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Catfish and Cod
Friday, August 29, 2003
 
Ballpark names.
(Catch of the day)

Why, oh why, can't companies leave decent ballparks alone? Why can't every major league ballpark in North America have a decent, respectable, inspiring name? I'm not complaining about the practice of selling off naming rights to a ballpark. Many companies, having bought the privledge, bestow a simple one-word name that conveys both personality and corporate benevolence. (These companies are often the ones with strong local ties.) But others saddle their ballpark with a meaningless GoodName suffering from mangled conflation, BiCapitalization, or -- worst of all -- A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.S.*

Not that my own Ballpark of Choice suffers from this problem. A mob of Red Sox fans would publicly accost the fool who tried to change the name of Fenway Park. I am blessed; why can't others be, too? Let's investigate good ballpark names vs. bad ones.

Edison Field, Anaheim Angels. Not "EI Field" or some travesty. We are Edison, let us be Edison. Edison is a perfectly good name. Verdict: good.

Bank One Ballpark, Arizona Diamondbacks. "Bank One"? This says nothing to me about who you are. Should I go down the street and open an establishment named "Bank Two"? Aside from the faintly Orwellian taste of this name, it has no personality and no soul. I might care about Bank of Boston or Fleet Bank (or the local equivalent; perhaps Bank of Phoenix). But Bank One can never carry allegiance, and neither can Bank One Park. Verdict: bad.
UPDATE: Since writing this post I have since learned that Bank One Ballpark is commonly referred to as the "BOB". This is so cute that it completely reverses the complaints listed above. "Bank One" has no soul, but "BOB" has plenty!

Turner Field, Atlanta Braves. This is the House that Ted Built. And I don't mean Ted Williams. It's corporate, yes, but it isn't afraid to say who it is. Verdict: good.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles. Until I looked the name up, I didn't even know about the Oriole Park part of the name, I only knew about Camden Yards. What a great name for a great ballpark! If all of Baltimore were as clean and nifty as this place, Baltimore would be the top city in America. Who can hate the place where the Babe grew up in center field? Verdict: good.

Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox. 'Nuff said. Verdict: good.

Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs. Almost as old & venerable as Fenway. Almost as good a name, too: corporate, but such a personality. I bet most kids alive today wouldn't associate Wrigley Field with Wrigley chewing gum. Verdict: good.

U. S. Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox. Excuse me while I barf. "U.S. Cellular"? You can't even bring yourself to root for your hometown team; it's the Chicago White Sox, but no, you're a big national company, "U. S. Cellular". You're above all these petty regional factions. Like baseball rivalries. Verdict: bad.

The Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati Reds. Not according to formula, but you gotta give 'em points for style. The Great American Ball Park. We're the best and we're not too proud to shout it. Hey, I disagree, but it's a cool name anyway. Verdict: good.

Jacobs Field, Cleveland Indians. Named for the founder, not according to some "Gateway" public works bureaucrat's whim. I like, I like! Verdict: good.

Coors Field, Colorado Rockies. Corporate, yes, but with a certain memetic resonance. Coors, after all, always associated itself with the Rocky Mountains, and now with Rockies baseball too. I wouldn't be ashamed to say I patronized Coors Field. Verdict: good.

Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers. While not as bad as Bank One Park, this is still a mangled and conflated name with no history and no meaning. Who or what is Comerica and why should I care? Someday this might mean something, but not today. Verdict: bad.

Pro Player Stadium, Florida Marlins. This name is just obscene. Buying a ballpark name so you can sell athletic equipment? This comes close to the corporate equivalent of incest. I'm not coming to your ballpark to buy more sporting equipment, I'm coming to watch a ballgame! Does this mean that only Pro Player equipment is used at Pro Player Stadium? When I go to Pro Player Stadium's souvenir stand, will I get only Pro Player's authorized MLB hats and jerseys? And are the men on the Florida Marlins team not just pro players, but, yes, Pro Players? And to top it all off, they destroyed a perfectly good name -- Joe Robbie Stadium -- to saddle themselves with this tragedy. Arrrgh! Verdict (need I say it?): bad.

Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros. While corporate, and non-personal, Minute Maid does have a certain charm to it. I felt ambivalent for a while, but if I'm going to give Tropicana Field a pass (and I will), I think I'd better let this one go too. Verdict: good.

Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals. Named for an old citizen? Sure! Why not. Verdict: good.

Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers. A classic. What's not to like? Verdict: good.

Miller Park, Milwalkee Brewers. Hey, beer made this town. They are the Brewers. So why not have a beer name for your park? Verdict: good.

MetroDome, Minnesota Twins. This name smacks of MetroDevelopment projects of the 60's and 70's (whence, I feel sure, it came). But hey, they're getting rid of it, so why ride them over it? Verdict: pass.

Olympic Stadium, Le Expos de Montreal. If you have to be a monument to incompetent socialist planning (first planned in the 1930's, not completed until 1987), you can have no better name than Olympic Stadium. Keep the name, even if you do lose the ball team. Verdict: good.

Shea Stadium, New York Mets. Means almost as much as a certain other stadium I'd rather not mention until I have to, to the denizens of New York. Verdict: good.

Yankee (sucks) Stadium, Bronx Bombers. Yankees suck, but at least their stadium name doesn't. (Aside from the fact that anything named Yankee sucks.) Verdict: good.

Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland Athletics. Give me a break. "Network Associates"? Who the hell are you? However, the name (shortened to the Net) is better than the previous one: "Alameida County Coliseum". Sounds like they'd have the County Fair, complete with best pig contest, right after the ball game. But please, name it after your founder or something. Verdict: bad.

Citizens Bank Park, Philadephia Phillies. I almost gave this one a pass. Then I saw that the name was placed in the exact same font and logo as the bank itself uses. No. Nonononononononono. This is a ballpark, not a corporate asset or a trophy of your stupendous profits or a very large advertising screen. This is a shrine to the National Pastime, and you should treat it with respect. You can start my giving it a decent name. How about "New Veterans Stadium"? Verdict: bad.

PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates. Weep, O you residents of Pittsburgh. Weep for your ballpark. For though it is a well built park, with a fine design and a gracious view of your bounteous and beautiful city, it is saddled with a ugly name. A name that must be gazed upon, in fifty foot tall letters, every time you glance over the Monogahela. Verdict: bad.

PETCO Park, San Diego Padres. Hmm. I thought PETCO was "where the pets go", not "where the Padre fans go". Did I miss something? (Hey, at least it's not Qualcomm Park anymore. PETCO Park at least means something!) Verdict: bad.

Pacific Bell Park, San Fransisco Giants. Reflecting a local company with plenty of history, I'll take this one. But why did we have to get rid of "Candlestick Park"? Verdict: good.

Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners. Another tragedy of word amalgamation. "Safeco?" Who are you? Was "Safe Field" not good enough for you? Verdict: bad.

Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals. Busch has been associated with St. Louis at least as long as the Cardinals. It's a simple, easily stated name. Keep it! Verdict: good.

Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. If you're going to have a corporate name on a Florida ballpark, what better name than an orange juice company? And an easily pronounced one, at that. Verdict: good.

The Ballpark at Arlington, Texas Rangers. Like Camden Yards: not according to the ancient formula, but we'll keep it anyway. Verdict: good.

SkyDome, Toronto Blue Jays. According to this naming scheme, shouldn't the team be the BlueJays? AfterAll, WeShould BeConsistent InOur WordUsage. RepeatAfterMe: BiCapitalization IsGood ForEveryone. Verdict: bad, but easily fixed with the use of a space bar.

(*) A Completely Revolting Or Nearly, Yes, Meaningless Synonym.