Though Oakland and Seattle rendezvoused last week in Tokyo, Major League Baseball's 2012 season will arrive in America today, marking the beginning of the collective trudge to the great stadiums that have long helped define the character of cities all over the country. This year, there is a lot of excitement about a massive new stadium and the 100th anniversary of what just might be the most authentic temple to sport left in America.
From San Francisco to Chicago to New York, the beginning of the baseball season means that travelers have another way to enjoy local color. Attending a game can be the best way to understand a city. There is nothing more New York than the grandiosity of Yankee Stadium and little more Chicagoan than Wrigley Field, where the dreams of millions have languished and died.
Here are the top 10 parks to visit in 2012. Some are beautiful, others cheap. Some host playoff-bound teams and others are home to poorly-managed squads of lovable losers. What they have in common is that they are all great places to watch the National Pastime.
This great, perpetually sold out, temple to Baseball is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year. Fenway has a bizarrely shaped outfield, rowdy fans and few of the modern amenities that have ballgames more and more family friendly over the last two decades. This is exactly the point. Fenway is a baseball stadium for people who love baseball. The stadium sits within walking distance of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and a throw away from Newbury Street, the high-end shopping avenue that leads to the Common. This is Boston's beating heart. Home Opener: April 13
The newest monument to baseball is a 37,000 seat stadium outside of Miami where the relocated Marlins will play in air conditioned comfort a short ride away from Florida's center of cool. Yes, the new uniforms are ridiculous looking, but the park isn't and the owners are gambling that the fans here are ready to get behind this team, which has a lot of Latin flavor. Home Opener: April 4 (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The Mets are a very bad baseball team. Terrible really. But there is a silver lining to all the financial and lineup problems: Going to a game is very cheap and, most of the time, there is at least one professionally looking ballclub in the house. Citi Field is the anti-Yankees Stadium. It isn't particularly glamorous, but it is accessible and doable for people who want to go to a last minute game. Tell you friends you saw a game in New York. They'll probably just assume you went to the Bronx anyway. Home Opener: April 5
PNC Park seems like a metaphor for what Pittsburgh could be. The ballpark is only a decade old, but seems like a throwback to a more traditional era, embracing a sort of Americana meets the 21st century aesthetic. The views are beautiful and the park sits close to a beautiful park and the always alluring National Aviary. No, the Pirates aren't a great team, but Pittsburgh is a great sports town and the fans are terrific. Home Opener: April 5
Camden Yards is everything a stadium should be. It is huge, but intimate, modern but traditional. This year Earl Weaver will be tossing out the first pitch for the Orioles, a tribute to both his career with the club and the club's respect for baseball history. The fact that the National Aquarium and the Charm City's waterfront is nearby doesn't hurt. Home Opener: April 4
Like Fenway, Wrigley Field is more than just a ballpark. This is a critical piece of Chicago history and a major part of the city's landscape. After the game, walk towards the lake to enjoy open parks and stunning views. Wearing a Cubbies hat and reciting the poem "Tinkers to Evers to Chance" will win you a lot of friends. Don't try to catch foul balls that fielders might be able to reach. Seriously. Home Opener: April 5
The two biggest reason to head to Citizens Bank Park: The Phillies are great and their fans are crazy. Travelers may want to dress in red and white if they want to enter this temple to mass psychosis, but those who do will find a perfectly manicured field and sweeping views of the City of Brotherly Love. The one downside. There isn't much nearby, just some really epic parking lots. Home Opener: April 5
The Evil Empire's new stadium is proof that America's love affair with baseball is as passionate as ever. The massive stadium offers great views from almost every seat and affords true fans the priceless opportunity to join the home crowd in heckling A-Rod for being a jerk. New York is one of the most popular destinations in the world and seeing a game is an absolute must. Go to Citi Field if you're on a budget. If you aren't, go to Yankee Stadium. Home Opener: April 13 <em>Correction: A previous version of this slide showed the old Yankee stadium. We regret the error</em>.
Led by their eccentric pitching staff, the Giants are one of the most exciting teams in baseball and ames at AT&T are almost uniformly engaging. That said, the view of the bay and the sunshine might not make up for the crowd's consistently blase attitude. Be prepared to have to explain the Infield Fly Rule to a computer programmer. There is a Build-A-Bear Workshop in the outfield. Seriously. Home Opener: April 6
The opening game of the 2012 season was played by the Seattle Mariner and Oakland Athletics in Tokyo, making the Tokyo Dome the least convenient place to see a MLB game. Just because the opening series is over, doesn't mean the Dome is empty. Catch a Yomiuri Giants game here or just a Superhero show, which is apparently a thing. Because the stadium is also the home of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, it is the perfect place for foreigners to take in a few innings and a bit of history. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
(Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mikefrombisbee"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mikefrombisbee">mikefrombisbee</a>:<br />Billy Martin and Clint Courtney fought here in 1947. The NY Giants and the White Sox played there in 1913 on their World Tour. Three of the Black Sox and others banned from baseball played here in an outlaw league in the 1920s. Warren Ballpark in historic Bisbee, AZ dates back to 1909. Although it's no longer a minor league park, it remains in use year-round for high school football and baseball, semi-pro summer baseball, vintage base ball and other community events.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Bompa"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/301835-tiny.png?20101208175707" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Bompa">Bompa</a>:<br />Just another day at the yard.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jim4small"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/526151330/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jim4small">jim4small</a>:<br />Fenway Home Opener 2011
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/vonchio"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/3014093.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/vonchio">vonchio</a>:<br />Korea Probaseball Team(Doosan BEARS) Home field in Seoul, Korea