April 25, 2006
After he hit three home runs in the game against Atlanta on Friday night, I'm tempted to say that all is forgiven with Alfonso Soriano. It certainly undercut Jose Vidro's complaints about the fences in RFK Stadium being too deep. With two of the Nationals' sluggers batting in the high .300s (Vidro and Nick Johnson), it is a shame that they don't have a better pitching rotation that might give them a better chance to win. If you look at their lineup, there are a number of very solid hitters -- Soriano, Vidro, Guillen, Johnson -- and a very promising future hitter, Ryan Zimmerman. He got his second career home run in the Nats' 6-5 loss against Cincinnati this evening. After an encouraging winning streak last week, mostly by lopsided margins, they have lost their last three games, and all of them were close.
I had estimated that Nick Johnson's homer in Philadelphia would have gone 440 feet, and Bruce Orser tells me that that was exactly how the experts pegged it: see ESPN. Bruce also informed me that the Phillies' Ryan Howard hit a gigantic home run to center field estimated at 496 feet at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday (see MLB.com), but I'm a bit skeptical. According to my estimates, a ball travelling that far would have landed on the sidewalk outside, or at least hit the roof where those concession stands are.
Barry Bonds hit his first homer of the year on Sunday, and at number 709 in his career, he is only five behind The Babe. See MLB.com. Some have commented that Bonds isn't using his legs for extra power like he used to, as the injury to his knees apparently never completely healed. On top of his existing problems, one wonders if he will have enough energy to play for two more full seasons and thereby have a chance at surpassing Hank Aaron's 755 career mark.
Christopher Jackman noticed (as did I) that there is now just one center field distance marker at Dodger Stadium; there had been markers on either side of center field. It still says "395," however, and that may be a mistake. Since the early 1980s, according to Lowry's Green Cathedrals, the actual (unmarked) distance to straightaway center field has (or had?) been 400 feet, and as far as I know the diamond has not been moved in recent years, so it must be the same.
"Skippy" called my attention to the fact that the formerly enclosed section in Fenway Park was called the ".406 Club," in memory of Ted William's 1941 batting average, not the "409 Club," as I had written on that page. Oops. Corrections pending.
Speaking of fan feedback, a "Beta version" of the long-awaited stadium feedback feature should be ready by the end of the week. Please stand by.