Happy Monday to you all. And it actually is a "happy" Monday since for most of us, this is a short work week. Thank you 4th of July! Hope your week goes smoothly and you cruise into the weekend ready to have some fun!
Speaking of fun, today I'll have the weekly Sports Take Mailbag segment. And then, of course, I'm gonna have to return to the DFTU and discuss this past weekend and the week ahead for my favorite teams (and by extension, the Brewers as well)!
A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.
- Earl Wilson (1934-2000), Pro Baseball Pitcher
Here's this week's Sports Take Mailbag question:
What are the differences between a stadium, a coliseum, an arena and a ballpark?
- Cathy in Maple Grove
On the surface, this may seem obvious to some of you. But consider the dictionary.com definition for "ballpark":
ballpark [bawl-pahrk], noun
1. a tract of land where ball games, esp. baseball, are played.
2. a baseball stadium.
So when one of the words is contained in the definition of the other, it can get just a wee bit confusing.
Technically speaking they're fairly interchangeable. Or in the case of "coliseum" they're basically brand names. It's like calling facial tissue Kleenex. That sort of thing.
But because we here at The Sports Take seek clarity at any and all costs for the benefit of you, our dear readers, here's the "Sports Take-tionary" definitions of those terms:
Stadium [stay-DEE-um], noun
1. An edifice dedicated to use by athletic franchises, generally football or soccer teams, generally open to the elements, though sometimes domed or having a retractable roof. Usually seats between 40,000 - 100,000 spectators.
2. A building, the construction of which inspires seemingly endless debates between "greedy billionaire owners" and the "I-don't-use-it-why-should-I-pay-for-it crowd".
Example: Minneapolis' HHH Metrodome, Green Bay's Lambeau Field, etc.
Coliseum [KAHL-ih-SEE-um], noun
1. An ancient ruin in Rome where I've never been.
2. The stadium in Los Angeles built in 1923 and used for the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. It has played host to the NFL's L.A. Rams (1946-1979) and Raiders (1982-1994), the USFL's L.A. Express (1983-1985), the XFL's L.A. Xtreme (2001), MLB's L.A. Dodgers (1958-1961), the NCAA's UCLA Bruins (1928-1981) and currently hosts the USC Trojans (1923- ).
Example: see above
Arena [uh-REE-nuh], noun
1. A building generally dedicated to athletic contests with fall/winter seasons, specifically basketball and hockey. Also often used for concerts and other indoor entertainment events. Usually seats between 12,000 - 20,000 spectators.
2. Not as strong a source of political wrangling as stadiums and ballparks. Generally because they can be built for far less than the other two.
Example: St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, Milwaukee's Bradley Center, etc. (I could include Minneapolis' Target Center, but I don't have good memories there)
Ballpark [bawl-pahrk], noun
1. A building dedicated to athletic contests, specifically baseball. Generally open to the elements, sometimes domed (though they shouldn't be), and sometimes having retractable roofs (eh, I can live with it). Usually seats between 30,000-60,000 spectators.
2. In 2010, the culmination of years and years of political wrangling in Minnesota. See the progress here.
Example: Milwaukee's Miller Park, Phoenix's Chase Field and the yet-to-be-named Twins ballpark (rumor has it "Land o' Lakes Field" is a possibility... I like it... call the place "The Lake"... that works)
So I hope that answered the question in a semi-entertaining way. Remember, if you want your question answered in the Sports Take Mailbag, send me an email at email@example.com.
Now it's time for everybody's favorite segment, Dan's Favorite Teams Update!
Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 45-37, in second place in the AL Central, 1.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox.
How about that Brewer Fans? Okay, you broke the Twins' winning-streak Saturday night (I nearly sent a Brewer fan friend an email saying, "Now those are the Twins bats I'm used to". But I didn't want to put a sort of double-reverse whammy on my own team). But the Twins took the series 2-1 including a gem of a 3-hit shutout thrown by Kevin Slowey on Sunday. Fortunately for you Wisconsinites, the Cubbies got swept by the White Sox, so you actually picked up a game! Kudos.
That makes it: Milwaukee 5, DFT's 4. Next up? A 4-game series in Arizona vs. the D'backs. See below.
You may have noticed that Minnesota's record adds up to 82 games. 1 game past the halfway mark of the season. So here's a quick grading of the Twins' season so far:
Believe it or not, the Twins have scored the 5th-most runs in the AL. Their power numbers are still pretty low (they have the fewest HR's in the AL and a middling Slugging Percentage), or they'd get a higher mark here.
Though the pitching has been red-hot lately, for the entire 1st half it's been shaky. They have the worst Opponent Batting Average in the AL, a middling team ERA and have given up the 4th-most runs. Hopefully the current turn-around lasts through the second half.
Yes, that's harsh. But for a team that's based its success on pitching and defense, to have the third-most errors in the AL is unacceptable. Youth is a big part of the problem, so hopefully they'll improve over the second half.
No question that the Twins are much better than I feared they'd be. And they seem to be getting better as the season rolls along. I'm guardedly optimistic that it can continue. But I'm not talking playoffs just yet.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 41-41, in first place in the NL West and 2.5 games ahead of the L.A. Dodgers.
So now you crew fans will get your fill of Chase Field. The Brewers swept a 3 game set earlier this year at Miller Park. A sweep deserves a sweep, right? Unfortunately, the Snakes aren't playing anywhere near the level that would be required to sweep anybody. They've won just 2 of their last 6 series. Not what you'd expect from a division leader.
But they are 24-15 in the friendly confines of Chase Field, so perhaps a 4-gamer at home will get them back on track. So buckle up Crew fans. Here we go again!
Here are my first-half D'back grades:
Despite the torrid start that Arizona got off to, their offense has gone completely in the tank over the last month-plus. They're middle of the pack in Runs, Home Runs and Slugging Percentage and 3rd-worse in the NL in Batting Average. A C might be generous.
The starters alone deserve an A, no doubt. But the bullpen has been shaky enough to drop this grade down. Outside of that glitch in Florida this weekend, Brandon Lyon has been reliable in the closer role. It's everything before him that's been hit or miss. The same pitchers that are untouchable one day, turn into human gas-cans the next. But overall, the pitching has been the anchor for this club.
Arizona's fielding can make their games awfully tough to watch at times. And they're messing up the simple stuff: hitting the cut-off man, covering the appropriate bases, throwing out runners, etc. Cutting down on their errors alone could earn them an extra 5 or so wins in the second half. And when you're talking about a team leading a division with a .500 record, 5 wins can be crucial.
It's hard to argue with first place. But that .500 record is worrisome, especially given the start they got off to. Watch very closely for moves post-All Star break. That'll tell you a lot about where this team thinks they're headed.
Okay, that's all for today folks. I'm back on Wednesday with the official Sports Take All-Star ballot. Until then, keep your eye on the Boston/Tampa series to see if there are more fireworks between those two teams. Oh, and good luck Milwaukee!!!