What are the top 10 between-innings ballpark games in baseball right now?
Every baseball team offers a unique spin on the ballpark experience: its own sights, its own sounds, its own smells, its own pizzas used as hamburger buns.
But of all the things that mark a stadium as distinct, perhaps none is more important than the between-innings game -- you know, the stuff that happens on the field or on the scoreboard while you wait for play to resume. It could be a quiz. It could be a race. It could be the stuff of nightmares.
Each park has one, and no two are alike. But just which are the best? Our top 10 is below -- and if you'd like to mount a passionate defense of your favorite team which anyone can see has the coolest game, please do so @Cut4.
1. Super Bucco Run, PNC Park
First, let me lay my cards on the table: Between-innings games are at their best when they involve a fan or fans. No disrespect to any sausages or former presidents out there, but there's something about watching your fellow fan compete against the odds.
And when your fellow fan is playing a life-size version of Super Mario Run, that's a more or less unbeatable combination.
2. Beat the Freeze, SunTrust Park
Someone finally beat the Freeze in a race around the warning track -- you do get a pretty significant head start, after all -- but watching him close in on unsuspecting fans, inevitable as gravity itself, is still as fun as ever. Plus, it gave us quite possibly the greatest GIF in baseball history.
3. The Racing Presidents, Nationals Park
The Majors are chock full of mascot races these days, some of which I'll get to soon. But the Racing Presidents edge the competition, both for consistently hilarious prop utilization and for their sheer pathos -- Teddy Roosevelt finally taking home first place stirred something in me that I did not know a plush caricature of Teddy Roosevelt could stir. He is all of us.
4. The Famous Racing Sausages, Miller Park
Really, if you wanted to flip-flop the presidents and the sausages, I wouldn't complain. Milwaukee gets major points for 1) being first, 2) sausage being delicious and 3) letting Hank the Ballpark Pup participate.
5. The subway race, Yankee Stadium
Sure, it doesn't sound like much: Once a game, the B, D and 4 trains -- the three subway options that can get you to the House That Ruth Built -- wage a scoreboard race to Yankee Stadium. Try to tell any fan that it's not a big deal, though, and prepare for at least 15 minutes on how the 4 train got robbed and there's no way the B could ever get to the Bronx before the D. The B doesn't even run express!
What began as an afterthought has grown into an institution, one that still has the ability to make grown adults irrationally angry. Just ask the unofficial czar of Yankees fandom:
Yankee Stadium jumbotron subway race is more NY than the statue of liberty or pretending to sleep when a pregnant lady gets on the train— Desus Nice (@desusnice) April 11, 2015
6. The Mr. Red Race, Great American Ball Park
Did you know that the Reds have not one mascot, but four? There's Mr. Redlegs, Mr. Red, Rosie Red and Dapper, who appears to be some sort of fuzzy toucan. The former three participate in the Mr. Red Race -- and while on paper the race doesn't do much to elevate itself above the norm, in practice it gives us Mr. Redlegs running full-speed at the camera and/or Anthony Rizzo, which will haunt your dreams forever.
7. The Mascot Race at Target Field, Target Field
What sets this race apart from the others is just how extremely specific and Midwestern the Twins got when filling out the field: In addition to Bullseye the Target dog, contestants include -- and I swear these are real -- Wanda the Walleye, Louie the Loon, Skeeta the Mosquito and Babe the Blue Ox (yes, like Paul Bunyan).
But all of that pales in comparison to last season, when the team set out to add a sixth contestant to the fun but accidentally ended up somewhere adjacent to "The Fly":
For the record, the winner was Gracie Gray Duck, a nod to a truly mind-bending regionalism that I'm still recovering from.
8. The A's Hall of Fame Race, Oakland Coliseum
Turning A's icons into mascots feels a little half-baked, but it does make Rickey Henderson happy -- and if Rickey's happy, we're happy.
9. The Hydro Challenge, T-Mobile Park
Much like mascot races, seemingly every ballpark has their own spin on the "guess which of these three differently colored things will win this scoreboard race" format. Only the Mariners, however, chose to have those things be hydroplanes -- basically a very sleek, very zippy motorboat -- and I can't help but find that sort of regional specificity charming.
10. The Goya can shuffle, Minute Maid Park
See above re: regional specificity, which is really just an excuse for us to inform you that the Goya processing facility in Houston is marked by a truly enormous model of a can of kidney beans.