“What the hell is that?”
“That looks ridiculous”
“Hey, that’s kinda cool”
The following on court conundrums and field features inspire at least one of the previous reactions. Nobody can deny that they are all unorthodox, yet whether they are cool or not is absolutely debatable.
So I shall decide it now, once and for all.
Dope (It’s cool and I like it) or Nope (boooo it’s lame)?
5. PETCO Park’s Pregnant Right Field Wall, San Diego, California
At first, the right field wall looks absolutely normal. Nothing to see here, time to move on.
And then you notice that the home of the San Diego Padres has huge “bum bump” in its right field wall. A sore thumb sticks out less. What the hell is that? That, is a random box situated in play. A random box that makes no sense. Whose idea was this? It wouldn’t be that bad if they put in foul territory. Or if it ended out of play.
Citi Field in New York has a similar short porch type fence. But their wall ends with fair territory, not BEFORE it. What Citi Field has is a short porch. What PETCO has is a short in the mind of whatever knucklehead robot architect who thought adding a random mosquito bite in fair territory was a even a decent idea.
4. Milwaukee Bucks Ho”M”e Court, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
As you can see perfectly from a bird’s eye view, the Bradley Center floor has two darker wood grain M’s decorating each half-court. This is a tribute to earlier era of Milwaukee basketball, and a cool way to spice up one of the NBA’s more monotonous franchises. The M’s frame the buck at center court and balance the perpendicular “Milwaukee” graphic on the baseline. Also, the Bucks are the only team in the NBA to feature in court lettering of this type.
Verdict: DOPE! Points for originality and fit.
3. Koshien Stadium’s Dirt Infield, Nishinomiya, Japan
Koshien Stadium is the home of the Hanshin Tigers and one of the most legendary stadiums in all of Japan. It is home to Japan’s most prestigious baseball tournament, which is simply called “Koshien.” Every year, high school teams from all over the islands gather at Koshien to battle it out for Japanese baseball supremacy. The stadium has a full dirt, softball style infield. At the conclusion of their runs in the national tournament, high schoolers take a handful of the famous Koshien soil home with them. This soft surface has seen its share of talent (Japanese baseball legends Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Hideo Nomo and Kaz Matsui have all stepped on to its hallowed ground) since its opening in 1924. In 2010, Koshien was renovated to make sure future generations of Japanese ballplayers will continue the tradition of playing their national game on the Koshien soil.
Verdict: DOPE. Tradition plus history wins every time.
2. Jerry’s Larger Than Life TV, AT&T Stadium, Dallas, Texas
It’s pretty much the craziest stadium feature in all of professional sports. The over hanging videoboard in the new home of “America’s Team” takes that whole “everything is bigger in Texas” mantra to a whole new level.
According to the official Dallas Cowboys website:
Each of the four sides of the center-hung LED display is the world’s largest: 72’ high by 160’ wide equaling 11,520 square feet per side or 23,040 square feet of sideline displays.
It would take 4,920 52” flat panel TVs to equal the size.
Each side consists of the first true 1080 HD display in an NFL stadium- 1080 true pixels in height at 20mm spacing and capable of displaying HDTV at 1920 x 1080 [16:9] resolution.
“BUT WAIT” you might say, “THIS IS NOT AN ON FIELD FIELD FEATURE”.
Au contraire mon frere, this monstrous monitor IS in play. Too “in play” if you ask me. Punts have hit the videoboard twice, once in 2009 and again in 2013. In the most recent instance, the Cowboys were forced to re-kick after their own punter’s boot found the screen. On the re-punt, Brandon Tate of the Cincinnati Bengals took a much lower punt back to the house for a touchdown.
Verdict: NOPE WITH A POSSIBLE DOPE. All you have to do is move the screen out of punter range. Great idea, but it shouldn’t interfere with the game. After all, THAT is what fans come to watch.
1. Houston’s “Holy S**t, That’s A Terrible Idea” Hill, Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
Oh, Texas (sigh). Good god is this stupid. Not only do they have a random hill in center field, but an exposed flagpole is just hanging out there in the left third.
Tal’s Hill (named for former team president Tal Smith), is supposedly a nod to the old Yankee Stadium (which originally had an exposed flagpole) and to Crosley Field (the former home of the Cincinnati Reds had a hill in LF). Both have those parks have been destroyed, and Yankee Stadium moved the flagpole out of play in 1974.
Just as we did to these elderly stadiums, we should take a wrecking ball to this ridiculous hill. If you’re going to make a tribute to old stadiums, do it better than this. Arizona’s mound-to-plate path, the large grandstands in Cleveland, and brick at Baltimore’s Camden Yards and San Francisco’s AT&T Park are tasteful adaptations of classic ballpark style.
Verdict: NOPEST OF THE NOPE
Who knows Houston? Maybe if you level out that hill, your team will stop doing this: