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Ultimate ballpark guide: AL East

FOX Sports ULTIMATE BALLPARK GUIDE
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AL EAST | AL CENTRAL | AL WEST | NL EAST | NL CENTRAL | NL WEST

 

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

 

Ballpark

One of the main attractions in Baltimore is definitely the ballpark. Camden Yards really started the stadium renovation craze in the early 90’s and continues to rate very highly among today’s ballparks. The Eutaw Street corridor behind the right field wall (between the playing field and the B & O Warehouse building) is a famous area in town as fans can pass through it year-round for a glimpse of the stadium and the area is marked by small plates that mark the landing spot of home runs that leave the stadium.

EAT YOUR HEART OUT

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Fans

Baltimore Orioles fans are eternally optimistic through spring training, up until Opening Day. Every time the O’s start 1-0, fans think they’ll finish .500, but by the end of the first week, cruel reality sets in. Orioles fans will tell you that nothing is more depressing than seeing the Rays succeed, and worst of all, win a World Series. The fans are still waiting for Cal Ripken to buy the Orioles, and miss the days of Wild Bill Hagy, John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” 33rd Street, Memorial Stadium and most of all Earl Weaver.

Food

Don't miss the famous Maryland crab cakes at Camden Yards. One of the more popular places for a meal is Boog’s BBQ on Eutaw Street. Legendary Orioles first baseman Boog Powell started the restaurant in Maryland and it was such a hit he opened a stand at the ballpark. He still cooks the meat and will sign autographs upon request for those buying a meal (oh, and the food is incredible too).

Music and entertainment

Since 1979, the team mascot, Oriole Bird, has been entertaining fans of all ages at the park as well as making appearances throughout the region.

The recently renovated Kids Corner is located near Gate C and features entertainment for younger fans, including a moon bounce, speed pitch, climb and play area, a batting cage and more.

Fans who grow bored with the Orioles' losing ways, can explore the carnival-style attractions and concession areas located up and down Eutaw street.

Neighborhood

There are a few neighborhood bars outside the stadium that are usually full of fans before and after the game regardless of day of the week. The famous Baltimore Inner Harbor area is four blocks from the ballpark as well.

Vacation planner

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Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) is a $18 cab ride or $3 train ride directly to the front door of Camden Yards. For fans coming in from out of town, there are several hotels surrounding the ballpark, including a Hilton, a Hampton Inn, The Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel (the official hotel of the Baltimore Orioles), a Renaissance and a Marriott each within three or four blocks. While in Charm City, visit the Walters Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Fort McHenry National Monument, the USS Constellation or the National Aquarium.

Nearby MLB cities

For those wanting to see other parks while in the area, the Washington Nationals are 40 minutes away (straight south on Interstate 295) and the Phillies are North on Interstate 95 about 90 minutes. Fans planning trip to the region would be well served to check prices into BWI airport as it serves Southwest, AirTran, United and Delta, usually at very competitive rates.

 

BOSTON RED SOX

 

Ballpark

Baseball's most famous venue is also one of the best places to take in a game. The obvious comparison is to Wrigley. The neighborhood around Fenway isn't as cool, and — let's be honest — it's better to be surrounded by Midwesterners than East Coast types. But Fenway still has plenty of charm. The Green Monster, Pesky's Pole, the Citgo sign, the brick facade on Yawkey Way — there's plenty of character at Fenway. The Red Sox wrapped up 10 years and $285 million in improvements for the ballpark this offseason, unveiling HD video boards and a home plate concourse Wednesday that have the oldest ballpark in the major leagues looking like new in time for its 100th Opening Day.

CATHEDRALS OF THE GAME

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Fans

Red Sox fans live for one thing — to hate the Yankees. They love their Olde Towne heros — until they leave town (see Manny, Clemens, Damon, etc.) — in which case they become persona non grata. And whatever you do, don’t bring up Bill Buckner or Bucky #$%ing Dent. And if you want to find out if a Sawx fan has paid his dues or is a Johnny-come-lately, ask him who El Tiante was.

Food

With clam chowder vendors in the stands and concession stands that sell lobster roll, you don't have to go any farther than Fenway to experience the city's most famous culinary offerings. They've added sushi this year but if you opt for that over the more traditional fare, something's just fishy about that.

Music and entertainment

The organist began playing at Fenway Park for the 2003 season. The Red Sox play “Shipping Up to Boston” by the Drop Kick Murphys for closer Jonathan Papelbon’s entrance. It is very well received by BoSox fans, and they can often be seen doing Irish step dancing in the stands. The in-game entertainment is very classic and about the baseball game, much like Fenway Park. Fans at Fenway Park are given a great deal of statistical and educational information about the game. In addition, three new HD screen at the park have been added to display video features created by Red Sox Productions. The entertainment is a balanced mix of new technology blended with the historical and classic charm of the ballpark.

Neighborhood

The best places to watch the game include, but aren’t limited to, GameOn, Cask, Remy’s, Baseball Tavern, Boston Beer Works, Lansdowne Pub and Burton’s Bar and Grill. Another great spot is the Bleacher Bar, which features a large window that looks out onto centerfield. Patrons can watch the action live from the bar and take a peek inside Fenway on non game days.

HAVE A FIELD DAY

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Vacation planner

If you are planning a trip to Boston for a Red Sox game, you will most likely want to fly into Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). Logan Airport is approximately 20 minutes from ballpark. Less expensive alternative flights may fly into Manchester, NH or Providence, RI which are both approximately 45 minutes to one hour away from Fenway Park.

Fenway Park neighborhood is close to Hotel Buckminster and the Holiday Inn. Other choices are the Hotel Commonwealth or the Copley Marriot. Must-see Boston attractions include: The Freedom Trail, Boston Public Garden, Quincy Market, The Museum of Science, Sam Adams Brewery and the New England Aquarium. Stay awhile and visit the Boston Harbor Islands.

Nearby MLB cities

The Northeast is a haven for baseball, so avid fans can take their pick of parks to visit. New York is reachable within a day if you’d like to see Boston’s fiercest rival, the New York Yankees, or the New York Mets. Longer trips include journeys to Philadelphia (Phillies), Baltimore (Orioles), and Washington D.C. (Nationals).

Follow the Red Sox at NESN.com.

 

NEW YORK YANKEES

 

Ballpark

The new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009 with the aim of being the baseball cathedral. It was big in ambition and is big in scope. The sheer size of the place is overwhelming, with more than 500,000 square feet of space compared with the historic stadium. There is 31,000 square feet of space just between the stadium’s exterior wall and the interior of the stadium. It’s a grand entrance indeed. The architecture captures elements of the classic stadium (pre-1970s renovation), such as the frieze outlining the stadium bowl. Monument Park has been moved to the new stadium, which is fitting. For all this ballpark’s newness, the team’s history is ever-present.

Fans

This is where the Bronx cheer originated, so you better have a thick skin if you’re not wearing pinstripes — or even if you are, come to think of it. Just ask Ed Whitson, Randy Johnson or Carl Pavano. The fans have bought into the Steinbrenner standard of nothing less than a championship. But they’re loyal through and through to those who built the Yankee mystique. Doubt Yogi Berra has paid for a meal in the Bronx in half a century.

Food

There’s a Hard Rock Café and an upscale steakhouse at the stadium. Think Babe Ruth could have done some damage there? Just think if he had access to the Beers of the World concession stands found in nine different sections. No watered-down swill here. Yankee Stadium also has noodle stands, garlic fries, cheesesteaks and barbecue choices, in addition to the typical ballpark fare.

Music and entertainment

The annual old-timer’s game is a can’t miss. The 7th inning stretch also has become memorable with the renditions of “God Bless America.”

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Neighborhood

This Yankee Stadium is a neighborhood onto itself. Many fans go to and from games without venturing beyond the parking lot. That’s an outgrowth from the days of high crime and poverty in the South Bronx. The city has targeted the area for redevelopment, however. It’s not the gentrification seen in Harlem, but such places as the Gateway mall, which opened the same year as the new stadium, are indications of an economic turnaround in the area.

Vacation planner

Yeah, we know you’re going to be eyeing that Manhattan skyline. But the Bronx has its famous zoo and botanical gardens. The Bronx was home to the early rise of hip-hop, and you can take a Hip-hop Tour to learn about the musical genres pioneers and see where they lived and performed. Author Edgar Allan Poe lived in the Bronx from 1846-49, and his home has been restored and preserved as The Poe Cottage museum and park.

Nearby MLB cities

The Mets are across the water in Queens, a couple train rides away by land. A day-night opportunity comes as early as April 14, when the Mets host the Rockies at 1:10 p.m. ET and the Yankees host the Orioles at 7:05 p.m. Boston pretends it’s a world apart from the Bronx, but it’s certainly reachable in a day trip. Southbound trains will take you to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

 

TAMPA BAY RAYS

 

Ballpark

The highlight of Tropicana Field, or “the Trop”, is the Rays Touch Tank presented by the Florida Aquarium. There, fans are allowed to visit with live cownose rays. Food to give to the rays is available for purchase with all proceeds going to The Florida Aquarium and the Rays Baseball Foundation.

The Rays also have a 2011 Concert Series, where after select home games, typically on Saturday nights, the Rays will host several concerts that are included with ticket purchase. First on the lineup is Darius Rucker, formerly of Hootie and the Blowfish. He will perform after the Rays vs. Orioles game on May 14.

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Fans

I need more cowbell! Fans frequently bring cowbells to the stadium to ring when the team makes a good play. They also serve as a distraction for the visiting team. Once a year, the Rays hold a “Cowbell Night” to give away free cowbells.

Food

There is a new restaurant at Tropicana Field called Everglades BBQ Company, located in Center Field Street. Other local fare offered includes Cuban Sandwiches and Po’ Boy Sandwiches, along with the traditional ballpark eats.

Music and entertainment

Tampa Bay’s start third baseman Evan Longoria walks to the plate with “Down and Out” by Tantric.

Like many ballclubs, the Rays have their own sponsored mascot race. Fans can root for their favorite of three bottled drinks, Pepsi, Sierra Mist and Aquafina in a race on the field.

GIVEAWAY NIGHT

Sometimes when you go to a game, you get a free gift. See the best promos for the 2013 season.

Raymond, the official Rays mascot, can be seen around the stadium cheering on his favorite team. And lastly, there is DJ Kitty, a video used to pump up the crowd that has since gone viral on the web.

Neighborhood

Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill is probably the best-known neighborhood establishment for catching the game without a ticket. It’s located right across the street (1st Ave. South) from the ballpark.

Vacation planner

There are two major airports that service the area, Tampa International Airport (TPA) and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE). Those flying into Orlando (about two hours away from Tropicana Field) would opt for Orlando International Airport (MCO). South Florida is home to a bunch of great theme parks, including Busch Gardens located right in Tampa. Orlando is home to to Disney World, Universal Studio and Sea World. Avid golfers should check out the top local courses, including Ace Golf/Pebble Creek Golf Club and Westchase Golf Club.
(Compiled independently of the Rays organization.)

Nearby MLB cities

The Marlins play in Miami, on the east side of the state, about a four-hour drive.

Follow the Rays at FOXSportsFlorida.com.

 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

 

Ballpark

To Toronto natives, Rogers Centre will always be the SkyDome even though you won't see a mention of the old SkyDome on any signage around town. The concrete convertible is the first large stadium to feature a retractable roof, but don't expect it to be open much before June.

The stadium is one of the last two MLB parks to feature artificial turf (Tropical Field in St. Petersburg is the other) and can accommodate both football and baseball. Rogers Centre will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in the 2015 Pan American Games.

FEAR THE WEIRD

Stats are great, but these guys really bring personality to the park. Check out baseball's biggest oddballs.

Fans

In a stadium that holds over 45,000 fans the Jays averaged about 19,000 a game last season. So if you want to catch a Jays came, show up on game day and have a blast in the scenic Toronto stadium.

Food

While the stadium features your standard ballpark fare, take advantage of one of the All-You-Can-Eat Weekends where $39 gets you an outfield seat and all-you-can-eat hotdogs, nachos, popcorn, peanuts and soft drinks. If hot dogs and nachos don't strike your fancy, check out Sidelines open-air restaurant located between the Renaissance Hotel entrance and Gate 1.

Music and entertainment

You'll hear "OK Blue Jays" during the 7th inning stretch, a quirky song released in 1983 paying homage to the Blue Jays of the 80s. Whaddya want? Let's play ball!

Don't miss ACE, the team's mascot, who entertains througout the game.

Neighborhood

Rogers Centre is just east of Toronto's famed Exhibition Place which sits right on the shore of Lake Ontario. Exhibition Stadium was where the Blue Jays played until the SkyDome was completed in 1989.

Vacation planner

Fly into the Toronto Pearson International Airport.

If attending a Blue Jays game is your sole purpose in visiting Toronto try and book a room at the Renaissance Toronto Hotel right inside Rogers Centre featuring 70 rooms that overlook the field.

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Located on Lake Ontario's northern shore, Toronto, Canada's most populous city and boasts top-notch museums, intriguing neighborhoods, theater and a lively waterfront. View the city from the 1,815-foot CN Tower with a glass floor. Walk through a bat cave and see an Egyptian mummy at the Royal Ontario Museum. Learn about DNA to catch a criminal at the hands-on Ontario Science Centre. Go to the Toronto Zoo. Even take a virtual bobsled ride at Olympic Spirit Toronto.

Nearby MLB cities

Detroit is about 200 miles away (or 330 kilometers, if you prefer to get in the Canadian spirit). Keep the border crossing in mind as you figure driving times.

Tagged: Orioles, Red Sox, Royals, Yankees, Athletics, Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Padres, Marlins, Rays, Heath Bell, Eric Sogard

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