Baseball’s Craziest Fans, Crappiest Ballparks, and Cheapest Beer From Someone Who Has Seen Them All
There are many variants of the classic summer road trip: the cross-country sprint to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon to bask in the National Park system; the bachelor dash across the northern Mojave Desert from Los Angeles to Las Vegas; the mini-van caravan crawl down I-95 from theme park to theme park; the nomadic zigzag across state lines to marquee music festivals. Every summer, thousands of baseball disciples spend their vacation days flocking to Major League Baseball's houses of worship. ESPN has even developed a customizable baseball road trip planner to help these out-of-town bleacher creatures plan their routes between games and ball parks.
Earlier this summer, Steve Gebhardt and John Tramutolo, two editors at COED Magazine, hit the road for their own baseball odyssey. Rather than leisurely sauntering between destinations, the duo blitzed across the country at breakneck pace using Nokia's Ovi Maps to experience all 30 MLB ball parks in only 30 days. They filed dispatches from the road on COED's 30 in 30 blog, where they graded and reviewed each ball park for criteria ranging from hot dogs to hot girls. We recently caught up with Steve to chat about the best and worst of America's National Pastime, including which team boasts the craziest fans, wildest tailgates, cheapest beer, and hottest fans. Read his results after the jump.
BROBIBLE: What's the crappiest ballpark in Major League Baseball?
STEPHEN GEBHARDT: I hate to say it because they were so receptive to John and I, but the Oakland A's have a dismal ballpark. We saw a few bad stadiums along the way and then there was Oakland. The A's have amazing fans and they deserve a new stadium ASAP.
Who's the craziest fan you encountered on your 30 in 30 trip?
We saw this fan in Detroit who was one of the creepiest people I've seen in my entire life. Game time temperature was about 95 degrees and this guy was dressed up in a grungy full-body Tigger costume. It's difficult to explain but the pictures will give you a good idea of how bad the guy smelled.
What ball park was the biggest disappointment or the most overrated?
US Cellular Field in Chicago was awful! It literally felt like a prison. The food was pretty bad and they won't let people with upper deck tickets move down to the lower levels at all. I heard great things going into the trip and I was disappointed.
What did you notice as the major differences between domed parks and outdoor ball parks?
Lack of rain. But beyond that was the heat. In Houston game time temperature was 107 degrees. Truly disgusting playing conditions so instead of making the players (and fans) sweat it out the team decided to close the dome and crank up the AC, which was real nice.
What park boasts the most impressive panorama or skyline views?
We saw a few really cool downtown stadiums with skyline views like St. Louis, but PNC Park in Pittsburgh has the most impressive backdrop in all of baseball. Pittsburgh? Surprising right? But it really does. Even though Pittsburgh is in the middle of nowhere, everyone should see a game there once.
What was the coolest non-baseball diversion on your road trip?
Sober fun had to be the St. Louis arch. We had a few hours to kill so we stopped by the Arch and took some real lame photos. In terms of non-sober fun I'd have to go with Downtown Tavern in Denver. We stopped by the rooftop for a few beers after the game and had a great time. Beers are dirt cheap and the women are smokin' hot, which is always a winning combination.
Camden Yards in Baltimore was one of the best stadiums on the trip because they average like 3,000 fans a game so ushers allow you to sneak down to the front row by the second inning. We were sitting right behind home plate and DeWayne Wise for the Blue Jays came up to the on-deck circle. Some drunk idiot made his way down and yelled “Wise, YOU SUCK!” as loud as humanly possible. The entire stadium heard this because you can literally hear a pin drop and started laughing. Immediately Wise's shoulders slumped and he dropped his head, clearly knowing deep down that he sucks. It was crazy to have seen a grown ass man's ego totally destroyed live in public.
Which ball park had the cheapest beer?
The Oakland A's have $4.99 20-ounce drafts, which are the cheapest in baseball.
Wildest tailgate scene?
The best drunken fans are in Milwaukee. If you ever have the chance to attend a Saturday Brewers game, do it. Just make sure you bring your beer pong and flip cup A-game because the tailgate scene at Miller Park is the best in baseball and their fans love to rage well into the 4th or 5th inning.
We saw six walk offs on the trip but the best was at Coors Field when Carlos Gonzalez hit a walk-off bomb to win the game and also complete the cycle. I think I'll see a no-hitter before something like that happens again.
Coolest high-tech stadium feature?
If you want to get really high-tech I'd say the roof at Safeco in Seattle. Most retractable roofs hang over the park making you feel like you're sitting in a bowl but Safeco's roof slides completely off. This gives you the feel of a topl*ss stadium with the added benefits of some protection.
This debate has raged for year: Which stadium truly claims the most unique ballpark food?
We saw some strange food like Walleye on a Stick at Target Field but the most unique has to be the deep fried chicken on a Belgium waffle with syrup and powered sugar at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Not sure what mad scientist thought up that creation, but he must have been high. [Editor's Note: Steve, never heard of chicken and waffles? C'mon!]
What city/team boasts the hottest baseball fans?
We counted the most potential Miss COEDs in Miami and Arizona. If you're looking for Mrs. COEDs, head to Houston.
The 30-day, 30-stadium summer road trip is a truly classic summer Mancation. However, we've heard that it's easy to get burnt out during the undertaking. Would you recommend it to others?
I'd certainly recommend trying to see all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums but try to do it in 60 days or even more realistically try to see four to five a year and knock it out over the course of a few years.
Overall favorite would have to be Wrigley. It's the most historic ballpark in all of baseball and the scene around Wrigley is a ton of fun.