Magazine article Information Today

An Ode to Odious Ballparks

Magazine article Information Today

An Ode to Odious Ballparks

Article excerpt

There are few things in this wacky world of sports that evoke more lines of poetry than the homes of our baseball nines.

As the late, great George Carlin once observed, these venues even sound more inviting than the facilities for other sports: Baseball is played in a (read this word with a lilting tone in your voice) "park," while football is staged in a (this time, read the word as if you were one of the huckster lawyers on late-night infomercials) "stadium."

People don't rhapsodize about their basketball teams' arenas. Choice words are rare for the homes of our hockeyistas. For gosh sakes, we don't even break out into song about the facilities built for the Olympics (unless you count those grandly staged opening and closing ceremonies - but those are choreographed to within an inch of the volunteer/coerced participants' lives).

Waxing and Waning

Ah, but the ballpark is different. From historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to journalist George F Will, we have waxed (and sometimes waned) about the homes of the denizens of our Ex-National Pastime.

And then you actually go to one of these places, cram into a seat designed for the stately 5' 3", 126-pound man of today, pay $10 for a warm beer, and watch sometimes-indifferent performances by millionaires, and you turn into Tommy Craggs.

Craggs is a regular contributor to the sports site Deadspin.com. His most-notable contribution is a weekly feature called Why Your Stadium Sucks, in which "I (and maybe you, too, readers) detail the various reasons for hating your ballpark." And there are many reasons for this season's targets, which have included parks from Fenway to Petco Park.

They're not just random rants either. Craggs does a dandy job of digging up the dirt for these mostly taxpayer-financed palaces for the moneyed class. For example, he found that the Rangers ballpark in Arlington, Texas, was built following "a scandal, an unabashed land grab that lawsuits would later describe as 'sordid and shocking" and 'astounding, unprecedented and blatantly illegal.'"

He finds that Boston's Temple of the Sox, which may be the most crowded, uncomfortable park in the majors, was built on a landfill as a way to promote real estate development. Then, the site of Dodger Stadium was originally going to be public housing until a redbaiting mayor of Los Angeles killed the project and all but turned the land over to Walter OTVIalley for a handshake.

But as tough as Craggs is on the ballparks, the fans are even tougher. …

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