We're getting to the great parks, but we're not quite there yet. Instead, enjoy these three really, really good parks for home runs. These aren't the parks that make home runs easy, but rather the parks that make home runs look even better.
Well, some of them make home runs easier, too. Like ...
12. Coors Field
There should be a penalty for ballpark effects -- i.e., how easy it is to hit a home run at the park -- and I've applied one. Apart from Yankee Stadium, Coors Field is probably the leader in "There's no way that's … oh, come on" home runs. So it's not going to crack the top 10.
But it's much more than a cheap-dinger factory. Here's the second-longest homer in the majors last year:
Balls down the left-field line have a chance to hit people paying too much for food. That's something you see in Cleveland and New York, but it's a big part of Coors. A right-handed pull hitter can really make the park look good. But I strongly dislike the center-field homers. Look how the bleachers swallow up this 456-foot homer:
Every time I watch that one, I want to move the park down a dozen spots. It doesn't help that Coors Field's center-field fence is already 415 feet away, which is one of the biggest distances in baseball. It's almost impossible for a truly impressive home run to center to look as impressive as it should.
But it's all about the right field, and what left-handers can do to it. Carlos Gonzalez likes it:
Here's one of my personal favorites:
The balance of the upper deck is important; it's hard to reach, but not impossible. Also, even within the upper deck, there's a milestone to shoot for. There's a ring of purple seats that's exactly 5,280 feet from sea level. That's nearly impossible to reach, though Barry Bonds came close with a batting-practice homer that CSN Bay Area plays nearly every time the Giants visit Coors Field.
As a reader pointed out last time, if you like waterfalls and fake rocks, and you're not sure if you prefer Angel Stadium or Kauffman Stadium, pick Coors. It has both, albeit in a limited capacity.
11. Target Field
All you really need to know, in one GIF:
It's the park that made that possible. The source video:
That was an ex-baseball before it left the infield, and the ballpark handled the distance with aplomb, with a reachable-but-not-ridiculously-easy-to-reach upper deck ready to receive it. It takes on Wil Myers's Ministry of Silly Walks home run, and comes out clean the other side, too:
I'll be honest, though, I probably know less about Target Field than any other ballpark in the majors. I'm not sure if I've watched a full game there since the 2010 playoffs. The Twins haven't had a must-see young pitcher or hitter -- or team, for that matter -- in a long while, so there's almost something better on MLB.tv. It's a beautiful park, though, and it has a great center-field camera. I'll have to scribble a note to watch more games there in 2014.
It's a heckuva home-run park, too, as long as they're hit in the right spot. For example, the dreaded outfield bullpen sucks in the longest Target Field homer of the year by a Twin:
The #2 Twins homer at Target didn't fare much better:
There's nothing interesting in left-center or center. Aaron Hicks crushed that ball, and it didn't even make it to the batter's eye.
When you get to left, though, it's outstanding. (Warning: Hawk Harrelson)
The multi-tiered aesthetic is the easiest way to get into the good graces of the dinger gods. But there's also a nice, high porch from right-center to the line, and a lefty pull-hitter can knock it all the way to an entry gate:
You can get hit with a baseball before you even have time to buy beer, unlike those jerks in Colorado. Seems like that's worth a few bonus points.
But is the park so cool for home runs, that it can make just-enough homers into something special?
Sold. Target's in the top half. And there's even a little target out beyond right-center. No one will hit it anytime soon, but awwwwwww.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Look at all the delightful places a dinger can land. And if a baseball is hit in just the right away, there will be a skyline in the background of the flight path. It's a shame about the relatively boring center field, but the rest of the park is exceptional.
As an additional exercise, I tried to think about where the Hefty bags would have put the Metrodome. They would have helped, but I'm not sure if it would have made it into the top half. I'm starting to think Target Field is a better all-around ballpark, but we'll wait before getting too provocative.
10. Miller Park
Most of this series is based on aesthetics: how the features and architecture of a ballpark help or hinders the look of a home run. Angles, walls, upper decks, et cetera. But I'll also give a little credence to the gimmicky things that happen after the home run. Citi Field is better because of that stupid apple, even if I don't know why.
Miller Park has a mascot who slides onto a platform of not beer. That's horrible. He used to slide into beer, dammit, beer, but they changed it to not beer to protect the children.
The team's name is the "Brewers."
The Brewers play in Miller Park.
But sliding into beer, why, that's too much. There's a chance you could promote the consumption of beer with that.
Pewaukee, WI - A Pewaukee High student died on Friday after sliding feet first into a gigantic vat of beer at a house party. Aiden Holpen, 17, was taken to Waukesha Memorial late Friday night, where he was pronounced dead.
"It. Was. Awesome," said friend Aiden Galt. "I mean, I'll miss Aiden, all of us will. But he slid into a gigantic vat of beer until he died. It was (expletive) raaaaaaad."
That was the risk, I guess. So now Bernie Brewer is totally neutered, and he slides down a slide just to slide down a slide.
And it's still fantastic. I hate myself for enjoying it so much.
Ah, but there's a lot more to Miller Park. There are girders and beams. There are decks stacked upon decks on all sides. One of my favorite features, though, is the gigantic batter's eye, which isn't something that has come up too often in these rankings. But when a ball clangs high off a 100-foot-tall structure or video screen, it makes the homer seem like it would have gone 100 feet farther than it would have. Check out these two home runs, first at Turner Field:
That went an estimated 431 feet. Here's a 432-foot homer to center in Miller Park:
It's hard to believe those home runs were even comparable. One was a nice homer, a shot to center without a lot of doubt. The other one made the announcers go nuts, and for good reason. It just looked better. Sounded better, too.
Unfortunately, the longest homers in park history aren't online. When you search for Sammy Sosa's performance in the 2002 Home Run Derby -- one of the more memorable in Derby history -- you get a file path on MLB.com of "mlb/open/allstar2002/demand/070802_homerunderby_t5_sosa_300.rm" and nothing else. Maybe it works, but the RealPlayer is still buffering.
Russell Branyan supposedly knocked the longest homer in park history, but there's no video of that, either. There is this Rickie Weeks blast from 2012:
And this one from last year:
Love that scoreboard. Before we end this, let's throw in a token left-hander for a right-field view:
Decks, girders, more decks. Miller Park might be the best park at making home runs look like they were hit farther than they were, which automatically makes it one of the best home run ballparks.
Plus, there's a dude in a foam suit who slides down a slide onto a platform.