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How to visit all 30 MLB ballparks

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How to visit all 30 MLB ballparks

Last month, I covered the Orioles series at Miami’s Marlins Park. I’ve now been to all 30 major league parks. Lots of writers have done that, but then I started adding up the older parks, the ones no longer in use, and I found that I’d been to 53.

That’s 23 that either no longer exist or host major league baseball.

Many fans I meet have a goal of visiting all 30 parks. It’s a great goal, though not an easy one to attain.

Here’s some advice:

Don’t try and visit all 30 ballparks in one summer.

If you’re a teacher and have the entire summer off, it can be tempting. There’s too much rushing around, and one of the fun things about visiting new ballparks is exploring new cities, and it’s more fun if you spread your adventure around and savor it.

Planning a trip is harder than it may seem. Put lots of thought into it.

Let’s say you’re an Orioles fan, and you’re determined to see the six West Coast ballparks in August.

The Orioles play at Oakland Aug. 3-5, at Anaheim Aug. 7-9 and Seattle Aug. 10-12.

That’s three, but you’re going to have to miss some Orioles games and stay an extra day to see Dodger Stadium, AT&T Park and Petco Park.

That’s a lot of travel to try and get six parks in 10 days. But, you can do it.

Enjoy the sights and the food.

I’m not talking about the ballpark food. Try the barbecue in Kansas City at Jack Stack’s or Oklahoma Joe’s. Eat some real Mexican in San Diego, some clams in Boston and the ribs at Cincinnati’s Montgomery Inn.

If you think that visiting all 30 is unrealistic, which ones do you have to see?

If you’ve already seen games in Baltimore and Washington, you need to see the rest of the East.

On many ratings, Yankee Stadium ranks low. On my scale, it’s one of the best.

It feels intimate, the fans are involved, and the sound system is clear, if a bit loud.

If you see the Yankees and Orioles on Thursday July 23, you can take the subway to Citi Field for the Mets and Dodgers that night.

While Citi Field is kind of forgettable, Yankee Stadium isn’t.

Fenway Park is old and cramped, but with the Red Sox playing poorly, tickets are now easy to come by.

Don’t miss Philadelphia. Citizens Bank Park is pretty, easy to get to and has lots of good food options.

I’m often surprised how overlooked PNC Park in Pittsburgh is. It’s one of the best ballparks in the country. You can see downtown Pittsburgh from the ballpark, and it’s only about four hours from Baltimore.

Any I can miss?

Oakland and Toronto are on everyone’s list of most forgettable stadiums, but I’d add Milwaukee’s Miller Park to the list.

I love eating German food at Karl Ratzsch’s and eating the Commish, a roast beef sandwich named after former commissioner Bud Selig at Jake’s Deli. But, Milwaukee leaves me cold.

I’m not a fan of retractable domes or parks built on parking lots.

Milwaukee missed a great opportunity to build something special, and they didn’t.

What are the most underrated parks?

While everyone justifiably rates Oriole Park, AT&T Park, Wrigley Field and PNC Park highly, don’t forgot about Target Field in Minneapolis.

It’s got the best scoreboard I’ve ever seen with lots of pertinent information on each batter including his Twitter handle.

Comerica Park is in downtown Detroit, and while the skyline isn’t inspiring, the ballpark looks great, and the fans are wonderful.

I haven’t been to Seattle for a number of years, but I have fond memories of Safeco Field.

Most overrated?

Many have Petco Park on their favorites list. I didn’t dislike it, but thought it was pretty unoriginal. Lots of ideas from other parks cobbled together, but its location in downtown San Diego is terrific.

And, the weather isn’t bad, either.

You say that you’ve been to 23 ballparks no longer in existence. That seems hard to believe.

Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Municipal Stadium (Cleveland), Tiger Stadium, Qualcomm in San Diego, Candlestick Park, Comiskey Park, Three Rivers Stadium, Cinergy Field (Cincinnati), old Busch Stadium, RFK, County Stadium (Milwaukee), Arlington Stadium (Texas), Fulton County (Atlanta), Sun Life (Miami), Olympic (Montreal), Memorial Stadium (Baltimore), Astrodome, Exhibition (Toronto), Mile High (Denver), Metrodome and Kingdome.

Sadly, my father refused to take me to the Polo Grounds in the two seasons the Mets played there because as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, he despised the Giants, and the Polo Grounds was where they played.

But, instead my first game was at Yankee Stadium in 1963, and I got to see Yogi Berra play.

Fifty-three ballparks later, I’m still counting.

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

Buck Showalter has been fired as manager of the Orioles, who made three playoff appearances under his guidance but this year staggered through the worst season since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Showalter confirmed the dismissal Wednesday in a text message to The Associated Press.

A three-time AL Manager of the Year, Showalter ranks second on the Orioles' career list with 669 victories, trailing Earl Weaver. He took over in August 2010 and orchestrated the resurgence of a team that suffered through 14 straight losing seasons.

Once hailed for making baseball in Baltimore relevant again, the 62-year-old Showalter is out of a job after a season in which the Orioles finished 47-115, 61 games behind Boston in the AL East. His contract expired at the end of October, and the Orioles opted against a renewal as they continue a major rebuild that began in late July, when they traded stars Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman for minor league prospects.

Those deals were made by Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations, whose future with the organization is up in the air.

Showalter earned AL Manager of the Year honors in 2014 after taking the Orioles to the AL East title and a berth in the Championship Series. He was also named Manager of Year with the Yankees in 1994 and Texas in 2004. His career record is 1,551-1,517, including 669-684 with Baltimore.

"I just think ever since he came here, the franchise just gained a little more accountability, gained an edge for some time," Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said before the final game of the season. "It's the end of an era. A great manager, a great tenure. I don't know if he's going to coach or manage again, but he's got grandchildren. Go golf. Relax and go sit on the golf course."

With his future in doubt, Showalter appeared undaunted during the final series of the regular season.

"You know how good they've been to me? I'm not ever going to forget that, regardless of what happens," he said.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin was asked before his team's playoff game against the Yankees on Wednesday night whether Showalter was victimized by the trend toward analytics.

"I don't think Buck was a guy that ignored analytics," Melvin said. "I think it was probably a combination of how they did this year and maybe some relationships."

After the Orioles brought Showalter out of retirement, he offered renewed hope by fashioning a 34-23 finish in 2010 for a team that was 32-73 upon his arrival.

Baltimore ended a 14-year playoff drought in 2012, advancing to the AL Division Series following a victory over Texas in the wild-card game. Playoff appearances in 2014 and 2016 followed.

Last year, however, the Orioles fell to 75-87 after losing 19 of their final 23 games. Baltimore hoped the addition of starters Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner would enable the team to be a contender this year, but a horrid start quickly dispelled that notion.

The Orioles' deficit in the AL East reached double digits by April 18 and they were 8-27 on May 8. By the end of July, Baltimore fully entered rebuilding mode, leaving Showalter with the dubious distinction of overseeing a team that finished with the poorest record in the majors and one that surpassed the 1939 St. Louis Browns for most losses in franchise history.

Showalter never offered an excuse. He just grinded forward, working to prepare the team for 2019 even though he knew he might not be around to follow through.

At the outset of a season-ending series against Houston, Showalter was asked if he was thinking these might be his final days in the Baltimore dugout.

"We all have some private thoughts and emotions about that, but I don't think it serves the organization well for me to be worried about that right now," he said. "We've got some things to do these last four games that need to get done."

Showalter has a reputation as a no-nonsense manager, but his players appreciated his baseball knowledge and skill at handling a team. He made a point of talking to each of them on a regular basis, almost always offering encouragement.

"He gave me a chance," said catcher Caleb Joseph, who played six-plus years in the minors before arriving in Baltimore. "He believed in me in 2014, ran me out there and gave me a chance to be part of a championship team. He's really vouched for me ever since. I owe a lot to Buck and his loyalty. He's been a main figure here for a long time."

Sensing the end was near for the only big league manager he had ever played for, first baseman Trey Mancini said: "It's been an absolute honor to play for Buck. He's been incredible."

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

The Boston Red Sox broke a 106-year-old franchise record with their 106th victory on Monday night, clinching home-field advantage through the postseason by beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 thanks to a pair of hits from major league batting leader Mookie Betts.

Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 hapless Orioles batters to assure the Red Sox of the best record in baseball this season and home-field advantage through the World Series, if they make it that far. For now, they know they will open the Division Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 5 against the winner of the AL wild-card game between the New York Yankees and mostly likely Oakland.

The 1912 Red Sox won 105 games in their first season at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (45-111) became the sixth AL team and the first since the 2003 Tigers to lose 111 games, falling 60 games behind Boston (106-51) in the division. It's the first time since 1939 that teams separated by 60 wins in the standings have played each other.

Boston scored four in the second inning, getting back-to-back doubles from Steve Pearce and Brock Holt, an RBI single from Christian Vazquez and Betts' two-run homer over the Green Monster. It was the 32nd homer of the season for Betts, a new career high.

Betts also singled and scored in Boston's two-run fourth, moving him into the major-league lead with 125 runs scored. In his last three games, he is 10 for 16 with three homers and four doubles, and he leads teammate J.D. Martinez (.328) in the AL batting race.

Renato Nunez had three hits for the Orioles, who fell to 2-15 against Boston and 18-61 on the road this season.

FOR STARTERS

Six days after throwing six scoreless innings against the Yankees, Eovaldi (6-7) allowed one run on four hits in five innings, walking none but uncorking a pair of wild pitches.

Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy (8-16) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings, striking out five.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Yefrey Ramirez is scheduled to start on Wednesday, but manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to give him an extra day or two. "I think Yefrey will pitch again, I just don't know when," Showalter said.

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was back in the lineup after feeling soreness in his left shoulder during a swing and leaving Sunday night's game. ... INF Eduardo Nunez ran on Sunday to test his hamstring and was scheduled to run again on Monday with the goal of having him back in the lineup by Wednesday or Friday.

UP NEXT

LHP David Price (15-7) tries to bounce back from a rough start in Yankee Stadium in the second game of the series in what could be his last start of the regular season.