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December 13, 2018 [LINK / comment]

Tiger Stadium update -- with "new" photos!!!

After another multi-day marathon effort, I finished updating the Tiger Stadium Tiger Stadium diagrams earlier today. Actually, I had to make a few minor corrections later in the afternoon, mainly to ensure that the original permanent bleacher section in right-center field (1912-1937) matched the lower-deck diagram, which represents 1938 but applies to all subsequent years except for the deeper center field area (it really was 440 feet until they built an inner fence in 1954) and the absence of warning tracks.

So, what changed compared to the previous diagram revision in June 2009? There are separate diagrams showing the uncovered upper and lower decks, with all the juicy details such as support beams and entry portals. I found out for sure that the bullpen to the left of center field (behind the big flag pole) was in fact used by both teams' relief pitchers. That seems very weird, and I wonder if such an arrangement had ever been done before or since then?

In the agonizing process of getting all the pieces to fit, I made two important discoveries. First, the wall in deep center field (1938-1953) was not a consistent curve but angled off slightly on the right side, where there was a wide access gate that was presumably used for landscaping vehicles and maintenance equipment. I had noticed such a minor anomaly in one of the seating charts published in the Kessler (whiskey that's "smooth as silk"!) annual baseball guides back in the 1960s, but disregarded it until I noticed exactly such a feature in a photo of Tiger Stadium. That section of center field was angled slightly so as to align properly with the lower-deck seats on the right field side, which were ten feet farther from home plate than the upper deck seats.

Second, the upper deck between first base and the right field corner was not only discontinuous with the adjoining portions of the upper deck on both ends, but it had a significally shallower "pitch" (i.e., steepness) -- about 27 degrees rather than about 33 degrees. I knew that there was a similar disjuncture in the pitch of the upper deck to the right of center field, and I knew that the upper deck portion in question did extend out about 12-15 feet in front of the adjoining upper deck portion, but when I noticed in a photo that the rear of those two portions coincided very closely (just a few feet difference), it dawned on me that the only way those two things could be true is if they were different in terms of vertical angle. Frankly, I don't see the point of building that portion of the upper deck that way.

Finally, there are a few new details in the diagrams, such as the elevator tower in back of the southwest corner of the grandstand. There are also multiple profiles in both the upper-deck and lower-deck diagrams, to facilitate comparison of the different sections of the grandstand. Tiger Stadium was awkwardly patched together in stages over the years, and it often seems that they didn't plan ahead very well.

The 1934 diagram shows the peculiar profile of the temporary bleachers that were built for the World Series (also for 1935), in which the rear three-quarters had a shallower pitch than the front one-quarter. Ordinarily, the farther back you go in a grandstand, the steeper it gets. Those bleachers covered Cherry Avenue, and when what was then called Navin Field was expanded in 1938 (and renamed "Briggs Stadium"), that street was moved about 150 feet, making room for the double-deck grandstand beyond left field.

The added bonus of three "new" photos taken while I was in Detroit in 2004 (five years before Tiger Stadium was demolished) stems from a discovery of a shoebox full of old photos (mostly baseball-related) a couple months ago. Last week I finally got around to scanning them, and two of them are pretty good, showing lots of detail. In addition to the previously-displayed photo I took from the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Avenue, there are also exterior shots from the southwest corner, the northwest corner (up close), and the northeast corner. I really wish I had taken more photos when I was there. Other "new" photos that I took at Comerica Park and other stadiums will be posted in coming days...

Tiger Stadium ext SW 2004

Tiger Stadium seen from the southwest side (behind home plate), August 5, 2004.

New ball field at the stadium site

Meanwhile, at the site of Tiger Stadium, a new ballfield opened this year. It is called "The Corner Ballpark presented by Adient," and last March they started holding youth baseball games there, a long-overdue community development initiative. See Detroit Free Press. The massive (125-foot) flag pole has been placed at its former location, but unfortunately, the field has artificial turf, even though the fans who maintained the old Tiger Stadium site volunteered to keep the green grass trimmed and healthy. See detroitnews.com.

Nats trade Roark to the Reds

One of the tragic aspects of the Washington Nationals this year is the suboptimal performance from Tanner Roark, who had been a solid, often excellent starting pitcher since 2013. (He had been acquired from the Texas Rangers in a trade for infielder Cristian Guzman and another player in 2010.) Today he was traded for another guy with the same first name: Tanner Rainey! This will save the Nats about $10 million in salary costs this year, giving them more flexibility to bargain with Bryce Harper and/or Anthony Rendon.

Roark always had a great attitude, smiling gregariously but very serious about winning. He proved his ability to perform in clutch situations when he helped the USA win the World Baseball Classic in 2017, winning the next-to-last game. But he wasn't given a chance to pitch in the National League Divisional Series last year, mainly because rain forced a one-day postponment of Game 4, and Dusty Baker went with Stephen Strasburg instead. (See October 11, 2017.) Not having thrown a single pitch in the NLDS, it's understandable that Tanner felt slighted, and perhaps that explains his evident lack of motivation this year. Maybe he just needed a change of scenery. He deserves great appreciation for his six fine years of pitching with the Nats, and I wish him all the very best in Cincinnati!

Tanner Roark

Tanner Roark, warming up to pitch against the Miami Marlins on October 1, 2016.

There is nothing solid to report about Bryce Harper, by the way. A few days ago, the Nationals' principle owner Mark Lerner said he thinks that Harper is going to "move on," but that was probably just a negotiating ploy. Now that the winter meetings of the MLB owners have wrapped up, there may not be much activity until the New Year.


December 7, 2018 [LINK / comment]

State of the diagrams, 2018

"Rounding third and heading for home!" With a relentless force of will, I am approaching the end point of this Odyssean (!) endeavor of diagramming baseball stadiums. Well, at least an end point: completing the major league ballpark diagrams of the concrete-and-steel era, as opposed to ballparks built prior to 1909, or the various foreign, minor league, and college ballparks that I believe qualify for such treatment. In fact, I probably should have highlighted the fact that, with the updating of the Angel (Anaheim) Stadium diagrams on November 25, my diagrams for all 30 current MLB stadiums are essentially state-of-the-art! An unheralded landmark event. Some of them are lacking in details such as in the bullpens or the concourse areas, but I'm confident the stadiums and the fields are rendered with a satisfactorily high degree of accuracy. One possible question mark is Candlestick Park, which I last updated on the very last day of 2012. At the time, it was a huge leap forward, diagram-wise, and as far as I can tell, that set of diagrams has withstood the test of time.

Anyway, as this final stretch begins, I thought it would be fitting to review where the diagrams stand, following the example of five years ago, when I presented my own "state of the diagrams" assessment. My diagrams for each of the 76 MLB stadiums are ranked from "A" (superb), "B" (pretty good), "C" (marginally acceptable), and "D" (just plain lousy). This reflects only the diagrams themselves, in their current published state, and has nothing to do with the aesthetic appeal of the real-world stadiums. This list only includes major league stadiums, including short-term ones such as Sick's Stadium but not temporary ones such as Hiram Bithorn Stadium, minor league stadiums, or those in foreign countries. So here goes...

Baseball stadium diagrams, current status
Stadium name Team name Diagram status Last update
Baker Bowl * Philadelphia Phillies A 2016
Forbes Field Pittsburgh Pirates D 2005
Shibe Park * Philadelphia Athletics & Phillies A 2016
Sportsman's Park * St. Louis Browns & Cardinals A 2016
League Park * Cleveland Indians A 2016
Comiskey Park * Chicago White Sox A 2017
Polo Grounds New York Giants, (Yankees, & Mets) C 2007
Griffith Stadium * Washington Senators C 2008
Crosley Field * Cincinnati Reds D 2006
Tiger Stadium * * Detroit Tigers B 2009
Fenway Park Boston Red Sox (& Braves) A 2018
Ebbets Field Brooklyn Dodgers A 2018
Wrigley Field * Chicago Cubs (& Whales) A 2018
Braves Field * Boston Braves A 2014
Yankee Stadium New York Yankees C 2008
Cleveland Municipal Stadium * Cleveland Indians A 2016
Milwaukee County Stadium Milwaukee Braves & Brewers A 2015
Memorial Stadium Baltimore Orioles A 2013
(K.C.) Municipal Stadium * Kansas City Athletics & Royals A 2014
(L.A.) Memorial Coliseum Los Angeles Dodgers A 2016
Seals Stadium San Franciso Giants A 2015
Candlestick Park * San Franciso Giants A 2012
Wrigley Field (L.A.) Los Angeles Angels A 2015
Metropolitan Stadium Minnesota Twins B 2014
Dodger Stadium Los Angeles Dodgers (& Angels) A 2014
Colt Stadium Houston Colt 45s A 2013
Robert F. Kennedy Stadium * Washington Senators & Nationals A 2013
Shea Stadium New York Mets (& Yankees) A 2015
Astrodome Houston Astros A 2015
Angel Stadium of Anaheim * L.A. / Calif. / Anaheim Angels A 2018
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium * Atlanta Braves A 2016
Busch Stadium II St. Louis Cardinals A 2015
Oakland Coliseum * * Oakland Athletics A 2016
Jarry Park Montreal Expos A 2013
Sick's Stadium Seattle Pilots A 2015
Jack Murphy Stadium * * San Diego Padres A 2016
Riverfront Stadium * Cincinnati Reds A 2018
Three Rivers Stadium Pittsburgh Pirates A 2014
Veterans Stadium Philadelphia Phillies A 2016
Arlington Stadium Texas Rangers A 2018
Kauffman Stadium * Kansas City Royals A 2015
Olympic Stadium Montreal Expos B 2012
Kingdome Seattle Mariners A 2015
Exhibition Stadium Toronto Blue Jays A 2014
H.H.H. Metrodome Minnesota Twins A 2016
Rogers Centre * Toronto Blue Jays A 2016
Guaranteed Rate (U.S. Cellular) Field * * Chicago White Sox A 2015
Oriole Park at Camden Yards Baltimore Orioles A 2014
Dolphin (Sun Life) Stadium * * Florida Marlins A 2015
Mile High Stadium * Colorado Rockies A 2015
Progressive Field * Cleveland Indians A 2016
Globe Life Park in Arlington * Texas Rangers A 2016
Coors Field Colorado Rockies A 2016
Turner Field * Atlanta Braves A 2016
Tropicana Field * Tampa Bay Rays A 2014
Chase Field * Arizona Diamondbacks A 2015
Safeco Field Seattle Mariners A 2015
AT&T Park * * San Franciso Giants A 2016
Minute Maid Park * Houston Astros A 2015
Comerica Park Detroit Tigers A 2015
Miller Park Milwaukee Brewers A 2018
PNC Park Pittsburgh Pirates A 2015
Great American Ballpark Cincinnati Reds A 2018
Citizens Bank Park Philadelphia Phillies A 2015
PETCO Park San Diego Padres A 2015
Busch Stadium III St. Louis Cardinals A 2016
Nationals Park Washington Nationals A 2015
Yankee Stadium II New York Yankees A 2016
Citi Field New York Mets A 2016
Target Field Minnesota Twins A 2016
Marlins Park Miami Marlins A 2018
SunTrust Park Atlanta Braves A 2018
Red border: Denotes stadiums whose diagrams are not yet finished.

[ * (asterisk) = name change; * * = multiple name changes.]

As you can see, all but eight (i.e., 68 of the 76) diagrams are state of the art, or close to it. For those who only visit this website occasionally or may be new, there are two related pages that track my past progress in updating stadium diagrams: Stadium diagram updates (chronological archives, year by year) and Diagram update log (arranged by city name in alphabetical order). Occasionally I find mistakes on those pages, such as when I was almost done with a particular stadium and that got sidetracked after after inserting a link for an anticipated completion date. So, like the diagrams themselves, those pages are "subject to revision." This table summarizes how many of the diagrams were last updated in each successive year. Since none of the "A"-rated diagrams were done prior to 2012, I have omitted them. But for those who are really curious, I began posting such diagrams way back in 2002 -- a full 16 years ago! (By my current standards, they are embarrassingly crude and amateurish.) My progress over the years has been interrupted by occasional pauses, and indeed I had forgotten what a bleak year 2017 was, diagram-wise.

Year Number of final
stadium diagram updates
2012 2
2013 4
2014 8
2015 20
2016 21
2017 1
2018 10
TOTAL 76

With eight stadiums left to do, the total for 2018 could theoretically go as high as 18. Anything is possible! As of today, December 7th, here are the "coming attractions," in order of targeted completion:

  1. Tiger Stadium
  2. Polo Grounds
  3. Yankee Stadium
  4. Olympic Stadium
  5. Griffith Stadium
  6. Metropolitan Stadium
  7. Forbes Field
  8. Crosley Field

Nats sign Patrick Corbin

The Washington Nationals signed free agent Patrick Corbin to a six-year contract that is supposedly worth $140 million. He was evidently the most sought-after pitcher on the open market, so that seems to be a coup for Nats General Manager Mike Rizzo. Corbin was an All-Star this year (representing the Arizona Diamondbacks), and he will become the third Nat starting pitcher (after Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg) to have earned that honor. Corbin is 29 and had an ERA of 3.15 this year, with 246 strikeouts. The main downside is the possibility that his arm may not last for the full six years, since he had Tommy John surgery. See MLB.com. But as we know, both Stephen Strasburg and former Nat Jordan Zimmermann have pitched well for years after having had such surgery. As a left-handed starting pitcher, Corbin essentially replaces Gio Gonzalez in the pitching rotation.

If Bryce Harper was looking for a sign that the Nats owners are willing to spend what's necessary to attract a full roster of top talent, this was it. Personally, I think Bryce wants first and foremost to play on a championship team, and the salary is not necessarily to determining factor in where he ends up. I really hope he does decide to settle down in D.C., but the longer negotiations drag on, the less likely that seems. frown

The mail bag

Thanks to Joe Johnston for confirming that the curved grandstand along the first base line in Arlington Stadium was indeed built in 1973, as I hypothesized. He was at a game there in 1972, the inaugural year of the Texas Rangers, and he remembers the temporary rectangular bleachers (built for football games) on that side.

Mike Zurawski recently informed me about Elon Musk's plans to build a tunnel for a high-speed subway line to Dodger Stadium, presumably from downtown. A separate proposed line was recently turned down. Now comes news that they want to build a gondola transportation system that would take 5,000 passengers per hour from Union Station to Dodger Stadium in approximately five minutes. See urbanize.la. Such a system functions much like a ski lift, and in fact I rode one in Medllin, Colombia nearly two years ago. Depending on the terrain, they can be expensive to build, but seem fairly cheap to operate.

More news about the future Oakland stadium soon...


December 1, 2018 [LINK / comment]

Arlington Stadium update

Arlington Stadium

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:

Arlington pond, Convention Center

A pond (dammed-up stream, actually) next to Arlington Convention Center, taken from the north side of Globe Life Park on June 24, 2014. The Arlington Stadium bleachers would have been where that empty parking lot in back on the left is.

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.)

Athletics announce new ballpark!

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.

Angels opt out of lease?

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.

Nats get Yan Gomes in trade

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.


November 25, 2018 [LINK / comment]

Angel Stadium (of Anaheim) update!

At   l-o-n-g   last, I finished updating the Angel (Anaheim) Stadium Angel (Anaheim) Stadium diagrams, and obviously it was harder than I expected. The main change is that the grandstand is about 15 feet deeper around the entire field than it was in the 2014 version (click on it to compare), which may not seem like much, but makes a huge difference. There was a disrepancy between the middle deck in right field (which used to extend forward from 23 to about 40 rows during the football reconfiguration) and the main grandstand (that part which was originally there in 1966), and the only way to reconcile it was to stretch everything out. Easier said than done...

I made a small discovery along the way that helped to reconcile that discrepancy: the curved walls in front of the grandstand just beyond the foul poles bends inward more sharply than the grandstand itself, making room for two additional rows of seats, and extra leg room to boot. Why did they do it that way? I have no clue.

Among the new details shown in the diagrams are the "ribs" that divide the roof into discrete sections, a feature characteristic of a few other stadius; see April 28, 2016, when I tweaked the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium diagrams. Like the rest of the "modern" class of baseball stadiums, there are no distinct "creases" in the grandstand, since the overall design consists of gradual curves. (In fact, of course, those "curves" consist of short straight lines.) Finally, there are brand-new new lower-deck and middle-deck diagrams, which also show details such as structural support beams. Finally, I discovered from a photo of the construction that in the original (1966-1979) manifestation of Anaheim Stadium, there was a small press box in the very top rows of the upper deck along the third base side. That was obviously intended for football games, so I'll have to do some checking to see what football games were played there before the Rams moved in in 1980.

Built in 1966, Angel Stadium is currently the fourth-oldest MLB stadium, after Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Dodger Stadium. There is occasional talk of replacing it, but I see no reason why it can't be refurbished to suit modern tastes and trends.

A quick glance at the Periodic table of stadiums tells me that there are only eight stadiums left for me to revise. (That doesn't include various non-MLB stadiums that I intend to do eventually.) I was really hoping to finish up by the end of the year, but that may take some doing...

New starter for the Nats?

A column by Chelsea Janes in yesterday's Washington Post raised the question of whether the Nationals might make a big trade in order to acquire a new starting pitcher. Until now, Nats GM Mike Rizzo has only made such a trade twice: Gio Gonzalez (who joined the Nats in 2012) and Doug Fister (2014). Both deals worked out very well, although Fister only had two years with the Nats. With the departure of Gio Gonzalez at the end of August, a vacancy in the rotation opened up. Joe Ross may make the grade (he returned late in the season after recovering from Tommy John surgery), but the younger wanna-be's Erick Fedde and Jefry Rodriguez have yet to prove themselves as worthy of major league status. And so, Mike Rizzo says he will "explore all his options" regarding starting pitchers. Among the free-agent names most often mentioned are Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel (Astros), and Nathan Eovaldi (Rays then Red Sox this year).

I refuse to speculate on rumors of trades and free-agent signings -- especially when #34 of the Washington Nationals is at the center of such rumors!!!

Adrian Beltre retires

Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who has played for the Texas Rangers since 2011, announced that he is retiring, after a remarkable 21 years in the majors. With 3,166 hits, 477 home runs, and a .286 batting average in his career, he is a worthy contender for selection to the Hall of Fame.

Roundup of ballpark news

Mike Zurawski keeps sending me news about ballpark changes, etc., in spite of the fact that I have done such a poor job of keeping up with such things. Will I do better from now on? Yes! Will I answer e-mails more promptly? I will try!! smile So, without further adieu, here is a very quick rundown of ballpark news this fall:

The Oakland Athletics are in the process of adding new table seating areas near the left and right field corners, adjacent to those wide staircases that were originally built for the sake of football fans exiting via the field. "Oak Landing" will be in left field, while the "Hero Deck" will be on the right field side. There will also be luxury seating sections such as the "Coppola Theater Box," the "Lounge Seats" behind the road dugout, and the "Terrace" above the home dugout. They will all include in-game monitors. Each row of the new premium seating will cover the equivalent of two or three rows of the regular sections. See newballpark.org. These upgrades are in part a way to reduce the number of empty seats while generating more revenue from the ones that are occupied. As I noted on October 3, the capacity at Oakland Coliseum jumped sharply this year, to nearly 47,000, after the upper deck was reopened. Of perhaps greater long-term significance, the A's are expected to announce by the end of the year that a new ballpark [will be built] adjacent to Howard Terminal Park in Oakland, with outfield facing the harbor and the giant cranes. Best of all, it will be privately financed. Stay tuned, sports fans!!!

Much like what happened at the Astrodome a half century ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to remove the grass and install artificial turf at Chase Field next year. The main problem is the cost and mechanical wear of having to start up the air conditioning at the park after the roof is open all day to provide sunlight for the grass. See ballparkdigest.com. Oh well. I'm sure it will save energy, so it's hard to fault them for that. I remember from my trip in 2014 thinking how extravagant it was to provide air conditioning in a city where the temperatures regularly reach the triple digits. Stay tuned for quick update to that page...

As had been rumored for many months, the Miami Marlins have moved the absurdly glitzy home run sculpture to the outside of Marlins Park. In its place to the left of center field is a new standing room deck, with ivy beyond the outfield wall. In addition, there will be a new standing-room only social section down the right field line, and the outfield wall will be painted blue, a more "normal" color than the garish neon lime green. See MLB.com and ESPN.com.

The Colorado Rockies have extended their lease on Coors Field through 2047. That means 29 more years on top of the 25 years they have spent there already. Seems like an obvious decision, but at lest the long term of the lease will make all of the interested parties feel more secure about their business dealings. See bizjournals.com.

Likewise, the Houston Astros have extended their lease on Minute Maid Park [by 20 years, through the year 2050; it would have expired after 2030.] See chron.com.

[But wait, there's more! The Seattle Mariners have come to terms on a 25-year extension to their lease on Safeco Field. The Metropolitan King County Council approved a commitment to invest $135 million in stadium improvements, much less than the $180 million that the Mariners sought. See ballparkdigest.com.]

B-dee, b-dee, b-dee, that's all folks!! smile


November 20, 2018 [LINK / comment]

Yelich & Betts get MVP Awards

Both of the favored candidates did indeed win the Most Valuable Player Awards for 2018: Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers was the National League MVP, and Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox was the American League MVP. Both players were key factors in their teams' drives to win the divisional championships, but whereas Betts' team won the World Series, Yelich's team only made it as far as the league championship series. Yelich received 29 of 30 first-place votes cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America; Jacob deGrom (see below) received the other first-place vote. (The other "top" candidates were Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez and the Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado.) Meanwhile, Betts received 28 such votes, far outpacing the L.A. Angels' Mike Trout and the Cleveland Indians' Jose Ramirez.

Yelich came very close to winning a Triple Crown this year: he had a batting average of .326, well ahead of the Cincinnati Reds' Scooter Gennett (.310), as well as 36 home runs and 110 RBIs. In the home run race, Nolan Arenado led the NL with 38, and in RBIs, Javier Baez led the NL with 111; Arenado had 110, tying Yelich. Yelich, age 26, began his career with the Miami Marlins but was traded to the Brewers last January. He first drew my attention in the ninth inning on September 28, 2014, when he smashed a line drive to the gap in left-center field at Nationals Park, almost ruining Jordan Zimmerman's bid to record the Nationals' first-ever no-hitter. For the record, the Washington Nationals' Max Scherzer came in tenth place in NL MVP voting, and Anthony Rendon (batting average of .308, tied for fourth in the NL) came in 11th place.

Christian Yelich

Christian Yelich, then with the Miami Marlins, facing Tanner Roark in the first inning of the next-to-last game of the 2016 season, on October 1st. He walked, but the next batter grounded into a double play to retire the side. The Nationals won that game, 2-1.

On the American League side, Mookie Betts (like Yelich, age 26) led the major leagues with a batting average of .346 (his team mate J.D. Martinez was the runner-up with .330), as well as 32 home runs (tied for 9th place in the AL), 80 RBIs (tied for 22nd -- not bad for a leadoff hitter), and 30 stolen bases (tied for 5th). The other top AL MVP candidates were the L.A. Angels' Mike Trout and Cleveland Indians' Jose Ramirez.

Have any other MLB players been nicknamed "Mookie"? It's ironic, since it was the Mets' Mookie Wilson who hit the ground ball that Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner muffed in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, helping the Mets to win it all the next day. Bett's real first name is Markus, and Mookie Wilson's real first name is William.

Mookie Betts HR 7 Mar 2017

Mookie Betts rounds third base after hitting a solo home run off of pitcher Joe Ross in the first inning of the March 7, 2017 spring training game in the Ballpark of Palm Beaches, Florida. The Red Sox beat the Nationals that day, 5-3.

Cy Young Awards to deGrom & Snell

As most observers expected, the 2018 National League Cy Young Award went to Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, while Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays won on the American League side. DeGrom received all but one first-place vote (the other going to Max Scherzer), while Snell received 17 such votes, edging the Houston Astros' Justin Verlander, who received 13. It's the second time that a Tampa Bay pitcher has been so honored; David Price won it in 2012. The other top candidate was Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians. See MLB.com.

DeGrom's amazing ERA of 1.70 was the sixth-lowest for any MLB starting pitcher since 1969, and Snell's ERA of 1.89 was only the 13th time since 1975 that such a pitcher has recorded an ERA under 2.00. Part of what makes deGrom's accomplishment so great is that he was so consistent: He set a major league record for most number of consecutive starts allowing three or fewer runs. In his worst outing, he gave up four runs, and yet he lost nine games thanks to the poor batting of his team mates. But what really stands out is that deGrom only got ten wins, the fewest ever for a Cy Young Award winner. See forbes.com. The runners-up, so to speak, are Felix Hernandez, who went 13-12 the Seattle Mariners in 2010, and Fernando Valenzuela, who went 13-7 for the L.A. Dodgers in 1981.

Jacob deGrom

NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, during the Mets-Nats game at Nationals Park on September 21. He pitched seven innings, allowing only one run and three hits, thus earning his ninth win of the season.

Once again, as with the Rookie of the Year Award, the Washington Nationals' candidate came in a distant second, even though several of the objective measures of performance indicated otherwise. In this case, however, Max Scherzer had won the award for the two previous years, on top of his 2013 AL Cy Young Award, when he was with the Detroit Tigers, so, it's not like he really needed another such trophy. I share his feeling of disappointment, as well as his respect for the winner. DeGrom almost certainly deserved the recognition. That being said, there did seem to be a contrast between the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards as far as how much the team's win-loss record factored into the decision. The Braves' winning season was a credit to Ronald Acuña, but in this case, "winning isn't everything."

Jacob deGrom Max Scherzer
ERA 1.70 2.53
Win-Loss 10-9 18-7
Strikeouts 269 300
WHIP 0.91 0.91
BB 46 51
IP 217 220.2
BAA .196 .188
HRA 10 23

Finally, it is worth pointing out that Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and J.D. Martinez are all former members of the once-fearsome Detroit Tigers, who could not afford to keep all of them -- or indeed, any of them. frown

Managers of the Year

Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves and Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics won the NL and AL Manager of the Year Awards, respectively. Snitker received 17 first-place votes, while the Milwaukee Brewers' Craig Counsell received 11. The consensus third-place choice was Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies. (He's the guy that the Nationals almost hired to replace Dusty Baker as manager last year.) On the American League side, the A's Bob Melvin received 18 first-place votes, more than the combined total of the Red Sox' Alex Cora and the Rays' Kevin Cash. Both the Brewers and the Athletics staged remarkable late-season surges that caught many people by surprise, presumably reflecting the strong, effective leadership. That did not happen with the Washington Nationals this year.

Suzuki rejoins the Nats

The Washington Nationals signed their former catcher Kurt Suzuki to a two-year contract, pending a physical exam. He will get $4 million in 2019 and $6 million in 2020. Suzuki, who played with the Nationals for about one year (August 2012 - August 2013) has been a solid player with the Oakland A's, the Minnesota Twins, and (for the past two years) the Atlanta Braves, but he is getting a little old (35), and his performance numbers show it. Washington Post) columnist Thomas Boswell says that Suzuki just might be the "front-line catcher" the Nationals need, but most observers think he's probably just a stop-gap, bolstering a weak spot in the Nats' defense. Neither Spencer Kieboom nor Pedro Severino seem to be top-notch future catchers, so perhaps Suzuki could help mold them into better players or else keep the team steady until the Nats do land a star-caliber catcher. What about Wilson Ramos? He's a free agent who was acquired by the Phillies in a trade with the Rays at midseason, and while there are good sentimental reasons to bring him back to D.C., his record of injuries makes him just too risky. As for the Nats' first-string catcher for the past two years, Matt Wieters just did not live up to expectations set by his years in Baltimore, so he was not offered a contract renewal.

Football in baseball stadiums

On Saturday, Notre Dame easily beat Syracuse in the "Shamrock Series" game held in New Yankee Stadium, upholding the tradition of football games being played in the home of the New York Yankees. I watched part of that game on TV, but not until later did I realize that football was also being played in the home of the world champion Boston Red Sox: Harvard beat Yale in Fenway Park! (See a photo gallery at boston.com.) So, I added a brand-new football diagram for Fenway Park (since the gridiron is aligned differently than it was when the Patriots played there in the 1960s) and updated the text on both those pages.

But what about Wrigley Field? The latest renovations there included retractable grandstand seats precisely so as to allow for football games, but negotiations between the Chicago Cubs and the Big Ten last summer did not bear fruit. Maybe next year. Perhaps memories of the awkward football game at Wrigley Field in November 2010 still linger. See Sports Illustrated.

Then there's the converse situation: baseball games played in football stadiums! That's what happened, essentially, in 1982 when the Cracker Jack Old Timers' Game was inaugurated in RFK Stadium. (They held the event for the next three years in Washington, and yet somehow I never managed to attend any of the games even though I lived in the area.) The Senators had left Washington a decade before, and the task of moving the lower deck back into the proper position for baseball was considered just too difficult. There is some good information on the Old Timers' Games in RFK Stadium at the Baseball Hall of Fame, most notably when 75-year old Luke Appling hit a home run to the absurdly short (260-foot) left field. I got some useful (though blurry) images of that game from the Ultimate Baseball Look blog. From them, I realized for the very first time that the diamond was rotated about five degrees counter-clockwise and moved backward and to the right. To minimize damage to the turf, furthermore, they only removed the grass from the areas near the four bases and the pitcher's mound. And so, I just couldn't resist doing a 1982 baseball diagram for RFK Stadium, even though that configuration was rather silly -- much like when the Dodgers used Los Angeles Memorial Stadium as their home. Voilà!

RFK Stadium 1982

RFK Stadium as it appeared for the Cracker Jack Old Timers' Game in 1982. (Note that the distance markers are mere estimates; details are sketchy.)




Postseason scores, 2018

Major League Baseball championship series, 2018
World Champions: Boston Red Sox
Wild Card Games / Divisional series
Oct. 2 - 3 / Oct. 4 - 11
League Championship series
Oct. 12 - 21
World Series
Oct. 23 - 31
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
NL-E: Atlanta Braves (.556) 0 0 6 2 X    
NL-W: Los Angeles Dodgers (.564) ** 6 3 5 6 X    
    Los Angeles Dodgers 5 4 0 2 5 2 5  
    Milwaukee Brewers 6 3 4 1 2 7 1  
NL-wc: Chicago Cubs (.583) ** ^ 1  
NL-wc: Colorado Rockies (.558) ** ^ 2   2 0 0 X X  
NL-C: Milwaukee Brewers (.589) ** 3 4 6 X X    
  Los Angeles Dodgers 4 2 3 6 1 X X
  Boston Red Sox 8 4 2 9 5 X X
AL-C: Cleveland Indians (.562) 2 1 3 X X    
AL-W: Houston Astros (.636) 7 3 11 X X    
    Houston Astros 7 5 2 6 1 X X  
    Boston Red Sox 2 7 8 8 4 X X  
AL-wc: Oakland Athletics (.599) ^ 2  
AL-wc: New York Yankees (.617) ^ 7   4 6 1 3 X     Extra-inning game (underlined): X
AL-E: Boston Red Sox (.667) 5 2 16 4 X     Win by visiting team (shaded): X

See explanatory notes at bottom.
** TWO tie-breaking playoff games were held on Oct. 1: @ LAD 5, COL 2 (both had been 91-71), and MIL 3, @ CHC 1 (both had been 95-67).
^ : The visiting NL wild card team won on Oct. 2 (MIL 2, @ CHC 1; 13 inn.), so the row positions were switched so as to properly align in the subsequent divisional series.

Explanatory notes

(Regular season winning percentages in parentheses.) Boldfaced scores indicate the winning team. Underlined scores denote extra-inning games. Olive-shaded score boxes denote games won by the VISITING team. Higher-seeded teams (those with the initial home field advantage) are shown on the BOTTOM side in each matchup. However, beginning with 2012, each league has TWO wild card teams, competing in a one-game "play-in," and whichever of those two teams that wins in each league is displayed below (after the outcome is known), so as to properly align with the subsequent divisional series scores. Beginning in 2003 and continuing through 2016, the league that won the All Star Game got the initial home field advantage in the World Series; prior to 2003, initial home field advantage in the World Series alternated from year to year. Except for 2002 (the infamous tie), the American League won the All Star Game every year between 1997 and 2009. Beginning in 2017, home field advantage in the World Series goes to the team with the higher regular season winning percentage.


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Baseball books:


See Sources for a brief description of the above books. Also see more specialized books on the Ebbets Field, Wrigley Field, and Yankee Stadium pages.





Coming Attractions

(Includes major revisions, minor revisions, pages with additional diagrams, and future stadiums that are under construction. This is only a rough guide; the sequence is subject to change.)


Stadium construction

Soon after the 2017 opening of the new home of the Atlanta Braves (SunTrust Park), construction began on the future home of the Texas Rangers, a very brief lapse. The last significant lapse occurred from March 2012 (when Marlins Park was completed), September 2014 (when construction on SunTrust Park began). Before that, there was at least one major league baseball stadium under construction continually from September 1986 until March 2012. Both the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays hope to get public funding for a new stadium, but near-term prospects are bleak.

NEW! Stadium construction page, with a chronology of the past 30 years.


Research department: