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NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 2000 was the coldest two-month period in recorded U.S. history. After that arrived dark, chilly January. If you seek midsummerlike refuge from this hibernal hell, a place where mitts, not mittens, are the norm, log on to ballparks.com.
Once on the home page, click on the photo of a baseball field (it's Fenway Park) and you'll be led to a page whose left-hand side panel contains links to pages on 93 American and National League parks of the past, present and future. You'll get aerial views, field dimensions and histories. Trivia abounds, such as the fact that the same wrecking ball was used to demolish Ebbets Field in 1960 and the Polo Grounds in '64. The link for Fenway points out that while batters routinely clear the towering leftfield Green Monster, no slugger has hit a ball over the faraway rightfield roof.
Three notable sublinks under the site's "Facts and Figures" link are "Domed Stadiums of the World," a listing encompassing the first (the Astrodome, 1965) to those in the works, such as South Korea's LG Seoul Dome; "MLB Ballpark Orientations"; and "Map of Future Ballparks." The ballpark orientations link is a cartographer's joy that shows, among other intriguing facts, that none of the existing 30 major league parks—not even any dome—places its centerfield to the southwest, from which direction the glow of the setting sun would be in the batters' eyes.
"Map of Future Ballparks," though, is our favorite. Fourteen proposed structures or sites are presented. Our choice among them is the still unnamed Twins Ballpark, which would seat 42,000 on the banks of the Mississippi River. Most important, it would have a retractable roof. Who better than Minnesotans understand cabin fever?
One Neat Guy
PHIL SIMMS, who was a New York Giants quarterback at two Super Bowls and an NBC color analyst at another pair, would like to dispel a myth about the days preceding the game. "Super Bowl week isn't a distraction," says Simms, who will be in Tampa on Sunday with play-by-play partner Greg Gumbel to call CBS's first Super Bowl since 1992. "Are you kidding me? The players love it.
"You don't have to commute, you don't have to go over the kids' homework," continues Simms, the MVP in Super Bowl XXI, a 39-20 New York defeat of the Denver Broncos, "and you don't have to run any errands for your wife. All you have to do is talk about yourself. It's absolutely the least stressful week of the year."
With the ease and efficiency that denoted his best years as a Giant, the 47 year-old Simms, who signed a new five-year contract with CBS last week reportedly worth more than $2 million a season, has ascended to the top echelon of analysts. If he's not quite John Madden, he's never maddening, either. "You've got to make sure that you connect with your audience," Simms says. "I've never said what a dime package is. Never will. Who the hell knows what a dime package is? Half the NFL doesn't know what a dime package is."
Simms prefers preparation to pedantry. He recalls Super Bowl XXX in 1996, Cowboys versus Steelers, his first NFL title game in the booth. "[Pittsburgh coach] Bill Cowher, when we met with him before the game, told us that the Steelers were going to attempt an onside kick," says Simms. "Meeting with the players and coaches and gaining their trust allows you to get gems such as that." The kick came with 11 minutes left in the game, whereas, Simms then told viewers, he'd expected it in the first half.