Sunday, April 14, 2024
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MLB Power Rankings: Baseball’s top 10 best-looking ballparks entering 2024 season

The 2024 Major League Baseball season continues to creep up on us (Opening Day is just 17 days away). Still, we aren’t yet in the range where it makes sense to rank the teams, earnestly, every single week. That means I’m here essentially killing time with some fun versions of power rankings. This time around, I’ll rank ballparks. 

I’ve ranked all 30 ballparks before and we aren’t going to do that again, at least not with the same methodology. I’m going to use different criteria for the sake of variety. This time around, I’m going to drop any judgment that has to do with the area surrounding the ballpark, including transportation. What I’m looking for here is simply pleasing aesthetics and fun quirks that can be viewed during the game on TV or even in aerial shots. Basically, how fun does the ballpark look? How beautiful would your sight be if you entered in the upper deck behind home plate, looking at everything straight ahead? That’s the main overriding theme here. 

I chose this because something I’ve long felt sets baseball apart is the playing surface. So many other sports (football, basketball, hockey, tennis, soccer, etc.) have set playing dimensions. As far as the outfield wall goes, baseball has plenty of wiggle room to give us unique features. This is to say, in the least “please like my sport” way possible, baseball outfields have so many cool features that just aren’t seen in venues in other sports. 

It’s a major part of how I’m ranking the top 10 ballparks in the present. 

Honorable mention: Yankee Stadium (Yankees)

I like to say “this one goes to 11” anyway, so this particular entry gives me the excuse. I do not have Yankee Stadium among my top 10 ballparks, but I still felt like it needed to be mentioned. The short right-field porch and Monument Park over the center-field wall help set it apart and the “YANKEE STADIUM” marquee out front is iconic. Plus, while I’m aware that this iteration of Yankee Stadium didn’t host all those legendary playoff games, they made the new version enough of a clone, aesthetically, that it does harken memories of The House That Ruth Built

10. Coors Field (Rockies)

It’s a gorgeous setting. Just absolutely breathtaking. The facade outside the home plate entrance with “Coors” and “Field” wrapped around a clock makes for such a nice entrance and the playing surface itself is top notch. The outfield provides a high wall in right along with an assortment of trees and water features below the batter’s eye in center. Overall, this is just a pretty underrated gem. If anything, I have it too low. 

9. Minute Maid Park (Astros)

Yeah, it’s a polarizing choice. There are a lot of fans who hate it. We get to see a relatively normal right field before getting to center. It used to have Tal’s Hill and a flagpole in play deep in center, but that was cut out a few years ago. The new batter’s eye resembles foliage instead of just being a blank green space, and it has an Astros logo in the middle of it. That was a nice touch. This is all about left field, though. There’s a giant window to see outside when the roof is closed and up above everything is a train on some tracks. It comes out and blows the horn on home runs and I love that part so much. Let’s watch, listen and enjoy: 

The Crawford Boxes, a very short porch in left field over a tall wall, is what makes this place polarizing, but I’m a fan. It’s not like there’s a huge advantage there. Both teams play with the same dimensions. There’s also that huge jump back to the wall where the boxes end and it makes for a very quirky left-center gap. 

8. Petco Park (Padres)

Looking out over the open-air outfield is generally a beautiful sky, given that it’s San Diego. Left field has the Western Metal Supply Co. building — they incorporated the original building into the ballpark as suites — next to a low-hanging upper deck that lies beneath a giant scoreboard and videoboard. There’s a “beach” area in center field next to the bullpen and the right-field corner is tricky with an inward jut.

7. Kauffman Stadium (Royals)

Since I’m ignoring the ballpark being not that close to downtown and being surrounded by acres of parking lot (and Arrowhead Stadium, though that’s kind of a plus), Kauffman shoots up the rankings. Over the outfield walls in Kauffman you’ll see fountains all over the place and that’s so cool. Home runs landing in the water is such a fun feature. I also really appreciate the huge videoboard in center field being, essentially, a Royals logo with a crown on top. 

6. Dodger Stadium (Dodgers)

Aerial shots where you can see downtown L.A. a bit back from behind home plate are pretty beautiful. No ballpark in baseball, however, can match walking in from behind the home plate side and standing atop the ballpark, looking over center field to see a mountainous background. The video boards and zig-zaggy metal roofs over each side of the bleachers in the outfield are a nice, unique feature. 

You know what else is a nice touch? The colors of the seats on different levels are done to mimic being at the beach with darker blue at the top, lighter blue next level down and then eventually yellow for the sand on a beach. 

5. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Orioles)

There’s an argument to be made that this is the most important ballpark in baseball. It was the one that finally freed us from the shackles of the cookie cutter yards from the ’70s, pushing us forward to the era of retro-style ballparks that we still see popping up. Though I was skeptical when they announced the plans for it, I’ve come to enjoy the now-deep left field dimension before it juts way forward in left-center. Then there are the bullpens over the left-center and center-field walls. In right field, there’s the tall wall with out of town scores before we look over the top of it and fix our eyes upon the warehouse. 

Hey, remember when Ken Griffey Jr. hit the warehouse in the Home Run Derby? 

Everything is just so much fun and easy on the eyes. 

4. Oracle Park (Giants)

Man, this feels low. I’m such a huge fan of this ballpark. The retro-style facades outside work well, but the outfield skyline is what makes it. If you’re down the first-base line, looking over left field, you’ll see the huge scoreboard and also get a nice view of the Bay Bridge. Right field has the tall brick wall just in front of The Bay. The “Splash Hit” home run is one of the best baseball highlights we can possibly see on any given day. Here’s Barry Bonds hitting one into McCovey Cove (naming it after an all-time great Giant is a nice touch): 

Seeing water seemingly surrounding the entire outfield from inside a ballpark is as good as it gets. And I haven’t even mentioned the giant glove or Coke bottle (which contains slides for kids inside). 

3. PNC Park (Pirates)

It’s not quite as common, given that it takes a much more prodigious shot, but players can reach the water here, too. This would be the Allegheny River over right field in PNC. 

Just over a taller right-field wall (it’s 21 feet tall in honor of No. 21 Roberto Clemente), there’s a view of the river but also a bright yellow bridge — this is more center field — that just so happens to be the Roberto Clemente Bridge. Speaking of center, the batter’s eye was a great touch, too. Just below the blank green screen in center, there’s a plot of grass with “PIRATES” sticking out of it. There are quirks throughout the outfield, too, including a big cut forward as we move toward the left-field line. 

The front entrance outside has a Honus Wagner statue in front of a beautiful PNC Park facade. 

Everything about this park is a home run and it’s No. 1 among the ballparks that are even remotely “modern.” 

2. Fenway Park (Red Sox)

Few things in baseball are more iconic than the Green Monster in left field. The right field line is actually closer, though, with Pesky’s Pole sitting just 302 feet away from home plate. Moving toward center, we’ll see a very short wall in front of the bullpens and then a triangular area in center field that gets 420 feet away from home. Also, there’s a bar in center field

All the quirks here just make it so cool to watch on TV, and walking up the ramp from anywhere in the ballpark for the first time is something every baseball fan should experience. 

1. Wrigley Field (Cubs)

Speaking of which, walking up the ramp on the north side of Chicago to see the ivy all along the outfield wall is the thing to see in all of baseball. The famed marquee out front and then the old operated-by-hand scoreboard in center field complete the trifecta of old-school, must-see features of Wrigley. In recent years, they have blended modern touches like a videoboard in left field and a lineup board in right. The flags that display the current standings above the center-field scoreboard are another great touch and that’s where the “W” or “L” flag is flown after each game. 

Yes, there’s an “L” flag that Wrigley Field flies after the Cubs lose. The W and L flags came about long ago to let train riders know if the Cubs won or lost their games.

Regardless, Wrigley’s views are beautiful and worthy of the top spot in my rankings. 

If you disagree, that’s cool. These are mine. Feel free to make your own. 

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