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April 2021
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April 6, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Belated Opening Day in D.C. (?)

Five days after the planned Opening Day in Washington (April 1) was postponed due to the coronavirus, there finally will be a game in Nationals Park later this afternoon -- barring more bad news, that is. The Nats and Braves were scheduled to play yesterday at 4:00, but there were so many last-minute roster changes that the Nats needed more time to get ready. Although it is still unknown exactly which players tested positive for covid-19, we do know which ones are under quarantine for either testing positive or having been in close contact with those people. Both catchers -- Yan Gomes and Alex Avila -- are quarantined, forcing the Nats to scramble and sign the unemployed veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy on an emergency basis. Also available to play as catcher for the Nats: Tres Barrera. Others who are off the roster for the time being: Kyle Schwarber, Josh Bell, and Josh Harrison. Here is the expected starting lineup for the game, which will begin in about two hours:

  • CF: Victor Robles
  • SS: Trea Turner
  • RF: Juan Soto
  • 1B: Ryan Zimmerman!
  • 3B: Starlin Castro
  • 2B: Hernan Perez
  • LF: Andrew Stevenson
  • C: Jonathan Lucroy
  • P: Max Scherzer

The good news is that the first five batters are all experienced players, and even without the missing players mentioned above, the Nats still have a pretty solid lineup. Hernan Perez was already on their 25-man active roster as a backup player, but I'm not familiar with him. The young Andrew Stevenson has shown great promise, and this will be his chance to shine. Lucroy (age 34) hasn't had much time to practice, but he has a decent record: .274 batting average with 4,121 career at-bats, mostly with the Milwaukee Brewers. Hopefully he will adjust quickly.

All-Star Game is moved to Denver

MLB announced late yesterday that the 2021 All-Star Game will be played in Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies in Denver. It will be the second All Star Game in Denver, the first being in 1998 -- about six weeks before I was there! That page has been updated accordingly, as has the Baseball chronology (general) page. Meanwhile, political partisans on both sides are using this occasion to accuse the other side of divisiveness and hypocrisy, etc. etc. As a certain former president often commented, "Sad!"

All Star Game logos

The above official logos from the 2005, 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2018 All-Star Games were extracted from the photos of the respective stadiums whose photos were displayed in my blog post three days ago -- except for 2008. I didn't realize until taking a closer look at my photos a day later that the All-Star logo was indeed displayed inside Yankee Stadium (behind the left-center field bleachers), as you can see when you roll your mouse over the image.

NOTE: I have wavered back and forth on how to punctuate "All Star": with or without a hyphen. The standard seems to be with a hyphen, so I'll try to stick to that from now on. For the record, however, in all five of the logos above, there is a star between "All" and "Star," so perhaps an asterisk (whose root word is "star") would be better. "All*Star"? Whatever...

Packed house in Texas

The very first Texas Rangers game ever played [with fans in the stands] at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas yesterday was a "virtual sell-out," with 38,238 fans; total seating capacity is 40,300. [Frankly, they could have easily sold 2,000 more tickets and made it a real sell-out if those empty seats weren't all in high-price luxury suites.] Many people were apparently not using masks as they were urged to do. Last year's World Series and National League Championship Series games were played there, with sharply reduced attendance allowed.

April 3, 2021 [LINK / comment]

All Star Game pulled from Atlanta

To the surprise and consternation of many baseball fans, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced yesterday that the All Star Game will not be played at Truist Park, located near Atlanta, as had been previously planned. This was an explicit repudiation of the Georgia legislature's recent passage of a bill aimed at tightening voting procedures, possibly targeting minority voters. "Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," Manfred said. See MLB.com.

In general, I would rather keep political controversies out of baseball, but that becomes exceedingly difficult in times like these. While I grant that there are legitimate concerns about the new law, I also understand that the stated purpose of the law was to minimize voting irregularities, which were at the heart of the dispute over the 2020 presidential election. I happen to agree with that objective, but I'm not sure whether the law was the best way to accomplish that, just as I am not sure whether the decision by Commissioner Manfred was an appropriate response to the law.

Be that as it may, the Truist Park page has been updated accordingly. I will update the Baseball chronology (general) page once an alternate venue for the All Star Game has been chosen. Why not Dodger Stadium, which was supposed to be the site of the 2020 All Star Game? (It was canceled due to the coronavirus, of course.)

By sheer coincidence, I happen to have been to quite a few MLB stadiums (five) in the same year when the All Star Game was played there, or within one year thereof (six). Truist Park would have been the sixth in the same year. If Georgia repeals the new voting law, and MLB rewards them by having the 2022 All Star Game "in" Atlanta, it would become the seventh stadium within one year of an All Star Game. Here is the complete list:

In the list above, camera icons (camera) indicate stadiums of which I took photos with All Star Game signs; they will be displayed below when you roll the mouse over the stadium page links.

Yankee Stadium 2008 All Star sign

I took the photo of Yankee Stadium (not previously posted) during the tour I took there in October 2008, soon after the very last game was played. It shows the back side of the bleachers beyond [left]-center field, and the photo was taken from the adjacent "subway" station, which is actually elevated.

Nats-Mets series is postponed

After Opening Day in Our Nation's Capital was spoiled by the coronavirus, on Friday they announced the other two games in the Nats-Mets series have been indefinitely postponed, without specifying makeup dates. This really sucks having to wait so long for the first game! frown The Nats are scheduled to play the Braves late Monday afternoon, assuming no other covid-19 cases are detected.

Almost two no-hitters!

The Phillies' Zack Wheeler struck out ten batters and gave up no hits over six innings against the Braves today, and the Twins' Jose Berrios struck out 12 and gave up no hits over six innings against the Brewers this evening. The latter game was an exceptionally tense pitchers' duel, with both pitchers throwing perfectly for nearly half the game; no batter on either team reached base until the Twins' Jake Cave was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. The very first [hit of the game] came in the top of the seventh inning, when Byron Bruxton hit a solo homer. Final scores: PHI 4, ATL 0 and MIN 2, MIL 0. The Braves and Brewers each got exactly one hit.

And in Kansas City, new Royal (and former National) Michael A. Taylor hit another home run and racked up three more RBIs today, helping trounce the Rangers 11-4. The change of scenery has definitely done him a world of good!

The Braves, Rangers, Red Sox, [and] Indians have lost their first two games of 2021, while the Athletics and Diamondbacks have lost their first three games.

Opening Day attendances

Official attendance figures for Opening Day varied from city to city, with Denver claiming the number one spot, and Boston coming in last. That may be an unfair comparison, however, because the scheduled April 1 Red Sox - Orioles game was postponed until Friday due to rain. For some reason, I could not find the attendance for the Cardinals - Reds game in St. Louis. Until a couple weeks ago, [because of continuing fears of covid-19] there was doubt as to whether the D.C. government would even allow fans into Nationals Park, but they finally relented.

Home city / team Home score Visting city / team Visting score Attendance Percent of
capacity (approx.)
COL 8 LAD 5 20,570 41%
LAA 4 CHW 3 13,207 29%
MIL 6 MIN 5 11,740 28%
NYY 2 TOR 3 10,850 23%
OAK 1 HOU 8 10,436 22%
SD 8 ARI 7 * 10,350 * 24%
CHC 3 PIT 5 10,343 25%
KC 14 TEX 10 9,155 24%
PHI 3 ATL 2 8,529 20%
SEA 8 SF 7 8,174 17%
DET 3 CLE 2 8,000 19%
MIA 0 TB 1 7,062 19%
BOS 0 BAL 3 ** 4,452 ** 12%
CIN 6 STL 11 ? ?%
WSH - NYM - - -

* = Revised from original figure of 8,773.         ** = Apr. 2 game         Underlined scores = extra innings

April 1, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Opening Day 2021: marred by covid-19, again

All thirty Major League Baseball teams were scheduled to play today, but only 26 of them will actually do so. The Orioles and Red Sox were rained out in Boston, and the Mets - Nationals game in Washington was postponed due to the #@!&% coronavirus. Last night it was announced that one Nationals player had tested positive and four other players and a staff member would be quarantined. Today MLB decided to postpone the game "out of an abundance of caution," and later we learned that two other Nats tested positive. It's just like last July when the Nats' star Juan Soto tested positive on the same day baseball got underway, forcing him to miss over a week of play. Obviously, we are not out of the woods yet, sports fans. Why in blazes have not all the players been vaccinated yet??? frown

Nationals Park montage Mar 2021

Scenes from Nationals Park on March 13, when I was visiting Our Nation's Capital. The "Free COVID-19 Testing Here" sign is rather ironic. At the top right is one of the "Celebrating Nationals history" electronic "banners" (located on either side of the office annex to the stadium, and repeatedly switching), honoring Max Scherzer. In the middle of the bottom image it says "05.21.18 * * * Juan Soto hits his first career home run."
[NOTE: The construction activity is related to the new Frederick Douglass bridge, right next to the old one of the same name. They both span the Anacostia River just south of Nationals Park. The project seems to be at least a few months from completion, however, so this may present difficulties for fans trying to get to the ballpark in D.C.]
[GRIPE: Both of the women pedestrians in the top left image are wearing masks that cover their mouths but NOT their noses. Come on folks, get with the program! ]

There were plenty of surprises and dramatic twists of fate in the ten games that were played during the day. (Three others games are still being played on the Pacific Coast.) Among the bigger surprises: the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves.

I was paying close attention late this afternoon to the Los Angeles Dodgers - Colorado Rockies game, a tense back-and-forth affair which L.A. ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw ended up losing. Colorado second baseman Chris Owings led the way with a triple and two singles, with one RBI. Final score: COL 8, LAD 5.

A few hundred miles east of Denver, the Kansas City Royals gave up five runs in the top of the first to the Texas Rangers, then tied it in the bottom of the inning, then fell behind three runs, and pulled ahead to win it, 14-10. The star of the game was none other than former Washington National Michael A. Taylor, who hit two RBI singles (one in the first inning) and one solo home run. Now, why couldn't he hit like that when he was in Washington? (Actually, he was very good some times.) Anyway, I'm happy he got off to a great start in his new "home on the range."

Lindor, Mets ink deal

The roster for the visiting team in today's scheduled game in Washington was in a bit of doubt until just before midnight, when news broke that Francisco Lindor had signed a contract extension with the New York Mets for ten more years and $310 million. He was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Indians earlier this year, but evidently this was the final year of the previous contract and he was insisting on a career-long deal before the season got under way. Lindor will be 38 years old when the contract ends -- the longest contract in Mets' history. It was probably the biggest player acquisition in the 2020-2021 MLB offseason, and it's another sign that under the new ownership of Steve Cohen, the Mets have big ambitions.

COVID-19 testing in MLB parks

Since mass vaccinations began in the middle of February, a number of Major League baseball stadiums have been used to distribute the life-saving antibody doses to folks in big cities. They include the following stadiums, and probably a few others:

  • Fenway Park, Boston
  • Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
  • Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
  • Citi Field, Queens, New York
  • Petco Park, San Diego
  • Oakland Coliseum
  • Marlins Park*, Miami
  • PNC Park, Pittsburgh
  • Coors Field, Denver
  • Minute Maid Park, Houston
  • Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas

* Marlins Park? "loanDepot park"!

Believe it or not, this is not an April Fools joke. Nine years after it was built, the home of the Miami Marlins is now officially called "loanDepot park," with the irregular lower-case letters thusly rendered. Terms of the naming rights contract were not immediately available. The Marlins Park, Stadium chronology (annual), and Stadium names chronology pages have all been updated accordingly. Thanks to Mike Zurawski for bringing that to my attention! (I've got other news to catch up on, not surprisingly.)

Demolition in San Diego

QualComm / Jack Murphy Stadium, home of the San Diego Padres from 1969 through 2003, has now been completely demolished. The process began in December, and was essentially finished on March 22. All that's left now is to clean up the rubble and begin building a new (smaller) stadium for the San Diego State University Aztecs football team. You can watch the video at www.nbcsandiego.com.

March 29, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Spring training comes to a close

Most major league teams concluded their spring training games today, and the remaining ones (14) will do so tomorrow. The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros tied 2-2 in their final practice game, in the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which they share with each other. It was the sixth time the "room mate" teams have played each other this spring: the Astros won three times, the Nats won once, and twice they tied. The Nationals finished with a 10-9-5 record, which doesn't really mean very much, of course.

What does mean something is that Ryan Zimmerman hit six home runs in spring training, only two behind the leaders Joc Pederson and Corey Seager -- both of whom had almost twice as many at-bats as did Zimmerman (27). His 15 RBIs were likewise close behind the leader Joc Pederson (with 19), but his amazing batting average of .481 can't really be compared with the other guys because he had too few at-bats to qualify statistically. At any rate, Ryan is definitely on a roll! Not only that, the Nats' other first baseman, newly-acquired Josh Bell, matched Zimmerman in the home run and RBI departments, and finished third among major leaguers with a .383 batting average! (Bell had 47 at-bats, which did qualify.)

With overloaded slugging power at first base, the Nationals are in a quandary. Can Bell be shifted to second base? It appears probable that the expected second baseman Starlin Castro will start the regular season at third base, because the young Carter Kieboom was given a minor league assignment in Rochester after failing to meet expectations in spring training. His batting average was only .133, and he batted in just one run. Trea Turner of course will be at shortstop, but he had a mediocre spring trainning as well. Utility man Josh Harrison and Hernan Perez are the alternative second baseman. Luis Garcia has experience there as well, but he has been optioned to the Nat's Rochester team.

The other good news for the Nationals is there new outfielder, Kyle Schwarber, who seems to be returning to his hot slugging ways from the years preceding 2020. He had four homers, eight RBIs, and batted a respectable .250 during spring training. Along with superstar-in-the-making Juan Soto (nursing a minor injury) and Victor Robles, the Nats' outfield looks to be in good shape this year. Andrew Stevenson provides solid backup if the need arises.

Pitching is a big question mark for the Nationals this year. Both Max Scherzer (who will start against the Mets on Opening Day this Thursday) and Stephen Strasburg have been dealing with ailments, pitching very effectively, up to a point. The two left-handers, Patrick Corbin and Jon Lester (the latter newly acquired) have pitched well enough in spring training, but much remains to be seen. Joe Ross will start the season as the number five pitcher, and he at least seems to have improved. On the other hand, the expensive new closing pitcher, Brad Hand, has an ERA of 12.15 this spring -- just awful. He was supposed to provide stability to the Nats' much-maligned bullpen, and much is expected of him in the regular season.

Although I am fairly confident that the Nats will make the postseason this year, given the challenges from the Braves and the newly-improved Mets, the NL East Division title is far from certain. After I have studied the other teams more carefully, I may make a prediction.

Busch Stadium II update

Busch Stadium II

I have revised the Busch Stadium II diagrams, after reminding myself of the minor change that was made around the year 2000, when an extra row of seats was added in front of the loge level near the left field and right field corners. That row overhung the playing field, so I used a different color to call attention to that. One thing led to another, and I decided to render the overall curvature of the grandstand more accurately. The front of the loge level is now circular for the entire distance along which the retractable part of the lower deck traverses. (I should have paid more explicit attention to that before; I had a similar issue in rendering the Rogers Centre diagrams.) The ramps are now several feet wider than they were in the previous (2019) diagrams, and this affects the profile as well as the top-down diagrams. Several other minor details were corrected as well, and the arches that line the roof are now rendered more accurately than before. As usual, you can compare the new and old versions by clicking on the diagram on that page.

NOTE: Someone asked me about the bright green line parallel to the first base line in the 1966 diagram, but the answer to that mystery can be found in the text on the Busch Stadium II page. When the field was grass in the early years (1960s), there was a thin strip of artificial turf that concealed an underground roll of tarpaulin. It's the same thing that Forbes Field had in its latter years, but on the opposite side of the diamond.

March 12, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Major MLB roster changes, etc.

As spring training continues, the Nationals are now over .500, with a 4-3-3 record. I'm trying to get caught up with "hot stove" news about off-season acquisitions before the regular season starts (just three weeks from now!), so here goes.

In February the L.A. Dodgers signed former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer (a free agent) to a three-year contract worth $102 million. He won the 2020 NL Cy Young award, He will be joining a pitching rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and . It will be extremely hard for any team to beat the defending world champion Dodgers this year.

Bauer had also been negotiating with the New York Mets, who have been busy otherwise. Thanks to their new owner, Steve Cohen, the Mets acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor in an early January trade with the Cleveland Indians. (What is the team's new name?) He adds a lot of offensive firepower, which the Mets really needed.

Meanwhile, the AL Cy Young winner, Shane Bieber, is back on the field for Cleveland, after a bout with covid-19. He had only mild symptoms.

The New York Yankees acquired pitcher Corey Kluber in a one-year deal. After lengthy negotiations, they also signed second baseman D.J. LeMahieu to a six-year extension for $90 million. He was arguably the team's most valuable player last year, when they finished second in the AL East race. He will be 38 by the time the contract expires, however, so there is some risk of reduced performance.

In late December, the Chicago Cubs traded pitcher Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres. Having parted ways with Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester, it appears the Cubs are in rebuilding mode. The Padres, in contrast, continue to strengthen their already-solid lineup, and are likely to give the favored Dodgers some serious competition in the NL West this year.

In late January Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto signed a new five-year contract with the team, worth a total of $115.5 million. He had elected free agency in late October. The $23.1 million annual salary is the highest ever for a catcher, just barely. The Twins paid Joe Mauer $23 million a year from 2011 to 2018.

[Also in late January, the Toronto Blue Jays signed former Houston Astros outfielder George Springer to a six-year $150 million contract, instantly making them a team to be reckoned with. He is a classic home-run slugger, with ample postseason credentials to prove he can come through in the clutch.]

On February 1, the Colorado Rockies traded their star slugger Nolan Arenado (third baseman) to the St. Louis Cardinals for an assortment of young prospects. One of those teams will be a contender once again this year, and the other will not.

Finally, the Nationals released pitcher Jeremy Jeffress for unspecified "personal" reasons. He signed a minor league deal with the Nationals in late February after getting eight saves for the Chicago Cubs last year. Apparently, however, he has a history of domestic violence.


Metrodome mini-update

Bruce Orser sent me an image showing a very detailed profile of the Metrodome, and I realized that my previous diagram indicated that each level was three feet too short -- 10 feet rather than 13 feet. So, I went about making some minor corrections on the diagram profiles, and while I was at it, I decided to make the first-deck diagram more accurate and detailed. The suites in the mezzanine level are now 15 feet deep, rather than 18 feet as before. The space for refreshments, restrooms, and entry gates along the perimeter of the first-deck diagram is now differentiated from the (quite narrow) concourse. Evidently, excavation down to field level was done in some parts of the stadium, but not in others, hence the tranparent rendering of the parts below ground in the profiles. Other than the profiles, the other Metrodome diagrams were virtually unchanged.

And, for the record, I made a few tiny tweaks to the Truist Park diagrams -- specifically, the portion around the "Chop House" restaurant beyond right-center field.


Three days ago I wrote that Washington Nationals' star Ryan Zimmerman got his start in the minor leagues with the New Orleans Zephyrs (then the Nats' AAA affiliate), but my assumption was false. He actually went straight from the AA level to the majors.

Coming Attractions

General diagrams
to be updated:

General diagrams
yet to be created:

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

(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

Between March 2012, when Marlins Park was completed, and September 2014, there were no major league baseball stadiums under construction. It was the first time since September 1986 that this situation existed. But in light of the recent groundbreaking on the future home of the Braves, the table that had been removed from this space is being restored.

Clem's Baseball ~ Stadium construction

Stadium construction
Chronology of the contemporary era: 1986 - present

1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
UC 1989: Skydome (Rogers Centre) (construction finished in early June)
plan. UC 1990: Florida Suncoast Dome (Tropicana Field)
planning UC 1991: Comiskey Park II (U.S. Cellular Field, Guaranteed Rate Field)
- planning UC 1992: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
- planning UC 1994: Jacobs Field (Progressive Field)
- planning UC 1994: Ballpark in Arlington (Globe Life Park, etc.)
- planning UC 1995: Coors Field
- planning UC 1996: (Olympic Stadium) 1997: Turner Field
- planning UC 1998: Chase Field (Bank One Ballpark)
- planning UC 1999: AT&T Park (Pac Bell Park)
- planning UC 1999: Safeco Field
- planning UC 2000: Comerica Park
- planning UC 2000: Minute Maid Park
- planning UC 2001: Miller Park
- planning UC 2001: PNC Park
- planning UC 2003: Great American Ballpark
- planning UC 2004: Citizens Bank Park
- planning UC 2006: Busch Stadium III (construction finished in late May)
- planning UC 2008: Nationals Park
- planning UC 2009: Yankee Stadium II
- planning UC 2009: Citi Field
- planning UC 2010: Target Field
- planning UC 2012: Marlins Park
- planning UC 2017: Truist Park (ex-SunTrust Park)
- planning UC 2020: Globe Life Field
STILL WAITING ... Oakland Athletics: (?)  
STILL WAITING ... Tampa Bay Rays: (?)  
1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024
NOTE: For most stadiums, groundbreaking years are mere estimates. For most stadiums, construction continued through March of the year in which they opened. Two exceptions are Skydome / Rogers Centre (construction finished in early June 1989) and Busch Stadium III (construction finished in late May 2006).

Stadium construction montage

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: PNC Park (Pittsburgh, Aug. 2000), Citi Field (Queens, NY, Oct. 2008), Nationals Park (Washington, DC, Aug. 2007)

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