No. 26 — Comerica Park: If a baseball stadium had ‘butterface’

Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series reviewing Major League Baseball stadiums and desperate plea for its fans not to visit all of them. You really do have more important things to do with your life.

Currently on my social media, there is a debate about the conditions of Baltimore and whether President Trump is exposing the problems of urban blight or if he’s just an old-fashioned racist.

I bring that up because you could easily switch the debate to Detroit, Mich. As such, I don’t want to crack jokes at the city’s expense. It would be too easy and me? An expert on race relations? Hell, I’m just a baseball fan.

Having said that, I went to Comerica Park and in retrospect, I wonder about the folly of downtown revitalization projects in downtrodden cities.

Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers, is arguably the centerpiece of one such grandiose vision to turn a blue-collar ghost town into a concrete Eden where — flush with riches from visitors like me — the residents light victory cigars with hundred-dollar bills and fart through silk sheets at night. It’s next to Ford Field, where the NFL Lions play and within walking distance of the new home of the NHL’s Red Wings.

Comerica Park looks great on television.

But it looks like Detroit in real life.

And Detroit is not a good place to be.

The two-block walk to the stadium takes you through some truly sketchy parts of town, where the revitalization project didn’t lead to any new development. There are droves of beggars and other locals staring at you, sizing you up for a fight, and this is on the church grounds next to the stadium.

You turn a corner from a church and there it is, that curious retro look to a stadium that was 20 years old when I arrived. Why is going retro curious? Because Comerica Park replaced a bona fide retro stadium. Tiger Stadium served its residents for 88 years.

Anyway, the day I went the Tigers honored Alan Trammell, who played 20 years in the city and won a World Series back in 1984. That team was awesome. The current Tigers aren’t, so you’re not going for the baseball.

The fans? Welp, within five minutes of arriving I passed a twentysomething who wept openly and loudly while being embraced closely by his two bros. They were too young to be weeping over the memory of Alan Trammell, which might have been understandable. I got a little misty-eyed when I saw Magic Johnson’s jersey being retired in Los Angeles, but I suppose Detroit is just a city where grown men aren’t afraid to cry in public.

Comerica Park would be somewhat comfortable during a night game, but I wouldn’t want to be in that neighborhood at night.

Ultimately, if Comerica Park were a girl, it would be a butterface. Looks great from a distance. It really does, but her face…

If I were to guess, Comerica Park and Ford Field were the centerpieces of a short-sighted project. That city leaders figured businesses would flock to the newer, shinier, glitzier downtown when they were built. Nightlife. Industry. Somebody would show up.

Only they didn’t. Where do you go before first pitch or after the final out? Not a museum. Not a Buffalo Wild Wings. Not an antique car display of Motor City’s history. They don’t exist. If you’re smart, you head straight to your car as swiftly as you can. The lesson is, I presume, for city leaders to court businesses for your new downtown while approving the tiger statues that growl atop the giant left-field scoreboard when the Tigers hit a home run.

Because the Tigers don’t hit a lot of home runs, either. I may not know diddily about race or socioeconomics, but I can tell you baseballs don’t clear that outfield fence.

No. 27 — Miller Park, at least you’re encouraged to drink heavily

Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series reviewing Major League Baseball stadiums and desperate plea for its fans not to visit all of them. You really do have more important things to do with your life.

At the time of this writing, the Milwaukee Brewers are a damn good baseball team. Last year, they came within a game of advancing to the World Series and almost the entire roster is intact. Currently, they’re in a dogfight with the Cubs and Cardinals in what might be the toughest division in baseball. Heck, the Brewers and Cubs are just a two-hour drive from each other.

I write that because if it weren’t for those compelling reasons, nobody should seriously consider traveling to Milwaukee, Wisc., to watch Major League Baseball. Ever.

You surely wouldn’t go for the experience of seeing Miller Park, a cramped retractable-roof seashell-shaped warehouse with all the charm of a green wart.

I drove up there last year to see my beloved Dodgers play Milwaukee after the All-Star Break. What struck me the most about the building itself was that it replaced an open-air multipurpose stadium — which is a good idea — but for $400 million the Brewers didn’t consider their clientele.

Look, Brewers fans are really fat. That’s not meant as a cheap shot. The Wisconsin lifestyle is beer, brats and cheese. What do you expect? So why then, are all the concourses so damned small? Same for the seating, the concessions. If they are all average for MLB size, which they may as well be, you have to know your own fan base is more likely to shop at Cousin Tubby’s Husky Boy Overalls Emporium than H&M.

Regarding their fans? Mostly cool people. Wisconsin isn’t Brewers country so much as it Is Packers country. They want to treat going to a baseball game like going to Lambeau Field. The Brewers, to their credit, let fans tailgate. You can park for as little as 10 bucks and lob a football around while the neighbors are a cookin’ and a tappin’ the keg.

The exterior of the stadium includes a little league sized diamond for the kids to play on. Also, because parking is all on-site and relatively cheap, you are not bombarded by people selling you sleazy swap-meet merchandise.

But damn, the stadium feels so cramped.

And the interior? Wikipedia describes Miller Park as utilizing the retro feel of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Whoever wrote that needs to have all of his or her fingers broken for typing such a bald-faced lie. Miller Park is the direct opposite of going to Camden Yards. I’ve been to all domed stadiums in the majors. Most of the others try to mute the weird “locked in an airplane hangar” feeling. Not Miller Park. The shade of green used can best be described as “industrial bile.” This place is more like Chase Field in Phoenix, only the Diamondbacks at least recognize they’re in a suffocating desert and keep the place climate-controlled comfortable.

So why go?

You should go if you’re a Cubs fan. And believe me, the Cubs fans do make the trek.

You should go if this girl goes to the game. Behold! The one “in shape Brewers fan” I’ve ever seen. Yowza! To her credit, she is a fan. She keeps score behind home plate.

Other than that, you should pass on traveling to Miller Park as much as you should decline that last beer when you’re a block away from a DUI checkpoint.

No. 28 — Atlanta turns from Turner, so why the hell should I go back?

Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series reviewing Major League Baseball stadiums and desperate plea for its fans not to visit all of them. You really do have more important things to do with your life.

This is the only review of a Major League Baseball stadium on my tour that no longer exists.

It’s a pity Turner Field no longer hosts MLB games. The stadium — so named after the rambunctious cable TV cowboy/Jane Fonda sugar daddy/“I coulda been the liberal version of President Trump, so why didn’t I think of insulting everyone on Twitter first, carnsarnit?” — is not a bad place to catch a game.

But since it’s not good enough for the Atlanta Braves, screw you, Dale. It’s down to No. 28.

A couple of years ago, the Braves moved north of town to something called SunTrust Field. I have no plans to go inside the place, even though I drove past it on the way to better baseball cities in the Northeast.

Let’s backtrack a bit and talk politics and race, neither of which I claim to be an expert in. Whenever a team seeks a shiny new stadium, it often asks the locals to pony up by selling bonds. There is some tax risk involved with bonds, but as the counter argument the owner of the team will cite movie screenplays. “Field of Dreams” is used a lot — “If you build it, they will come.”

The implied hint: If you don’t build it for us, we will go.

And the city leaders break out the checkbook. Schools? Cops? Ah hell. Baseball. How many zeroes are in billion?

CNN founder Ted Turner wanted a new home for his team. In the 1990s, the Braves played in one of those cookie-cutter donut-shaped multipurpose stadiums such as the one in Oakland. He managed to finagle Turner Field out of gullible residents by also playing a major role in landing the Olympics to the South. Build the stadium for the Olympics, retrofit it for baseball afterwards.

No small feat. Think of all the cities in the United States that just seem suitable for the Olympics — LA, NYC, Chicago. Where does Atlanta fit in that list? If you reply with, Atlanta doesn’t fit. What the hell were they thinking? You would be right. Los Angeles may be rife with murder, but at least my hometown managed to keep our Summer Olympics terrorism-free.

“The Ted” wasn’t built in a particularly nice neighborhood, but many stadiums aren’t. I went to see the Braves play the Dodgers in a day game, which I suppose was for the best. Having said that, the people I met on the way to the stadium were smiling and pleasant. The stadium exterior featured that all-too-common retro look that the deep South never had in the first place. Let’s be real. Retro in the deep South wouldn’t feature facades hanging from the upper deck as much as it would feature Jim Crow drinking fountains.

Anyway, the stadium was a little plain when I went. I believe it was because they were packing for the move to SunTrust that day. The place did have its own Waffle House, and as a road traveler I appreciate 24-hour slopholes. The souvenir shop also peddled Negro League merchandise. In other words, there is at least a small part of Atlanta that embraces multiculturalism.

Only it begs the question: Why leave a place where multiculturalism needs to be revered?

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am the furthest thing from a social justice warrior, but I genuinely appreciate history and humanity’s continuing struggle to be nicer, more accepting of each other. As shrill as “being woke” can seem, it is at least a desperate attempt to improve human decency. Moving to SunTrust Field or whatever the hell it’s called is an affront to me for many reasons — no matter how many bells and whistles the newer digs has.

1) The Ted has history. It not just hosted the World Series. It was the epicenter for the Summer Olympics. That’s not good enough?

2) The Atlanta Black Crackers of the Negro Leagues didn’t play in Cumberland, Ga. So you’re willing to sell T-shirts celebrating Atlanta’s baseball heritage, but not play there?

3) Braves management at the time of the move claimed Turner Field needed $350 million in upgrades. It sounds like a lot of money, until you realize how much teams pay their players in the first place.

4) If the Braves needed three stadiums to maximize revenue streams in less than 25 years, the only logical conclusion to draw is Atlanta must be a lousy baseball town.

To these jaundiced eyes, leaving a perfectly functional and well-kept 20-year old stadium for the suburbs smelled like the Braves said “we swiped millions from Atlanta to build this place, but let’s get away from the minorities.” And that’s some bullshit.

If I ever see baseball in Atlanta again, it will be a fluke. Visiting a friend who wants to catch a game. Stuff like that.

But should you or I travel to the South specifically to see this new stadium and cross it off a bucket list? Hell no.

No. 29 — RingCentral Coliseum… wait, WTF is a RingCentral Coliseum and has anybody ever been there?

Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series reviewing Major League Baseball stadiums and desperate plea for its fans not to visit all of them.

The toilets overflow, even in the athletes’ locker rooms.

On Sundays in the fall, you could get shot in the parking lot.

And you’re standing on some of the most expensive real estate in the world, in the highest taxed state in the United States.

Take me out to the balllllgaaaaammmeee…

Have you ever gone to a house party, looked around and said “I think I’m better off getting my drink at Buffalo Wild Wings”? That’s what it’s like to go see a game at the last multipurpose open-air stadium in the county, the Oakland Coliseum. Everybody who shows up to the fourth-oldest stadium in MLB has this look in their eyes like they’re staring at the “departures” board at an airport. I bought the ticket. How long until the wait is over?

Think I’m overplaying my hand a little? Consider that about a month ago RingCentral became the fifth sponsored name for the stadium since 1998, joining McAfee, Overstock, and Network Associates as companies who mistakenly thought being associated with this hole in one of the world’s angriest neighborhoods would improve the bottom line.

Hell, have you noticed nobody has sided with Oakland residents about the Raiders leaving for Las Vegas? You know you have an unappealing stadium if people think Raiders fans deserve a better environment.

I have been here for both Oakland A’s and Raiders games. In the interest of full disclosure, I was once a Raiders season ticket holder. This is how I can say with certitude that you can get shot. I saw somebody get shot in the ass, but more on that later.

Certain things about going to the Coliseum are affordable. I would suggest parking in Pleasanton, a full hour away by freeway, and taking the BART train system to the stadium. It’s cleaner than most subway systems, convenient, affordable and drops you off at the stadium. Technically, it’s probably safer, in that the path from the BART station to the Coliseum is rimmed with barbed wire to keep the locals from — cough, cough — introducing themselves.

The stadium followed this cookie-cutter design used in many cities across the country who wanted their stadiums to be used for both baseball and the NFL. In other words, the playing field from above looks mostly circular to fit a gridiron. As such, there are few seats right on the action. Even worse, when the Raiders returned from Los Angeles in the 1990s, they built extra seating in the outfield that obliterated what was once a pleasant backdrop of the nearby foothills.

Moreover, the playing field was dug below sea level and the stadium itself is less than a mile from San Francisco Bay, which might explain the perpetually broken toilets. Who knows? I’m not a plumber.

So why go? Well, every so often, the Oakland A’s play well. Despite having one of the lowest payrolls in professional sports, the A’s often cobble together a competitive team. Also, during playoff runs, fans will take a corner down the right field line and behave like soccer supporters — drums, big flags, chanting. I respect that type of spirit. That’s fun.

And if you’re banging a drum, it’s impossible to hold a weapon, so that must be the safe part of the stadium.

OK, now for the guy getting shot in the ass…

I left the stadium after a Raiders game, annoyed that they lost to the Chiefs. On my way to the rental car — before I discovered BART — a Latino gentleman skipped past me. Well, I thought to myself, I don’t feel like skipping. Why so happy?

At this point, about a dozen uniformed cops sprinted past me in pursuit of the skipper. As a side note to all of you gang members who read, stop wearing baggy clothes. It becomes more difficult to outrun the police.

The cops smashed the perp into a porta-potty and dragged him off. The rumor mill started. “Home boy shot somebody! Home boy shot somebody!” Now, I’m a skeptic. No way he shot somebody.

I was wrong. Home boy did shoot somebody.

It went like this. Random fans who didn’t have a ticket stayed by their car to watch the game on a small TV and continue drinking. Not a bad Sunday afternoon, until home boy approached, said “How-dee-doo?” and produced his weapon. At which point, the guys in the lawn chairs said “oh, my goodness! Time to run!” And one of them got a bullet in the ass after turning around.

For the record, I feel bad for that guy. Not because he died, but if you’re going to get shot, you would want it to be from a cool story. Not “Yeah, I got shot in my ass because I ran like a punk.”

Anyway, they load the poor chap on a gurney and shove him into the ambulance. And moments before the door closes, dude gave a fist pump and screamed “Go Raiders!”

Oh, they’re going, all right.

No. 30 — Tropicana Field, the overturned trash can of Central Florida

For a California boy such as myself, driving through Florida is a treat. In my home state, they’ve outlawed water despite being next to an ocean. So leaving concrete, desert, boarded-up water fountains and authoritarian rule for a lush green and blue state feels a lot like Bob Haskins driving into Toon Town in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” What? You’re parched? Run the spigot all night and smile, darn ya, smile!

And you can have a lot of fun in the Sunshine State, first discovered when explorer Ponce de Leon crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean, reached land and said, “I claim this land for Spain. Now, I want Epcot Center over there, Harry Potter will do nicely there…”

Regrettably, perfection across an entire state does not exist. Imagine driving through such breathtaking vegetation, azure skies and tourist traps only to find a giant overturned trash can off Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg. It makes your shoulders spasm from the double take. Who put that giant concrete wart over there?

Then you find out Major League Baseball is played there? Who’s the idiot who decided that?

The short answer is former commissioner Bud Selig, which makes Tropicana Field and the Tampa Bay Rays the two biggest gaffes in a mistake-filled reign as the leader of MLB.

For a moment, I want you to consider that Tropicana Field and the equally forgettable Tampa Bay Rays are conjoined twins. Without one, the other would never exist. The stadium was originally built in 1990, with the goal of luring an existing franchise to Florida. Other teams, such as the San Francisco Giants, leveraged their cities to fund newer, shinier, happier stadiums with Tropicana Field as the alleged alternative. Had any of those local politicians bothered to take one flight to central Florida and seen this rat trap, they might have dared the team to move.

Anyway, after having the stadium sit vacant for five years, Selig took pity on the area and granted them an expansion franchise in 1995. The Tampa Bay Rays first took the field in 1998, and nobody has noticed since.

Selig made multiple mistakes in granting Tampa a team. First of all, he never asked himself why baseball had a following there. It’s because the Yankees hold spring training in the region. The Yankees are popular. The Rays are not. The only time the stadium is even close to capacity is when the Yankees come to town. To refer to The Trop, however, as “Yankee Stadium South” would be an insult to the Bronx.

Secondly, Selig didn’t take into account that millions of retirees on fixed incomes live in Florida.

As a result, Tampa Bay Rays home games are played in an empty architectural abyss with about half of the seats covered in tarpaulin. The Trop is a case study that major tourist projects should be handled by a presumably sober architect because…

A) it is the only stadium where home runs are often hit without the ball clearing the outfield fence. The catwalks suspended above the field are so low if a batter hits one hovering over first base, extra credit!

B) the walkways are about as wide as the hallway in a bachelor apartment. If you get stuck behind an elderly fan with a walker, it will take you 10 minutes to advance five feet because you can’t pass.

Oh, speaking of elderly fans, take a moment and appreciate your lungs. With them, you can breathe, speak and yell. Rays fans no longer have that ability after a lifetime spent binge smoking, so they bring cow bells. You may not have the energy to cheer, but even if you have rheumatoid arthritis with a side order of osteoporosis it’s possible to wiggle a bell.

Rays games are thus, affordable, because few people want to sit three hours in a dirty building that’s too small for walking with fans who are more likely to complain about Medicare than root root root for the home team.

But it’s damn sure uncomfortable, not fun and you’re unlikely to make a lasting memory there. And the fan base is comprised of transplanted New Yorkers with emphysema.

Unless you happen to be there when your favorite team is in town, you should avoid Tampa Bay Rays games and Tropicana Field. This is the top reason — the convincing argument — that visiting all MLB stadiums is an awful idea.