August 29, 2011 [CLICK HERE to see proper format.]
Busch Stadium III major update
During my tour of Busch Stadium (the new one) in St. Louis two weeks ago, I made maximum use of the opportunity to inspect the facility and glean as much architectural information as I could. The other folks probably wondered why I was asking such detailed questions and taking so many pictures. And so, after many hours of intensive scrutiny, I have added several new photos to the Busch Stadium III page, and have also completed a thorough revision of the diagram, or diagrams (plural).
Our tour group had a very nice and well-informed guide, a lady named Mary, a long-time Cardinals fan who was aware that Albert Pujols had just hit his 30th home run of the year. She was very friendly but made it very clear as we stepped onto the warning track that we were not supposed to touch the grass! Tours begin at Gate 5 at "Ford Plaza" on the north side, and gradually move around the stadium in a counter-clockwise fashion. As we walked along the club-level concourse near the left field corner, I was struck but the "tunnel vision" effect produced by the extraordinary degree of upper-deck overhang. That's the price you pay when fans in the higher levels get a more up-close view, and that's probably as it should be. Just like in the good old days, for gosh sakes! They let us see the view from one of the luxury suites as well as from the press box, a couple levels higher. Later we descended to the ground level behind home plate, where the rich fans enter and enjoy the finer things in life inside the Cardinals Club. Finally, we got to walk onto the field by the Cardinals dugout and imagine being in the middle of a game... Priceless!
As for the diagram update, I have included a "full view" version for the first time, similar to what I have done for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Coors Field, and a few other "super-sized" stadiums. I also included a lower-deck version, which is especially revealing for a stadium with such a large upper-deck overhang. (I'll also have to do one of those for Kauffman Stadium, based on my recent visit to K.C.) There is even a new football version diagram of Busch Stadium III. Someone asked me about doing one a while back, and since it appears there is a serious possibility of such a game happening in the next year or so, I went ahead and did it. See cbslocal.com.
NOTE: For the time being, I am leaving untouched the old version of the Busch Stadium II AND III diagram, to make it easier to see exactly what has changed since the last diagram update in September 2009. Among other things, the first deck is bigger than before, and the upper deck is a bit smaller. (I have decided to consider the tip-top "Terrace" level and the "Pavilion" level right below it as jointly comprising a single deck.)
After the tour, I peeked inside one of the offices along Eighth Street, on the west side, and saw some highly detailed scale models of the two previous Busch Stadiums. (The first one, of course, was originally called "Sportsmans Park.") I was fascinated, and asked permission to take pictures of them. You will soon see those models on the respective pages for those two other stadiums.
Reds sweep the Nationals
In Cincinnati, the Reds completed their sweep of the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon, winning 5-4 in 14 innings. The Nats tied the game 3-3 in the top of the eighth inning with a pinch-hit RBI single by Ryan Zimmerman, who was taking a day of rest. They then took a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth with an RBI double by Jayson Werth, but closing pitcher Drew Storen gave up a home run in the bottom of the ninth, sending it into extra innings. The Nats had the bases loaded in the top of the 10th, whereupon Ian Desmond hit a line drive straight to Edgar Renteria, who stepped on second base for a double play to end the inning. (Drat!) They also put runners in scoring position in each of the next four innings, to no avail whatsoever. (Gr-r-r-rrr!) Credit Joey Votto with a walk-off home run that just cleared the wall in left field. Argh-h-h-h!!! It was a game full of exiting and controversial plays, such as when center fielder Rick Ankiel threw out a Reds player at third base in the ninth inning. Amazing! The former pitcher's arm is still golden, plus he got three hits in the game. The Nats got 17 hits altogether, three more than the Reds, and left 17 men on base, four more than the Reds. See MLB.com.
This was starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann's final game of the year, and it's a shame his season had to end that way. He had Tommy John surgery last year, and the Nationals front office decided before the season that he would pitch no more than 160 innings total, to give his arm a chance to fully recover. He had an excellent year, with an ERA of 3.18, but with terrible run support, his record was only 8-11. Along with Stephen Strasburg, who had a great minor league outing over the weekend, he will be sure to help the Nats win many more games next year.
The Nationals have now lost six in a row, and at 62-70 (.470) are at their lowest win-loss percentage since July 29. A week ago, it was a sure bet they would end up with a winning record for the month of August, but they are now 11-14 since August 1, with only two games left this month. The Nats have had time to reflect on all their many missed run-scoring opportunities during their day off today, after which they head to Atlanta for a three-game series. These are trying times indeed for the "D.C. 9."
AL East race heats up
In nearby Baltimore, meanwhile, the Orioles won six consecutive games, rising above the symbolic .400 win-loss mark. The Yankees beat them tonight, trying to close the gap with the Red Sox in the AL East. Tomorrow the Yanks begin a series in Boston, and this year's edition of the annual "holy war" between the two arch-rivals is sure to be just as tense and dramatic as in years past. Lost in the shuffle are the Tampa Bay Rays, whose 73-59 (.553) record is better than the division leaders in the AL Central (Tigers) and the NL West (D-Backs), but they have very little chance of making it to the post-season.