Reflections on experiences with Ballparks, News Media
Two days removed from the final game of the 30-30 tour and one day since I’ve been home, I offer some reflections on my experiences in the ballparks as well as some thoughts about the news media.
First as for the actual ballparks, one thing I quickly learned is that they are in some ways designed in a similar manner. The key is how the sections are numbered and how the seating is divided.
Dodger Stadium has elevator service to all five main seating areas of the stadium for instance, but other stadiums like the two in New York have their upper two areas of seating on one concourse, you just climb a ton of stairs. It is thoroughly confusing to have a 400 level and just a few steps above it, wow here is the 500 level. Why not just call the entire thing 400 and make the upper level higher numbers of rows, because at Citifieldd, it would make more sense to the fan like me who cannot see the seating chart.
None of the current club sites go into detail about where certain sections are within the ballpark. It would be very, very helpful for these sites to state the list of all sections on each level, then within each level, spell out where those sections are in relation to the field. It also would be very helpful to spell out how the seats are numbered, right to left, left to right, or as in KC, the lower the seat number, the closer one is to the plate, so that the seats number starting with #1 on the right and moving left if on the third base side, #1 on the left and moving toward the right if on the first base side. Confused yet?
This information should tell us which sections are between first and home, behind the plate, between home and third, on the foul line between the corner and first or third base, in left field, left center, center, right center, and right field. DO NOT refer to seats being by the bullpen, if a fan is not familiar with all aspects of a given ballpark, especially if he or she can’t see it, the bullpen means nothing. Pick your favorite ballpark, then look at three others and you will realize that bullpen placements are significantly different.
The clubs should be more specific as to the seats that have in-seat service and those that don’t, since some clubs offer clubs seating that provides this and club seating that is nothing more than fancy general seating (see Comerica Park).
Drop the use of letters for certain rows followed by numbers. Row 12 in San Francisco is no damn row 12 on the upper level, it was however row 12 in San Diego. Talk about misleading the consumer? If I could see the damn seating chart, I would have known this, but alas, we all know the reality of that situation.
For fans who have issues climbing a lot of stairs and the like, it would also be helpful to know which row of seats is level with the main entry point to each level of the stadium. IN a couple cases, in Philadelphia and Washington, my row of seats was right at the level point of where you entered from the concourse, no climbing or descending stairs of any kind. In Philly, I was in row 6, in Washington I was in row J, both upper Concourse seats.
Some Braille signage would also be of some benefit. Frankly the little markers on each seat that have an engraved seat number could also have the same Braille engraving made into the metal piece that is attached to the seat itself.
Finally, one complaint which echo’s that of fans who I attended multiple games with. Announce the visiting players with a clear enough and loud enough voice that we all know who is batting, who the relief pitcher is, or who is pinch hitting. Some teams announce the visitor with this monotone voice as if they fear the players in the other dugout, we are not talking about a bunch of guys from the dark side of the force field here. Those same teams announce their own players basketball arena style and true baseball fans HATE THAT. As it also relates to this, two other things I’d like to see changed at a majority of ballparks. Lower the volume on the teeny bopper music and when announcing who is coming in, greatly lower that volume so the announcer is clearly heard ABOVE the music. It is sad when a great PA voice is being overpowered by the music (Colorado). Additionally, I know it is common for sports teams to have this sort of in-game entertainment type announcer, usually a female who serves as eye-candy for the guys who can’t be faithful to their wives and girlfriends. But good God folks, if you are going to use some pretty young thing to do this task, save our ears the pain of a squeaky high pitch voice that sounds like it belongs on a sophomore cheerleader in high school and get us a woman with a real voice and real speaking talent who can actually talk and be understood over a bleeping stadium microphone. If these women spoke like the very talented and very capable Renel Brooks-Moon who is the PA announcer in San Francisco, I would not be making any comment of this sort. If it means going for someone who is not quite as hot looking, but who can certainly sound hot and be understood, please do us all a huge favor and skip the eye candy for a real voice with real speaking talent.
Now as far as the news media is concerned, I now know why TV guys are so frustrating to anyone who gets interviewed. They ask the same questions, do no background work to find out the details about someone and go for a quick sound bite. The best interviews I had on this trip, a newspaper writer in Pittsburgh and two radio interviews in Toronto and Kansas City. A Houston station did a very good piece, but more on them in a moment. As far as TV goes, the sports cable networks were not hard to work with, the most difficult people were the local TV reporters, who at times acted as if I needed to jump and be on their schedule. They were forgetting that this was my trip that I had scheduled, forgetting that I did not drive a car and was at the mercy of cabs and public transit systems and schedules.
I appreciated a couple of teams scheduling interviews as a group cession so all involved could ask their questions at the same time, Minnesota and Cincinnati. But it was amazing how often details were mishandled which would confuse anyone who read various articles about my journey. A couple of articles said I was 38, wrong the correct answer is 39. All the Cincinnati reporters said I was from Texas, sort of right, but I am a Texas native who has called Wyoming home for better than a year. The Houston station said this blog was an audio blog, it’s a written blog. I do not even know that any of the audio will be posted, the video will go on to the just created blindbaseballtraveler YouTube page but that is several days if not weeks away, and the photos are another massive undertaking in its own right.
Speaking of Houston, ABC 13 did a very nice piece on me and this journey, it was filmed April 30 while I was at Minute maid park, stop #2 on this trip. When did it run, Monday May 28, two hours after the 30th game ended at Wrigley Field. Frustrating because now other ABC stations are running this on their websites and I am sure I will get calls from some reporter wanting to meet me in some city, when the reality is that they missed their chance. I’ve been done with the journey for 52.5 hours as I write this, yet they made it sound as if I am still on the road. Again, talk about misleading.
What is clear to me and I can say this as a person who majored in journalism, some reporters do not nearly enough homework and truly do not take the time to understand the people they are doing a story on, much less making sure that they get even the smallest background details strait. Now I know why I am glad I did not go to work in the media business.
Lastly, a quick note about home team radio. Most teams do not have their home broadcasts on a delay, but a few clubs, the Rangers, Tigers, Rockies, Brewers, reds, and White Sox have stations that insist on having a 3-20 second delay. The Rangers do something that all other clubs who find themselves in this boat must do, put in a low power FM system in your stadium and take your feed of the broadcast and run it over that frequency. The feed can be exactly like that over the network, it just is heard in real time, not 10-20 seconds late. When the Reds hit a grand slam Thursday night, the fireworks went off in the stadium before the WLW broadcast even reached the point of the batter swinging at the pitch. UNACCEPTABLE!