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Stadium Review: The Best

Without a ton of material out there for Monday discussion (we'll have a full postseason baseball preview up tomorrow or Wednesday), I thought we'd take a venture into something I've been wanting to write about for a while now: stadiums.

I've been fortunate enough to visit a good number of them now, and can offer up a list of my most and least favorite stadiums I've been to, along with a wish list of stadiums that I hope to catch soon. The lists of best and worst only include stadiums I've been to.

Your own experiences, as always, welcomed in the comments below. Onward.

The Best

1. The Rose Bowl - Pasadena, California A stadium of legend prior to January 4th of this year, I was so enthralled with the magnitude of the event to be held in the Rose Bowl to talk enough about the stadium itself. It's as good as advertised, and then some. Set against a beautiful mountain backdrop, with a golf course(!) for pre-game tailgating, the 100,000+ seat marvel is a work of beauty. Even better, there simply are no bad seats. A true "must see" stadium.

Perfect for lots of reasons. 41-38

2. [Telephone Company Du Jour] Park - San Francisco, California The only drawback to this perfect ballpark is that you're not sure what to call it. Getting past that, it's by far the best baseball stadium I've ever visited. I've taken in about a dozen games at this park now, and in so doing sat everywhere from the nosebleeds in the upper deck to the third row of the first base side: it's all gravy. The dimensions are unique, featuring a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate bridge and the bay, as well as a beautiful right field wall that reaches up a good 25 feet, knocking down potential home runs that are blasted its way. Hit it far enough, though, and the ball lands in a splash in McCovey's Cove below, where kayakers collect home run memorabilia. Throw in the best food of any ballpark I've visited (garlic fries to die for), and it's the best of its class.

The house that Barry built. Artificially, they say.

3. Camden Yards - Baltimore, Maryland The first of the "new wave" of ballparks is one of the best, rating only slightly behind San Francisco's. Just a 10 minute walk from Baltimore's beautiful (and booming) Inner Harbor, the stadium has everything you want in your ballpark experience. Terrific food, appropriate entertainment, and a gorgeous setting. The Washington Nationals are in the process of building a (grossly over-priced) stadium: their neighbors to the north have set a terrificly high standard.

Camden Yards provides one of the best ballpark experiences in the country.

4. Ford Field - Detroit, Michigan  If I were to build a new football stadium, I'd want it to be like Ford Field. It manages not to overwhelm the visiting fan, while providing an unrivaled entertainment experience. It doesn't have the history or aura that surround a classic like Soldier Field (pre-UFO landing) or Lambau Field, but nostalgia points only take you so far. Great sight-lines, an intimacy rare in football stadiums, and smart design make it among my favorites. I generally prefer new to old, though, so this pick will probably draw some eye rolls. So be it. It's my list!

5. Madison Square Garden - New York, New York If you haven't been, go. Whether it's a Knicks game, the Big East tournament, or a Phish show (sigh.... no more) - get to the Garden. Rich with tradition, energy, perfect location, and big time atmosphere, there's so much to enjoy.

Honorable Mention With so many terrific stadiums I've visited, a few had to miss the cut. Apologies to Wrigley Field (great but overrated), Jacobs Field (Cleveland Indians), Soldier Field (seriously, a UFO ruined it), and Dodger Stadium (Dodger dogs + terrific weather + beautiful setting - enemies of my Giants = Honorable Mention).

Up next...

My least favorite stadiums.