Yankees Fans: Fox Sports ranks five baseball cities ahead of NY

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /
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Yankees fans, be honest. Is it possible that there are five cities across America that rank higher than New York as baseball towns? Fox Sports says yes, and they’re willing to name them. I say they’re missing the point.

Yankees fans are known to be among the most rabid fans in baseball, with a team that plays in what has been tabbed, “The Cathedral of Baseball.” But is all of it by reputation and hype, or is it real?

Recently, Fox Sports and Dieter Kurtenbach had a little fun with this question and, as you can tell by now, they determined that New York is not as spiffy as we think we are. Ranking above New York to the top are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and St Louis.

In the Fox article, Kurtenbach takes great pains to list a bunch of caveats before announcing his “findings,” before concluding that what he is doing is more of an art than a science. These warnings include:

"With attendance? Too simplistic.By atmosphere? It’s hard to get rowdy when your team isn’t any good.By scarcity? A one-sport town is going to have an advantage, but that doesn’t mean it’ll take it.By jersey sales? You don’t have to live in Chicago to have a Kris Bryant jersey."

Kurtenbach also goes on to say that he might have better judgments if he had visited all of the major league venues instead of only a handful. And right there, he hits the nail on the head. And that’s because he’s right when he says that what he’s doing is more of an art than a science.

Being there is everything

“Being there” is everything. Oh sure, we can watch a game televised by Fox or ESPN. But we’re only going to see what the cameras show us. And one thing they can’t show us is how it “feels” to be in that particular ballpark on that particular night.

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I say this with some authority because from 2006-2009 I traveled the United States visiting 26 of the 30 major league cities and ballparks, plus at least 20 more minor league venues ranging from Single-A to Triple-A. Every town is different, and with few exceptions, they’re all good because baseball is baseball, no matter where it is played.

A curious thing I found is that some of the best baseball cities and ballparks are spread out across America in minor league cities in places we might never think of visiting. One such city is Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins plays as the Lookouts.

Their nickname stems from the vast cultural history of the Civil War and Lookout Mountain and the view into the valley where one of the bloodiest battles of the war was fought. Their ballpark is filled with all of the Southern charms that can be mustered, making it one of the most entertaining of all the venues I visited.

On the other hand, one of the worst places to watch a game is McCoy Stadium where the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox play. Bring a fishing pole with you to the game if you want to snag an autograph or two. You’ll need it, and fans really do this, to “drop a line” down over a ridiculously high wall that runs along the entire first base side of the field.

In Milwaukee, I found that they open the parking lots five hours before game time, allowing fans to tailgate for as long as their hearts desire. And Miller Park itself is a masterpiece of American architecture.

And as diversified as America itself is, we should expect the same diversification among baseball cities and ballparks across the country

Do you want baseball history? Visit Riverfront in Cincinnati. Located right on the Ohio River, there’s a Red’s Museum chock full of memorabilia at the main entrance to the ballpark and an assortment of statues commemorating the city’s stars of the past. The most recent of which is one in honor of baseball’s lost man, Pete Rose.

Dodger Stadium? It’s all hype and a venue seriously in need of renovation with walkways where, on some occasions, fans have to walk single file to get through. And the talk of the day around me was, “Paris Hilton is sitting down there” and far removed from anything taking place on the field.

So, while Fox Sports did an entertaining job of piquing our interest, the question is not answerable. Yankees fans and Yankee Stadium is unique to all of baseball. We have our “Roll Call” and ten dollar beers. San Francisco has the unparalleled view of the Bay, and we have the roar of the El above River Avenue.

Boston has Yawkey Way, and San Diego has, wait a minute, what does San Diego have except nice weather? St. Louis has their strictly enforced dress code to attend a game (you must wear red), while Kansas City, one of the most pleasant venues to watch a ballgame, by the way, has its fountains.

Diversity is synonymous with America

And so, we shouldn’t be offended by the Fox Sports rankings because it’s all relative. As they say, after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We love our Yankees and believe it or not, fans in Minnesota love their Twins.

It’ll cost you an arm and a leg to attend a Yankees game in New York and a quarter of that to attend one in Kansas City, but that’s not the point, which is that baseball belongs to America.

And as diversified as America itself is, we should expect the same diversification among baseball cities and ballparks across the country. And fortunately, baseball does not disappoint.