Cinderella stories are what make sports great.
They are something everybody can root for.
In an unusual sports-related Cinderella story, 24th-seeded Miller Park has won ESPN’s Battle of the Ballparks poll.
How Did Miller Park Prevail?
How did little Miller Park manage to beat out some of the nation’s best such as Fenway, Wrigley and Camden Yards?
It’s quite simple actually: ESPN baseball writer Jim Caple gave Miller Park a 24th seed, and Brewers fans everywhere felt slighted.
I am a Brewers fan, and I felt that his seeding of Miller Park was absurd. Now I’m not going to sit here and say that Miller Park is the best ballpark in the MLB, because it’s not. Heck, it’s not even in the top 10. But putting Miller Park at 24th made the Milwaukee faithful feel like they had just gotten a backhand to the face.
So, Brewers fans utilized social media to get the word out to vote for Miller Park, and this campaign was highly successful.
On its path to the title, Miller Park defeated 9th-seeded Angel Stadium, 8th seeded Dodger Stadium, 4th-seeded (and the stadium I want to visit more than any other) Camden Yards, and finally San Francisco’s AT&T Park. The Cheesehead turnout was very high, as Miller Park steamrolled each opponent, defeating AT&T Park 58%-42%.
Normally, I wouldn’t care if Miller Park won something like this, but I really got into the contest once it got further on and the whining by other fans got louder. We can always expect there to be whining in the comments of a poll like this, but there was a tremendous amount in this one especially. Excuses and insults were flying towards Brewer fans and their beloved Miller Park, which led to many easily offended Milwaukee fans to go hard on the defense.
But that’s not what bothered me. What really did it was the fact that Caple seemed to be trying to squash the Cinderella story.
Sticking It To ESPN
After Miller Park advanced to the finals to go head-to-head with AT&T Park, Caple made comments that seemed to show somewhat of a bias against the 24th-seeded park.
Caple stated: “Your finale for baseball’s best ballpark pits a privately funded retro-park that offers gorgeous views of San Francisco Bay, McCovey Cove and Matt Cain, plus the aroma of garlic fries and the taste of microbrews, against a stadium with the feel of an airline terminal that also features races between people in giant-sausage costumes.”
Clearly Caple showed some favor towards San Francisco, but he did predict that Milwaukee fans would be able to finish the job against AT&T Park, saying: “You’re going to crown Miller Park as baseball’s best stadium tonight. That will be great news in Wisconsin, which really has very passionate and underrated fans, but everyone else might feel like they were just smacked upside the head by Randall Simon.” (Randall Simon was the guy who took a bat to one of the racing sausages in 2003 for those who are wondering)
But none of that mattered, as Caple’s pleas for more votes for AT&T Park fell upon deaf ears for the most part. Miller Park paraded to victory behind the support of its diehard fans.
Does winning this contest really mean all that much? No. But it’s nice for bragging rights and all that stuff. It showed that Wisconsin’s fans will rally together to get behind their teams, even if it for something as silly as an online contest.
But above all, it’s a win for much of the Midwest.
The Brewers and many of the Midwest’s teams are overlooked by ESPN because they’re not the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers. The fact that Miller Park did is well as it did managed to fluster one of ESPN’s employees. So I guess it was kind of a way to stick it to ESPN, even if everyone who isn’t a Brewers fan forgets about the contest by tomorrow morning.
This is certainly something that the Brew Crew faithful should feel very proud of. We managed to beat out some of the best ballparks and fan bases in the league.
Not bad for the smallest market in the MLB.