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August 14, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Bouncing back from Covid-19?

Does Covid-19 somehow provide some kind of rejuvenating boost to teams and players that recover from the infection? It sure seems that way that way with the Miami Marlins, who swept the Baltimore Orioles in four games straight after the team was quarantined for eight days as a precaution. The Marlins faltered a bit after that, but after beating the Braves at home in Miami earlier this evening, they now have a 9-4 record and a two-game lead in the National League East Division.

I was expecting the St. Louis Cardinals to resume playing on Friday a week ago, but two more players tested positive, and they have now gone two straight weeks without playing any games at all. The Cards are slated to play against the White Sox in Chicago this weekend, and then play five games in three days against the Cubs a few miles north. That's just insane, even with double-header games being reduced to just seven innings. Having only played five games (2 wins, 3 losses), it is hard to see how they can possibly catch up in this abbreviated season. It's an awful shame. If there is a "bounce-back" effect from Covid-19, the Cardinals are going to really need it.

And as far as individual players, what Juan Soto has done in the games since he returned from the Covid-19 quarantine protocol on August 5 is simply amazing. Over the course of eight games he has hit 5 home runs and has a batting average of over .400, with 11 RBIs. (The Yankees' Aaron Judge leads the majors with 9 homers, but he has played in 17 games.) If the Nats are going to bounce back from a mediocre start to the season, they are going to need Soto to be playing at his very best. He keeps racking up historical records for achieving various marks before his 22nd birthday, rivaling Hall of Famers such as Mel Ott and Mickey Mantle. The Nats front office better sign him to a long-term contract before he becomes eligible to be a free agent.

Rash of injuries plague Nationals

None of the Nats have tested positive for Covid-19 lately, but a sudden series of injuries raises questions about their ability to compete for a postseason slot and thus defend their World Series title this October. Tonight we learned that one of the new team members, Starlin Castro, broke his wrist while diving to catch a ball in the afternoon completion of the rain-suspended August 9 game. He was putting up some great numbers during his first three weeks as a Nat, and he will be sorely missed. In addition, both the Nationals star pitchers have been afflicted: Stephen Strasburg with some kind of pinched nerve in his wrist, which forced him out of the game during the first inning in Baltimore tonight, and Max Scherzer is coping with overall soreness from pushing himself too hard -- as usual. Former closer Sean Doolittle has been placed on the injured list after giving up way too many home runs in clutch late-inning situations. He's mad at himself, but there may be a knee problem that explains his poor performance.

I should note that Daniel Hudson assumed the primary responsibility for finishing games since the overworked Sean Doolittle started having problems last year, and that has not changed. Doolittle's ERA last year was 4.05, and Hudson's was 3.00 with the Nationals; he played the early part of 2019 with the Blue Jays, where he had a 1.44 ERA. My Washington Nationals page has been duly corrected.

The Nationals won the first two games in that four-game series with the Mets, but lost the second two games. The Monday game was an utter rout, with two home runs by Asdrubal Cabrera, and one each by Juan Soto and Trea Turner; final score 16-4. On Tuesday night against the Mets, Max Scherzer barely got through the first inning, but even with a high pitch count he managed to last six innings, without giving up any more runs. It was his ferocious will to win that got the Nationals a much-needed 2-1 victory. On Wednesday, Anibal Sanchez once again had a lousy outing, not even making it through the third inning, as the Nats lost, 11-6. On Thursday afternoon, Austin Voth was doing OK for the first four innings, but his replacement, Seth Romero, soon gave up a grand slam that almost put the game out of reach. The key play of that game was when Asdrubal Cabrera smashed a ball to left center field that surely would have scored two runs if the Mets' Jeff McNeill had not sprinted to catch it. He ran into the wall, and had to be taken out of the game, but it was probably worth it. Mets 8, Nats 2.

In tonight's game against the Orioles, the Nationals bounced back, and then some! Almost all their batters got hits, including Luis Garcia, who replaced Starlin Castro at second base. In his very first game in the major leagues, he got two hits including a two-run double. The Nationals have a virtually insurmountable 13-3 lead in the ninth inning, which guarantees them a slight percentage edge over the Phillies in the NL East race. (It's a virtual tie for fourth place.) The Nats have a long way to go, and not much time to get there...

Sahlen Field

New stadium page: Sahlen Field!

I was hoping to finish the Sahlen Field diagram(s) in time for the "Toronto" Blue Jays' first home game this year, but there were too many uncertain details, and I had to watch video replays of the game on Wednesday afternoon (when they beat the Marlins 5-4) to be sure. Anyway, I have created a new page with a diagram for their temporary home: Sahlen Field. (Under normal circumstances, it is the home of the Buffalo Bisons.) There are separate diagrams showing the lower and upper decks, and two photos, including the one below. The Blue Jays' predicament of having to find an alternative "home away from home" for much if not all of this season constitutes an extreme example of the emergency situation various teams have faced over the years, which are detailed on the Anomalous stadiums page, newly updated. (NOTE: I plan not to include on that page stadiums where the home team was playing as the visitor, such as Nationals Park where the Nats played as visitors against the "host" Blue Jays on July 29 and 30. If it's nothing more than a simple home vs. away "role reversal," it's really not worth it.)

CocaCola Field panorama small

This spliced-together panorama shows what was then called "Coca Cola Field" when I saw it in July 2015.

NOTE: Although this panorama is a big improvement over the glare-blemished photo I posted on July 24, it's also a bit "fake." In order to get the outfield fences as well as the grandstand, I had to stand in different positions: the left segment was taken from a different angle than the middle and right segments. If you look closely, you will see that the Canadian flag pole and the big pole supporting the left-center field lights are duplicated. The full-size image can be seen on the Sahlen Field page.

Candlestick Park, ribbed roofs, etc.

In my haste, I forgot to mention some other new and improved features on my Candlestick Park diagrams, updated on August 4 last week. There is an access ramp leading to the second (rear) lateral walkway at the end of the grandstand near the right field foul pole. (It was obscured by the extended upper deck from 1972 on.) Also, there is a new 1961 football diagram, recognizing that the Oakland Raiders played there in late 1960 and throughout the 1961 AFL season. Hat tip to Larry Freitas for sending me a photo showing how the gridiron was aligned. Also, the profiles of right field now show the correct positioning of the three segments of the collapsible grandstand; the rear segment (colored orange to show its relative height) folded down in back of the middle segment (which was used for baseball games), and the front segment slid out from under the other two. Some people may regard those as trivial, but I'm a stickler for detail, and I know many other folks are too.

Since one of the features of the Candlestick Park diagrams that I did mention was the "ribbed" roofs, I thought I would list the other stadiums with such an architectural design. I first brought that issue up on January 10, 2016, and followed up on April 28, 2016 and May 3, 2016. I am fairly confident that these are all such past and present MLB stadiums:

August 4, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Pandemic strikes Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals were forced to postpone their weekend series in Milwaukee after seven of their players and six staff members tested positive for the covid-19 virus. Among those affected are veteran catcher Yadier Molina and shorstop Paul DeJong. The Cardinals' games in Detroit this week have also been postponed, but they hope to resume play at home on Friday.

The disruptions to MLB schedule have been very stressful for the players, taxing the sport to the limit. The effects have been felt unevenly, which will inevitably raise questions about whether the curtailed 2020 season can really be considered fair or balanced. The Miami Marlins missed seven games over the past eight days, and after winning against Baltimore tonight, they now have a 3-1 record; that's only four games, whereas most teams have played 11 or 12 games already. The Philadelphia Phillies are the other team with just four games, and the Cardinals have played just five. The Nationals are one of three teams that have played eight games. To add to the weirdness, all the Nationals games thus far have been played at home, although two of them were technically "road" games; see below.

Nats win three in a row (?)

After taking the weekend off due to the coronavirus and getting an extra (unneeded) day of rest on Monday, the Nationals beat the New York Mets tonight, 5-3. Howie Kendrick and Josh Harrison (a veteran outfielder recently-signed to replace Juan Soto) both homered in the early innings, and Patrick Corbin had another solid outing to get the win, with eight strikeouts.

The Mets are without the services of Yoenis Cespedes, who decided (rather belatedly) to opt out of playing this year for health reasons. He was out of touch with his team for a few days and seems disgruntled. He missed almost two years due to injuries, and the Mets did not exactly get their money's worth from his four-year $110 million contract.

Tonight's win came after the Nationals bounced back from two lackluster defeats at the hands of the Blue Jays last week with two "road" victories against the same team played in Nationals Park. Huh??? As mentioned last week, the Blue Jays are not allowed to play games in Toronto this year, and because they were unable to get a replacement venue ready in time, they simply played the games in Washington instead. With no fans present, the psychological aspect of home field advantage is nullified. In the Wednesday game, neither team scored for the first nine innings, which triggered the new rule that each team starts with a runner on second in extra innings. I dislike such deviations from normal play, but it worked to the Nats' advantage, as they quickly had the bases loaded with nobody out. The next two batters failed to reach base, leaving it up to Adam Eaton. He smacked a high bouncing ball to the second baseman, who couldn't quite tag Andrew Stevenson who slid into second base as the first run of the game scored. Then Asdrubal Cabrera hit a bases-clearing triple, and that's how the Nats won, 4-0. Max Scherzer threw ten strikeouts over seven-plus innings but did not get credit for the win. The Nats also won on Thursday, as Michael A. Taylor had his second home run of the year. (It was also his second hit of the year; he has a .143 batting average.) Starlin Castro went 4 for 5 at the plate for the Nats, and the bullpen made up for the unavailability of Stephen Strasburg. Final score: Nats 6, Blue Jays 4.

The Nationals can be cheered by the hitting of new infielders Starlin Castro (batting .379) and Carter Kieboom (.417), and by the return of outfielder Juan Soto to the active roster. He claims that his covid-19 tests gave a false positive, and the fact that he suffered no symptoms and returned so quickly lend credence to the assertion. But it is well known that a large percentage of those infected are asymptomatic, which is one reason why the virus is so dangerous.

Soroka out for the year

The Atlanta Braves received some bad news yesterday: star pitcher Mike Soroka somehow got hurt the other night, and it turns out he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. That means he'll be out for the rest of the year. The Braves are dominating the NL East this season with an 8-4 record (technically they're in second place behind the 3-1 Marlins), and if this baseball season makes it through the end of September, the Braves will almost certainly be in the postseason.

Field of Dreams game nixed

The Chicago White Sox announced that they won't play their August 13 game at the Field of Dreams near Dyersville, Iowa as had been planned; they'll play there next year instead. It was originally supposed to be a game against the Yankees, but the covid-19 forced the schedule to be redrawn from scratch, with no games outside each team's "region." I'm not surprised by the decision, as there really wasn't a point to holding such a game without any fans. The game won't be at the actual diamond where the movie was filmed (and which remains a destination for tourists), but is a couple hundred yards to the northwest. Obviously, I'll have to redo the badly-outdated Field of Dreams page later this year or perhaps next year. Hat tip to Mark London.

Candlestick Park update!

Candlestick Park

After a busy month taking care of Globe Life Field and a few odds and ends in July, I finally got back to my planned sequence of diagram revisions, with an update of Candlestick Park, former home of the San Francisco Giants. The last major revision of those diagrams was in early 2012. (I did a minor update of those diagrams in December of that year.) How big was this revision? How big was Candlestick Park?? Well, many of the changes involved small details, so some people might not notice. I added "ribs" to the roof, as I have done previously for such stadiums as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Angel Stadium. Those structural elements help to calibrate various details, enabling me to render them more precisely. I also added the support columns in the lower deck diagram, and the rebuilt press boxes and mezzanine seating levels. I noticed that in photos taken in the latter years (1980s) those sections protrude about three feet in front of the front edge of the upper deck. Kansas City's Municipal Stadium had a similar feature. Other new details include the bullpen mounds and plates, exit ramp slope directions (in the lower-deck diagram), and variations in the profiles to account for the fact that in much of Candlestick Park, the lower deck was built directly on top of excavated dirt, with no rooms beneath it. If you look closely and click on the diagram to compare the new version to the old version, you'll probably notice a number of other small changes. Enjoy!

Postseason scores, 2020

Major League Baseball championship series, 2020
World Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers
Wild Card series
Sept. 29 - Oct. 2
Divisional series
Oct. 5 - 10
League Championship series
Oct. 11 - 18
World Series
Oct. 20 - 28
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
NL-E2: 6 Miami Marlins (.517) 5 2 X
NL-C1: 3 Chicago Cubs (.567) 1 0 X Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Miami Marlins 5 0 0 X X    
Atlanta Braves 9 2 7 X X    
NL-wc: 7 Cincinnati Reds (.517) 0 0 X
NL-E1: 2 Atlanta Braves (.583) 1 5 X   Globe Life Field, Arlington, TX
. Atlanta Braves 5 8 3 10 3 1 3  
  Los Angeles Dodgers 1 7 15 2 7 3 4  
NL-C2: 5 St. Louis Cardinals (.517) 7 9 0
NL-W2: 4 San Diego Padres (.617) 4 11 4 Globe Life Field, Arlington, TX
San Diego Padres 1 5 3 X X    
  Los Angeles Dodgers 5 6 12 X X    
NL-wc: 8 Milwaukee Brewers (.483) 2 0 X
NL-W1: 1 Los Angeles Dodgers (.717) 4 3 X . Globe Life Field, Arlington, TX
  Tampa Bay Rays 3 6 2 8 2 1 X
  Los Angeles Dodgers 8 4 6 7 4 3 X
AL-W2: 6 Houston Astros (.483) 4 3 X
AL-C1: 3 Minnesota Twins (.600) 1 1 X Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
  Houston Astros 10 5 7 11 X    
  Oakland Athletics 5 2 9 6 X    
AL-wc: 7 Chicago White Sox (.583) 4 3 4
AL-W1: 2 Oakland Athletics (.600) 1 5 6   Petco Park, San Diego, CA
  Houston Astros 1 2 2 4 4 7 2  
  Tampa Bay Rays 2 4 5 3 3 4 4  
AL-E2: 5 New York Yankees (.550) 12 10 X
AL-C2: 4 Cleveland Indians (.583) 3 9 X Petco Park, San Diego, CA
  New York Yankees 9 5 4 5 1    
  Tampa Bay Rays 3 7 8 1 2    
AL-wc: 8 Toronto Blue Jays (.533) 1 2 X   Extra-inning game: X
AL-E1: 1 Tampa Bay Rays (.667) 3 8 X   Win by visiting team: X

See explanatory notes at bottom. Due to the coronavirus, there will be an additional three-game first round in 2020, including the second-place teams in each division as well as two wild card teams based on their regular-season winning percentage. All sixteen teams that qualify for the postseason will play in the first round, with the three division leaders being seeded highest in each league. In the first round, the higher-seeded team will have home field advantage for all three games, after which all postseason games will be played at the neutral sites which are listed on the left side of the respective series matchups. Since no travel will occur during any series, there will be no rest days, and no fans other than family members will be allowed to attend the games. To help clarify the complex matchup arrangements, the seed numbers are indicated in RED.

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

General diagrams
to be updated:

General diagrams
yet to be created:

City map/diagrams
yet to be created:
"Site today" diagrams
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(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: