December 1, 2018
After a tip from Terry Wallace about there being bullpen dugouts at Arlington Stadium (as opposed to mere benches which aren't worth rendering), I made some discoveries from some long-neglected photos and guess what? I ended up having to update the entire set of Arlington Stadium diagrams! (Familiar story?) It turns out that the bleachers built for football games extending along the first base line toward the right field corner remained there for most if not all of the 1972 season, when the Rangers first played there. Previously I had thought that they were replaced by permanent grandstand seating at the same time that the giant semi-circular bleachers stretching from foul pole to foul pole were built. In fact it might have been later than 1973 that the grandstand was upgraded. So, besides adding details to the bullpen areas, I made corrections to the positions of the scoreboard, some of the light towers, and some of the peripheral buildings, especially those on the northwest side behind home plate. (There were very few changes to the last diagram in that set, 1985.) There is also a new "the site today" diagram showing AT&T Way which passes straight through where Arlington Stadium once stood, on the way to AT&T Stadium, home of the Cowboys. It is the second such diagram for stadiums that no longer exist, the first being Riverfront Stadium. I had a rough idea of Arlington Stadium's location when I visited Globe Life Park in June 2014, but I came no closer than a couple blocks away from it when I took this photo:
Anyway, Terry related a story from a friend that the bullpen dugouts were so deep that when Sparky Lyle was with the Rangers, he declared it a "submarine" and said he was the "captain." Tiger Stadium is another example of such bullpen dugouts, which minimize the sight obstruction to front-row fans near bullpens located along foul lines. It also prevents fans from bothering the relief pitchers. Wrigley Field used to have such bullpens without such dugouts, and AT&T Park still does. (Seats for the relief pitchers are behind an enclosure at ground level there.)
It's not a 100% done deal, but it's a lot closer than any of the Oakland team's previous stadium schemes, such as in [Fremont] or San Jose. The Athletics announced on Friday that they plan to build a new ballpark on the Oakland waterfront at Howard Terminal near Jack London square. Two enormous (200+ feet tall) shipping cranes would be visible beyond right-center field, with the field being oriented toward the southeast. Best of all, the stadium would be funded entirely from private capital, only needing government support for infrastructure improvements such as a proposed gondola to carry fans across the railroad tracks to the nearby BART commuter rail station. Many details remain up in the air, of course. See MLB.com. Hat tip to Mike Zurawski. The team's new slogan "Rooted In Oakland" aims to make the commitment rock-solid. Apparently, a big part of the change in fortune was due to the office of the mayor of Oakland, Elizabeth "Libby" Schaaf. Evidently, she had to make a choice between trusting the NFL Raiders or the MLB Athletics as a long-term civic partner, and went with the latter. Hence, the Raiders' awkward departure to Las Vegas in the next couple years or so...
The design of the proposed stadium bears certain similarities to the home of the A's from 1909 until 1954, Shibe Park. But it has many unique features such as a rooftop park full of shrubs and small trees, which will supposedly be open to the public! It was designed by European architects who have no previous experience in designing baseball stadiums. Hmmm... See sfchronicle.com
For the record, the big capacity increase at Oakland Coliseum this year which I cited on Oct. 3 actually took place in April of 2017, just a few weeks after Opening Day. That's when they removed the tarps from the upper deck, and started selling cheap ($15) tickets to expand the fan base. It was evidently a goodwill gesture that played a part in getting help from the city government in overcoming obstacles to the unusual stadium deal at Howard Terminal. See mercurynews.com. The capacity figures I rely upon (Washington Post box scores) are evidently from the beginning of each season.
While the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners have all extended their stadium leases (see Oct. 25), the Los Angeles Angels opted out of their lease at Angels (Anaheim) Stadium in October. So, what, are they going to move back into Dodger Stadium as tenants again? No, they are obligated to remain there at least through next season. The lease terms specify that the Angels either opted out this year or wait ten more years (2028) for another such opportunity. One thing in the Angels' favor is their success at selling tickets: "Since 2003, the first season of Arte Moreno's ownership, the Angels and New York Yankees are the only major league teams to sell 3 million tickets every year." See latimes.com Outgoing mayor of Anaheim Tom Tait was against a deal to renovate Angel Stadium, but the mayor who was just elected seems more amenable to compromise. Thanks to Mike Zurawski for that news item as well.
When the Washington Nationals acquired Kurt Suzuki last month, the question was whether he would serve as the Nats' "front-line" catcher, as Tom Boswell put it. Apparently not. The Nats made a trade with the Cleveland Indians to get catcher Yan Gomes, who is solid defensively and has a good bat. He hit 16 home runs and made the All Star roster this year. In return, the Nats gave up minor league outfielder Daniel Johnson and Jefry Rodriguez, who showed some promise as a starting pitcher in a few late-season games this year. See MLB.com and/or Washington Post. It's a very encouraging move, made perhaps more urgent by the fact that the Atlanta Braves just signed a contract with slugger Josh Donaldson. They seem intent on repeating as NL East champs.
The Nats are currently pursuing Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin. They also made tender offers to all their free agents (most notably, Anthony Rendon) and signed a one-year contract extension with Sammy Solis, who was a rather unreliable relief pitcher this year. That one puzzled me, as he seemed to exemplify the Nats' bullpen meltdown.