Boycott Arizona baseball?
In the Washington Post, columnist Robert McCartney called on baseball fans to protest the controversial new immigration law in Arizona by boycotting the games in Washington when the Arizona Diamondbacks come to town, August 13-15. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Whatever one thinks of the immigration issue, there is rarely if ever a good reason for politicizing sports, and there is no sense at all in punishing one's own home team for the alleged "sins" of the visiting team.
Capps gets award, loses
Nationals closer Matt Capps was named the MLB "Delivery Man of the Month" for getting 10 saves in ten save opportunities in April, ending the month with a 0.68 ERA. See MLB.com. He was let go by the Pirates in the off-season, and I bet they regret that. Unfortunately, he just lost his first game of the year in Washington this evening, as the Atlanta Braves beat the Nats 7-6 in ten innings. Three of the Nationals' last five losses have been in extra-inning games -- ugh.
In any case, with Livan Hernandez (4-1, 0.99 ERA) and reliever Tyler Clippard (3-0, 0.46 ERA), the Nationals have one of the strongest pitching staffs in the majors right now. All three of those guys deserve consideration for the All-Star Game this year, but Clippard isn't yet well enough known. Just think what will happen once Stephen Strasburg, Chien-Ming Wang, and Jason Marquis join the roster! Meanwhile, however, former ace John Lannan may be headed back to the minors.
Citi Field center field
Cody Gobbell recently raised the question of whether the center field fence at Citi Field has been moved closer to home, as it was shortened prior to this season. Brian Wysocki provides us with some definitive first-hand testimony:
I can confirm that there was no gap created in the centerfield wall when the wall was shortened. The LF wall is still made of two 8-ft padding sections, one above the other, for a 16-foot "Great Wall of Flushing" as WFAN's Howie Rose calls it. Centerfield used to be 8ft + 2ft = 10ft except by the apple...
The upper padding sections were removed in the offseason so the entire centerfield wall is 8ft tall with an orange line on the lower padded section separating padded (in play) and unpadded (HR) sections, both of which remain black.
From what I gather, it's just like Crosley Field in 1963-1964, or Jack Murphy Stadium in 1973, where painted horizontal lines on the outfield walls differentiated home runs from extra-base hits. It sounds like a recipe for perpetual arguing once again, or maybe it's just an excuse to rely on the new instant replay rules.
Brian also informed me that promoters are planning an international soccer match in Fenway Park this summer. The Celtic FC (based in Glasgow, Scotland) are tentatively scheduled to play Manchester United on July 21. See BBC.
Minor leagues in Virginia
For the first time since August 2008, minor league baseball has returned to the capital of the Old Dominion -- that would be Richmond, Virginia for you folks north of the Mason-Dixon line. It's no longer AAA International League baseball, like when the Richmond Braves played there, it's just AA level, the Eastern League. The new Richmond "Flying Squirrels" got off to a "flying" start last month with a seven-game winning streak, which came to an end last night when the Altoona Curve (?!) won by a score of 9-1 at The Diamond in Richmond. See minorleaguebaseball.com.
Eighty miles west in Lynchburg, meanwhile, the A Hillcats franchise has switched parent major league clubs this year, and are now part of the Seattle Mariners' farm system. Until last year, they were part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
Stadium update update
I have updated the Stadium updates, 2010 page, and have reformatted the corresponding pages for previous years as well. Those archive pages keep track of when I have made significant revisions to the stadium diagrams.