GOODYEAR, AZ (MARCH 16, 2011) - My first game at Goodyear Ballpark was a mixed experience. The ballpark itself is beautiful. Parking is plentiful, and at $5, about what you expect to pay. The staff were all friendly and helpful, and the players engaged with the fans more than I remember in Sarasota.
The bad? The Reds lost. :-P
And the ugly? The box seats. Ugh. They are very poorly designed. It's ridiculous to charge $23 for seats that terrible.
I know I gripe about this a lot, but they really are dreadful. I was really disappointed. Most newer stadiums, theaters, etc., have a much steeper cant so that no one's view is blocked. Bright House Field, the spring training home of the Phillies, is fantastic that way.
But Goodyear Ballpark is actually worse than most older stadiums. In the box seats, each row is maybe 4" higher than the one in front of it. That is just not enough. Worse, the view toward the plate is bad, too. I couldn't see the batter when the guy sitting in front of me and to the right leaned forward. That is just ridiculous. (This may be less of a problem if you're sitting directly behind the plate, but the sightlines from above the dugout are terrible.)
And it wasn't just me. I could hear other (taller!) fans around me complaining that they couldn't see, and plotting to sneak into the cheaper seats in hopes that the view was better.
So here's my tip: don't sit above the dugout. Usually those are my favorite seats, but at Goodyear Ballpark, they suck big green spiny cactus. Not only is the view obstructed by other fans, but the net extends to the far end of the dugout. It sort of tapers down, so the thick cable at the top runs across your field of view. I hate sitting behind the net, but that makes it even worse. Also, the net means you can't ask the players for autographs from that section, if that's your thing.
The section just beyond the dugout is a good place to get autographs. You can look into the dugout from the front of that section (there's no roof at the end of the dugout), and the players often come to that end to sign. They also stop there on the field, on the way into the dugout. Like Danny Ray Herrera here.
There was a crowd of people around the open end of the dugout, getting autographs from a player I couldn't see. I caught a brief glimpse of a guy with brown hair, and thought it was Heisey, but no, it was the pride of Rice University, Paul Janish.
Heisey did come to the end of the dugout to sign as well. Kris Negron spent a lot of time signing.
Todd Frazier's got the "beauty queen" wave down pat. He'll be ready for the World Series victory parade.
Zizzy, the Reds' Goodyear mascot.
From the front, I couldn't tell what he was supposed to be. A cuddly KKK member, maybe? But from the side, you can tell he's supposed to be that sculpture in the front of the park.
Corky Miller and his facial hair emerge from the pen.
Dusty prepares to stay up past his bedtime.
Bronson Arroyo had a rocky start, but settled down after awhile.
Davis was hilarious. He was joking with people in the crowd - picking on them, even - all night. A little boy who looked kinda like young Mariah Carey in the "Someday" video came to the end of the dugout and asked for an autograph. Davis replied, "No, not until you get a haircut."
Later, he gave a ball to a different little boy - because he was the only one clapping.
Francisco Cordero took over for Arroyo.
Losing pitcher Jose Arrendondo:
He didn't get that one back. Two-run homer for Alcides Escobar.
It was three up, three down for Logan Ondrusek in the 8th.
Former SS Jerry Gil pitched the last inning.
There was a two-out rally of sorts in the bottom of the ninth. Alonso reached on an error, and Heisey singled. Meaning Janish to the plate, with two on, two out.
Paul Janish and the Royals' insanely large catcher.
Alas, Janish flew out to end the game. Melky Cabrera caught it at the wall. Darn it. Leche misses those often enough, but not that time.
Royals win, 5-3.
Other notes: Renteria got on base twice. Should have been reached on error both times, but they ruled the first one a single to center, deflected by the second baseman. I'd have ruled it booted by second baseman.
Drew Stubbs made an awesome diving catch in center. Arroyo owes him dinner.
Gomes also made a nice catch, though I couldn't actually see the catch, since that corner of LF is hidden from the dugout area. I just saw him sliding toward the wall in a cloud of dust. We didn't know he'd caught it until he threw it back in.