This is a list of the five parks in baseball where home runs don't look quite as majestic and special. Feelings are going to be hurt. For that, I apologize.
But what's that saying about sex and pizza?
Some of it can be really awful, and hot grease will get in your eye if you're not careful. Also, technically, they can both kill you.
Right. That's not the case with homers and ballparks. They're all wonderful. There's no such thing as a bad place for dingers. Some parks are just better equipped for majesty than others.
If you want to play along with the home version of the game, I can't describe how much tougher this job would have been without Home Run Tracker. That wonderful site allowed me to find the longest (and cheapest) home runs in a snap. You can sort by ballpark and follow the links to watch a dozen homers in about five minutes' time. Amazing.
To the rankings! Remember, if your team's ballpark ranks poorly, it's probably because of something you did.
30. U.S. Cellular Field
Warning: Hawk Harrelson.
That's the longest homer of the year in U.S. Cellular. When I see the bomb of the year, I want it to clang off something. I want it to clear something. I want it to bounce and hit someone getting nachos. This one just kinda of disappears into the batter's eye. Also, it doesn't help that the ballpark was apparently built in a cloud, at least for that homer.
To left field:
That's the second-longest homer of the year. It hit off a metal bench. Here's the third-longest:
It hit off a seat. It was never in danger of doing anything else. It went 445 feet -- one of the longest homers hit in any park last year -- but it never had a chance to go into an upper deck or into a ravine or into a pile of fake rocks or off a giant trash bag.
There's never a chance for a homer in U.S. Cellular to do anything, really. It might go into a little upper deck over the left-field fence. That's it. The park itself is pretty nice, and it gets an unfair rap. But there wasn't a lot of deliberation for the last spot of this ranking.
29. Tropicana Field
You probably knew this was coming, and there's no sense belaboring the point. Growing up, my home ballpark was dead last on every ranking. Candlestick Park was a circle of hell, a place you wouldn't go on a dare, at least according to those rankings. And how I loved it so. It was all I knew, and it turns out they played baseball there, so it was awesome. Those rankings cheesed me off when I was a kid.
Those rankings were also probably right. And when it comes to dingers, here's the only thing Tropicana has going for it:
I struggled with this, because it's exceptionally cool when a homer hits off the catwalk. It's like a carnival game. The hitter should get to run around the bases twice and receive a stuffed animal when he reaches home plate. That should rank it over several of the stadiums coming up, right?
The problem is you can't really see it hit the catwalk, at least not on television. The roof is the same color as the ball. You have to take the announcer's word for it. The other problem is the cameraperson is never going to anticipate a catwalk dinger, so there's always that moment of panic and adjustment. The best homers aren't interrupted by a moment of confusion; they just sail into the night or clang off something you're anticipating.
The longest homer at the Trop last year:
There's not much to it. At least left-handers can punch out scoreboard bulbs:
But it takes a poke to get it there. The overall pitcher-friendliness of Tropicana Field doesn't help. It's hard to overcome crushed pitches landing in the first couple rows of any part of the park.
The catwalk makes it a sleeper park. Because these are based mostly on video and TV experiences, though, it can't crack the bottom tier.
28. Comerica Park
There's a strong chance -- strong, strong chance -- that I'm overreacting to the loss of Tiger Stadium, one of the greatest dinger ballparks to ever exist. Tiger Stadium's upper deck turned average homers into exquisite bombs, and then there was the twist of super-long homers leaving the stadium entirely.
That's beautiful. Rare, sure, but the potential was always there.
The season before Tiger Stadium was torn down, I spent all winter trying to convince my friends to take a road trip there to watch a game.
"Hey, anyone up for a … road trip to Detroit?"
"Uh, maybe, but we were thinking Vegas for the Final Four this year. Or just Vegas in general."
"Seriously, though, what about Detroit in April? Eh? Eh? Detroit in April, everyone?"
Didn't work out. Still, I don't think it's just the loss of Tiger Stadium that hurts Comerica. It's just a nice, clean park with standard dimensions. The deciding factor for a lot of these rankings was where the longest home runs of the year landed. Here's the longest homer at Comerica in 2013:
Man, what a bomb. In the introduction to these rankings, Albert Pujols's destruction of Brad Lidge was featured. That homer from J.D. Martinez was probably hit about as hard as Pujols's ball. Martinez's homer went about 20 rows up the left-center bleachers. Pujols's carried over a gigantic man-made structure and into the unknown. Did it take out a vast network of Doozer construction on the other side? Maybe.
Martinez's homer went about 20 rows up the left-center bleachers.
But, fine, maybe the park just isn't exciting for right-handers. What about lefties? (Warning: Hawk.)
That's okay. It disappears into some shrubbery, at least.
Much better. It can leave the yard with a monumental poke, and It can go into some upper-promenade areas if it's pulled. There's a hint of an upper deck, but it seems almost impossible to reach:
It's not a bad homer park -- again, none of them really are. But it suffers in comparison to what came before.
Finding where home runs look best