Comerica Park

I went to Comerica Park and it was good

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On Friday I detailed my trip to old Tiger Stadium and mentioned that I was heading off to Comerica Park. And there I went, for all three games of the Tigers-Indians series. The baseball speaks for itself — RIP Indians and my condolences Indians fans — so let’s talk about the park.

I really, really like Comerica. It’s a great place to see a game.  It was packed all three days and it’s an enthusiastic and knowledgeable  crowd.  The design is excellent. Some of the new-era ballparks are something of a pastiche. This design feature here, that design feature there and some quirkiness sprinkled around all willy-nilly.  That is not the case at all with Comerica.  It feels like a much more coherent kind of design. Even the features that got a lot of derisive attention back when it first opened — the ferris wheel and carousel — are well-integrated to the design of the place and are not at all obtrusive or superfluous.

The outside of the place is pretty swell too. A lot of people write and talk about the giant tiger statue and the million tiger heads carved in the side, but I think the most striking aspect of the park is how it doesn’t loom over the surrounding area like a lot of ballparks do. From Woodward Avenue it seems almost quaint, size-wize, thanks in part to how deep down the field of play is apparently dug from street level. Also thanks to the fact that Ford Field — the Lions stadium — is right next door and is, of course, gigantic.  Anyway, Detroit obviously has some issues with downtown development, but if ever the day comes when the place is hopping again, Comerica would fit in, in terms of scale, not unlike a lot of the old timey downtown parks of yore.

I had pretty sweet seats for two of the three games. Tiger Den seats on Friday, which are equivalent to club seats at other ballparks. Comfy chairs, waiter service and that sort of thing. I could get used to that. On Sunday we sat in the Terrace section along the right field line, which is in the upper reaches of the lower deck, just under the overhang. Those were swell as well, with the added bonus of being in the shade on a hot sunny day.  On Saturday I sat with a group down by the left field corner. Despite it being far away, they were still excellent seats which somehow seemed closer in to the action than comparable seats at other ballparks. Maybe it’s just a good sight lines thing.

The concourses were really congested. I guess that’s part of the deal when you get more than 40,000 people in the joint all three games. Still, I’d like to see what it’s like when it’s a little less hectic. There are these really cool kiosks detailing decade-by-decade Tigers history. I would have liked to spend more time checking them out but the crowds make it kind of difficult.

Beer was kind of frustrating. There is great beer there — Bell’s and Atwater brewery have kiosks and/or counters — but they’re relegated to the right field concourse. If you want beer without a walk, you have your choice of Miller Lite, Miller Lite or Miller Lite every ten feet, with some Labatt’s thrown in for, um, diversity.  Make the walk to right field if you want good beer.

Food: again, there is good stuff to be had — the food court between home and third place had a lot of options — but it’s mostly your standard hot dogs and pizza kind of place. Pfun Pfact: the Little Caesar’s $5 Hot and Ready pizza they advertise all over the park is $18 in Comerica Park. It’s way easier to justify eating that stuff for $5 than it is for $18.

Anyway: for a guy who was prepared to find fault with Comerica Park due to his irrational love of old Tiger Stadium, no real fault could be found. It’s a great place to see a game. As far as the new era parks go, I’d place it a notch below AT&T Park (it’s impossible to top that setting) but above Camden Yards and Progressive Field, both of which I really, really love.

If you’re anywhere close to Detroit, I highly recommend a visit.

UPDATE: Forgot two things:

1. Yesterday I was all fancy and had brunch in the Tiger Club before the game, sitting along the window overlooking the field. I’m pretty sure that drinking champagne while eating tasty omelettes, prime rib and the like disqualifies me from ever talking about baseball purism again; but

2. I had some karma to burn because on Friday night I left the park and bought a t-shirt from a dude in the street that says “Detroit Fu**in’ Michigan” on it, which felt like the right thing to do. No, I have no idea where I’m gonna wear the thing. I’m guessing the kids’ parent teacher conferences would be a good place, but beyond that I’m blanking.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.

Masahiro Tanaka throws off mound for first time since October elbow surgery

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According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.

The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.

Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.

The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.

Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.