No. 23 — Chase Field, save this place before the team slithers away

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.

There is such a thing as a law of diminishing returns.

I really enjoyed Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the first time I went years ago. Back then, it was the first Major League Baseball game I traveled out of California to see — the Dodgers and D-backs. It was my first game in a domed stadium, and watching baseball indoors for the first time is unforgettable. You miss some of the game because you find yourself staring at this marvel of construction, a building tall enough to seat more than 48,000 people on the periphery and yet big enough in the center to play professional baseball.

And both teams were vying for a playoff spot that year. So it was a wonderful experience, complete with the junior college dropouts in the parking lot afterward offering you free passes to see them strip later at the local dancing cabarets.

So I don’t want to disparage professional baseball in Phoenix, at least not then.

Here’s why I do now:

In my opinion, the Diamondbacks have devolved into a somewhat petulant organization. The first big clue came when the Dodgers won the NL Western Division title there in 2013 and decided to celebrate by taking a dip in a swimming pool behind the right-field fence after the game. The front office, the players, anyone pulling a check all decried such loutish behavior to soil their fair swimming pool. They even paid for security guards to protect the pool in case those blue bastards decided to jump in again.

To which anyone with a modicum of common sense would reply, you’ve just run around in a city with 110 degree temperatures and there’s a swimming pool nearby. Cannonball!

The second reason I’m no longer keen on desert baseball is because the franchise is threatening to leave Phoenix if its demands for a new stadium are not met. The D-Backs might have some leverage. The Las Vegas suburb of Henderson might pony up for a new stadium.

But if the Atlanta Braves left a perfectly functional Turner Field after about 20 years and were called a bunch of filthy corporate welfare whores for sucking a new stadium out of the public teat, the Diamondbacks are even worse. Chase Field is actually a very comfortable and affordable place to watch a game, more so than Turner Field. It is also in a safer part of Phoenix than the neighborhood the Braves once called home.

There are perhaps two things you could say negatively about Chase Field. One is the interior bears a striking resemblance to Miller Park in Milwaukee. At least the construction crew took heed and painted the place forest green instead of that Amazon distribution warehouse hue in Wisconsin. Having said that, it is extremely difficult to make the interior of a domed stadium look cozy. Domes are big, monolithic airplane hangars. That won’t change no matter if the team stays or moves to Nevada. Nobody wants to watch a game outdoors in 115 degree heat. Stick with ugly comfort, guys. You have no choice.

The second problem is that the Diamondbacks, through the self-inflicted wounds of negative press brought on by poor results and false claims of poverty, rarely fill up the stadium now. Heck, Phoenix is no longer considered a viable sports town. The beloved Suns have been a laughingstock in the NBA for almost a decade. The Cardinals have had three coaches in as many years and as for the Coyotes? Their arena is just 17 years old and the rumor is they want to move to a city that they say likes hockey — Houston.

The last time I went to Chase Field, I think it was three years ago, the woeful D-Backs played an afternoon game against the equally irrelevant Phillies. Parking and the ticket cost maybe 25 bucks. I sat in the left field bleachers with some Phillies fans and marveled at the upper deck instead of the closed roof. The deck was vacant, except for one lady who twirled colored flags for the entire nine innings — a one woman spirit squad that picked up different banners and spun them any which way you could imagine. The locals told me she was there every game. Nobody knows why. Nobody knows if she actually watches or comprehends baseball. Maybe people are privately relieved that this is her way of gaining attention, as opposed to mass murder or public nudity.

So yeah, Chase Field suffers from the law of diminishing returns. It’s neither handsome nor ugly. It is comfortable and affordable, but not particularly memorable. Even worse, if the team leaves Phoenix is likely done for as a major sports town.

Which I don’t want, to be honest.

I see opportunity in Phoenix if only the Diamondbacks would invest in Chase Field as other teams have in their stadiums. Arizona could have added outfield seats when the stadium debuted, but it intentionally sacrificed prime spots for the small swimming pool in right field. Now, other teams have ripped out some seats for bars. Why stop at a small swimming pool? Have the biggest swimming pool/bar known to man just behind the entire outfield fence. Girls get in free with their own two-piece bikini and every poor sucker gets taken to the cleaners for drinks and inner tubes.

What have you got to lose? You know damn well that’s what your fan base would be if you moved to Vegas, anyway. And as previously established, you have enough girls from the strip clubs and Hooters within walking distance of Chase Field. The girls are there, and they like baseball.

Soil that pool, even if the people wear blue.

No. 24 — Marlins Park, when stoned architects take their talents to South Beach

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.

I get into arguments all the time about movies featuring characters from DC Comics — “Man of Steel,” “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice,” etc. Usually, the debate goes something like this: I posit that instead of the same superhero movie told in a paint-by-numbers approach, they’re trying to tell different stories. Some of it fails or is overblown, but much of it works and I want Hollywood to take risks instead of predictable reboots and sequels.

The counterargument is usually: Zack Snyder sucks. Robert Downey Jr. rules! And then I sigh and pick my spirits up with a tasty Hostess fruit pie.

Marlins Park is the “Batman V Superman” of sports stadiums. In other words, it is an ambitious failure that I admit I enjoyed driving to when I lived in Florida. Former owner Jeffrey Loria instructed the architects to avoid the faux retro look of so many other stadiums. Miami is a forward-looking city, he told them. Look forward. Let your imagination go.

The result is a beautiful mess of a retractable roof stadium that encapsulates as much South Florida tackiness as a pack of designers can create with a bag full of narcotics and a doodle pad. But considering it seats just about 36,000 people, there’s a lot more focus on Miami-Deco, 1980s neon colors and the music of Pitbull than there is on getting fans in the seats.

Which is another thing that makes Marlins Park symbolic of Miami: South Florida simply doesn’t like professional sports that much. But we’ll expand on that later.

The stadium — built on the site of the former Orange Bowl football stadium in Little Havana — would feel cramped if the Marlins were ever popular. In the eight MLB games I attended, I never saw a fan sitting in the upper deck. You can get a seat behind the dugouts on some nights for less than $20. I did when the Dodgers were in town and witnessed Rich Hill pitch seven perfect innings against the hometown team. If you are a fan of the visiting team, $20 is a nice investment for the climate control and proximity alone.

Special events can be a treat there. When the World Baseball Classic was held in Marlins Park, fans of Central American national teams showed up with drum lines, dancers and sang for nine innings. Imagine an international soccer flavor to baseball. Imagine people in that upper deck. It was a wonderful memory.

I also like the crazy mash of colors around the park. I never realized there were that many shades or turquoise and chartreuse. I liked the garish fountain in centerfield to celebrate home runs. Regrettably, that was removed prior to this season because the Marlins don’t hit home runs. The wall paneling has the feel of a motel swimming pool, but it seems to fit. The bar with a swimming pool behind the left-field fence. The aquariums behind home plate. The 60-foot tall glass panels that provide a glimpse of a real party in Miami a few blocks away.

So as crazy as the place looks, I like it because it makes sense for South Florida.

But Miami hates the Marlins, and that makes a lot of sense, too.

And this is why Marlins Park ranks No. 24. Miami loathes the Marlins because Loria threatened to move the team unless it ponied up for the stadium. Prior to Marlins Park, the team played in a football stadium about 30 miles north. Which football stadium? Hell if I know. The NFL’s Dolphins change the damned name every six months.

Anyway, Loria swore on a stack of Too Live Crew CDs that if Miami built Marlins Park, he would pay for a competitive team. Instead, he traded away its best (nee: well-paid) players just a couple of months into the Marlins first season in their new digs. The Marlins have stunk ever since. Their supporters never forgot, because it appeared to them that Loria inflated the value of the franchise on the basis on the new stadium alone. He eventually sold the team for $1.2 billion. I’m a conservative in politics. When a liberal complains about corporate welfare, this is a case study. And even a guy like me nods his head and understands.

Loria had a six percent approval rating in a 2012 poll by the Miami Herald.

I admit I go back and forth about sports in Florida. Sports are a quality-of-life benefit to me. The major leagues, the NFL, NBA, NHL, even soccer, are all represented in the Sunshine State. I liked that.

But nobody goes to the games unless they’re in the running for a title. SEC or ACC football? Sure, college football sells. But the professionals? Who links the phrase “die-hard” to a fan of any Florida team? How often do you have to be reminded that the Jacksonville Jaguars exist? Hell, the Florida Panthers play next to a giant mall where you can park for free and still can’t get attention. I attended a Panthers game once and the crowd cheered loudest when it was announced Barry Manilow would play a concert there in three months. I’m not kidding.

So Marlins Park is affordable, memorably funky and comfortable. But should you make a cross-country trip to see an unpopular baseball team?

Of course not, unless you need to get a few hours of relief from your elderly relatives who retired there. Or maybe if your kids have dropped the director’s cut of “Suicide Squad” in the Blu-ray player.

No. 25 — Citizens Bank Park, this is the cleanest mosh pit I’ve ever been in

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.

In a curiously fractured city, it was somewhat appropriate that I entered its shiny — well, less grimy — baseball stadium by passing a statue of a legendary pitcher/accused anti-Semite.

Until you’ve been to Philadelphia, all a sports fan hears is how awful the fans are. The booing of Santa Claus — which is deplorable. The booing of Destiny’s Child — which is more appropriate. So when I hit up the city, there was part of me which told me to prepare to fight even though I had no rooting interest in either the Phillies or the Brewers.

Look, part of these stadium rankings comes in answering the question: Can you make a lasting memory in the city? And overall, you damn sure can. Philadelphia is a fascinating city.

Citizens Bank Park, for the most part, I can do without.

Here’s what I mean: I started the day by getting the obvious tourist trap spots out of the way. I did see the actual Liberty Bell. Less than a block away, Independence Hall. Even though you’re checking off these things like a to-do list, if you have a brain in your head, you feel compelled to stop. And you think to yourself, “Holy crap! This is where our entire nation came to be.” It does bring about a certain reverence, for all of our flaws.

After that, I went to the Museum of Art. I like art museums. I also like the “Rocky” movies. Those steps? Yep, that was the finish line of Rocky’s daily morning run set to “Gonna Fly Now.” Thank you, Sylvester Stallone, for contributing the training montage to cinematic history. Since then, it was determined that if the character actually trekked that route, Rocky would have ran 15 miles. Yo, Mick, I think I’d prefer women weaken my legs instead.

It is a little silly, though. Everybody runs the steps, turns and throws up their arms in victory. Do they go in the museum? I almost had the place to myself. It was a delightful two hours in there. Wish I could have spent more time.

Can you see where I’m going, though? I don’t simply want to throw out obvious Philadelphia jokes. You can make a memory here.

But those sports fans are a walking punch line. Angry, bitter, with blue-collar hands that presumably forged from an honest-day’s work and ready to fit around any throat.

The stadium itself is a clear upgrade over its predecessor — the concrete multipurpose doughnut called “The Vet” — with its patchwork AstroTurf surface that was a clear and present danger to any athlete with knees. At CBP, the concourses are spacious. There is the typical monument to notable players beyond the outfield fence, Ashburn’s Alley.

The food options are Philly-based, cheesesteaks and whatnot. Few take advantage, though, because tailgating is allowed for the game. By the time you take your seat, you’re pretty hammered.

Which may explain why the employees are so bloody rude. I had been to more than 20 MLB stadiums by the time I got here. This was the first time I left with the distinct impression that the ushers — either gender — were assholes. Short. Curt. I suppose it would be nicer to call them that, but if I paid for a ticket and you’re mean to me, why be polite back?

As for the team, this was before the Phightin’ Phils made a splash for Bryce Harper in free agency. In other words, they were awful then. Now? They can play a little, but they’re not elite by any stretch.

Also, I have one other recollection that has to be mentioned. A WWE event was scheduled across the street that night and in this weird little storage-unit-turned-radio-booth, a pregame show included an interview with wrestling star A.J. Styles. For those of you who don’t follow wrestling, Styles is fantastic at what he does. If it were baseball, he wouldn’t be Babe Ruth but he would be a perennial all-star. When you have someone that good at their job, it would behoove you to do a little research.

Which the announcers didn’t. Their first question was prefaced with “I have never watched wrestling. I don’t like it, but…”

Considering Philadelphia was also the home for a groundbreaking wrestling company, ECW, that held events a mile down the street, that was a curious way to introduce yourself.

But again, fractured. Just like the city. For everything about Philadelphia that is inspiring, there are 1 1/2 things that make you pause and ask “what the f—k?”

So in sum, it’s affordable but rude. Citizens Bank Park is a cleaner, shinier mosh pit in a city that is a coin flip between eminence and ill-repute.

Plan your trip accordingly if you go.

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, O.co 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.

Why Acosta is the furthest thing from a journalism hero

Talk is cheap, the saying goes. Sure, we all believe our thoughts are priceless wisdom. Everyone else’s? How quickly do you flip your thumb over your social media feed? Exactly.

You know what costs — not just in terms of money, but time and grit? Solid information. Pure, distilled data arranged in order of importance for people who need it. That’s the opposite of talk. That’s actually the very definition of news judgment.

I watched teachers in journalism classes, editors at newspapers, summoning reporters and demanding the words “I” and “me” struck from copy. Entire articles rewritten from scratch because the writer had instilled opinion in the copy. Oh, and those arguments got ugly, but the editor pretty much always won. Because the writer was often fighting for himself. The editor was fighting for the reputation of the newspaper.

We’ll get to why the reputation of the news outlet matters in a moment.

The point is that CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta does absolutely none of this. I didn’t like his press pass being revoked by the Trump administration. Having said that, the idea that Acosta is some sort of champion of the press is completely ridiculous.

When I was a reporter, you weren’t supposed to care about me. (I must say, I accomplished that goal.) You, rightfully, are supposed to care about what matters to you. That is supposedly one of the pillars that builds trust between news outlets and news consumers. Hi, I put this together for your benefit. To show it was for your benefit, I took great efforts not to try to persuade you to see things my way. These are the facts. Make up your own mind.

My job was to break stories.

When was the last time Acosta broke a story? One that wasn’t about “Trump was a big orange meanie to me”?

Because Acosta doesn’t break stories. He seeks to be the story, which is repugnant to any legitimate reporter. President Trump is a grandstanding blowhard. Having another grandstanding blowhard in the room is not a solution to anyone’s need for information. It’s pablum. It’s foolishness. Somebody had to be the adult in the room and it damn sure wasn’t either of them.

Where were the editors to tell Acosta he had to be the adult in the room? That he had to be professional? They were nowhere to be found because, as has been painfully obvious, CNN has abandoned journalistic ethics — which requires hard work — for cheap talk.

As such, CNN’s reputation has been wounded by not just the viewing public but within the journalism industry itself. Ted Koppel, who turned “Nightline” into a must-watch news show even though it was late at night, told CNN it “would be in the toilet without Donald Trump. You can’t do without Donald Trump. You would be lost without Donald Trump.”

Bob Woodward, whose work with Carl Bernstein actually did take down an American president when he worked with the Washington Post, has chided modern reporters for having too much of an “emotional reaction” to Trump.

CNN founder Ted Turner had bemoaned how the network has gotten too far from reporting and too deeply into political punditry.

Not to mention punditry allows the president to use the press as a foil to stir up his own base supporters. As such, the reputation of the press outlet goes down and people seek their information elsewhere. People aren’t as gullible as you think. They do catch on to phonies. A Pew Research Center poll indicates that more than two-thirds of Americans believe the press is slanted in its coverage.

CNN doesn’t seek to correct this. Acosta embraced it.

Why do facts matter more than opinion? Had the national press actually done a thorough job of vetting the Bush administration’s evidence of weapons of mass destruction, perhaps we don’t invade Iraq. But we didn’t have reporters in Washington. We had pundits. What was the inevitable result of a government unchecked by vigorous reporting? Bombs away!

Do you really want to know how you get to Trump and press secretary Sarah Sanders? You break stories and then blitz the White House. Look back to Woodward and Bernstein. Do you think Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler looked forward to meeting the reporters with the latest surprise about Watergate?

But no, to Jim Acosta, it’s much more satisfying to just hog the mic with nothing but his opinions to guide him. That doesn’t make him a champion of the First Amendment. That makes him no different than Sean Hannity.

So to repeat to the overly sensitive, I did not write that I approve of the dude’s credential being revoked. The White House shouldn’t have done that.

CNN should have taken it from Acosta long ago.

No, Beto

So I’ve lived in Texas for about three months now and I can’t claim to be a local.

I don’t own a 10-gallon hat, a gun or a truck. For that matter, I still despise contemporary country music. Hey, Clem, you lose the authority to tell me how all hip-hop sounds the same when every song I hear in a Whataburger is about heartbroken drunken driving in your Ford.

But you, Mister or Ms. or Cis Coastal Democrat, do not know Texas, either. For that matter, you don’t know Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke. You support him both in word, tweet and wallet, but you do not know him or Texas. You know you hate all things Republican and surely want current Sen. Ted Cruz to lose because he came in second to President Trump in the GOP primaries in 2016.

Yep, ousting Cruz — who didn’t even support Trump at the GOP convention — would be quite the plume in the Resistance’s musketeer hat.

Only problem is, Beto O’Rourke is a jerk. A shiny, dashing, well-spoken jerk, but a jerk nevertheless.

Not for what he believes, which appears to be a helping of everything on the progressive menu. (Believe in whatever you want. So be it.) No, he’s a jerk for what he did in 1998. Back then, as a young fellow in the badlands of El Paso, O’Rourke pled guilty to a DUI.

Now, I agree that a garden variety DUI is not the worst thing in the world. Maybe you have that one extra beer. You live less than a mile from the bar. That just so happens to be the night the local police put up a checkpoint. You blow a 0.09. Sucks for you.

Only that’s not what happened in O’Rourke’s case. The dude hit somebody, then according to police reports, tried to flee but was stopped by the driver he hit.

You get a DUI. You spend a night in the drunk tank, you pay the fine and the spiked insurance. You learn a lesson. Virtually all of us can live with that. Maybe you even have multiple DUIs, realize you have a personal flaw and you work tirelessly to stay sober. I root for people like you.

But you hurt somebody and try to run? No, dude. You’re a jerk.

I don’t care how sleazy or over-rehearsed Cruz is. Cruz didn’t stoop to that level.

Now you might say “But James, Beto denied that.” True, he denied running. He denied running away after he started to fall seriously behind in the polls.

Your denials are 30 years too late, Beto. They should have been in court, or when you ran for public office before. They should have been at the start of this campaign. And they should have included the dude you hit. “He was drunk. He made a mistake, but he didn’t run,” should be out of that guy’s mouth.

Instead, it is you, your guitar and skateboard against the police … and the person you plowed into.

What do I know about Texas? It seems to be a decent state. Most of the people are nice. The culture is a little gaudy, but so is Florida, California and New York City. Cruz hasn’t embarrassed the state other than his overgreased hair. In other words, I do not know enough about Cruz or Texas to tell you why he should go.

Other than it is what The Resistance wants.

That’s not good enough.

Not every vote for a conservative is a vote for Trump, no matter how much you want it to be.

And I’m not voting for someone whose first inclination at the sign of trouble is to run like a punk.