Philadelphia, PA – After attending two O’s games in April I decided it was time to see some actual Major League Baseball action, so I packed up the family and headed to Philly to watch the Phils and the Cubbies. I’ve always rooted for the Cubs and became a full fledged Cubs fan after taking a trip to Wrigley about 8 years ago, so I went to the game with a rooting interest.
First off, Citizens Bank Park is a very nice ballpark, it’s not quite Camden Yards but it is damn nice. There is an open concourse all the way around the park so you can see the field from the concession lines and when walking to the restrooms. I’ve been to Comerica in Detroit and PNC Park in Pittsburgh an they also have an open concourse. It’s really the one thing those parks have all over Camden Yards, though the concourse at Camden Yards is much wider and easier to maneuver while carrying a 9 month old and a 3 year old, as I was today.
Citizens Bank Park also had a great play area for kids called the Phanatic Phun Zone. We spent about 20 minutes there before the game letting my 3 year old son stretch his legs after the long car ride. He had a great time and frankly would have stayed there all day had we let him. The ballpark also features a Build-a-Bear workshop just in case you want to drop $80 bucks on a stuffed Phanatic, we passed.
Citizens Bank Park also features an area beyond the outfield called “Ashburn Alley”, which is Philly’s version of Eutaw Street. Ashburn Alley had some activities for kids, plenty of concessions (including Greg Luzinski’s “Bull’s BBQ) and some interesting exhibits on Phillies history. The authenticity of the B&O Warehouse, and the fact that it’s the original, give Eutaw Street the edge on Ashburn Alley.
As for the game, the Phils beat the Cubbies 5-4. The game featured a 3-run bomb from Jimmy Rollins and solo shots from Chase Utley and the Cubs Kosuke Fukudome. If you’ve never had the chance to see him play, Chase Utley is ridiculously good. Also, the Cubs 20 year old Shortstop Starlin Castro jut looks like a future star. He exhibited tremendous range, quick reflexes, hustle on the bases as he beat out a dribbler for a single, and he stroked an RBI single to the opposite field for the Cubs first run.
Going to Citizens Bank Park and seeing the park packed with fans for a Thursday afternoon game really made me miss the spectacle that was Camden Yards in the 90’s. Unlike Camden, Citizens Bank Park is not in the city center and is basically surrounded by parking lots and access roads. The area around the park lacks the carnival type atmosphere that used to exist outside of Camden Station. There are no street vendors or ticket scalpers to speak of; ome people may look at that as a positive but I missed the chatter and the activity.
If you’re looking to see some real Major League Baseball and are tired of waiting for the Orioles to become relevant again I’d strongly suggest making the trek to Philly. Today the sky’s were blue without a cloud in sight and the temps were in the low to mid 80’s. It was a great day for baseball, win or lose for the Cubs.