Five reasons why Giants' Oracle Park correctly ranked best MLB ballpark

Five reasons why Giants' Oracle Park correctly ranked best MLB ballpark

Editor's note: This story originally was published on May 13.

The summer is generally a slower time in sports, and with the NBA and NHL seasons wrapped up and NFL training camp still weeks away, it's the time when sports fans and the media turn to ranking random things.

It's a far more extreme situation right now. 

We unveiled our own list a couple of weeks ago, providing rankings of the top ballparks in the National League aside from Oracle Park. 

Why not put Oracle in, too? Because the consensus is that it's an easy top choice, and we're pretty biased about that here in the Bay Area. 

USA Today did their own ranking of Major League parks recently and came to the same conclusion (politely ignore the fact that they called it Oracle Field). On July 6, Bleacher Report did a ranking of their own and put Oracle Park No. 1 as well.

Since it might be a while before fans get to step through the gates, here are five reminders of why the park the Giants call home is so highly thought of ...

The View

This is an easy one. I could write 400 words on the view, but all you really need is one photo:

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Good ballpark 😮

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The Food

Fun fact: While Alex Eats has turned into a competition to see what types of awful creations can be found on the road, the first video was actually a recap of all the creative new offerings at Oracle Park last season. The garlic fries get all the attention, but the ballpark also has crab sandwiches, the outstanding Cha-Cha bowl, jerk chicken nachos, flatbreads, made-to-order salads (for the healthy people), tuna poke, sushi, chowder, Greek wraps, Ghirardelli sundaes and much, much more. 

Most other ballparks can't even come close to offering that kind of variety, and I hear about it from visiting writers all the time. For what it's worth, their go-to seems to be the Asian-themed bowls you can find at different spots. 

One quick negative note: The ranch dressing situation at Oracle Park is not great. If they have tubs of it lying around, it's impossible to find. If anyone from the executive team is reading this, please upgrade your condiment stands. 

(UPDATE: Per a league source, the Giants plan to look into the ranch dressing situation) 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The Character

As a franchise, you're selling much more than just the product on the field. The Giants want a trip to their ballpark to be an experience, and they did a nice job of filling in the gaps. There are few fan experiences better than walking along the arcade with the water on one side and the outfield on the other. The Coca-Cola slide and giant glove have kind of faded into the background, but if you're a first-time visitor, they're still big attractions and much more interesting than what you'll see most other places. 

Then there are the five statues, with more surely on the way. Even after 20 years, the Willie Mays statue is still a go-to spot for fans before and after games. In recent years, the Giants have added a bowling alley, garden, the Gotham Club and a new scoreboard to stay a bit more modern. 

The Dimensions

The Giants are doing the right thing by moving the bullpens, but they are losing a tiny bit of the ballpark's charm. The last thing you want to be is cookie-cutter, and Triples Alley is truly a distinguishing feature that makes games more interesting. Yes, it cost Brandon Belt a ton of homers, but you should still appreciate the fact that the ballpark has a unique feel. 

The Giants built Oracle Park on land that had a small footprint, but they took advantage, shortening the outfield in right and building a high wall. They couldn't have predicted it would work out so well. A homer into McCovey Cove is a memorable feat for any left-handed hitter.  

The Walkability 

I'm not going to pretend it's easy to get to Oracle Park. It's a nightmare to try and get off the freeway at rush hour, there's very little parking on the downtown side of the park, and you can spend half an hour inching your way up Second or Third Street after a game. 

But ... all things considered, it's a pretty good situation compared to most other ballparks. 

There are few things worse in baseball than trying to get in or out of Dodger Stadium in a car. The Braves are randomly in the middle of a suburb. Same with the Marlins and Brewers. The Phillies play 20 minutes south of downtown with nothing but other sports facilities nearby. The Los Angeles Angels aren't really in L.A. The Mets are a long subway trip from downtown New York. The A's have spent years looking for a better location. 

[RELATED: What shortened season means for Giants]

You can reach Oracle Park by Caltrain or BART if you're outside the city, and those who work and live in San Francisco can pretty easily walk there or get dropped off a few blocks away. The nearby streets are filled with restaurants and bars, and if you walk in one direction you're quickly on the waterfront. The Giants plan to build up the area between their park and Chase Center, too.

Now if we could only get some of those places to wait a bit longer for last call ... 

Buster Posey misses third Giants workout for personal reasons, per Gabe Kapler

Buster Posey misses third Giants workout for personal reasons, per Gabe Kapler

The Giants went through their sixth day of work at Oracle Park on Thursday. For the third time, the longtime franchise star was not in the building. 

Buster Posey again missed the workout Thursday for personal reasons and "is still working through some things," per manager Gabe Kapler. 

"Buster is still working through a personal issue, and I want to respect his privacy," Kapler said. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Posey reported to camp Saturday and spoke with reporters, admitting he still had some reservations about playing this season during the coronavirus pandemic. The Poseys have two young children and he noted he would pay attention to how things looked at camp but also around society in general. 

During an appearance on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said earlier Thursday that the Giants would respect any decision Posey makes. 

"I think he's continuing to evaluate things on a day-to-day basis and frankly I think there's a few guys in that boat, certainly guys with young families, and certainly Buster is in that boat," Zaidi said. "It's something else to think about. I don't want to get into other personal things that he may be thinking through. Ultimately we're going to respect the decisions that our players make."

Posey isn't the only player mysteriously missing from camp. Center fielder Billy Hamilton and left-handed reliever Jarlin Garcia were both expected to be on the Opening Day roster, but neither has been seen and both were placed on the 10-day Injured List. Kapler has said a couple of times that he cannot reveal more information about the two. 

"That's all I can share on that front," he said Thursday after confirming they were on the IL for medical purposes.

Teams are not allowed to reveal any information related to COVID-19 tests if players do not give permission, although it's not totally clear what the situation is with Hamilton and Garcia. In Posey's case, the initial tests came back negative, and he was a full participant in workouts over the weekend. 

[RELATED: Giants' list of prospects in camp has many intriguing names]

Like Zaidi, Kapler reiterated that the Giants will back any decision Posey makes, regardless of what that means for a team that currently doesn't have a clear favorite to even back up Posey. Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman are fighting for that job

"Because of what we're up against right now, we're going to take a family-first approach to this," he said. "We will take it on as a responsibility to scramble as necessary but we don't want to rush these personal decisions and we want to respect and honor the stresses that people have that we may not be seeing."

Giants' tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes odd Opening Day quirk

Giants' tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes odd Opening Day quirk

Have you fully digested the 2020 MLB schedule that was released on Monday? Good, because here comes the 2021 schedule! 

MLB released full schedules for next season, and the Giants once again open on the road, but this time in unfamiliar territory. For the first time in club history, the Giants will begin the season in an interleague park with a series in Seattle starting April 1. The Giants play their home opener April 9 against the Rockies. Here's the full schedule:

This will be the 12th consecutive season that the Giants open on the road, something they generally ask for so that they can finish the season at home and have more dates at Oracle Park when kids are out of school over the summer. They will begin the 2020 season in Los Angeles in two weeks (maybe).

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The 2020 season kept teams in their own region as much as possible, which means that the Giants will play the AL West two consecutive years. They were supposed to play the AL Central this season. The Giants will visit the Texas Rangers' new park next June and also have road series in Anaheim and Oakland, in addition to that opener in Seattle. The schedule includes the usual slate of trips to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc., so MLB is at least planning for the likelihood that society and travel are a bit more back to normal next year. 

If fans are allowed back into Oracle Park, there are a few series that stand out. 

[RELATED: Everything to know about the MLB season restart, Giants]

Mike Trout and the Angels visit May 31, Madison Bumgarner's Diamondbacks come for the first time on June 14, and the Houston Astros visit July 31 if you have a lot of pent-up booing you would like to do at some point in 2021.