White Sox sign Adam Dunn
Apparently, someone in Chicago has been listening to all those Washington Nationals baseball fans who have been crying out: "sign Adam Dunn!" The White Sox offered Dunn a four-year contract, which is what he had been asking from the Nationals. For some reason, the owners hesitated and only offered him a three-year deal. [In Chicago, Dunn will get paid a cool $56 million.] Because the Nationals offered Dunn arbitration last week -- which he declined, of course -- they will get a couple draft picks as compensation. For long-suffering baseball fans in Washington, this is bleak news indeed. I was glad that Dunn expressed deep appreciation to all the Washington fans, making a classy departure. He will probably become the designated hitter for the White Sox, though he jokingly said he'd be willing to play as catcher if they wanted him to. As the Washington Post noted, "Dunn wanted to make his home in Washington, wanted to play for the Washington Nationals for the rest of his career." They elaborated:
Dunn's departure leaves a massive hole in their lineup and a scar for fans and teammates, who cherished not only his production but his affable presence in the clubhouse. Dunn's durability was often overlooked; since 2004, only Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki has appeared in more games. At Nationals Park late in the season, every Dunn at-bat was met with chants of "Sign Adam Dunn!"
What a dirty rotten shame that the team owners did not appreciate his full worth to the team. Evidently they paid more attention to Dunn's strikeouts and (arguable) defensive shortcomings than to the energy that his presence added to the team. He was one of the main attractions, and often drew national (!) attention for his tape-measure home runs. Given the team's losing record in recent years, Dunn's departure does not bode well for future attendance at baseball games in Our Nation's Capital.
Dunn's former team mate Ryan Zimmerman expressed deep disappointment that Dunn was not given a better offer by the Nationals front office. Zimmerman said he hopes the front office has a plan to acquire more top-quality free agents, but isn't sure. He compared Dunn to the Phillies' Ryan Howard, who actually had one more error than Dunn last year. See MLB.com.
More transaction news
Elsewhere in the big leagues, the Colorado Rockies made a big statement of commitment to winning by extending the contract of their star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for seven years, with $134 million total compensation. That's a sharp contrast to the Washington Nationals; the Rockies probably regret letting go of their former outfielder, Matt Holliday, who now plays for the Cardinals. Tulowitzki made the All-Star Game for the first time this year, and had 27 home runs, with a .315 batting average. See MLB.com.
The San Diego Padres, who led the NL West for much of the 2010 season but failed to make the playoffs, traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox for several younger prospects. See MLB.com.
The biggest uncertainty right now is whether the Yankees will come to a prompt agreement with Derek Jeter. Apparently, negotiations are moving ahead quickly all of a sudden; see MLB.com.
R.I.P. Ron Santo
In the first major league game I ever saw, back in the mid-1960s, the two players I distinctly recall seeing were Cubs' outfielder Ernie Banks and their third baseman Ron Santo. The latter passed away at the age of 70, after suffering from diabetes that resulted in his legs being amputated. He was chosen for the All-Star game nine times. During his 14 years with the Cubs and one year with the White Sox, Santo had 2,254 hits, including 354 home runs. See MLB.com. In today's Washington Post, historian David Maraniss had fond memories of how his father's spirits were lifted by Santo's ironic shtick as a broadcast commentator for the Cubs, helping to "ease the pain" of fans who were used to their team blowing big leads. Only a Cubs fan or a relative of a Cubs fan would understand.
Citi Field update
Actually, it's just a minor tweak. I made some changes to the Citi Field diagram, including the change in the bullpens made prior to the 2010 season. During the inaugural 2009 season, the bullpens were parallel to the right field fence, with the rear one tucked beneath the bridge, but now they are diagonal, with both of them extending beneath that bridge. Another notable change to the diagram is the depiction of the upper deck, which is now considered as a single deck even though the upper and lower portions are separated by stairways. It's the same situation in most of the new stadiums, in which the upper-level concourses are open to the field. Because there is no overhang and easy access from the upper level to the lower level of the upper deck at Citi Field, I think it is more appropriate to consider them as one deck, but I have retained a solid black line to denote the height discontinuity, and a broad pale strip to denote the lateral aisle. One new feature (not yet displayed on the Citi Field page) is the "full size" (i.e., not truncated) diagram, which in this case is humongous. Click on the thumbnail image below to see what I mean:
Several other "minor tweaks" are in the works, as well as some major revisions...
The mail bag
Mike Zurawski informs me that there probably won't be a [referendum on the] stadium proposal in the March 8 elections in San Jose, because the Oakland Athletics have not yet been granted permission to relocate there. (The city has been considered Giants' territory, raising issues of compensation, much like what happened when they were trying to relocate the Montreal Expos to Washington.) It sounds to me like the grand poobahs of MLB are stalling, as usual. [In Oakland,] meanwhile, about 200 Athletics fans showed up for meeting of the city planning commission, which is considering a possible stadium near Jack London Square on the waterfront. See sfgate.com.
Bruce Orser came across some old newspaper articles that clear up some of the mysteries surrounding some of the early modifications to Griffith Stadium, where the Washington Senators (a.k.a. Nationals) used to play. With his help, I have also narrowed down some of the remaining discrepancies on Wrigley Field, and I hope to get those diagrams finalized in the near future as well.
Eddie Rossman asked me to identify the stadium in the background of a 1959 Topps Al Kaline baseball card that he recently obtained. I could tell right away that it was Yankee Stadium, but like him, I was surprised that the seats were green when the photo was taken. There just aren't many old color photos of Yankee Stadium.
I've had a few other inquiries and am doing my best to keep up with answering them. I've been under the proverbial weather recently, but am doing better now. Thanks to everyone for your continued interest!