothingness, and that's a good thing.
- The chest-high walls at the corners. I'm a sucker for understated ballpark quirks that allow for unlikely home runs.Occasionally, a ball will squirt over the fence if it's low enough. That's always surprising, and surprising homers are a good thing, in moderation.
- Apparently, it's possible to hit one completely out of the stadium. Willie Stargell did it, though no video exists. Just the potential is cool.
That's it. There's no upper deck, no Dodger Duck sliding into Home Run Pond, no historic buildings around the perimeter, no frills. It's kind of refreshing, in a way. But here's the longest homer of the year at Dodger Stadium, which was Yasiel Puig's first:
Halfway up the bleachers. Here's one that qualifies as an exciting upper-deck home run:
It's not that exciting of an upper-deck home run, especially considering Kyle Blanks is the largest human being alive.
Dodger Stadium didn't near at the bottom of the list. After watching dinger after dinger, though, it slid down through little fault of its own. It's a tough ranking.
Edit: I missed this.
Does that mean Dodger Stadium was treated unfairly? Probably. But the thing about that is
25. Busch Stadium
There's an odd dynamic, here. If I ranked all parks on how much I enjoyed them on television, Busch is #1 because of the center-field camera. I can't get on board with the homers, though, which speaks to how much I love that camera.
Problem #1 with Busch and homers: absolute bombs to center land in a grassy area, and security prevents ruffians from fighting over the ball. Here's the longest homer at Busch last year:
Lands softly in a meadow, where an earnest team employee picks it up, denying us the potential bloodshed we've earned.
Problem #2 with Busch and homers: There's an upper deck in right, but homers there are rare. The homers to right-center tease you, with the ball getting close to graduated levels of seats that are like fake upper decks:
The thing that keeps Busch out of the cellar? Big Mac Land. Named for Royals swingman Mac Suzuki, the upper-deck area gives the park an is-it-or-isn't-it factor that isn't common with other parks. Here's Albert Pujols getting there:
It's the red rose in a black-and-white picture, that deck. It's also a third deck -- an upper upper deck. Those get bonus points. If only it were just a little bit longer ...
I'd also like to think the area was made from an unholy combination of seats and seat-related byproducts collected from all over the park and reinforced with unnatural building materials. Does that joke allude to Fast Food Nation, or does it allude to Game of Shadows? Probably.
Finding where home runs look best