Me & Julio down by the ballpark
Until last Saturday, no major league player who had passed his 48th birthday had ever hit a home run. But then, Julio Franco hit a three-run blast in the first inning at RFK Stadium, putting the Mets up, 4-0. That historic feat put a big smile on us middle-aged "forever young" guys who just don't know when to quit! It also marked the end of the Nationals' rookie pitcher Beltran Perez's string of beginner's luck. Fortunately, I had my camera ready to snap this photo:
Twins blow home field advantage
Oakland just defeated Minnesota 5-2 in the Metrodome, which has had a reputation for being a big advantage for the home team because of the indoor noise generation effect. Suddenly those scrappy underpaid underdogs from Up North have stalled, after a remarkable second half comeback. Too bad. So now Oakland is poised to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the three-division format began in 1994 (1995). Somewhat like the Braves, they have earned playoff berths several times in recent years (four), but then choked.
I should take this opportunity to repeat one of my suggestions for a reformatted playoff schedule: In the first round, the first three games should be played at the higher-seeded team's ballpark, i.e., a 3-2 schedule rather than a 2-2-1 schedule. Not fair to the fans in the lower-seeded team's city? Tough. That's why you're supposed to win!
Mike Mussina (15-7) will face Justin Verlander (17-9) in tonight's game at Yankee Stadium. I just hope "Moose" pitches better than he did when I saw him pitch in Baltimore two months ago! Apparently, Randy Johnson's (17-11) sore back is well enough to pitch, and is expected to start in the Friday game in Detroit. He will face Kenny Rogers, who has the Tigers' best win-loss record (17-8). See MLB.com.
Nats release pitchers
The Nationals released pitchers Pedro Astacio, Zach Day, Ryan Drese, Brian Lawrence, Joey Eischen and Felix Rodriguez. See MLB.com. I thought Astacio's strong peformance on August 15 might have merited a second chance, but I fail to see how getting rid of someone as reliable and hard-working as Joey Eischen can be justified. Having been a big part of the Nats' remarkable surge in June 2005 (until he broke his arm), he deserves a lot of credit and appreciation from the team.
Ebbets Field: revised at last!
After countless hours of scrutinizing various data sources and archival photographs, I have updated the Ebbets Field page with new ("dynamic") diagrams. That page is sponsored by Steven Kindborg, who runs KeyMan Collectibles. Just a friendly reminder: Sponsored stadium pages always get priority in my revisions, so if there is one of the remaining stadiums that you'd like to see redone, now is your chance: become a sponsor today! I may add a football version diagram later on, since Ebbets Field was used by the AFPA Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1930s and 1940s. Believe it ... or not! Thanks as always to Bruce Orser for research assistance. Also, friendly salutations to John Pastier, author of Historic Ballparks, who related to me some of his own memories of Ebbets Field.
The mail bag
Thanks to Michael Fronda for calling to my attention a small mistake on the 1976 version of the Yankee Stadium diagram, which has been corrected. I had indicated the distance to short left center field to be 379 feet, whereas it was actually 387 feet until the fence was brought in in 1985. NOTE: Please send such corrections to me via e-mail, rather than posting them on the Guestbook or Stadium impressions pages.