Archive for October 2009
Citizens Bank Park
Citizens Bank Park is the home of the 2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Built near the former spot of the not at all missed Veterans Stadium, it is part of the massive Philadelphia Sports Complex, which includes Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Eagles, and the Wachovia Center, home of the NHL’s Flyers and some minor league basketball team.
The last of the three to be built, The Bank is a vast improvement over the Vet.
Here is the FANFARE rating for CITIZENS BANK PARK:
Food & Beverage: 5 (out of 5)
It is hard to find fault with the selection here at Citizens Bank Park. You have all your ballpark classics, along with standard Philly classics like hoagies, cheesesteaks (Tony Luke’s? One word: overrated. Plenty of other choices though.), and water ice, which is like the best Italian Ice you’ve ever had, only better. They offer veggie burgers and Vegan hot dogs. There is a lot of variety to be had in Ashburn Alley, named for Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn. Running behind the outfield, you’ll find there the aforementioned Tony Luke’s, Planet Hoagie, Campo’s (more cheesesteaks), Alley Grill (any type of grilled sandwich you can imagine, including a vegetarian black bean burger) and Bull’s BBQ. If you’ve been to Baltimore, Bull’s is almost as good as Boog’s. Almost. But Bull’s variety is better.
There is a surprisingly good sit down restaurant in left field called Harry the K’s, named for the late, great Harry Kalas. Terrific selections include pork tacos, Basil Fettuccine and Steak Spring Rolls. Beyond that it is standard American fare. There are two levels, full restaurant downstairs, full service bar upstairs.
Do not, under any circumstances, leave the park without getting an order of Crab Fries from the mini Chickie’s and Pete’s. You will regret it for the rest of your life. Unless you go to the big Chickie’s and Pete’s after the game. More on that later.
The beer selection is decent, not great, but well priced, around seven bucks for 21 ounces.
One warning: Arrive early, and eat early, or you might be in line for the whole game. There are a lot of people here every night.
In a word, electric. As mentioned above, this place is packed to the gills every single night. The view below is from the standing room only section on the third level.
The rally towels are crazy in person; TV does not do them justice. The Bank gets an extra point here for being the site of a final game of a winning championship. The stadium is not old enough to have a deep history yet, though Phillies fans would argue that the 2008 World Title was pretty historical, and then push you down a flight of stairs for disagreeing.
Here’s the thing. There really is no neighborhood, per se. The stadium is part of the Philadelphia Sports Complex as mentioned above, which consists of three full sized sporting venues (four, if you count the Wachovia Spectrum, scheduled to be closed in October, 2009) and parking for each. There is a bar attached to the stadium called McFadden’s, which is just your run of the mill Irish pub. They do have live bands play before and after home games, which is cool if you like that sort of thing. The closest neighborhood bar, Chickie’s and Pete’s is a 20-30 minute walk, which is tough to do after a Phillies game. But it might be worth it. More on that later, but not close enough to really be considered part of the stadium’s neighborhood. Special mention to the Chickie’s and Pete’s Taxi Crab, which will drop you off before and pick you up after games if you valet park with them for ten bucks.
The fans are loud and rowdy, but actually much better behaved than they were at the Vet. Of course, I was rooting for the Phillies, so no one bothered me. I have seen fans of the opposing teams hassled a little here; however, there was nothing over the top. Again, though, I am a Phillies fan, so over the top might be a matter of perspective. Say what you will about us, we know the game, and we show up, win or lose. Oh, there’s heckling and booing too. Phillies fans are a passionate bunch. There was even a guy with his face painted. In the third deck. At a BASEBALL game. Who paints their face for a baseball game?
And contrary to legend, there is no jail in the stadium. That was at The Vet.
This stadium is right off I-95, the main interstate on the East Coast. It is easy to find. There is more parking than you will know what to do with, and it is only $12. You are not allowed to tailgate in The Bank’s lots, which I thought was a silly thing to even have to say (who tailgates at baseball games?) until I saw people tailgating in Lincoln Financial Field’s lot across the street. Oh, yeah, Philly fans tailgate at Bingo, I forgot. Like with most of the new ballparks, bathrooms are plentiful, with family changing rooms in select locations. They were surprisingly clean.
Return on Investment: 4
An excellent stadium, as evidenced by the fact that 45,000 or so people come to it every night. The food is a hair overpriced, but not for a ballpark. They will sell standing room only tickets at a discount three hours before game time if they are available. If you need to sit down, find a friend who doesn’t need their tickets, or you will be paying a broker a lot of money. They sell out virtually every game.
Extra Points: 5
Chickie’s and Pete’s (www.chickiesandpetes.com) gives this the full 5 points here. Not really close enough to walk (and not really feasible, either, you WILL be towed if you park here and go to the game, and The Bank’s lots close about one hour after the game), it really can’t be included in the neighborhood. (Its website claims to be walking distance. It’s not. To quote the comedian Steven Wright, “Everything is within walking distance if you have the time.”) But it is absolutely part of the whole picture. As mentioned above, you can valet park your car here for $10. The Taxi Crab will drive you to the stadium, then pick you up and bring you back after. The Crab Fries must be eaten to be believed. If you like seafood, this is the spot. If you like bar food, this is the spot. If you like giant TV screens almost one and a half stories tall, this is the spot. It was rated “Best Sports Bar on the East Coast” by ESPN, and it lives up to it. They have “Beer Towers,” a three foot (or so) tall container of beer with a tap on it. It holds 120 ounces for $25 (domestic) or $30 (imported). It is ESPNZone without all the annoying glitz. It is your neighborhood bar with lots of makeup on, looking all hot at the club on a Friday night. You have to come here. Forget the stadium. Just come here.
FANFARE Total: 29 (out of 35)
The lack of a neighborhood notwithstanding, Citizens Bank Park is an overall great place to see a game. Is it worth a special trip to Philadelphia just for that? I wouldn’t go that far. But if you are in town, it is a must stop. Forget the Liberty Bell, come to The Bank. And Chickie’s and Pete’s.
For more stadium reviews and information on the FANFARE rating system, go to www.stadiumjourney.com.
No coin flip picks this week.
The good news is that I was 9-7 versus the spread in the NFL last week and 1-0 in college. The bad news is I missed my first STONE COLD LEAD PIPE LOCK(tm) and UPSET SPECIAL. From now on, maybe I’ll just stick to one SCLPL per week, as I got cocky with the Steelers, who are one more loss away from being dead to me.
The coin flip option is still available.
As usual, the following picks are for recreational purposes only. Don’t gamble on my advice. I’m just an idiot with a computer. Home team in CAPS:
Oakland(+9) at HOUSTON: There will be a lot of death threats this week. We will start with Houston, who should have pounded Jacksonville last week. Take the Texans and give the points.
Houston, if you don’t cover, you are DEAD to me.
Tennessee (-3) at JACKSONVILLE: I don’t like Jacksonville. I don’t like the team. I don’t like the coach. I don’t like the city. I don’t like the fact that they lead the league in guys with hyphenated last names. Titans get their first win of the season and cover the three. STONE COLD LEAD PIPE LOCK(TM).
Baltimore (+2) at NEW ENGLAND: So I spent the last week in Baltimore trying not to get shot in broad daylight, and everybody thinks the Ravens are like the second coming of the 72 Dolphins. Look, the Ravens are a fine club. They are probably going to win 11 or 12 games. This will not be one of them. Patriots giving only two points at home? That’s like stealing. Take the Pats, give the two, and despite an earlier promise that I would stick to one per week, I am making this one also a STONE COLD LEAD PIPE LOCK(tm).
Ravens winning in Foxboro. Pssh.
Cincinnati (-6) at CLEVELAND: Cleveland is going to Derek Anderson at QB. I don’t care if they start the ghost of Joe Montana (insert laugh track here), as long as Eric Mangini is coaching there, I will NEVER pick the Browns to win anything, except the worst team ever championship. Take the Bengals and give the six. Whoa, did I just say take the Bengals minus six? Wow. The Browns must really suck.
NY Giants (-8.5) at KANSAS CITY: The Giants are the quietest 3-0 team ever. The Jets are getting all the press in New York, while they Giants just go out and pound people every week. Kansas City is horrible, yes, but great teams pound horrible teams, and that is what the Giants will do here. Take the Giants, give the points, repeat until January.
Detroit (+10) at CHICAGO: I cannot, cannot pick the Bears. I’m sorry, Jay Cutler just makes me nauseous. I can’t do it. No logic, just don’t like the guy. Take the Lions plus ten.
Tampa Bay (+7.5) at WASHINGTON: Jim Zorn. Dead man walking. Take the Bucs plus the points, UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK.
Seattle (+10) at INDIANAPOLIS: Seneca Wallace, you are not quite dead to me, but that’s only because I remember how great you were at Iowa State. Having said that, you have no shot this week. None. Indianapolis wins and covers the ten.
NY Jets (-7) at NEW ORLEANS: In a battle of unexpected 3-0 teams, the Saints are somehow favored by a touchdown. Really? Jets cover the seven. They might even win.
Buffalo (+1.5) at MIAMI: Everybody who had the Dolphins at 0-3, raise your hand. Liars. Miami gets it done at home this week, take them minus the points.
Miami, last chance. You lose this week and you are DEAD to me.
St. Louis (+9.5) at SAN FRANCISCO: The 49ers would be 3-0 if they hadn’t gotten Farved last week. They played well enough on the road to beat a very good Minnesota team. I shudder to think what Mike Singletary did to them this week. They will take it out on the Rams, who seriously may not win a game this year. Niners win big, take them, give the points.
Dallas (-3) at DENVER: No love for the 3-0 Broncos? They are an inexplicable home underdog to the Cowboys here. Why is everyone so in love with Dallas? I don’t get it. I think that Denver, somehow, goes to 4-0 here, but even if they don’t, they will cover the three, take them plus the points.
San Diego (+6) at PITTSBURGH: Man, I don’t like this one. Not one bit. I think the Steelers win a close one, even without Willie Parker. Like a Republican voting for John McCain, hold your nose and take San Diego plus the points.
Green Bay (+3.5) at MINNESOTA: Despite what ESPN will tell you, there is really not that much juice for this game. Now, Farve at Green Bay? That will be Must See TV. This is just a big divisional game. Vikings win as AP goes for 250 and three touchdowns, take Minnesota minus the points.
COLLEGE DOUBLE DIP:
Florida State (-3.5) at BOSTON COLLEGE: FSU’s wild inconsistency will pay off this week. After getting manhandled physically at home by a South Florida team that is better than people think, FSU bounces back with a teasing beatdown of Boston College. Then they will revert to the mid-major they have become again the next time that they play. Take FSU minus the points.
Virginia Tech (-13.5) at DUKE: It’s funny, but if I’m Virginia Tech, I take being favored by only 13.5 at Duke as an insult. I think Frank Beamer’s boys will too. VT beats Duke like they stole something, take them minus the points.
LAST WEEK: 9-7 NFL, including 1-1 STONE COLD LEAD PIPE LOCK(tm), 0-1 UPSET SPECIAL. College, 1-0.
STONE COLD LEAD PIPE LOCK(tm): 3-1
UPSET SPECIAL: 2-1