Archive for Thursday, May 5, 2005

Opinion: Which park is better?

May 5, 2005

Last summer Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown became the first basketball coach to complete the trifecta -- winning championships at the college, professional and Olympic levels.

Saturday, the Basehor-Linwood High School baseball team completed a similar feat of its own, becoming the first school in the area to play games at high school, minor league and professional baseball venues.

The accomplishment became complete when the Bobcats squared off against Turner for a weekend doubleheader at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones.

Saturday's double dip came less than two weeks after the Bobcats made their third consecutive appearance at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals.

Because the appearances took place so closely together, it only seemed right to compare the experiences while pondering future high school endeavors at both stadiums.

Basehor-Linwood baseball coach David Svoboda offered his thoughts on both experiences, and most centered around what his team was and wasn't able to do at each park.

At Kauffman, the Bobcats were much more restricted. Of course, that's to be expected at a big league facility. Infield practice was taken in the tunnels below the stadium and sunflower seeds were restricted in the dug outs. In addition, the team was forced to sell 800 tickets to a Royals game before living the dream could become a reality.

At CommunityAmerica, the teams took infield on the field, just as they do for all of their other games. The mouths of the players were packed full of sunflower seeds throughout the day and there was no pre-game ticket requirement.

Despite the differences, Svoboda said the beautiful condition of both fields made the experiences something he'll never forget.

"At Kauffman, you're in a major league stadium with three levels, a huge scoreboard, and a 30-plus-year history as a Kansas City landmark," he said. "The field is immaculate. At CommunityAmerica, we were able to take pregame infield and outfield, were able to have sunflower seeds and were on a playing surface that was also immaculate."

As an outside observer, I see advantages to both.

To me, it would seem that playing at The K would be more fun to tell people about while playing at CommunityAmerica would be a more exciting place to actually play.

For goodness sakes, you could nearly fit an entire high school field in the outfield at Kauffman. That has to be a nightmare for the local outfielders.

CommunityAmerica on the other hand, houses a much more managable field without losing the big-league feel.

I'm not trying to say one experience is better than the other. I think both are great and I would love to see both continue.

However, I think playing at The K is something that should happen every once in a while. But playing down the road at CommunityAmerica should happen every year.

Svoboda agreed.

"I'm hopeful that with Bonner, Piper, Turner and Bishop Ward all in Wyandotte County, that we'll play yearly at CommunityAmerica," he said.

Both Basehor-Linwood and Bonner Springs will get a shot to play there again this year, as the minor league park has agreed to host one of the 4A state baseball regionals.

Regional play begins the week of May 16.

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