December 7, 2014 [LINK / comment]
At last!!! Dodger Stadium update
Several weeks behind schedule, the diagrams for Dodger Stadium are now up to my highest standards in terms of accuracy and inclusion of details. As for accuracy, the biggest change is that the angle of the grandstand as a whole is slightly more acute. I determined this by carefully inspecting photographs to see where the line marked by the front row of seats extends. (Getting photographs taken from the right perspective makes all the difference.) In addition, the profile is much more accurate than before, and attempts to be more realistic in showing the lower deck as a slab embedded in the earth, rather than as a schematic wedge, as nearly all of my diagrams presently do. It's hard to know exactly how deep the foundations of most stadiums are, but in this case, there are plenty of photographs showing the excavation when most of the lower deck was rebuilt in early 2013.
As an example of new detail, mainly for aesthetic purposes, you can see the trademark zig-zag roof that partly covers the outfield pavilions, as well as the trees beyond. (I decided not to worry about the exact number or position of trees for the time being.) Other new details include the small staircases in front of the bleacher sections, and the scoreboards that protrude a few feet in front of the lights behind those same bleachers. Aside from the sides of the bleachers, the only entry portals are in the upper deck, for which there is a new "no-roof" version diagram. There is also a new 2014 version diagram, which differs from the 2005 version mainly in displaying the newly-built peripheral buildings: team stores, eateries, restrooms, etc. To provide enough room to show those additions, I created a new "full-view" diagram. Finally, there is a hockey version diagram.
As often happens, there were several points over the past couple weeks at which I thought I had Dodger Stadium all wrapped up. For nearly a day I was stumped because I could not reconcile the position of the light towers and the roofs with number of seats in the third and fourth decks. Finally, I realized that the ten-foot discrepancy was the result of the roof supports being in front of the third row from the back of the third deck. Yes, there are some obstructed seats there! (Supposedly some of those upper-deck seats have been closed off in recent years, but I couldn't figure out exactly which sections were affected.) I also had some trouble trying to figure out how many rows there are in the third deck in the segment underneath the fourth deck, and likewise in how much overhang there is.
One minor correction just a couple days ago stemmed from a chance look at a photograph showing the alignment of the end of the grandstand just beyond the foul pole(s). Previously, I had those ends pointing toward the vicinity of second base, when in fact they point toward at least 20 feet beyond the infield dirt. As a result, the furthest point in the rear corner of the grandstand (near the foul poles) is now about ten feet closer to home than it used to be. Another vexing headache was trying to reconcile the front edge of the grandstand in the original configuration (1962-1999) with the area covered by the extended infield seating sections built in 2005. I finally realized that the back row of the new seats occupies space where the original first row used to be, i.e., they overlap. Small differences like that often yield huge differences in the overall diagram.
Finishing Dodger Stadium was one of the biggest remaining hurdles toward my goal of estimating the total playing area of all current and past MLB stadiums. From 1969 until 2000 it had about 33,500 square feet foul territory, one of the biggest in the majors. (It's now only about 19,300 square feet.) Fair territory was originally (1962-1968) about 115,800 square feet, which is quite spacious, and since 1969 it has been about 110,500 square feet feet, which is just a bit above average. I'm fairly confident in my fair and foul territory estimates for nearly all remaining stadiums on my "to-do" list, but some double-checking will be necessary.
Dodger Stadium was featured in several movies, including The Satan Bug (1965), Superman Returns (2006), in which Superman prevents a jetliner that is carrying a Space Shuttle from crashing, and The Core (2003), in the scene where the Space Shuttle Endeavour flew over during a Colorado Rockies-Los Angeles Dodgers game and (if I understand correctly) makes an emergency crash landing. (Thanks to Daley Holder for that tip.)
Among the sources in getting all the features of the 2013-2014 renovations correct were latimes.com and MLB.com. Of course, the fine photographs in the books Ballparks Yesterday and Today (John Pastier et al.), Green Cathedrals (Phil Lowry), and Blue Skies Green Fields (Ira Rosen) proved very useful in getting everything just right.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, this is a major revision to the diagrams of a very important stadium, and represents one of the biggest landmarks in my diagramming endeavors of the past few years. It's a good thing the Dodgers didn't make it to the World Series in October, as that would have put almost unbearable pressure on me to get an accurate diagram out on time!
My last update to the Dodger Stadium diagrams was in January 2009 -- nearly six years ago! It once again reminds me how badly other diagrams need to be updated. In particular, I have realized that the upper deck in my PNC Park diagram is about ten feet too shallow, so I have gotten to work fixing that. Otherwise, nearly all of my other current MLB stadium diagrams are pretty accurate, with relatively minor corrections or enhancements to make ... I hope!
I'll report some news on soccer in D.C., Steven Souza Jr., Jayson Werth, and others tomorrow...
December 9, 2014 [LINK / comment]
"Play of the Year" award to Souza
Not long after getting a Best Buy gift card from an appreciative Jordan Zimmermann, Steven Souza Jr. was honored to get the GIBBY (Greatness in Baseball Yearly) "Play of the Year" award [for that amazing game-ending, no-hitter-saving catch at Nationals Park on September 28]. See MLB.com. I'm still dumbfounded at how lucky I was not just to be at that game, but to get a photo of that historic play. I just showed that photo on November 29 for a second time, so instead of showing it for a third time, I incorporated it into a montage of some of the Nationals' other great moments of the past three seasons:
Some of the Washington Nationals' "great moments" I have had the privilege to witness -- and photograph! At top left, the Nationals mob Jordan Zimmermann after Steven Souza Jr. (top right) made the diving catch to preserve the no-hitter last September 28. Bottom middle, Ian Desmond homers to get the only run scored in that game. Bottom left, Ryan Zimmerman hits a home run into the "Red Porch" on September 22, 2013. Bottom right, on September 8, 2012, Jayson Werth homers in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game, which the Nationals won one inning later.
You can also see a larger-size version of the Nationals mobbing Jordan Zimmermann, in the top left of that montage.
What about "great moments" of players from other teams which I have seen? Well, I saw then New York Met Julio Franco's home run on September 2006; the following year he hit one more to top his own record. And last July in Kansas City I saw and photographed Billy Butler hitting a home run that proved to be the Royals' margin of victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Winter GM meetings commence
In beautiful, balmy San Diego, MLB general managers have begun their annual winter meetings. On the first day, the Chicago White Sox picked up two first-class pitchers: Jeff Samardzija (who has played for the Cubs and Athletics in recent years) and David Robertson (who has been with the Yankees). For a full recap, see MLB.com.
This event is the "swan song" for outgoing MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who officially retires at the end of the month. I hope he gets a suitable sendoff to reward him for leading the sport through some exciting but often trying times over the past two decades.
Nats free agents get offers
All Washington Nationals free agents received qualifying offers from the management, which is good news but not exactly a surprise. Can the franchise keep both Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann on the roster? They will both expect big raises, and they're probably worth it.
On the other hand, Ken Rosenthal (foxsports.com) says the Nationals should avoid getting into a contract squabble with Bryce Harper.
Werth: "2 Fast, 2 Furious"
Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was convicted of reckless driving by a judge in Fairfax County last week, and was sentenced to ten days in jail. He is trying to cut the actual time served behind bars to only five days, however. Always the rebellious kind, he was driving his Porsche at over 100 miles per hour on the Beltway, and the cops nabbed him. (Washington Post)
Three Rivers Stadium update
For the second time in three days, I have finished updating diagrams that were over five years old -- in this case, for Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. Aside from the obvious inclusion of new details such as the entry portals, the biggest change since the 2009 version is that the overall shape is slightly more of an oval, with more pronounced bends behind home plate and beyond center field. It's rather like a football, in fact, reminding me of how the old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore had a sharp bend behind home plate. This finding is based on a closer inspection of some aerial photos, and helps to resolve one of the nagging discrepancies in the oval-shaped stadiums with "paired swivelable circular section lower deck" (PSCSLD) configuration. (The other is Busch Stadium II.) For such a dual-use arrangement to work, the curvature of the rear of the movable portion of the grandstand must match the curvature of the rest of the grandstand. In a typical, more blunt oval, consisting of four circular (fixed-radius) curves, the range of movement would be too restricted. I'll have to figure out how to explain that more clearly.
December 25, 2014 [LINK / comment]
Coors Field update
Just in time for Christmas (!), I updated the Coors Field diagrams, showing for the first time the platform seating areas and access stairs in the upper deck. I added new versions for the second and third decks, which show the structural beams that demarcate each section of the stadium. That proved invaluable to getting certain details right, such as the position of the grandstand near the right-field corner. Among the changes are: the scoreboard on the right field wall extends about ten feet further toward center field, "pushing" the bullpens in that direction. I may add a lower-deck version as well eventually.
This update rectifies a glaring omission that I belatedly mentioned in November: the major renovation to the right field upper deck which Coors Field underwent one year ago. All of the seats above where the entry portals used to be were removed in the process of that renovation. One obvious question stemming from this is how much was the capacity reduced. Wanna guess? ZERO! At least that's the official story: "Coors Field's capacity remains at 50,398, including standing room only tickets." (denverpost.com) Talk about bogus! Given that there were eight and a half sections with 16 rows and 24 seats per row, plus a couple hundred more in the three rows situated on the "balcony," I estimate that there were 3,450 seats taken out, so that's an awful lot of SRO.
Note that the Coors Field page features enhanced block-style "dynamic diagram" links, making it easier to compare different diagram versions. After tweaking that new format, I'll probably incorporate that into all my stadium pages eventually, along with other enhancements.
I also updated the text on that page, calling attention to Todd Helton's retirement at the end of the 2013 season. He had spent his entire career (17 years) with the Rockies, amassing 2,519 hits, 369 home runs, and a .316 batting average. [See MLB.com.] He's certainly worthy of consideration for the Hall of Fame.
Ballparks in the news
For many weeks, I have been curious about plans to begin demolition on Candlestick Park. According to a recent story at Yahoo sports, crews will begin tearing it down early next year, perhaps within a month. That story includes photos taken by an amateur drone aircraft that show the "eerie" insides of Candlestick Park, with most of the seats already removed. For your amusement, take a look at the whimsical proposal to turn Candlestick Park into a giant community greenouse: sfgate.com.
On a brighter note, folks in Houston are doing their best to keep the Astrodome in good physical condition, in hopes of making it a permanent historic landmark. Mark London tells me that a local group is planning a massive exterior "bath" that will cost about $63,800. See click2houston.com. So, chances are still good that I'll get to see the Astrodome one of these days, but alas not Candlestick Park.
In Chicago, work continues on rebuilding the bleachers at Wrigley Field, and thanks to Mike Zurawski, you can see some renderings of what the completed project will look like at curbed.com.
Mike also drew my attention to some new renderings of the Atlanta Braves' future home, Sun Trust Park, at MLB.com. My initial impression is that it resembles Target Field, with distinct "postmodernist" stylings. We'll see if my skeptical attitude can be overcome.
I'll have to wait until tomorrow to get caught up with news about trades involving Jon Lester, Stephen Souza, etc. In the mean time,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, baseball fans!
December 27, 2014 [LINK / comment]
D.C. Council approves new soccer stadium!
After years and years of waiting, fans of the D.C. United soccer team are rejoicing that the city government has finally approved funding for a new soccer stadium. The D.C. Council voted unanimously (12-0) in favor of the proposal on December 17. The agreement specifies that the city will provide $140 million in financing, $106 million of which will be borrowed, while the D.C. United owners will pay for the rest. Acquisition of land is the only remaining hurdle.
The new stadium will have 20,000 seats, mostly covered by a roof, in a plain rectangular shape typical of soccer stadiums, with a curved protrusion on the east side. It will be located three blocks southwest of Nationals Park, in the "Buzzard Point" area. That's basically an industrial wasteland similar to what the land occupied by Nationals Park used to be like. Once again, some local businesses and residents are objecting to being disrupted or displaced, and there may be some eminent domain proceedings in court. Read all about it in the Washington Post.
This photo of the Buzzard Point section of Washington, which I took on September 28 from Nationals Park, is nearly identical to the one published in the Washington Post. The new soccer stadium will lie approximately between that big gravel pile and the conical storage building. In the distance you can see the Potomac River, Fort McNair, and (on the right) Reagan National Airport. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)
I wonder what the wishy-washy former D.C. Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp would have said about this deal? (See December 2005, when the deal to build a new baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals almost collapsed.) Or what about former Mayor and Councilman Marion Barry? He opposed the bill to fund what became Nationals Park when the final vote was made in February 2006, and passed away a few weeks ago, after battling a variety of health problems.
This deal means that D.C. United might leave RFK Stadium as soon as 2017. Will demolition soon follow? The last time I was there, on September 28, I noticed that the paint is badly peeling on it. The D.C. Government is pushing to be chosen as hosts of the 2024 Olympic Games, in which case a big new stadium would no doubt be built where RFK Stadium currently stands. Such a new stadium would no doubt become the new home of the Washington Redskins -- or whatever the team may be called in the future.
The deal also signifies belated appreciation for D.C. United, which has to compete against teams that play in stadiums designed for soccer. (A few MLS teams still play in football stadiums.) D.C. United won the MLS Cup four times: 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2004. They have not done as well in recent years, but 2014 they showed a marked improvement, with the best record in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer, with 17 wins, 9 losses, and 8 ties. Unfortunately, they lost to the New York Red Bulls in the playoffs. (Much like the Nationals lost to the wild card Giants in the NLDS this year.) In the championship match held at StubHub Center in Carson, California on December 7, L.A. Galaxy beat the New England Revolution 2-1 in extra time to win the 2014 MLS Cup. (See mlssoccer.com.)
Soccer in baseball stadiums
Speaking of soccer, Zach LaFleur informs me via the "Stadium impressions" feature that soccer was played at Dodger Stadium last year. So I checked, and learned that there were two soccer matches there in August 2013: Real Madrid vs. Everton, and the MLS L.A. Galaxy vs. Juventus. (See latimes.com.) And coincidentally, while going through my stacks of unopened e-mail messages, I found that Mark London had called to my attention several months ago that a soccer match was (to be) played at Miller Park last July. (See onmilwaukee.com.) So, of course I just had to create soccer version diagrams of Dodger Stadium and Miller Park, which you can see -- along with all the other soccer version diagrams -- by rolling your mouse over the stadium names in the list below:
In the process of doing the new diagrams, I learned that the soccer "pitch" (field) at Dodger Stadium was significantly undersized. A normal-sized soccer field would have fit just fine in Dodger Stadium before they added all those extra rows of box seats in 2005. Among the stadiums in the above list, only RFK Stadium and Yankee Stadium had soccer matches on a routine basis, concurrently with baseball games. For all the rest, from what I can tell, it was just special exhibition matches, in most cases one time only. In the course of some research, I learned that at least two other baseball stadiums have hosted a soccer match for which I have not done such a diagram: the Kingdome and Safeco Field.
But wait, there's more! I also created a brand-new Soccer use (of baseball stadiums) page to go along with the existing Football use (of baseball stadiums) page. It describes the various circumstances by which soccer was played at those stadiums, along with the dates. The new page is, of course, a "work in progress." It will be updated to show soccer diagrams of Kingdome and Safeco Field (and perhaps others) at some time in the future.
By the way, if anyone knows of other baseball stadiums used for soccer, please let me know, either by e-mail or just by commenting on this blog post.
OK, I'll get to the actual baseball news tomorrow...
December 31, 2014 [LINK / comment]
The Washington Nationals in 2014
I have finally completed the 2014 Nationals' day-to-day winning percentage chart, which is now on the Washington Nationals page. Even though the end-of-season winning percentage (.593) was about the same as in 2012 (.605), the month-to-month trends were markedly different. (Roll your mouse over the chart to compare the two years.) In 2012, the Nats started hot right out of the gate, in spite of multiple injuries, and cooled off somewhat in May. Nevertheless, they stayed close to .600 for through mid-summer, and then surged again in August. In September the Braves stayed close behind, while the Nats coasted. They finally clinched the division title in the last few days of the season.
In 2014, in contrast, the early part of the season was anything but auspicious. This time injuries undermined their competitiveness, as Ryan Zimmerman, Doug Fister, and Bryce Harper missed several weeks each. May was just terrible, but gradually they improved in June, and by late July they claimed first place in the NL East. An amazing ten-game winnin streak (with six walk-off victories) propelled them into a big lead over the Braves, and in September their advantage only widened. They clinched the division title by September 16, and finished the season 17 games ahead of the Braves and Marlins. And then the crushing disappointment of the postseason followed, which was quite similar to what had transpired in 2012. Wait till next year!!!
Here's a useful item: At natsinsider.com Mark Zuckerman presented "The Nats' all-time stats leaders after 10 seasons."
The Washington Nationals have now existed, believe it or not, for 10 full baseball seasons. Opening Day 2015 will mark the actual tenth anniversary of the team's existence. It might be a good occasion for me to see another Opening Day game, since I was there in Philadelphia (along with my friend from New York Phil Faranda) for the very first Washington Nationals game: April 4, 2005.
I'll have to wait until tomorrow (again!) to get to all the Nationals transactions...
The Cubs sign Jon Lester
Cubs showed they are serious about winning again, having signed former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester to a fat, juicy contract worth $155 million over six years. See MLB.com. It's by far the biggest contract in franchise history. Hopefully it will work out better than the Alfonso Soriano contract did...
K.C. Municipal Stadium update
It's the same old story: I got started making some minor tweaks on my K.C. Municipal Stadium diagrams, and before you knew it, I got bogged down in a variety of uncertainties. But it was all worth it, as I made a few significant changes to the peripheral parts of the stadium and adjacent facilities. The diagrams have been revised, with much new detail.
I scoured through baseball-fever.com archives looking at all the photos to unlock various mysteries of K.C. Municipal Stadium. One thing that struck me: There is a photo of the rear exterior of the stadium (the southwest corner), the only one I have ever seen, and it's easy to know why. It was UGLY! No bricks, no big sign, no architectural trimming, just bare steel beams and corrugated steel sheets.
Kingdome minor tweak
Prompted by the desire to finish soccer diagrams (as mentioned four days ago), I made some unplanned minor revisions to the Kingdome diagrams. I realized that the entry portals needed to be reduced in size and repositioned slightly. While I was at it, I went ahead and included the lower-deck entry portals in all of the Kingdome diagrams; previously they were only shown in the lower-deck diagram. Nothing else changed in those diagrams.
Coincidentally, the last update to the Kingdome diagrams was exactly two years ago. Seeing that blog post reminded me that the Washington Redskins actually made it to the postseason in 2012. How times have changed. This year they were 4-12.
More soccer diagrams!
Thanks to Ian Cypes for the tip about soccer in Yankee Stadium II, which hosted Liverpool vs. Manchester City last July 30. (There were other such events as well.) According to worldsoccertalk.com, preparations for that match were inadequate, and the temporary sod laid over the infield dirt was not smooth at all. The soccer field fit very nicely inside the confines of New Yankee Stadium, however. Note that my soccer diagram is based on a photo of some other match, when the soccer field was laid out at more of an angle, overlapping most of the pitcher's mound.
Likewise, I found a great photo of a Seattle Sounders soccer match in the Kingdome (in 1980), at seattlemag.com. I was almost done with the Safeco Field revisions anyway, so it was easy to do a soccer version of it. From doing that diagram, I realized they had to reduce the size of the soccer field to avoid having to overlap too much dirt area, which had to be sodded.
So, there are now three (3) new soccer diagram which you can see on the Soccer use (of baseball stadiums) page. At least in terms of stadiums (if not matches), it is now complete -- as far as I know. The respective stadium pages will be updated to include those soccer version diagrams soon.
Stadium chronology fixup
The Stadium chronology, annual page has been updated to include the impending demolition of Candlestick Park next month, and the indefinitely postponed demolition of the Astrodome. It also lists the major renovations that took place at Dodger Stadium and Coors Field this year, and the ongoing renovations at Progressive Field and Wrigley Field, which should be done by April.
Opening Day will be Sunday April 5 as the Cardinals visit the Cubs at Wrigley Field, while all other teams start the season on April 6. The "countdown" will start on the Baseball blog page at midnight, New Years Eve!
Happy New Year, everybody!
Monthly links this year:
Culture & Travel
Science & Technology
February 15, 2014 ~ R.I.P. David Beyeler
March 21, 2014 ~ At long last: Spring training has begun!
March 28, 2014 ~ What a month! Bird "fallout" from winter storms
April 25, 2014 ~ Spring bird migration is in full swing
June 9, 2014 ~ Nationals almost sweep the Padres
June 17, 2014 ~ Two political earthquakes in Virginia
June 17, 2014 ~ Spring bird migration 2014
July 31, 2014 ~ The Wild, Wild West! Baseball road trip 2014
August 10, 2014 ~ Kansas City: Hey, hey, hey, hey! *
August 22, 2014 ~ Nats sweep the D-backs: ten in a row!
August 25, 2014 ~ West by Southwest: Birding in the desert
September 17, 2014 ~ Washington, Baltimore clinch division titles
September 26, 2014 ~ Derek Jeter bids farewell to New York
September 29, 2014 ~ (Almost) Perfect weekend in Washington!
October 11, 2014 ~ Nationals fall flat, exit early
October 31, 2014 ~ Dynasty? Giants win another World Series
November 4, 2014 ~ "Winning Right": Can the Republicans do it?
November 24, 2014 ~ "Tern, Tern, Tern: Birding around Virginia Beach"
December 7, 2014 ~ At last!!! Dodger Stadium update