Player's Perspective: Pat Neshek
Red Wings closer evaluates the parks of the IL Northern Division
Nearly three months into my first Triple-A season, I have been to a bunch of different parks, so I decided to recap what each park had to offer and highlight some of their special features.
Frontier Field • Rochester, N.Y. Frontier Field has probably been my favorite place to play among the Twins affiliates. Some highlights include an excellent overview of downtown, a train that runs by and a nice-looking stadium. My favorite thing about this place is the bullpen. It overlooks the field and really makes it easy to watch the game. The playing surface needs a little work, but that's about the only negative I can find. Playing in front of a sold-out stadium here is unreal. You can really feel the electricity of the place and it really brings out the best in players.
Alliance Bank Stadium • Syracuse, N.Y. The first city we visited was the opener in Syracuse. There's not much to say: It's easily one of my least favorite parks in the IL so far. Each day it rained and was overwhelmingly windy. Not to mention that every hitter in the league loves hitting here, and the fences are so close I do a double-take when I walk into this place. It's also an Astroturf field and plays to a lot of doubles. The bullpen isn't that great, either. I actually noticed the spray-painted plates out there are about a foot off-center, which really messes with a guy's delivery. The clubhouse always seems like it's 50 degrees inside, but it does offer a ping-pong and foosball table, as well as an assortment of board games for the many rainouts that happen here.
McCoy Stadium • Pawtucket, R.I. The next stop was Pawtucket. My first thoughts on this field are overwhelming. I felt like I was in the stadium from the movie Gladiator. The days we played there didn't have great turnouts, but, wow, I couldn't imagine that place packed. It would be pretty neat to play there with a sold out crowd when we go back. Overall an excellent stadium, featuring a great clubhouse with ping-pong and foosball tables. The bullpen is out in right field and the fans can easily get up in your face, and frequently they do. Also this park was pretty unique in that it is about a 15-foot drop from the seating to the field, which makes for some pretty cool autograph collecting. Fans put their collectibles on strings and dangle them in front of the dugouts for players to sign.
Lynx Stadium • Ottawa, Ontario. From there we went to Ottawa. Great stadium, excellent clubhouse with lots of things to do and watch. The big thing here is that the weather doesn't want to cooperate and, in turn, nobody comes out to the games. It's a shame they can't draw well here. The stadium is very nice as well--the dugouts and the field. The biggest problem is that the bullpen isn't blocked off and people from off the street can walk right up to you if they wanted . . . I didn't really notice any security. They also have a white tent that protects players in the batting cage, but it was about to fall over when we played there. Another thing that I didn't like about the whole Ottawa trip was having to go through customs. We got stopped each time for about 20 minutes. We heard rumors that other teams got stopped for hours before they would let them through.
Dunn Tire Park • Buffalo, N.Y. Buffalo is a pretty neat stadium. It's one of the bigger-feeling stadiums in the league. They also have some crazy fans who were always yelling at us for no reason. We played there during the Sabers run to the Stanley Cup, so they didn't draw that well, but I'm sure they pack it in once the summer hits. I wasn't a big fan of the on-field bullpen, and thought they could do better to make the two bullpens behind the outfield walls because there is a lot of space back there. All in all, it's a fun place to play, but what's with the '80s music and the soft-spoken announcer when every opposing hitter comes to bat? I felt like I was listening to a light rock station.
Lackawanna County Stadium • Moosic, Pa. The Scranton Red Barons are last team we played in the Northern Division. The field is pretty unique, like everything in Scranton. It's a turf field that was built in 1989 and sits in a valley that overlooks Montage Mountain. It's a pretty cool view especially from the upper deck seats. The field is a replica of Veterans Stadium, the old Phillies stadium, without the outfield seating. It's a pretty neat looking place and a little overwhelming considering the size of its upper deck. A lot of the older guys told me that the park plays pretty big, meaning that it's a pitcher's park and not too many homers are hit. Down the line is also another unique feature that I haven't seen in my playing days: A covered bullpen with seating above us. Overall, I really like the park. If they could get rid of the turf and put some grass in, I would be a lot bigger fan. Also what is with the hotel there? Man, that place is scary!
I'll be back to review the parks of the Western and Southern divisions. There have been some pretty interested stadiums so far, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the IL has to offer.