I went to a game in Chicago just a few weeks ago. For a million dollars, I could not tell you the name of the park. I would refer to it as “the field where the White Sox play” or even, “the stadium they built when they tore down Comiskey Park. You would think that if I could remember a word like “Comiskey” that I could remember a word like “U.S. Cellular,” but you would be mistaken.

So please be patient while I digress with a rant on the subject of stupid park names. I guess you have to start with stupid corporate names. I used to have an insurance policy with Northwestern National Life Insurance Company. A pretty boring name, but also pretty honest and straightforward, which is what you want with insurance. Then I got a letter saying that Northwestern National etc. had become Reliastar. Reliastar! Please. Is this modern? Sexy? Inspiring? I ought to cancel my policy.

I don’t know when parks began to have corporate names. I suppose corporations found it to be a good investment in cheap advertising. Like when they banned cigarette advertising and a car race became the Camel 500 or something. Similarly, every time a person says “Let’s go out and watch a game at U.S. Cellular field,” it is good advertising, and may encourage someone to go out and buy a U.S. Cellular. I’m not sure what that is, but just talking about it makes me want one.

When I discussed the Baseball Project with my friend Ian, he immediately demonstrated his knowledge of the parks, which was pretty impressive. He said something like, “I kind of like Safeco, but AT&T is really spectacular, though the outlook is even better at PNC.” If you had overheard this conversation, you would have thought he was giving me stock tips. Even though I had been to two of those parks, I needed a translation before I could tell what teams he was talking about.

I suppose I am being obtuse and it really wouldn’t be hard to store that stuff. But it is hard. I think age has something to do with it. A couple of years ago I took some courses in Spanish, and I swear I remember the French I learned 40 years ago better than the Spanish I learned 4 years ago. But it also has to do with my resistance to this phenomenon. I have nothing against giant corporations, and they are perfectly free to have stupid names. I just resist those stupid names being attached to parks.

Tiger Stadium. There’s a great name for you. Comerica Park? Give me a break (and maybe cancel my policy, or close my account, or switch my cell phone plan, whichever it may be). I don’t mind some guy wanting to be memorialized by being associated with the park. Shea Stadium. Not bad. Even, as earlier mentioned, Comiskey Park. Wrigley Field. Now that’s a borderline case. I have always assumed we were memorializing Mr. Wrigley and not his brand. In the spirit of stupid names, I’m a little surprised they have not renamed that one “Chew Wrigley Gum Park.” At least that would be more straightforward.

But all this is moot (or as my students like to say, mute) because I am not on a quest to go to all the parks anyway. Recall that the rule that governs the Burnham Baseball Project is that Burnham does not have to go to every park; he only has to go to see every team playing at home. So if he had seen the White Sox play at Comiskey, that would count. He could without the slightest guilt move Chicago into the “Ballparks Visited” column. Though in the interest of accuracy, he should perhaps change those headings from “Ballparks Visited” and “Ballparks Yet to See” to “Teams Visited” and “Teams Yet to See.” I can blame my wife for this, as she set up the blog for me, but she probably didn’t know the rules when she did it, so she is excused.

Anyway, my rant about stupid park names has used up all my space (not literally, of course, but another of my arbitrary rules is that 500 words counts as a post, so I can call it quits at that point), so I am going to have to retitle this one Chicago White Sox I (that is the Roman numeral I and not the capital letter I) and tell you about my visit to The Park Where the White Sox Play in another post, to be cleverly entitled Chicago White Sox II.

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