June 16, 2010
Talk about the "agony of defeat"!* To the disbelief and dismay of University of Virginia fans all across the Old Dominion, the Cavalier baseball team squandered their home field advantage, losing the second and third games of the series against Oklahoma. The deciding game was especially ugly: Oklahoma 11, Virginia 0. That's right, ZERO. The Cavaliers are therefore eliminated from the NCAA postseason, and as the headline in the Charlottesville Daily Progress said, there will be "No return trip to Omaha."
I tried to get tickets, but all three games were sold out well in advance. In both the Sunday and Monday games, the Oklahoma Sooners had big rallies in the first inning, grabbing the momentum early and never letting go. Apparently, the Cavaliers expected to win (as did most people) and weren't at their peak mental state. When adversity struck, they were caught flat-footed and just couldn't get going again.
* For the benefit of younger fans, that phrase was part of the introduction to the old ABC show "Wide World of Sports," accompanied by a graphic clip of a downhill skier tumbling head over heels.
Since leaving home in Washington last week, the Nationals have lost four of their five games thus far. The only win came in Cleveland on Sunday, when Stephen Strasburg struck out eight more batters in the second start of his career, but walked five men for the first time. He was having problems with his footing because of a rut in the pitcher's mound, which had to be repaired. Fortunately, his team mates gave Strasburg plenty of run support, as they beat the Indians, 9-4. Because of all the excitement over Strasburg, attendance at Progressive Field on Sunday was 32,876 -- the second highest this year.
But otherwise, the Nats just can't get their bats started. In Detroit, the Nats dropped the first two games to the Tigers, as starting pitchers John Lannan and Livan Hernandez had below-average performances.
The game at PETCO Park on Monday night was briefly interrupted by a small 5.7-magnitude earthquake that was centered on the nearby United States-Mexican border. It happened in the bottom of the eighth inning, by which time many fans had already left. No one was hurt, and no damage was reported. The Toronto Blue Jays won the game, 6-3. See MLB.com.
That seismic event reminded me about the recent news item (June 9) on a possible new football-only stadium for the San Diego Chargers. I needed to make some corrections to those diagrams anyway, so I came up with a simplified proposed renovation of QualComm (Jack Murphy) Stadium, in which the field would be lowered just three feet, rather than five feet as I suggested one year ago. Would that avoid the hazardous water table issue? (The stadium sits in a river valley that has been paved over.) That question will be up to the engineers to decide. I'm sure they could figure out some way to assure proper drainage without going to too much expense. [Most of the lower bowl of the grandstand would remain intact, except for the corners, which would be reoriented, and the first five or so rows, which would have a bit more slope. Both changes would provide much better sight lines for football games, and my design would provide enough room for a standard-sized soccer field, which QualComm Stadium does not presently have.]
Why undertake such a project, you ask? Rebuilding QualComm Stadium would probably cost on the order of $40-$50 million, much less than the cost of a whole new stadium. Mike Zurawski thinks I'm wasting my time because QualComm Stadium has no particular aesthetic or historical value. Perhaps, but it does have the virtue of already have been built and paid for. Stadiums aren't cheap, and in hard times like these, it only makes sense to make do with what you've got.
As for the real-world diagrams, the main changes are the inclusion of access ramps and other structures around the periphery of the stadium. Among the corrections worth noting are that the rear portion of the lower deck has a steeper slope than before, and the second deck is recessed several feet, with more upper-deck overhang. There is also a full-stadium (not truncated) version, similar to what I had done for the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. I may do a few other full-stadium diagrams for stadiums that do not fit the standard 480 x 500 pixel diagram size.
A few days ago, I had to manually insert the June 4 blog post on the baseball blog page, because of a technical glitch. ("Houston, we have a problem.) I am removing it as of today (June 16), but for the sake of those who may not have noticed, it included a diagram update for Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. Hopefully I'll get that problem resolved soon...