November 22, 2012
In the Style section of the Washington Post on Monday, there was news that Nationals players are getting married during the offseason. Nothing like a successful year career-wise to get guys thinking about making long-term plans and settling down with that Special Someone. Michael "The Beast" Morse officially got hitched with Miss Jessica Etably on Saturday, and Ryan "Face of the Franchise" Zimmerman will do likewise with Miss Heather Downen in January. Here is the complete list of the upcoming nuptial celebrations, with approximate wedding dates:
Congratulations to all the happy couples!
Natitude: on the field AND in romance!
The RFK Stadium diagrams have been revised, with entry portals displayed [mostly underneath*] for the first time. There are also minor corrections in the profiles, and the lights positioned are more accurately along the roof. What prompted me to do that was the realization that there are several more rows of seats in the far end of the lower deck in the right field corner than my previous lower-deck diagram indicated. (A fan brought that to my attention a year or two ago, but I wasn't sure what he meant.) Evidently, fans in the rear corner can't (or couldn't) even see the right field fence. I also realized that the lower deck behind home plate has four more rows than I previously estimated (about ten feet), reaching back almost as far as the upper deck. The overhang is just preposterous, dramatizing how the weight of the upper deck in that particular part of the stadium is suspended almost entirely by cables.
* That page now has two (2) lower-deck version diagrams (showing the football-to-baseball conversion much more clearly than before), as well as an all-new upper-deck version diagram. It's the second such stadium page with such a feature; the other one is Cleveland Stadium. That's a hint of what is in store for the New Year, after I finish up diagram revisions and move on to enhancing them. All stadiums with particularly large roofs (such as Milwaukee County Stadium or any of the Early 20th century "Classical" baseball stadiums) will eventually have separate upper-deck version diagrams, as well as separate lower-deck version diagrams.
Part of what prompted my interest in RFK Stadium was the soccer playoff match held there on Sunday afternoon. D.C. United fell to the Houston Dynamo in the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference playoffs on Sunday, the second time this season that a Washington team has lost in a postseason playoff sports contest. D.C. United has won four MLS championships (1996, 1997, 1999, and 2004), but has not done as well in recent years. Houston will face the Los Angeles [Galaxy*] in the MLS Cup match on December 1. See mlssoccer.com. Attendance at the match was 20,015, technically a "sell out," given that the upper deck at RFK has been closed to spectators for the past few seasons. Will D.C. United get a new stadium any time soon?
[* David "Bend It Like" Beckham recently announced he will leave the L.A. Galaxy and U.S. soccer after the championship game on December 1, but made it clear he is not retiring completely. He has had a big impact on broadening the popularity of soccer over the past few years. See mlssoccer.com.]
A few miles east in the Maryland suburbs, meanwhile, the Washington Redskins finally won a game, beating the Philadelphia Eagles 31-6. I was shocked to see how little of the upper deck remains at FedEx Field, which used to hold 91,000 fans. Attendance was 79,000. The original design of the stadium was rather dull, basically an enlarged version of Giants Stadium (demolished last year), so I didn't object when they removed the upper portion of the upper decks on the end zone sides last year. It was a lot like the similar removal of excess seats from U.S. Cellular Field in 2004, the only such case of baseball stadium "shrinkage." But this year the Redskins removed even more seating sections (see July 17), and what is left looks just weird, IMHO. Later today, the "Washington" (Landover) Redskins will face the "Dallas" (Arlington) Cowboys, in Texas.
The decision by the University of Maryland to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference and join the Big Ten reflected a desperate financial situation of that institution's varsity sports programs. The Terrapins have already had to shut down several of their athletic teams, but the anticipated TV revenues apparently far outweigh the ACC "exit fee" and the sharply increased costs of transporting the teams hundreds of miles to various college towns across the Midwest. (What energy shortage?) It defies all normal logic, and is just plain wrong. In part it's a reflection of the overall crisis of higher education funding in the United States, but it's also another sign that college sports is rapidly abandoning any pretense of being an amateur endeavor. [The surreptitious process by which the decision was reached raises disturbing questions, reminiscent of what happened at U.Va. in June.] See the Washington Post "Social Reader"; hat tip to Matthew Poteat. As I wrote on Facebook, "
The increased commercialization of college sports is steadily destroying the entire conference system, raising further doubts about the whole idea of a "national champion," which I think is ridiculous anyway. I like football, but as time passes, I care less and less about college sports.
And while we're on the topic of college football, I should mention that the Notre Dame "Fighting Irish" have ascended to #1 ranking in the NCAA, after previously-undefeated Kansas State and Oregon lost their respective games on Saturday. Was it just a coincidence that I paid a visit to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time last August?
Here's some more ballpark news, courtesy of Mike Zurawski. As part of their renovations of Safeco Field, the Seattle Mariners are installing a new [scoreboard that] will be the biggest video display in Major League Baseball. It will be 56.7 feet high and 201.5 feet wide, wider than the roof-suspended video display in Cowboys Stadium. See seattletimes.com. And the Milwaukee Brewers are going to install a 25-foot rock-climbing wall shaped like a Mountain Dew can beyond right-center field, [...] and the Home Plate Lounge will be spiffed up with a "concierge counter," new carpeting, etc. See MLB.com and ballparkdigest.com.
Also, Mark London sent me links to news stories about the Rangers' exhibition games [against the Padres] at the Alamodome in San Antonio next spring: ksat.com woai.com. It will be 340 feet to left field, 370 feet to left center, 395 feet to center field, with the deepest point slightly to the right of that, 305 feet to right center, and just 280 feet to right field. Diagram? Maybe eventually, but first I need to do that Disney ballpark in Orlando where the Rays played a few real games a couple years ago.
Finally, Jonathan Veilleux was watching a video of Harmon Killebrew's gigantic* home run in Metropolitan Stadium on June 3, 1967, and asked me how high the upper deck in left field was. I told him that my diagrams indicate that it was 50-55 feet to the front edge of the upper deck, but "after further review," that's about 10 feet too high, I think. That realization prompted me to get started on redoing the Metropolitan Stadium diagrams, which are two years old. (Stay tuned!) It was about 410 horizontally to the upper deck straight down the left field foul line, and if the ball landed into the sixth row of the left field upper deck, I'd say it landed about 435 feet from home plate, about 50 feet above the ground.
* Bill Jenkinson, author of Baseball's Ultimate Power, estimates that ball would have gone 522 feet, the longest homer ever hit at Metropolitan Stadium.
I'll get to more news and correspondence this weekend. In the mean time,
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!