Wednesday, May 10, 2006


So tell me, Jim, what are your thoughts on the new ballpark, Busch Stadium?

Well, as you know, Bonita and I had a chance to go to the new Busch Stadium and see what all the fuss was about.

Someone said that new Busch Stadium was like getting a new pair of shoes. Nice and shiny and new, not very comfortable yet, though probably will be when you get used to them. I find that to be very descriptive. You go into the ballpark and everything is nice and shiny and new. You're not familiar with it yet so everything looks different. You don't know your way around. It has things that the old stadium didn't yet the old stadium had things that this stadium doesn't. As you look around, even though you've never been there before, things look familiar, strangely familiar... like you're having a deja vu. Then you realize that it's not deja vu, you HAVE seen this place before. Yes, you've seen it in Baltimore and Milwaukee and Houston and the other 15 stadiums that have been built in the past fifteen years!

Okay, so I'm not the one to ask. I liked the old Busch Stadium; I didn't want to see them tear it down, and now that I have seen the new ballpark, I saw nothing that changed my mind. A better analogy to me is growing up in an old neighborhood like Glendale, where all the houses are old, and look different because they were built by different families and contractors, and there are trees in everyone's yard. The whole neighborhood has a character and flavor to it. Then you move into a nice new subdivision. The houses are new and large and even though there are several choices of floor plans and trims, all the houses look similar because they were all built at the same time by the same contractor who started the project by bulldozing all the trees. Everything is new, clean, and beautiful, but that flavor and character are gone. But then again, I probably would have said the exact same thing when they tore down Busch I (Sportsman's Park) to build "old Busch" stadium.

You know what? This is just "old man rant". It's fine. It's beautiful. I just can't get past the fact that old Busch represented a whole era of baseball that does not exist anymore... the first stadium of that era... the best stadium of that era... the last stadium of that era to still be standing... was torn down to build a new ballpark that looks like every ballpark that was built since 1990. I really don't give a rodent's pooper that the concession stands on the terrace have the essence of an open air mall a la THE BOULEVARD in Brentwood. I'm not there to shop, I'm there to watch a baseball game. I'm more concerned with what is happening on the field, not the venue. Heck, they could put a contending team in a cardboard box and I'd be happy. I'd be even happier if I could get affordable tickets, but that is going to be tough this year, for the second year in a row.

But let's put that all into perspective. We only have to look west to our cross state counterparts, the Kansas City Royals. If you compare The Royals to the Cards, the average cost of tickets is half, their payroll is half, their wins are half, ticket availability is twice, etc. How many of us would be happier getting cheap and easily available tickets to watch a team that is out of contention at the end of spring training? We fans complain about the high prices and the lack of availability of tickets; not only are they sold out, but many are paying huge premiums for ticket through ticket outlets. And why? Because the "evil millionaire" owners have paid to have "evil millionaire" players on their team, and have put quality teams that are always in contention on the field, year after year, since August Bush III sold them in 1995.

Thus goes the love-hate, yin-yang, duality of the sport of baseball. Heaven help me, I love the game (no matter what stadium it is played in)!

Back to the actual question, one thing I like about the new stadium is the running pitch count board. It tells the total number of pitches, number of strikes thrown, and number of balls thrown. Those are stats that I don't keep on my scorecard but help me better understand the trends of the game. One thing I miss is the manual scoreboard. I loved it when they put it in Busch II and I hope that they will eventually put one in Busch III. I also prefer the old scoreboard that gave you the player's number and position for the batting lineup instead of the new one that gives the player's name, though I like that it gives the player's running batting average. Most of all, we have to remember that the new park is not finished yet. Busch II stood for 40 years and they did nothing but improve it year after year, so we can only expect them to do the same with the new ballpark.